This home is my home, this home is your home….


The ‘new house’ has been mentioned often. Or, as Jeremiah would say, “New HOUSH! Big CitEEE” 😉

Since arriving in this new big city, we have indeed settled into a new house and new home. Well, new in some ways as the house isn’t totally new to us and the home was already in full swing when we stepped through the door. The combined family now housed inside and the expression of house and home is something new to everyone this week.

Huh?

As of one week ago, we’ve entered the unique world of ‘home sharing’: Blending our family into the house, home, and people of another family group. While this type of community living is quite common amongst other cultures of the globe, it’s much less common in the culture and attitude of ‘typical white north Americans’. We are a culture intent on protecting space, stuff, and status, and a home share can threaten or shape all three of those, depending on the attitudes and perspectives of those involved.

I can already see that there are going to be many posts on this topic and within this special experience. For now, I’ll share just a bit of the why and how.

The Why?
We are a family of four. With J entering full-time studies and me at home on maternity leave, income is limited. Given our transient lifestyle and the shadowed nature of our future (depending on practicum placement, employment, global involvement, etc) we don’t desire to invest in another physical home anywhere just yet.
On the flip side, my brother’s family is also living in a unique season of change and watchful expectation. They have a large house with ample space, a desire to share what they have, and an approach to ‘stuff’ and living which is very open to shared space and enriched life experiences.
So…we were looking for a place we could afford, they offered, we all thought about some of the details and points of craziness, and…we moved in.

The How
Basement: Our family of four is based in the basement. There’s a room for the boys, a room for us, and a cozy sitting/rec area. We have our couch, TV, coffee maker, books, etc., down there.
Main Floor: Kitchen for food prep and eating for everyone, sitting areas, doors to the outdoors, bathroom, etc. We all pass through this zone during meals and such, and Jem is intent on staying up there to cling to his cousins (though for everyone’s sake he needs to regularly take time downstairs to just chill out and give the girls some space). This is also where the Christmas tree is glowing.
Upstairs: Bathroom with tub/shower, bedrooms for Jn&C  and the girls (they’ve got all girls, we’ve got all boys, it’s neat).  Jem’s still catching on, but he’s not supposed to go up there unless invited. This allows everyone to have some personal space (as awesome as being attacked by a two year old can be… 😉 )

While we are two separate families (and no, there’s no ‘sister wife’ action/belief going on here!!!), we’re all intent on an attitude of sharing and openness. We buy some separate groceries, but contribute and share many of the common things. We’ll do some meals ‘just us’, but will also share in many of them. The kids have their own zones, but spend much of their time tearing around more like siblings than cousins. And the opportunities for babysitting, well, it’s a whole new world! 😉

It’s only been a week, we’re not even really unpacked yet, and there’s sure to be some days of craziness or misunderstanding or “whoa! Wow! Really?” but I’ve been blown away at how positive the whole transition and experience is so far. We’ve gone from being as private and ‘personal spaced’ as we could be in our ‘little house on the big mountain’ dwelling, to a full-out sharing of space and family. So positive. So exciting to see how we all grow and change within it.

And some randoms:
– Gonna learn some new tastes! These folks aren’t huge fans of beans or curry, while we generally eat, um, bean curry like every second day. Funny!
– Jeremiah is lovin’ playing with the pink princess high heels, while his cousins have been introduced to Mickey’s Three Musketeers. Cute.
– Most people hearing of this experience say it’s a “BAD idea”. Not even that it’s a good one but they couldn’t do it, just that it’s bad bad news. Interesting. Considering just the practicality with space and finances, not even the philosophy, it seems good. What do you think?
– We invited everyone down to ‘our place’ last night for a movie. Cuteness.
– Marital conflict. The walls aren’t that thick. Welcome to community.
– Marital bliss. The walls aren’t that thick…. 😉
– Money and food and all that? I’m about to post a kijiji inquiry for farm eggs and milk. With a household of nine people and only one bringing in a formal income…well….

(I can’t believe I got a real blog post done! Amazing! Life is BUSY these days and I hardly know why….)

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you ever thought of sharing your home/family? Why not? Or, what’s stopping you now? Why is this way of living so prevalent (and successful) in some cultures and not in others?

Happy Sunday!

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Comments
9 Responses to “This home is my home, this home is your home….”
  1. Lola says:

    haha, this is a very good post. I think it works so well in other cultures because it’s just a part of how they function. They don’t really decide to do it, it just is. It’s a very rewarding incredible thing that is difficult in some ways but also so much easier in other ways. If you want a really good way to be refined and molded into a servant, living with another family is the best thing to do.

  2. Lola says:

    oh and Alberta was conceived in Kiko’s basement 🙂

  3. Jamie says:

    Keith and I lived with other families for two years of our marriage. Lots of positive experiences and some awkward and hard ones too. I think that the most important thing about communal living is knowing the perspective of the people you’re living with and knowing what is most important to them. It’s unlikely you’re going to find a family that completely agrees with you in every way, but if you find out what things they really need to you to respect, and what things you really need them to respect, that will go a long, long way.

    Keith is sitting next to me as I type this and pointed out that the best thing about it all was just how amazing it was that people would open up their homes to us. And that is absolutely true.

    As a wife (not a mom yet at that point), I was amazed how hard it was for me to give up the rights to space and home during the time that God had us living with other people. I always felt like I should just not care, but that time really made me realize how right and good it is for a woman to have her own household to care for!

    About that boundaries thing, it may take a while to realize what things really matter to you as a family. I think it did for us. If you have that ongoing conversation and fellowship with your upstairs family, it will be good, especially if both families realize (with humility) that there may be things you learn about yourselves and the others that you cannot yet guess at. If both families care about blessing one another (as it seems yours do), I am sure it will be great.

    • Dea' says:

      Good thoughts James, thanks! Hm…yeah. I’m pretty sure there will be some ‘awkward hard experiences’ coming up in the future with this kind of setup, but I’m looking forward to seeing us grow in it and hoping we do well. I think it would have been crazier if we had attempted it a few years back before we had considered new ideas of living and transition and stuff. Then again…it’s our first week! 😉

  4. Kmarie says:

    I loved living at our parents both times…for the most part. Jamie said it well. It is best if you have had a few years on your own. I think that is why in the old testament they were given a year for the husband to enjoy his wife- to create that base, boundaries, intimacy ect- then it is possible to make it work anytime. The only time I would not recommend it is the beg. of a marriage:)

  5. jenny says:

    I think this is wonderful! My husband and I have lived with my parents twice in our 10 years of marriage. Both times, people thought we were crazy. But it helped us save money for school the first time, and for our house the second time. That doesn’t sound too crazy to me. Both experiences were very positive. We still tease my little sister (who was living at home too at the time) because she thinks it’s gross that her nephew was concieved in the room across the hall from her. HA! 🙂 We actually tried to rent out our current home and move back in with my Mom recently but could not find renters. “We” are now a growing family of 5. I think its wonderful that my Mom thought this set up was completly fine. We still hope to live with her again one day but I guess right now is not the time. We have offered space in our house to family friends in need and I think they thought it was a crazy idea. I thought it more crazy that they’d rather get in more debt just to live in their own space. I’m totally onboard with this type of living and wish more people would be open to it. It sure would relieve a lot of financial stress. It sounds like you have quite a good set up in having a full basement to yourselves. Lots of private room. At my parent’s house, we had one small room. It was still fine. Great memories.

  6. thismama says:

    Honestly?
    I think it is great that you are all open to it and willing to work and share together! I think that it can work out well. I especially agree with everthing Jamie said.
    On the other hand, I have been there and it did not work out well. And was damaging to relationships, unfortunately. Perhaps mostly because boundaries weren’t clear and it is hard to make those clear once inside. We learned and grew from it, but it still has changed many things.
    On the other cultures thing….I think we often idealize how it works due to our lack of knowledge. Sometimes, it happens because there is no other option or that is how it has always been done, but is not the beautiful sharing of life together that we picture. I personally know people with this story, observed it during our time in Haiti, and have actually read about it a great deal (I like biographies from other cultures).
    Okay, so do I sound enough like a downer? Really, I do think that community living and sharing like this can be a beautiful thing, both here and other places. And I agree that we have become overly obsessed with our personal space and stuff. I just also think that it can be really difficult.

    • Dea' says:

      Thank you for these replies! It’s so interesting to me to hear such varied responses. Missy, I feel like you really hit on some stuff I missed. It makes sense. Thank you for that honest insight. I think an expanded post is brewing…..

  7. sheila says:

    If God thinks you can handle it…He prepares hearts. We have had many different people living with us in the past 8 years….all who had needs for a time…it helped we had been married 20 years before we took others in. 🙂 It wasnt always easy or convenient, but I think we have been blessed because of our willingness (we never took money and discouraged gifts…but help cleaning bathrooms was always appreciated). 🙂
    I think since it is your sibling, you will have an easier time communicating…..and you obviously share a love for each other….it will be a time of memories made. 🙂

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