Last year, my husband and I made the decision to ask my parents if we could move in with them for a while. This was prompted by several factors, not in the least of which included that our apartment complex had raised our rent and we had barely been making it financially before that, despite both of us working seven day weeks. As our twins were eight months old at the time, we decided that ‘pooling resources’ with my parents would be the best for our family in many ways.
It would provide us the opportunity to cut our work hours back a bit while also relieving some of the financial strain and permitting us more time with our children as well as with each other before my husband starts medical school. With my parents generous welcome, we packed up ourselves, our two babies and our three cats and moved into my parents loving, albeit tiny, home.
We knew it would be cozy, one of my two sisters was already living with my parents, along with her dog and my parents own three cats. So here we are, six cats, one dog, two babies and five adults all in one home. That’s quite the large group to have under one roof, and with that many people eventually something someone does is going to get on someone else’s nerves. Things that might not have been annoying before seem different when one has to experience it every day. And, no matter how close you are or how much you love each other, people are individuals with opinions and their own ways of doing things and so we are learning to compromise, flex, and adjust our own set routines in order to be successful in this living arrangement. We have come to understand that differences of opinion do not mean a lack of mutual respect and love, and I believe that is a tremendous key to our success.
Within this tiny home, we have two sets of parents, one seasoned pair and one new pair, an aunt, and infant twins. That is a tremendous amount of opinions and emotions. But it is equally a tremendous amount of love and life. Things like grocery shopping and bill sharing have not been a huge issue, as we are all focused on economizing and helping each other that way. And although things like home organization, personal space, and learning to balance keeping five adults and two babies clean with one shower is a daily challenge, where we are learning the most is in our routines and how we function with basic life tasks.
These tight quarters have forced us to put priority focus on communication. Despite the fact that I am blessed to have a very loving and close relationship with my family, in order to thrive let alone survive the circumstances, it is crucial that each and every one of us is confident to communicate and discuss when issues arise, both good and bad. And equally important that we discuss issues BEFORE they reach a critical status.
For all of us, it means remembering that discussion does not mean a lack of love or respect, rather the opposite. For example, my mother and I have a very open and honest relationship. If we irritate or frustrate each other, we talk about it and work through it because we value our relationship enough to do so. It does not mean we never disagree, but it does mean that when we do we work through it instead of shoving it under the rug. We respect each other enough to say, hey, this isn’t working the best let’s fix it, as opposed to not addressing issues and fermenting and stewing until we resent each other and want to blow the roof off of the house. This applies to every member of this house. We have chosen to respect each other and value our relationships enough to put the work in to make it succeed.
And so we are thriving in this tiny little house. We are sharing resources, joys, struggles and experiences, making memories, learning and growing. My children are growing up literally surrounded by people who love and adore them, and I see their confidence and self esteem blossoming every day. And of course, not every moment is easy, but we have found the harder moments to be completely worth it.
That is the case with all life and relationships, I think. To succeed, you have to put in the work. But if it is worth succeeding at, it is worth the work every time.