Just over a year ago I jokingly suggested to our friends that they should move in with us. They were renting but spending a lot of time at our place. We got on really well and often they would stay the night after dinner and a couple of drinks. We joked about it for a while because it isn't "NORMAL". Couples with children live on their own.
The more we talked about it though, the more the status quo just didn't seem all that awesome. I mean, it separates us and leaves us often isolated.
I don't know how many times I ended up crying on my own after the kids had driven me crazy and I was all alone, no one to support or help me as my husband was at work. Mostly, I just wanted someone to talk to. Living in a commune would have been awesome when I was new to motherhood.
My husband and I are very lucky to own a really big three level house. It has two separate lounges and dining rooms, plus six bedrooms. There was only one kitchen and that was a little bit of a concern as I am very funny about how things are kept in there. I have OCD when it comes to my kitchen. Everything needs to be in the right spot and in the right way. I get anxious if I hear someone trying to do the dishes as they may not be done the right way. Weird, I know, but that is me and how would I cope with other people in my kitchen?
We kept joking about it and how it could benefit us all and eventually we thought, 'fuck it, let's do it!' My Dad's words ring loud in my ear, 'what's the worst that could happen?'
They moved in with their two children and cat about a year ago now and we all absolutely love it. The biggest thing I have learnt is that connection is vital for living a healthy and happy life. It is a huge factor in living a long life and there are studies out there in cyberland that suggest that a strong social connection;
improves our physical health and psychological well-being
leads to a 50% increased chance of longevity
it strengthens our immune system and helps us recover from disease faster
helps to lower rates of anxiety and depression and boosts our self-esteem
Scientific evidence is great but for me, I love when personal stories back it up. I know for a fact how much of a positive impact living in a modern-day commune has had on me personally. In the past year, I have not been properly sick. I have had a couple of days where I felt a little off, but I haven't had a cold or sore throat, NOTHING! I definitely feel my self-esteem has increased and I just feel a lot happier. I have had a stressful time with my eldest son being diagnosed with a rare skin disease and it meant I was in and out of the hospital for weeks. It was so nice to have a community at home to take care of the other kids. I'm not sure what I would have done without them.
It feels good to have other adults to talk too, to bounce ideas off and get other opinions and perspectives on things. We sit together in the evenings and laugh off the stresses of the day. We share our concerns and worries like we share the chores around the house and it just makes life easier.
I have to say that I have found that connection is something that has been hugely lacking in my life and probably in many peoples lives. We are stuck in our little houses, all alone, with little support. We used to live in tribes not that long ago, where we wouldn't have been left on our own. We had our mothers, aunts, grandmothers, uncles, cousins all around us, helping and guiding us.
I am so very lucky to live with such cool, supportive, funny, respectful, helpful, awesome human beings. I hope to carry on living this way for as long as possible. Not because we need to, because we want to.