Our living together, blended family experiment continues apace (see here for the warts and all version of how it’s going between the two of us!). While the kids all seem to be adjusting pretty well to what amounts to a pretty big change in their lives, it’s not been without its challenges and obstacles!
It helps that, for quite some time, all the children have been asking when we’ll all live together so we know this is something they want versus something we’re just imposing upon them with no voice, desire or choice in the matter.
Delcuttering and streamlining two households to fit into one fairly small house, with stuff for 6 people, is an ongoing challenge.
It has meant the kids having drastically fewer toys between them and discussions about whether they’d like to sell some of their stuff and put the money into a travel fund for when we go travelling (the answer was a definitive “YES!”).
On the upside, they’ve all been far more creative with what’s available, with the little ones rediscovering needle felting, fimo-ing, playing ‘tennis’ with 2 fly swats and ping pong balls and the big girls creating endless set-ups for their dolls and creating stop motion animation music videos with them on the iPad.
For us, it has meant numerous discussions about whose stuff goes where, who gets the most drawers and wardrobe space and just how much stuff we’re keeping in the house!!
It has also meant repainting almost all the walls downstairs, as well as the gloss paintwork, negotiations over furniture and room layouts, and the difficult decision of what to do with the household pets (especially since cats and rats are not a great match!!).
All of this has also coincided with Becky looking for (and getting) not just one but two remote working roles, and the stress that that has entailed.
This is critical to our goal of travelling more and being able to work while we do, from anywhere with a decent connection (this post, for example, is being typed from a hospital waiting room!).
Blended Family Dynamics…
One of the biggest challenges we’ve faced – and continue to face – is navigating our way through the maze of blending our two units of three into one unit of six.
What has become absolutely clear is that if we are to make this work on every level, we need to agree on some fundamental principles…
1. That we – the adults – are the head of the unit, and that our relationship must be a priority because the more stable, grounded and ok it is/we are, the stronger the unit as a whole.
2. That we are each ok with the other parenting our children; and by that we mean giving them loving and firm boundaries, guiding them when needed, helping them when needed and generally playing a parental role when needed. Our family unit just wouldn’t work in such a blended way if we took a ‘you parent yours, I’ll parent mine’ approach to raising the children, especially when we all live together. And for this to work, we have needed to agree on our parenting approach, what appropriate boundaries are (and aren’t) and, where there are differences, how we handle these differences in a fair and balanced way.
We are fortunate to have discovered in each other an adult willing to parent our own children; to love them, to set boundaries for them, to model for them, to give enough of a shit about them that they feel secure, loved and that they belong with us and in our family unit. This feels so critical to our long term success in building a family together, and for our relationship too.
Hard Works Pays Off…Doesn’t It?!
The minimalism, sharing a smaller space versus a 3 or 4-bed house, the remote work…all of it is great practice for the rigours of travelling and working internationally while home educating 4 children!
The therapy and emotional processing of some of our most deep-seated patterns feels vital to our relationship and the patterns we both still bring to it…and if we think it’s like being in a pressure cooker now, let’s see how it feels when we’re sharing a train carriage travelling across Europe!
This feels like we’re putting in much of the hard work now so things feel easier in the future. Here’s hoping!!