This week has been a big one here at LemonAid HQ. Almost three years into our relationship and 6 months since Lea proposed, we are still living in separate houses but not this week!
No siree, this week (half term for my kids) we had an official ‘trial run’ of living together as a blended family of six.
We all spent four days (they are with their father’s/grandparents the other days) living and sleeping at Lea’s house to see if we could cope with us all moving in there!
I confess I was nervous…all four children and the two of us in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom house for three days and four nights? Sounded like a recipe for disaster. Lea, of course, saw things very differently. Sigh.
We had a great week!
…The kids were, well, kids. Stroppy, delightful, cheeky, loving, challenging, awake too early, constantly hungry, little people. But we all got so much ground from the experience.
Our rules were few but firm: Mealtimes at the table together, showers before bed, everyone has to help out and do household tasks, and ongoing emotional sportscasting during arguments.
We went out and did stuff, and we stayed at home. We went on a mammoth hike for four hours in the rain (not the most sensible plan with my foot already swollen and sore!) with the kids carrying their own kit.
OK, it was only a week but we got to see how this really could work and it’s not like there weren’t tears, tantrums and tiaras…there were, and that was just me!
We aren’t blindly expecting this to go smoothly all the time and are well aware of some potential flash points and triggers. After all, you don’t spend 2.5 years both in therapy and processing the sh*it out of your stuff together for nothing!
So what did we learn from this week?
SO much. Foremost is that we don’t need to play the conventional game on many levels…
All too often we are shoehorned into lives we never really wanted – living in bigger houses with bigger mortgages that require us to stay in the same rat race on the same old treadmill, often doing jobs that no longer inspire or challenge us (if they ever did), let alone make our hearts sing.
This week made us realise there really is another truth and another path to tread (in fact, plenty more paths to tread)…
Tiny House Living IS Do-Able With 6!
We learned that we CAN survive and thrive in a tiny house, and that our freedom and independence is more important to us than paying for a 4-bedroom money pit, show-house style home, especially when we want to home educate and go travelling a lot, both with and without the children.
Paying for a larger house, filled with stuff just doesn’t seem like a good investment of money or the time needed for upkeep when instead we’d like to be out and about, roadschooling, worldschooling and enjoying ourselves rather than worrying about a large, empty house filled with expensive stuff.
Minimalism As A Conscious Choice…
Six of us living together in a two-bedroomed house is going to require a paring down of ‘stuff’ but as I’m learning, minimalism is very freeing (when I can unclench my butt cheeks). Physical things that I hold onto become reasons not to do things.
Consciously deciding to live with less stuff means we can do more, be together more, and embrace new opportunities with the space we’re creating.
Now don’t get me wrong this is a work in progress for me!! I’ve been learning to let go of many things, not just physical possessions in the past three years, but also dynamics, behaviour, patterns and even relationships that no longer serve me.
It has been and continues to be challenging, lonely, and scary, as well as freeing, refreshing and inspiring as I can begin to see a glimmer of new light at the end of the tunnel of change.
Unsurprisingly, the children cope well with less stuff and are far more creative and imaginative.
Being Location Independent + Working Remotely Is Pivotal To Our Lifestyle…
And no, I’m not just saying that because Lea was at the forefront of the Location Independent movement, even coining the phrase back in 2007.
It’s key because we want to be flexible, to have time with our kids while they’re growing up, to be able to home educate them together, to travel, to take advantage of term-time cheap rates for activities and trips, and to work to live not live to work.
Being able to work from wherever we are is absolutely fundamental to creating the lifestyle we want to live and while Lea has been doing this for over a decade, I’m relatively new to this and will be focusing on creating my own version of digital nomadism over the coming months!
Crazy Is Relative!
We’ve also learnt that some people think we’re BATSHIT CRAZY!
If you’re one of them, you likely haven’t got past the six people, two-bedroom, one bathroom house bit! To be fair, given the way most people live, I can hear that it sounds unusual but the joy of streamlined, uncluttered living is profound and gives a real sense of living in the ‘here and now’ that I think is lacking for so many in modern society.
To us, it sounds more crazy to work all hours under the sun in a ‘conventional’ job and send our children to school so we miss half their childhoods, just so we can earn more money to pay for a bigger house and more stuff, enjoy a couple of holidays a year, put money away for a hefty pension and only THEN really start enjoying ourselves and the freedom we’ve created. Why not create lives of freedom NOW?
Challenging Family Dynamics!
Being part of a Blended Family, whilst challenging at times, has some real advantages as we inevitably shine a spotlight on areas that might need work in our dynamics with our own children or with our step children.
This rightly involves dealing with old stubborn patterns that might never have surfaced had we stayed in our comfortable 2.4 family units, in a haven of co-dependence.
So we’ve also learned that being part of a blended family has meant that we’ve all had to (and continue to) look at our ‘stuff’ because it’s more noticeable, and our blind spots are highlighted by each other. Not easy by any means!
The Unequivocal Need for Adaptability…
Living so closely together in a small house, as part of a blended, multi-racial, lesbian family has gotta make you pretty darn FLEXIBLE and ADAPTABLE, right?!
These are skills that I think we often lose as we age and become more ‘set in our ways’ and so it has been a useful eye-opener for me to see where I rely on patterns and routines that I might choose to forego in favour of meeting my longer term deeper goals rather than my short-term comfort needs!
Flexibility and adaptability are key skills and part of a mindset that we really want to encourage in the kids which will set them up for the realities of modern life, in their learning, travel, relationships, work and beyond.
Hitting All The Buttons!
So there you have it: Tiny house living, digital nomadism, location independent, remote working, minimalism, blended family life, gay…that’s a pretty potent combination for a Family Blend of LemonAid, right?
We hope you enjoy the journey we’ll be blogging about as we begin the process of fully moving in together, beginning to home educate all 4 of our children together (currently my two are still flexi-schooling), and create a working and family life that enables us to enjoy the fruits of roadschooling, worldschooling and a life of freedom and independence 🙂