Mother (Almost Never) Knows Best: Come Together: Selling the Idea of Group Parenting

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Come Together: Selling the Idea of Group Parenting

Now I don't want to make anyone nervous or fear that I am trying to indoctrinate you into some sort of cult which requires the sacrifice of a first born at every new moon but I have recently been thinking about the advantages of communal living. Bear with me.

We have been staying at my in law's house with my sister-in-law, her husband and their newborn daughter. Now, a hyperactive 4 year old, a somewhat impassioned 2 year old and an infant who is trying to come to terms with not being physically cocooned within her mother being couped up in the one house may seem, from the outside, chaotic or perhaps even a tad stressful. Honestly though, it wasn't. In this situation the adults far outnumbered the children and there were six pairs of hands to three demanding bodies which meant that adult ablutions could be done in private, hot drinks could be consumed whilst still above room temperature and role play could be evenly distributed thereby reducing any one person's suffering to tolerable levels. 


Many hands make less role play

Communal living meant that my husband and I could run together for an hour everyday. Now I realise that this might not be everyone's chosen activity when given a hour to one's self so replace "run" with "soak in the bath", "reading a book" or "catching up on the side bar of shame" if that's your bag, but it gave us the chance to chat, shoot the breeze, wax lyrically about our amazing children like we actually loved them and not through gritted teeth. Living with other people gives you the ability to do these things. Every single day! 

It also allowed me to take the edge off my ever present craving to "go again" by inhaling the newborn's scent and stroking their tiny, hairy limbs whilst they slept in a frog like position on my chest. I had all the joys of an infant without the torturous sleep deprivation, swampy feeling around the chesticles, drenching night sweats and tender undercarriage of days gone by. The new parents also got the opportunity to savour naps during the day, safe in the knowledge that, should their beloved progeny stir, there would be a number of loving bodies vying for the position of Chief Cuddler until they awoke from their slumber.


Just taking a big whiff...

The children seemed to thrive too. They soaked up the various sources of attention as efficiently as my socks soak up the errant urine around the toilet bowl whilst my son potty trains. In other circumstances when we have lived with other parents whose children are of similar ages and temperaments there have even been brief periods where we have been left to, hold on to your hats people, chat. 

The negatives (and we always knew there had to be some) would be rather vigorous selection process that would be involved. Your parenting prowess would need to be on par as you couldn't have Nigel and Bev from NCT consistently showing you up with their prodigy who has slept 10 hours a night since conception, gifts his finest cuddly toys to the local dog shelter as a matter of principle and is a self taught concert pianist by the age of 4. You need to find yourselves some parenting kindred spirits. 

In our case we are looking for a couple who rate fun and kindness over etiquette and tidiness. We need a couple who can appease an irate toddler while teaching a preschooler about evolution, gravity and breast feeding (she has some questions.) In return we can offer some strong voices during story time, a relaxed approach to feeding time and methods and a love of an early night, thereby freeing our alternates up for some nanights on the tiles whilst we hold down the communal fort.


We have even kept an eye out
for nearby properties

Nigel and Bev need not apply.
Mum Muddling Through
Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

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