Part 7: Planning Community
Coming into the home stretch, we had decided that we would not spread out between the three houses at the farm. We decided to take community to the next level and all live in the main house. It was over 5000 square feet. But we still needed to figure out how to live together in this space.
The house was an oddity. It had been added onto at least twice over the past 20 years. There was no sense to getting around as there were stairs that went up there came down somewhere else. Anyone who has ever visited can agree that it is a bit confusing.
We managed to nail down three areas where families could reside. There was two large (400 sq.ft) high ceilinged rooms on one side of the house. Marc & Katie would take one and Liz & Josh would take the other. Marc and Katie's son and daughter would take the room directly below these. It was a mud room, but we blocked up the windows and door to keep it warmer. Liz and Josh just had the one child so he would sleep in the hallway nook just down from their room. We put in a door to make it official. Laura and I got the master suite of the house. Though we did not have the large room that the others had for their personal area, we had a wider hallway which doubled as a living room, a den which would be our kids room, then the master itself.
We knew that this configuration would have to change down the road to accommodate the growing brood we now shared. We decided to commit to this setup for 3-5 years and adjust as necessary.
There was two living rooms downstairs. One would become a play area, the other for general use and hosting. The kitchen and dining area, as well as laundry and the furnace were all central.
We worked out a schedule for laundry. Each family would get two days for their stuff, with the seventh day being a free-for-all. Meals were similar. Everyone would be on their own for breakfast and lunch (though usually someone would get it started for all) and each family had two dinners a week. The seventh day was our family dinner night where we would all be gone.
Parenting was the next discussion. We knew that in order to run a farm, we would be out working on the farm. We all had jobs as well. Inevitably we knew that parenting would be a shared responsibility. Fortunately, we all had similar expectations. All of us agreed to take part in discipline and interaction with the kids. Anyone could issue a time out or give the OK for something the kids might be asking for. If in doubt, we would default to the parent. Any further discipline beyond a time out were only to be done by the child's parent and at their discretion. The main goal was to keep consistent and have all of the kids see all of the parents as authority figures in their lives. This part would need to evolve as we lived together.
After nailing down these simple things, we started to feel like this might actually work. We were all scared and nervous about the move, but it was worth it, knowing what we were inheriting.