Originally posted October 2017
If you know anything about Trev and I, then you know that we are major foodies, we love traveling, and we still live with his parents. In fact, we will probably be living with the in-laws for another two to three years at this point due to the crazy housing market in Denver. Living with in-laws has it's ups and downs, but we have all worked hard to make this a joyful situation instead of a stressful one. After almost 4 years of living with the in-laws I still have my bad days, but I'm daily learning to be grateful and choose to appreciate this season of life.
We make this co-living situation work by choosing to be considerate. Here are some of the more practical implementations that we have agreed on.
• we have set laundry days for the two families, but leave grace for those days when D. wets the bed and I need to wash the sheets or when Mum forgot to wash Dad's dress shirts for Sunday.
• we have separate living room areas and do our best to keep our own messes picked up in the common areas of the house. We have also divided up the dusting + vacuuming and try to stick to a regular cleaning schedule that works for everyone.
• we have separate bathrooms. Ours is also technically the guest bathroom, since the downstairs bathroom is currently getting an overhaul. Trev and I usually pick up and wipe down the bathroom every day before bed, and I do a deep clean once a week. This just helps us stay on top of it in case we have unexpected guests.
• we share responsibility for the kitchen + laundry spaces. We have divided the kitchen in half by cupboards and countertops, but if we need to use someone else's space, we do our best to pick it up and put everything away when we are done. We take turns cleaning the lint trap and wiping down the washer and dryer.
• we label everything in the fridge, freezer, and pantry. Mum and Dad's shelves and drawers are labeled with an "E" and ours is labeled with a "K". This usually prevents us from grabbing from the wrong egg carton or milk jug.
• we extend a lot of grace. This has definitely been easier for some than others. ::cough cough:: I have really struggled with this the past few years, but I'm learning to do this more and more and choosing to freak out less and laugh over mistakes more. (i.e. Dad accidentally opened Trev's Christmas gift when it came in the mail and Trev saw it! My initial upset reaction was quickly replaced with joy when I chose to extend grace and forgiveness instead of anger. It caused a lot of laughs for everyone!)
• we make larger decisions together as a whole family, such as paint colors, baby proofing, building a fence around the pool, and storage areas.
• we notify each other when we are having friends over. Usually the other couple will use that as an excuse for a date night out. :)
• we do our best to exercise good communication. Sometimes, Mum and I really tend to talk past each other, and thats usually when one of the guys will step in an translate. This has also been an exercise in forgetfulness for me! I have been more actively working on jotting down notes or my thoughts when I need to communicate something to Mum or Dad, so that I don't forget and then get upset later because I forgot to tell them.
There are definitely perks to living with in-laws! A big one is that we have mutually helped each other cut down on housing costs. This has allowed both families to enjoy traveling and vacations that we wouldn't have been able to otherwise. There are certain outdoor and heavy chores that Trev helps his parents with. We have built-in baby sitters, and thus enjoy more date nights! (who doesn't love that!) And we have a lot of interesting conversations and connections that just wouldn't happen otherwise.
The best thing of all, is that I get to watch them be devoted grandparents. Danny adores getting to help in the garden with grandma (or "Gaga" as he has dubbed her) and eat his second breakfast most mornings with grandpa. He enjoys swimming in the pool, snuggling after naps, and many more walks than I could take him on if we lived on our own. Since Trev is their only child, and we will have their only grandchildren, I'm really glad that we get to give them this special season of close bonding with Daniel.
Out of all of us, I have struggled the most with this co-living season of life. I am still full of longing for a place to finally settle in. I eagerly look forward to the day when we can stretch our wings and find our own private nesting place. It's sometimes hard to call someone else's home my home too.
But, I have gained two wonderful parents that I wouldn't trade the world for. They daily exercise so much love and care towards all three of us, and I love them so dearly, quirks and all. I rely on their strength and wisdom, they put up with me, and I am learning valuable life lessons right now. Living with in-laws is a sanctifying process; it's hard and messy, but can be oh so good when you choose to live in grace.