A few months ago, May to be exact, I was due to have our third baby. We had a large home we rented from an acquaintance. My husband, Brian, was doing well at work, where he is a premesis technician. As I was preparing myself for birth and life with three littles under the age of four, we got some stressful news. Brian’s union was going to go on strike. Their contract with the company had expired, and a new one wasn’t being agreed upon. The strike didn’t last long, but it was enough days to seriously hurt us financially. At the end of the strike, there was still no new contract, so the union went on strike again. Long story short, in the same week that I had our son, Hudson, we had to pack our things and move from our beautiful house.
Without proper time and money to prepare ourselves for the move, we had nowhere to go. My parents opened their home to us and we took them up on their offer. Our stay was supposed to last between one and two months. Well, Brian’s union continued to strike off and on, without a new contract to show for it. And so, here I sit, at the Starbucks down the street from my parents’ house, where we still currently live.
Sometimes, life doesn’t go the way you plan it. As Christians we can take comfort in this- God knows, and He is bigger than any problem we face.
God is in control.
Along with repeating that to myself on a daily basis, I am learning how to function in chaos and how to tame disorder. There are ten people living under one roof, and three of them are very small children still in the process of learning their manners. To say there is tension is a huge understatement. Thankfully, my parents are awesome, fairly mellow people who adore my kids to no end. Even in this situation though, there is friction and awkwardness like you wouldn’t believe. It’s an unnatural circumstance- this living situation isn’t the way God designed families to live. However, it’s where we are in this season and it’s a huge blessing.
When God does things we don’t understand, we must get on our knees in prayer and adapt with a thankful heart. For anyone who’s ever lived or is living with family, or who may end up there in the future, here are a few tips.
1. Step up. Don’t be afraid to keep your role as the feminine head of your house. Just because your name isn’t on the lease does not mean you’re stepping out of your role as wife and mother. You and the woman of the house are joining your two families together- this is a big job that certainly calls for two women in charge! So keep your cleaning schedule, your meal plans, and your laundry routine in tact. You’re just doing your usual work in someone else’s home instead. The woman of the house will appreciate you keeping her from having extra work. Just be sure to check with her to see if there are any particular times of the day that don’t work in her favor, and stay away from housework during those times.
2. Be minimal. Keep anything and everything you can possibly live without in storage, and live very simply during this time. We have only two week’s worth of clothing, a few favorite toys, and basic toiletries with us at my parents’ house. Everything else is boxed and kept in our storage facility. This keeps things as simple as possible and the laundry at a mimimum.
3. Drive. Although this is a time to save money and work toward moving out, don’t hold out on yourselves when it comes to gas money. Gasoline should not be a place where you’re saving right now. You need to be able to get out of the house at any time. Things get tense, crowded, frustrating, or just plain boring, and packing the kids up for a random trip to the beach is sometimes just the thing you need. Taking a drive, even if for no reason other than to be away is pertfectly understandable. Save on dining out, save on shopping and the hair salon if need be, but do not cut back on gas. You need it!
4. Bust out the iPad. Take advantage of living in the age of electronics. Our family doesn’t do television…normally. During this time however, movies, kids shows, and iPhone apps have saved me on my worst days. Sometimes, when my mom needs to make a business call or do a couple hours of work and my kids are running crazy, taking them into our bedroom and putting on “Tangled” is the only way to keep them quiet and keep my mom from losing it!
5. Give grace. Somebody comes home talking louder than they’d need to at a rock concert right when the kids have gone down for their naps. Someone needs to do their homework at the same time as my three-year-old is singing at the top of her lungs. These things happen, and sometimes all I can do is give grace and do my best to change the situation.
6. Be changed. During this time, The Lord has gently laid it on my heart that I have a tendency to yell at my children. He has shown me where it comes from and is guiding me to heal by removing that root in my heart. I think that may even be a large part of the reason He’s brought us here. Allow yourself to be molded and changed in this difficult season. God will take the bad and turn it into good if you’ll just let him, and give yourself and the loved ones who have let you into their home some grace.