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Living In a Joint Family Home

After my divorce, I found myself in a situation where I had to make a choice. At the time, I was a stay at home mom with a two-year-old daughter and I was very, very pregnant. I had two choices: I could move into a small house on my own, working full time and paying for daycare, or I could move back home with my {large} family.

Being the stubborn person I am, I chose the first option. At the time, I was living off of the profit from selling everything I had and my baby was born only 1 month later. At first it was great. Until it wasn’t. I started working a full-time job and had to put my kids in daycare. I was living off 3 to 4 hours of sleep between breastfeeding, potty-training, working, and all the other things that come with life. It was a lot.

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By the time I got to the 6-month mark of that lifestyle, I was burned out, overworked, underpaid, and overwhelmed with the amount I was taking on. My dad, being the type of father girls would kill for, kept insisting I move in with them. I finally got to a point where I accepted it. We got a bigger house and moved everyone in. My dad was working days, and I began working nights so that we could keep the kids out of daycare. $1000 back in my pocket every month. Hallelujah! But it wasn’t all rainbows and gum drops.

Living in a joint family has its positives and negatives. For starters, every family has their own set of rules. Combining house rules takes a lot of compromise, which can be very frustrating. For example, television time, sugar intake, and discipline style have to be agreed upon. Not to mention the amount of tolerance it takes to share bathrooms with 9 people, 4 of which are teenagers.

There are great things too, though. We have family dinners every night, and we take turns cooking. I take advantage of the fact that there is always someone available to watch the baby while I take a quick trip to Target; you know, to spend the extra $1000 I now save on daycare. And not to mention, I get to pawn off the dishes on said teenagers, and that is a joy.

What I have learned about having children is that it really does take a village. As a single mother, it feels better to CLAIM that I have it all together, but sometimes when I am already feeling betrayed and resentful by the lack of help, the last thing I want to do is ask anyone else to step in to give me a break. I am fortunate enough to have a family that has had my back all my life. Even as a single mother pushing 30, my dad still welcomed me- well actually he pushed me to come back home. Living in a joint family home is not for everyone, though. I grew up in a traditional Arab household and it is common for families to live in one house, so the concept was not so far-fetched for me. Though, some days, especially in light of Covid-19 and quarantining, it has been difficult to navigate. I would still choose the chaos of living with my massive family rather than trying to hold it all together alone.

my crazy family

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