Four years ago (almost to the day) I wrote about my experience as Snow White in a group house full of men. If you have not read that post I strongly recommend you have a quick squiz.
As my children grow, and as my husband proves the theory that you can't teach an old dog new tricks, I am discovering that raising a family can be like living in a group house. A house full of personalities, all with their own method of operation, interests, priorities and living styles.
I'm the person that can't cope with mess. Beds must be made, clothes put away, washing up done and tables and bench tops cleared.
The hubster on the other hand quite likes to surround himself with stuff. If there is a surface that is clear, he will find something to put there.
As you can imagine his MO causes me stress. When I go around and clean everything up, or if I complain, that causes him stress.
I can do all I can with the kids to guide them on how they keep their bedrooms and I can still lay down the law in the common spaces, but ultimately they are their own people and their personalities will reflect their own living styles.
There are many tips and tricks out there on how to handle a group house. These will include agreements on how to manage the lease, food, chores and bills.
They might also mention establishing ground rules in regards to the use and cleaning of common areas, a visitor policy, sharing the car parking, understanding sleep patterns and swapping schedules to ensure everyone is aware of who is where, when and why.
The older my children get, the more I feel I may have to take on a group house philosophy and establish a set of "house rules" that we all adhere to.
I guess the bottom line is this, in any group house situation we ideally want to minimise conflict. The ideal living situation is one where all inhabitants live in harmony.
So if I was going to give one tip on how to live in a group house it would be this:
Encourage everybody to communicate their expectations
Conflict occurs when expectations fail to meet.
There are going to be times when our expectations are not met and when this happens we need to either find a way to better communicate our expectations, or change them.
If I go to use the ironing board to find it covered in comics* (yes that actually happens) I need to better communicate my expectation of being able to use the ironing board without first having to remove my husbands' EBay stock . If it continues to happen, then perhaps I need to change my expectation that the ironing board will be clear and ready for my use, and simply know that in order to iron I am going to have to do a bit of sorting first.
Raising a family can be like living in a group house except that with family you have the advantage of that whole "unconditional love" bit, which allows for more tolerance and quicker forgiveness. That's not to say that conflict won't still occur.
So tell me, is your family home like a group house?
What are you tips for living in harmony?
*In his defence the comics are there for a reason. He often irons the pre-loved comics before listing them for sale on his EBay site to get out the old kinks and dog ears. It's the fact that he leaves them there for days to remind him he needs to iron them that drives me batty. Luckily I hate ironing more than I dislike mess so it makes it easier for me to change my expectations with this one.