Tuesday, 7 October 2014

A year in the 3G Household.

What's a 3G household you say? 

I didn't realise it had a 'name' either, until I came across this article. 

Basically, it's when 3 generations of family live under one roof. Most commonly, when the middle generation, for example me, move BACK in with the parents and we bring along our baby. 

To give a little back story of why I find myself in this situation, I will re-cap short and sweet.

2007 - Alistair finishes University and moves back home, he picks up a part time job back at this old workplace. I finish Sixth form, leave said same part time job that Alistair picks up and go off to University. 

2008 - I come home to work over the Christmas Break, I meet geeky new guy at workplace. I come home again over Summer Break and somehow find myself round geeky guys watching a programme about a serial killer named Dexter. I fall for geeky guy who loves good guy serial killers. We make decision that even though I have two years left at University 3 hours away, and that we have both been hurt by long distance relationships in the past, we will make a go of it. 

2009 - Spend the year going back up and down the country to try and see each other when possible. I join Ultimate Frisbee and sometimes we meet half way at the same tournament. I continue to hate being at university but as i'm half way through, stick it out.

2010 - I graduate University and finally Ali and I are back in the same town. I get a different job in retail and we end up never seeing each other. 

2011 - We I decide that in order to save our relationship, we should move out and find a place to rent. Going between parents houses and working different shifts makes it impossible to find a happy medium. We move out in the February to our own rented place, we love it. Ali gets a new 9-5 mon-fri job and we continue to have no days off together. 

2012 - I continue to go on about wanting a baby. I've accepted i'm not going to get a marriage proposal anytime soon, so continue to pester. Meantime, we realise that never having a day off together is not working and I'm ready to have a meltdown in the retail industry. I find myself a new 9-5 mon-fri job and love it. After talking to various friend couples, I find out they have all been trying to have a baby for 8 months plus. I panic, baby conversation goes into overdrive, we decide to 'see what happens'. I get pregnant in the first month, feel very guilty about still new job situation, work very hard to prove I'm sorry. 

2013 - LJ is born. We are all very happy in our little rented house, we have accepted we will never own our own property, but can't do anything about it. Meanwhile, our managing agents sell all managed properties to alternative company and they don't send out renewal leases. I discover two friends with babies currently live with their parents while they save for a house deposit. I get crazy idea that this might be an option, I run idea past my dad, who crazily agrees to have me, Ali and LJ move back in with him for a year. We give one month's notice on house lease that was never renewed and leave our little home. 

2014 - We live with dad for a year and housing prices increase and we still don't have enough money to move out. Apologise for promise of 'a year' and hope we can extend our stay while we work out where to find a gold mine. 

Ok, so it wasn't short and sweet. That might have gone something along the lines of - Impatient girl who never wanted to go to uni and only wanted to have babies and is rubbish with her money wants everything immediately. 

I know, I know. You might all be thinking, it's my own fault, yes most of it is, but I wouldn't change having LJ for the world and I don't think mine and Ali's relationship could have bared the strains of not seeing each other for any more years, unless we had moved out when we did. 

My workplace have a social media thing going on at the moment, it's what would you tell your younger self? I laugh every time I see the poster, there is a lot of things I would tell my younger self. Don't bother with University would be the first. I was part of the sixth form era that were basically forced to write out a university application and we mostly picked things we liked doing or that looked cool. I didn't really think about future jobs at all, well that's a lie, I was brainwashed into thinking you wouldn't get a job if you didn't have a degree. Well, guess what, everyone has a bloody degree these days. In fact, I think at one point, my retail workplace all held degrees, and we all had returned to the SAME DAMN JOB WE LEFT TO GO TO UNIVERSITY. I'm not going to say I 'wasted' 3 years of my life at Uni, I'm guessing I wouldn't be the person I am today without it. I'm talking about the life experience of course, not the university studying. Let's just say, it was some of the most expensive life experience I was going to earn. I just wish that I had got a full time job at 18 and had a little pot of disposable income saved up somewhere.

Another may be that you don't realise how good you have it at your parents house when you are young. Most of the time you aren't paying rent, you don't have to worry about bills, you will be doing only a share of the overall housework and you are likely to be living in a better house than you would afford on your own, in a nicer area too. Yes I know, if you've moved away to University and then moved back, the last thing you want is your dad asking you when your coming home that night and your mum hoovering outside your room in the morning. Younger self, I wish you'd stuck it out a little longer but then I realise you never saw your boyfriend because you both finished work at ridiculous o'clock and had opposite days off.

Finally I expect you think I'd tell my younger self to not have a baby until I had enough money to afford a house. Well no, my biggest fear has always been that I wouldn't be able to have babies and I wanted to be sure that if this was going to be the case, I knew about it early enough to do something about it. Having a family is all I've ever aspired to, I basically should have been born into the 1930s. I'm very lucky that we didn't have any problems, I knew we had enough to sustain a standard of living, and therefore we were ready for a baby because we had accepted we would rent and that was that. Now that we are saving for a house, I know we need to wait until we are in the right place to have another, or rather for me to start pleading with Ali for us to have another. 

So it's been a year since my lovely dad let us move back in with him and my sister, to my old family home. We had considered ourselves part of the 'Generation Rent' and that we would properly never own our own home, and be paying out dead money to landlords. Another article I read (these things just keep coming up on my internet pages, like the internet KNOWS, well it does now.) that call us the 'clipped wing' generation, because we struggle to leave home and get on the housing ladder. I know this is not true for everyone, I have a lot of friends that have recently bought their own houses (The higher % of them didn't go to uni!) but we have all been around our mid 20s. Our parents were married with two kids by that time, it's a different time for sure.

So a year ago, we took photos for LJ of his first little nursery, the house we brought him home to and he enjoyed the first 3 and half months of his life in.

I took photos of how i'd set up his nursery, the months I spent planning the little details, or adapting ideas i'd had forever on how I wanted my nursery to look.

 I was sad when our lovely wall details didn't come off the wall in one and had to be thrown out. I figured once we have our own home, I will be able to do whatever I like to the walls of his room and make up for it.

A benefit of moving would mean that I would get to decorate his room all over again, except I would be limited in some aspects as eventually it would be my brother's old room that LJ would have back at my dads. 

I'm sad that I never got to see LJ play in his room and enjoy the big floor space, I just home that I can give him a really awesome room in the house we eventually find.

We will always appreciate my dad taking us all back in to his house and having to put up with an explosion of baby items intruding his home once again. He pretty much let us do whatever we needed to do in the rooms to accommodate us. His only request was that our lovely house rabbits moved outside. While this made us sad, we didn't think it was such a bad idea anyway. House rabbits can be quite high maintenance if you don't want your house smelling like a farm everyday, it was becoming quite the challenge to keep them clean and the house clean and be faced with the future of the baby actually moving around in the same space.

So we made sure they had the best we could afford and we moved them outside. Luckily, it was the end of September and not too cold, they had time to adjust to the colder weather and grow their fur accordingly. We purchased the wind and rain cover for the hutch and always made sure they were warm enough. They are very happy outside and we open the bottom hutch up to let them run around. They aren't too sure about dad's artificial grass though! 

So we packed up our little house, realising how much stuff we would have to store in the meantime (Thanks various family and friends for storing!) and said goodbye to the end of this chapter. 

Oh wait, I skipped the advice bit about not moving when you have a 3 month old that requires to be held every 10 minutes. Yeah, avoid that if you can, in fact I remember reading the top 10 things not to do when you have a newborn, one of them was moving. Oh well, since when did I do anything the right way round?

Let's not forget that time I had to FaceTime my boob loving bottle refusing baby because he couldn't be away from his mama for a few hours. It was expressed milk but he wasn't having any of it. My mum had to actually drive me to Ali's parents so I could feed him. This slows down cleaning and moving considerably. He even gave me the quivering bottom lip cry just after this screenshot. I raced my boobs round there pronto!

So we made it. It was too late for dad to back out now, he was stuck with us, for a year. Good job we didn't sign anything, he could be stuck with us for longer now. 

Here are a few of the positives and changes of being a 3G household.

1. LJ lives with Grandad. He has a built in babysitter most of the time. This is great for their relationship, it's great when I need to just run some washing upstairs or put on my make up in peace. It was great when I had a needy baby that wouldn't just be left to kick about in a cot while I showered. 

LJ was a bit weary of Grandad when he first moved in, he soon warmed to him and now he waits outside his door shouting 'Grandad' in the mornings. 

This video cracks me up every time.

My dad works from home, so it's lovely having an extra pair of hands about most of the time. I'll most defiantly have a shock if I had another baby, although I would be able to shower with the door open and just have my children run wild. 

2. I get to live back where I grew up, I get to walk LJ through the same woodland areas and quiet roads that I walked through. Somewhere we would unlikely live if we had our own home. 

One of the first things we noticed was the quiet. LJ had a monitor that goes off every time there is a new sound in the room. At our house, it used to go off all the time, because a motorbike would go by or loud people hanging outside. The most we get here is the odd cat fight in the early hours.

The downside to the move is that we no longer lived 10 minutes from the town centre. At the time of the move I was still doing my buggy workout sessions, so I now had to get the bus two times a week, equaling an extra £7.60 in bus fare. I kept this up until the end of January, when I stopped because I was returning to work. 

I missed the park, I used to take LJ for a walk when he wouldn't settle, or I needed to get out of the house. 

It did however help with my baby clothes shopping addiction. I would no longer just end up in town buying something, I'd just end up at the local supermarket instead.

3. I enjoyed a bigger living space, warmer too.

I loved the cosier feel of the living room and the bigger space to hang out with LJ. As the winter months rolled in, the house was always warmer than ours ever was and I certainly enjoyed watching some live TV (we never had TV in our place, we were big gamers, not so handy once you've got a baby). 

We had my old room for our bedroom and with a little adjustment, we managed to fit LJ's cot in there too. I still wanted to keep him in with us until closer to 6 months, especially as he still woke very frequently in the night.

In the meantime, we sorted my brother's old room out to be LJ's nursery. I managed to use the best of the space and current decoration to make a cosy little nursery for him.

I was able to take elements of what I had in his old nursery and adjust them to fit in this room. I made my original Logi Bear Prints for his wall and added his newborn picture in 20"  by 16" up on the wall too. We moved him just before Christmas, at 6 months, to his own room. I had a hard time of letting go and did and still do check on him a lot before I go to sleep.  

The downside of course to 3G living is that you are sharing with others. While you may leave your child's door open upstairs in your house to listen out for them or prevent risky door opening stirring, you can't in a house when people are still going up and down the stairs all evening. There have been times when door shutting or general moving about has woken LJ. He's got a lot better as he gets older, but you do have to make adjustments to how you parent based on this.

For example, I could never do 'sleep training'. Not that I particularly ever liked the idea, or was very good at it, but I also would never have been able to be consistent with it. You may well be able to leave a baby to do a bit of controlled crying at 7pm, but you certainly can't do it at 2am and 4am when you have other people sleeping in the house. You then of course can't expect baby to fall asleep on their own at 7pm, but run to them at 2am because they will wake the whole house up if you don't get there in a spilt second. Baby gets confused and nothing works, so I have always gone to him as soon as he cries, for my own sanity and the sleep of the rest of the house.

The bigger space is nice, the extra housework is not. I went from a little two bedroom terrace with one bathroom, to a four bedroom detached with 3 bathrooms. I can't believe I ever used to think it took me a long time to do the housework. I've gone from clearing up a house of two adults, to a house of 4 adults and baby. I have realised that my mother was a superhero and her level of cleanness for this house while we were growing up was amazing. I also know that i'm not her, and while I try and keep up with it all, in reality it's hard and I don't always manage and that was before I even went back to work part time. Sure the others help sometimes and will generally clear up their own messes, but I've found since I had a baby that I want everything to be clean and tidy immediately, but in reality I don't always have the time for that. I can't wait to have a smaller house again to clean. 

4. Maybe a slight downside, not a lot of people come to visit you, mainly because it's not YOUR house and especially so if your parents happen to be divorced. 

I therefore make matters worse by not being able to drive, so I have spent the vast majority of my time on various buses and walking distances. I'll tell you now, nothing will make you feel 15 again quite like having someone pick you up from your parents house because you live there and you don't drive. 

Please, when I finally have my own house, come visit, whenever you like!

This is not to say my dad isn't happy for people to come over, he's great at letting us have people round, it's just not quite the same, is it? I'm also sure it was quite hard for him to work from home the day I had mummy friends over and we had a total of 4 baby boys crying, screaming and laughing.

5. You have to rely on other people aside from your partner to be baby proofed. 

Closing stair gates behind you, keeping small items out of reach, shutting bathroom doors, locking away dangerous cleaning products, being quiet. These are all things you expect to do once you become a parent and you have a small child in your house. Now try getting everyone to do the same, when they've not lived with a small child for over 20 years or at all. Now it's not so much a problem because i'm generally always in the same room as LJ, but it's that extra thing you have to consider. 

I got scared the other day when I heard someone talking about the fact they had moved their 18 month old into a toddler bed. It made me think, what the hell would I do if I had to do that? Luckily, for now, LJ hasn't attempted to climb out, or at least he hasn't worked it out yet. However when he does and I'm forced to move him into a toddler bed, I have the stair gate dilemma. From what i've seen in other people's houses, when their toddler has been in their own bed, they have the stair gate on their door frame. I expect this is because when said toddler gets to bed stage, they also get to opening door stage. This is all well and fine if you put your toddler to bed and then you both retreat downstairs to watch TV and all is quiet upstairs. This is not an option for me, people come and go upstairs and downstairs all evening. Your other option might be to keep the stair gate on the top of the stairs and when you retreat upstairs for the night, you close it behind you and you keep your door open to listen for the pitter patter of feet in the night and all is well. This is not an option for me, we are not always the last to go to bed and I can not guarantee someone has closed that gate behind them. I also can't guarantee that said toddler wouldn't open all the doors and you'll end up with a 5am wake up call. 

So I freaked out. We need to hurry up and get our money together and find a home before I have all of these toddler issues to deal with. 

Except the housing prices have risen and we'll need about £3k more than we first thought. Added to the fact that we didn't anticipate childcare costs in our original plan budget and we are now down more on money saved each month. So i'm going to be picking up some extra overtime at work (you may not get another blog post for a while!) and we're going to try very hard to play catch up and find that house for us. 

As much as I can't wait to be back to a 2G household and living the traditional way of life and having my own house to decorate and tidy, I know that we've been very lucky to have the opportunity to live back home. LJ will certainly miss his Grandad being in the same house as him and I know Grandad will miss the early wake up calls and the toy cars under his feet. I'll have to send LJ on sleepovers to make up for it! 

When we started this journey, we really thought we could save and find a house all in a year. We were maybe expecting too much and not anticipating the costs of having a child and saving for a deposit, let alone thinking about events such as Christmas and Maternity pay. This year has felt long and fast all at the same time. I've gone from having a baby 4 month old to a toddler 15 month old and the challenges are forever changing, both with parenting and living all together. I know in the grand scheme of things, the time we spent living back as a 3G generation will seem so small compared to the life of living, but hopefully so worth it. We've had so many memories here all together, from LJ learning to roll over, to one of his first words being Grandad and Goal. I'm happy that LJ will have so many memories with Grandad, as I did with my dad. Relationships can be strained, but I think we've all done really well being in such a small space together. The most important thing is to talk and discuss. As long as everyone is aware what the set up will be, it can and does work out. We would never have been able to save this much money in a shorter time if dad hadn't let us move back here. It may have changed the way i've done things in bringing up my child, but nothing has been bad and it's just extra challenges along the way. 

I hope that this time next year I can say that we own our own home and I'm sure my dad will enjoy the peace and quiet once again, except of course when LJ comes for a sleepover. For those in 3G households, I wish you all the best in moving forward. The struggle is just part of the story. It'll all be worth it in the end, for everyone. 

I'll leave you with one of my most favourite memories from this last year, my cheeky boy. 

1 comment:

  1. LOVE this blog post!!
    What a busy year you've had!
    It's been a pleasure to be on standby whenever/if you've ever needed me :) x