I know I’ve done this theme before but I was reading through some archives of the cohousing listserv and the theme came up a bit. I was searching another topic but it kept popping up. It makes me wonder who does have time for cohousing?
I signed up and was willing to give lots of time. And my kids are old enough and my job as a teacher is short enough that I did have the time. Some feel like parents should not be given a pass – they should do their workshare just like everyone else, with maybe a few months off around a newborn and that’s it. However, injuries and losses and traumatic life events also can give someone or a break, or at least find a replacement.
But one has to wonder where the idea of cohousers doing everything themselves came from? Is the only way to build community is to do everything together? Why not just a work day every other month? And parties? And bumping into each other like it is set up to do?
If you hire out some of the gardening, or book keeping, or marketing, would it really ruin the community feel? What is the secret sauce to a community? I would say making time for each other and committees and getting the work done or finding others when you don’t have the skills. I’d say people’s personalities make a huge difference and uniting together to help out those with the more difficult personalities to adapt to a more community attitude.
I believe, like some others have expressed in the listserv, if the place has a warm, welcome environment, people will want to make time and contribute.
Another issue is accountability. If you say that everyone has to do so many work hours or pay so much money, how will you make sure everyone is doing their share? Are you holding everyone accountable for other policies in the place? Or are you letting things slide so that everyone is just individuals pretending to live together?
Some communities don’t monitor work hours. They post up what needs to be done and people get it done.
So, from what I know, two households are leaving my community due to time. They realized cohousing takes up too much time. One person barely just got there and left. So I wonder who oriented them? Is the focus on work, work, work? Who would want to live there? No one told them it’s also about hanging out, helping each other, and sharing meals. The other household claims time is the issue but I think other things are at play also. But once I left I realized how much more time I do have. And when I want to be social, I can go out and meet my new pals and not have to worry about built up tension or some committee decision we need to make later.
The other issue is if someone isn’t doing their workshare or paying up, what if they just don’t care? That’s an issue we’ve had to deal with. Some members just don’t care about some of the policies, or others. I think that’s the real reason most are leaving or have left. If you are new and no one tells you anything about cohousing except how excited they are to have your body there to do work, you might not feel like this is the place for you. If you have told others directly how things they are doing are negatively affecting your family, this may not be the place for you. If you have a whole group meeting and instead of dealing with the real issue, everyone wants to shame you for trying to take action, it may not be the place for you.
I don’t have time for living in cohousing anymore. I like my freedom.