Cohousing – a wonderful option for extended families!

Lindy Flynn from Heddleston Village Cohousing near Nelson B.C. shares her story

How does living in cohousing support your relationship with your children and grandchildren? 

My daughter, son-in-law and I went in together to purchase our home in Heddlestone Village. This is a new cohousing community with the first residents moving in end of December 2014.  I am from the States so am considered a “seasonal visitor” in Canada. At first I thought I’d keep my home in Sandpoint, ID and go back and forth. It is only 150 miles, EZPZ. However after four years I am so involved in the Heddlestone Village community and Nelson’s Learning in Retirement organization besides being engaged on a daily basis in my family’s life that I sold my house in the States to land here. I am keeping a permanent address there for legalities.

I have a garden suite with my own entrance so I have all the privacy and autonomy that I want. However my granddaughter who will be five the end of September, can and does get up, and come down for Nana’s chocolate oatmeal pancakes with maple syrup and story books about once or twice a week. Her parents give workshops on the occasional weekend so Nanacations are a treat for all of us; Annie’s GF maci-cheese and Paw Patrol via Netflix. So much Fun! This morning I took her to Waldorf because I was going into town anyway. I got to hear her new songs and more about how she feels about kindergarten. Loving interactions with my family are the foundation of my world. It has taken a couple of years to smooth out our processes (ex. “Is now a good time to run this past you?” rather than assuming). The results are beyond my expectations. I never imagined I would have this opportunity. Then I’m going to Mexico by myself for a couple of months this winter.

And from the other side, how does cohousing enrich your life beyond your family roles? 

Learning to live in community has been a growth experience – personally and spiritually. Lots of mirrors. Over the years I have been involved in several groups that operated by consensus shared decision making [including founding an arts & crafts gallery that operates by consensus and is still going 27 yrs later]. That background has helped. Living in community requires flexibility, curiosity and kindness, great values for me to practice. Currently we have 12 duplexes, 24 units, 4 with basement suites, 46 adults and 38 children in Heddlestone, ages 1o months to 88 years. Seven babies were born while families lived here, six home births. There are three families with 3 generations living here, and one household of elder mother and her retired daughter. One of our residents has a small day care that my granddaughter went to last spring. (How awesome is that for parents with little kids?) I get impromptu parties with the neighborhood children – sometimes when Kinti isn’t even here. And I just got Marshmellow, a rag doll kitten (from a former resident) to keep Pretty Boy Floyd, my orange marmalade cat company. Daughter and granddaughter were very enthusiastic – dare I say twisted arm. So Mellow is a big draw for the kids in the coho also. I have a playhouse on my porch – better shade in afternoons. So much fun to listen to the plotting and play of 2 to 10 year olds when my granddaughter plays there.

About a dozen of us are retired.  We elders claimed the table nearest the window in the Common House for meals (exquisite view and good light). Wine and friendship waiting whenever I want. We have a craft studio available 24/7, piano and sound system, pool table, flex room for yoga and workshops, games nights. Tonight there is a concert by a pianist friend of a resident. But no pressure or bad vibes if you don’t want to go. The offerings are scrumptious. Which takes me back to food – Yummy meals to sign up for if I like the menu. And I get to bake chicken and apple dumplings for my extended family once every couple of months in our gorgeous common house upscale kitchen. One of the gals here got me back into bridge, another became my writing mentor, another introduced me to the Learning in Retirement group and activities. More of a cohesive, friend filled, joy filled life than I ever had living by myself or imagined, well worth the patience and personality stretching that living en masse requires. It isn’t for everyone. But it is fantastic for my family and myself!

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