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At the beginning of April, I moved in with my in-laws.
I always swore I would never do that. My mom lives with her in-laws, and I’ve seen how that is on her. I know my in-laws, and I knew that it would be rough and just not worth it. So it was an almost surreal experience when, 9 months into my marriage, I found myself packing an overnight bag and a cooler to go stay at my in-laws for a week.
And then we just never went back.
Why I Moved in With My In-Laws
So why did I make this move?
It started with finding a really weird mold in my ferments and my compost bucket. It didn’t seem like we had a mold problem in the apartment – we could leave dishes out for days and nothing would grow on them. It was just on a couple jars of ferments and the compost bucket we left out. But no matter how much googling I did, I couldn’t find anything resembling this mold. It didn’t look like any sort of food mold I can seen before. It made me nervous.
My husband and I were also both struggling with out health: fatigue, brain fog, etc. I felt like if I could be outside more, things would be better. But we were in a 2nd floor apartment with no balcony. I work from home, which is wonderful and I am so thankful for the ability to do that. But the combination of these things meant that I could go days without getting fresh air, sunshine, or grounding. At my in-laws, we could still walk to the post office or bank. We would have access to the outdoors with ease – I could eat my meals outside! We could grow a garden – eating a wider variety of organic, fresh vegetables would be so good for us!
Finally, it was a money thing. My husband and I are moving to Germany in August. We have substantial savings put aside specifically for this move and I am building my essential oil business to provide for us while we are over there. But at the same time, saving over $2000 on rent and bills (just by moving out of our apartment 2 months early) would be significant. While we have a year’s worth of frugal living saved up, we need to buy plane tickets and furnish an apartment, including a new kitchen. Every penny we can save will help us create a home when we first arrive.
What I’ve Dealt With – And Why We Stayed
Initially, we just did a trial run of a week. We spent a lot of time outside, prepared to put in a garden, and stayed out of his parents’ way. I had batched cooked enough food to fill the mini fridge and keep me fed on GAPS without any issues. It went well and we felt amazing. We both felt healthier than we had in months. That combined with the money aspect led to the decision to submit our notice to the apartment.
But it wouldn’t be all sunshine and rainbows. I don’t believe in bad mouthing people, especially not online. But it was hard. My in-laws and I have very…conflicting ways of life. They are heavy SAD eaters. My husband and I had a couple really fun pantry-purging days where we got rid of 40lbs of expired, processed foods. But all of this made the kitchen a very stressful place for me. There were crumbs everywhere that I had to navigate around. At best I experienced a lack of understanding (want a cupcake? want to lick the frosting spoon? want a rice krispie bar?), at worst I experienced hostility for my diet.
I developed a lot of anxiety around food and the kitchen, and I really struggled emotionally to live in this house with these people. Thankfully, GAPS has done a lot towards healing my mental health. While some days I experienced crippling anxiety (particularly in the week leading up to some travel), most days I noticed a significantly higher tolerance for stressors. Even in my lowest moments, I acknowledged that the access to the outdoors and the money savings were worth it and it was important to be here.
How I am Sticking to My Lifestyle
Before, I only had to deal with my very supportive husband and the rare evening at my parents’. It was easy to stick to both the GAPS diet and lifestyle. Here, I have to contend with a contaminated kitchen and other people who don’t support what I am doing. Here is what has helped:
- Creating a space for myself. We have full control of both my husband’s and his sister’s childhood bedrooms. Here we not only sleep and store our clothing, but also all of my essential oils, my detox bath ingredients, my high quality salt and spices, and my storage containers. I know that all of these items are clean and will be available for me to use whenever I need them. I also keep a mini fridge in the basement for my soups and high quality eggs. Thankfully they have a large basement freezer where I can store our meat and veggies. I am also able to use these rooms to do my work in peace.
- Batch Cooking. Batch cooking has kept GAPS sustainable for me through the whole process, but now it is even more critical. I do not have a kitchen anymore, so it is essential that when the kitchen is clean and available, I prepare as much food as possible. I then store it either in the freezer or the mini fridge and all I need is a clean pan to heat it up.
- Taking advantage of alone time. My mother-in-law works part time during the school year and doesn’t work at all during the summer. I often lock myself in a bedroom to work and spend time by myself. And whenever both of my in-laws are out of the house, I take full advantage of the kitchen, the laundry, and take an extra long detox bath. I do not take this time for granted!
- Getting outside every day. If the weather is nice enough, I get outside. I go for a walk, garden, or just eat a meal and walk around the yard barefoot. It reminds me of why I am doing this and how much better I feel. It rejuvenates me for the rest of the day. It is good for gratitude, as well as Vitamin D and grounding.
- Gratitude. I have already mentioned this, but I regularly remind myself of why I am doing this. I am grateful for the money I am saving. I am grateful for the outdoor access. I am thankful for the free laundry. I am grateful for the garden. I am grateful for the kitties.
- Letting it go. I’m so bad at this, but I am working on it. I need to accept that I have completely given up control for the next 3 months, and nothing I can do will change that. My husband is a great advocate for me and for real food, and I can leave Eat the Yolks lying around the house. But I will never have the power to make my in-laws clean up after themselves when they coat the kitchen in flour and bread crumbs. So I need to learn to just accept that.
Have you had to move in with parents or in-laws? How did you cope with it?
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