How to Make a Life-Giving Home: 10 Things We Do Each Week

How to Make a Life-Giving Home: 10 Things We Do Each Week

A little over a year ago, my husband and I moved back to the place where we grew up, into the home he grew up in. On the outside it may have seemed as though we’d gone backwards in life, having left the comforts and security of a home, a salary we could live on, and a community we had built over seven years. We moved in with my husband’s parents, and despite what society and Western culture has taught us, our family has learned that communal living is a gift. We laugh more. We learn to be patient, to overlook small wrongs, to work out underlying issues- stress has a way of exposing them and opening the way toward healing. We experience love, grace, and community intimately and often, and we have found this season to be life-giving in ways we didn’t expect.

Here are 10 life-giving things we’re doing as a family as we live communally: 

  • 1. We are staying in more.

    When my first was a baby, everyday I’d pack up the diaper bag with wipes, bottles, formula, two extra sets of clothes, bibs, and basically half the house, and I’d drive 15 minutes to the nearby Target. We’d walk the aisles looking for nothing in particular because I couldn’t stand being at home all day long. Now, after the move, we find ourselves enjoying the simplicity of staying in and enjoying the mundane. Washing the dishes, folding the laundry, sweeping the yard, cooking dinner, playing with legos- the steady rhythm of these routines have been a surprising comfort in this season. 

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  • 2. We are eating dinner at the table.

    With everyone working and life being so busy, it’s hard to spend large amounts of time together even when we live in the same house. Our afternoons have become a time to slow down, start cooking dinner, a time we can count on to have all six of us around the table to eat. We don’t have to say much to each other (except for the kids since they can’t help but talk all the time), but being present and sharing food creates space for us to feel safe and loved. 

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  • 3. We are spending time cross-generationally.

    One of the most difficult parts of being children of immigrants is that there is often a language barrier between the immigrant parents and their children and grandchildren. Though my in-laws speak English fluently, spending time together watching Korean TV shows has been a sure way to sit together, laugh at the parts we all understand, and learn a little Korean while we’re at it. 

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  • 4. We are having open talks about race, inclusion, and compassion.

    In a world and country where tensions and anxiety run high, my husband and I have wondered and struggled to figure out how we could better prepare our children to face racism, to be inclusive of others, and to be compassionate to everyone. In the end, we realized the first step was to talk about it. We bought children’s books to spark the conversation, and as much as possible we talk about current issues with them. We are continuously amazed at their capacity to understand at their young age (4 and 5) and their willingness and effort to be kind (most days). 

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  • 5. We are praying together for current events and for people.

    During the terrible Southern California fires recently, our kids saw the footage and pictures of homes completely burned and asked what happened. We explained to them and told me we need to pray for the people who’ve lost everything and for the firefighters. For weeks on end they prayed one sentence about the fire and for the firefighters before dinner. They pray for the homeless as we drive by their community stretched along the river trail. They pray for friends who are sick. They pray carefree and childlike, and we are learning from their persistence and their simple approach to asking God for help.

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  • 6. We are talking about what we learned at church.

    Sometimes our children are better at things than we are. Our daughter will ask us every Sunday on the drive home what we learned at church. We go around and share what we learned about God, what story was talked about, which friends we played with. The conversation is brief and not deep, but our daughter reminds us that God speaks to and through each of us- even the little ones.

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  • 7. We are reading chapter books together.

    I’ve always loved reading books, so when I was single and without children, I longed for the days when I’d be able to read to my own kids. Unfortunately, once we did have kids they wanted to read Goodnight, Moon every single night, and I lost enjoyment in reading to them. A couple of months ago, I decided to read a chapter of Charlotte’s Web to them every night, and it has resurrected my love for reading out loud. 

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  • 8. We are sharing house responsibilities.

    Our kids are at the age where helping mom and dad is the funnest thing to do. They find joy and pride in helping, and we get to teach them responsibility in communal living- everyone plays a part. It doesn’t make the work go any faster, but we’re looking ahead to the days when the work of laundry, washing the dishes, and maybe even dinner can be shared fully.  

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  • 9. We are walking around the neighborhood.

    When the weather was pleasant, all six of us would go on walks together around the neighborhood. In a suburban world where separation and personal privacy and space are valued and community is not, our post-dinner walks allowed us to meet our neighbors and spend more intentional time together as a family. 

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  • 10. We are seeking wholeness and health together.

    The health and strength of our family is dependent on the emotional, mental, and physical health of each person. The stress of this past year revealed the cracks in our personal well-being and the unhealthy patterns in our marriage, so if I had to choose the most life-giving thing we’re doing for our family, it would be going to therapy. We are investing money, time, and energy to becoming whole because living a whole life is living a life more fully alive.

    Though we aren’t looking at January 1st anymore, every day is a new day to start again. What is one thing you already enjoy doing that you can add back into your daily or weekly rhythm? What is your next step in letting go of the things in your life that don’t give you life and adding something that does? 

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    Grace P. Cho is a writer, wife, and mama to two littles. She writes and is the managing editor for The Mudroom and GraceTable as well as a contributor for Inheritance Magazine and A Moment to Breathe. Her favorites include walking alongside others via mentoring and editing, speaking truth through story, sharing meals and lives at the table, coffee of any kind, and desert landscapes. You can find Grace on TwitterInstagram and at www.gracepcho.com.