After divorcing from her husband, Kristin Batykefer, 33, moved in with some family friends.
Two weeks later, her best friend joined with her own children. The group instantly became a family.
She says living with two other moms has made her realize she doesn't have to do everything alone.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Kristin Batykefer, 33, a TikTok creator who is raising her children in a "mommune." It has been edited for length and clarity.
When I split up from my husband in July 2022, our lifestyle of traveling full-time on a bus was over, and I had to find a new place to live. Luckily, a couple of family friends invited me, my daughter, and our dog to go and stay with them in Florida. At the time, it was meant to be a temporary arrangement while I figured out what I would do next.
Soon after I moved in, my best friend Tessa, who was living in Colorado at the time, told me she was splitting up with her husband too, and found herself in a similar situation. After discussing it with the couple I was living with, I told her that she and her two kids should come and live with us. She was nervous about moving across the country with her kids because she didn't know the people I was living with, but I promised they'd welcome her with open arms.
It all happened really quickly. Two weeks after the initial conversation, she was here with her kids and we were all living together. The couple that owns the house are empty nesters, so there are three moms living here in total. Tessa has two kids, and I have one. So overall, there are seven of us living under one roof — and two dogs.
We all connected quickly, and we instantly became a little blended family. The couple we were staying with told us we didn't need to move out and that we could stay for as long as we needed to. So we just went with it.
I used to work with a woman a while back who told me she lived in a "mommune." When I moved in with the couple, we started joking that we did too. When Tessa got here we were like, "Oh this is 100% a mommune now."
The lifestyle isn't for everyone, but I do want to inspire others to consider it. By posting my journey online I've been able to share some of the incredible aspects to this unconventional lifestyle, and hopefully help people think outside the box, especially when life doesn't go as planned.
Living in a mommune is a fantastic support system that's unlike anything else
When I left my husband, I didn't think, "Oh, I should try and live in a mommune." I instantly thought, "How will I do all of this alone? I have to buy a house on my own, I have to pay all the bills on my own, and I have to support my child on my own."
It took me a while to realize I didn't have to do it alone — I could live with friends or find another mom to join forces with. That's a big reason why I started sharing my experience online: I wanted women to know there are more options out there and you don't have to do everything on your own. Because sometimes it can feel like that.
It was great to have an experienced mom living with us. She had tons of life hacks and tips to share with us from when she'd raised her own kids.
We don't currently pay any rent because the people we're staying with own their home. But we cover our own groceries. If we moved out and got our own place, it would be like what we did in college — we'd just split our bills down the middle.
I think the best part about living with other moms is that you get a different kind of support than you would even if you were married and had the best partner in the world because moms understand what other moms are feeling when things are getting stressful or when we need help. Instead of waiting for you to ask for help, a mom will swoop in and help you.
I decided to share my experience online, and it's resonated with lots of viewers
Posting my journey online felt like a natural progression because my ex-husband and I used to be van-life influencers, making weekly vlogs sharing our journey on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
In December 2022, I posted a TikTok video sharing how the other moms cared for me when I was sick one day. I was feeling so much love and support that day and I wanted to share that and hopefully inspire other women and single moms to support one another and possibly start a mommune of their own.
The video blew up online and got over 1.2 million views. We've also been on "Good Morning America" and been featured in the New York Times because of it. It's been a crazy journey.
I love that the video went viral and seemed to resonate with so many women. Sometimes we'll get amusing comments from people who are like, "Where do I drop my husband off?" Others tell us they'd love this kind of support but don't get it in their marriages.
I think sometimes when men see comments like that, it triggers them, and they get angry. I used to try and kindly respond to them, but they'd get vicious, so now I ignore them. If it gets too out of control, I delete and block them.
Even if a mommune isn't for you, there are still takeaways for everyone
A mommune isn't for everyone. At time, it can be chaotic and loud. To me, that's not really a negative — the kids are running around and playing and having fun and it's cute to watch them have a great time. But it's definitely different than if you were living on your own. You're living with other people who do things their own way. But we just kind of flow with it.
Realistically, choosing to enter into a mommune arrangement was like getting into a relationship. Tessa and I have known each other for 14 years, so it was easy for us to jump into this. If I didn't have Tessa and I was looking for someone to start a mommune with, I'd use a mom friend app to arrange playdates and see how we and our kids get along.
I think it's essential to make sure the children get along and that they positively influence each other. The mom you move in with will also influence your children, so it's important that you choose a person who aligns with your values and beliefs.
I want women to know that there are lots of single moms out there, and they're not alone. Living together is a great option if you want some extra support. If you don't want to live together, you could all live in the same neighborhood and support each other that way.
If there's anything I've learned about the past two years, it's that you can't predict the future. You have no idea what's going to happen. Neither of us envisioned being in this situation together; we both thought we'd found our soulmates and that we'd be together forever — then we both ended up divorcing. But the experience has taught us that however life unfolds, we're ready for it.
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