When Jacqui Poehlman got divorced in 2016, she was working in the e-commerce department of a major grocery store chain. One kind co-worker and friend named Amy often checked in on her during that time, making sure she was doing OK. 

Just as Jacqui was settling her divorce, Amy (She requested that her last name be withheld in order to respect her privacy) came to her with an idea. What if she and her seven-year-old son moved into Jacqui’s house? They could share the bills, home improvement projects, and parenting responsibilities

As living costs continue to rise, moms across the globe are jumping on the “mommune” trend so they can share expenses and childcare responsibilities and provide additional emotional support for their little ones. 

“I thought it was a strange suggestion at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense,” said Jacqui, (whose son, Alex, and daughter, Claire, were 9 and 3 at the time, respectively).  

Soon, it was decided. Amy and her son packed their bags and moved into Jacqui’s home in Wyoming, Michigan. 

“My house was much bigger than I needed, so there was plenty of space for them. They moved into the basement and my kids, and I continued living upstairs.” 

Almost overnight, Jacqui was no longer solely responsible for the mortgage and utility bills. 

“We based our mortgage payment percentages on square footage. Amy pays less than me because she has a smaller household. We split the utilities down the middle.” 

They learned soon after moving in together that they complement each other in the best of ways.

“I’m the least handy person known to man, but Amy has all the power tools and knows all the YouTube channels to watch. If something breaks, it’s probably going to be her who fixes it,” said Jacqui, (whose kids are now 16 and 10). 

A mother bakes with a young girl in a mommune.
Amy baking with Jacqui’s daughter, Claire. (Courtesy of Jacqui Poehlman)

Adjusting to the ‘new normal’ of a mommune

It’s natural to assume that any new living arrangement will come with its share of bumps along the way, but the process was almost completely seamless for Jacqui and Amy. 

“There was one time, about a year after we started living together, when we really got into it. That’s when I realized that Amy’s way of dealing with things is by shutting down and getting quiet, while I like to talk it out and fight it out.” 

Since that moment, it’s been smooth sailing for Jacqui and Amy. However, there were some difficult times in the beginning for Jacqui’s son. 

“The divorce was difficult on Max in the beginning. He was old enough to realize that his parents’ marriage was falling apart, and he took his sadness and anger out on his sister and Amy’s son.” 

Jacqui was thankful for Amy, who stepped in as disciplinarian. Amy is the youngest of seven kids, while Jacqui is an only child. 

“Amy’s used to sibling rivalry and all the things that come along with having a brother or sister, so it’s been really great to have her perspective and experience.” 

Even Jacqui’s parents, who were initially skeptical of the mommune arrangement, have come to embrace Amy and her son as part of their family. 

“When Amy’s mom died a few years ago, my parents kind of adopted her as a daughter. It’s been really nice to see her son benefit from a grandparent relationship because he hasn’t always gotten that from his biological grandparents.”

Two women, who live in a mommune, share a laugh.
Jacqui, sitting, and Amy share a laugh in their Wyoming, Michigan, home. (Courtesy of Jacqui Poehlman)

The financial and emotional benefits of a mommune

The key to their mommune success has been the fact that they give each other room to breathe, as Jacqui and Amy are both introverts. But they also come together as a family for fun activities like pancake breakfasts on Saturday mornings (although, admittedly, these kinds of events are happening less and less as the kids get older and form their own friend groups). 

“We both go to the kids’ sporting events, and Amy and my daughter are the best of friends. They just went to see ‘The Little Mermaid,’ and they didn’t even invite me!” 

Although Jacqui admits that she didn’t think she would still be living in the mommune eight years after it was formed, she says everyone is happy and thriving.

“It’s been a great choice for my family, and really beneficial for my kids to learn how to get along with people who aren’t blood related or necessarily like them.” 

Of course, the financial benefits of living in a mommune also help immensely. 

“I wouldn’t have been able to keep my house and stay in the same school district if I hadn’t done this. Housing costs are so expensive now, so I think we’re going to see a lot more people choose this type of arrangement.”

Jacqui also pointed out that mommunes don’t have to be limited to single mothers. 

“There’s so much out there about moms supporting moms, which is great, but this could work for any combination of people – single dads, a mom and a gay couple, you name it. It’s just about creating a chosen family and picking the people who will be there to support you and make your life better.” 

At the end of the day, Jacqui wouldn’t change a single thing.  “I consider myself so lucky. Even though we don’t make the most money in the world, we’re vastly rich in love.”