Single Mom Reveals the Perks of Living in a 'Mommune': ‘I Was Taken in by Family Friends Who I Like To Call My Angels'

A 'mommune' may offer single parents the extra support they need.

Single mom Kristin Batykefer went viral when she posted a TikTok about living in a mommune. She needed to take a sick day, but as any parent knows, an OOO isn't really possible when you have kids. However, the other moms in her life came to the rescue, making her soup, watching her kids and, ultimately, showing up for her when she needed it most.

She called it a mommune. And the Internet loved it. So much so that the video has thus far garnered 1.2 million views, 11.9K likes, and over 3K comments.

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Parade spoke with Batykefer to learn more about her experience with the mommune model. How does it compare to the traditional nuclear family model? Could it really be more rewarding and more supportive than conventional elementary families? How did she get involved with a mommune?

"It’s a crazy story but the short version is, I caught my husband cheating on me, and I was taken in by family friends—a married couple that were empty nesters—[who] I like to call my angels!" Batykefer explains. "After a few months of living with them, my best friend called me up and said she was going to leave her husband but didn’t have anywhere to go, so I said, 'Come here!'"

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Batykefer adds, "And that’s how we came to live with three moms and three kids under one roof. We jokingly called it a 'mommune' and when I made that TikTok video, it went viral."

A mommune may not be a new idea, however. Long before the idea was bolstered by viral views on TikTok, there were communes. Most often defined as women-led, feminist networks created away from the male gaze, they have also been referred to as "women's intentional communities."

What is a mommune?

According to Jennifer Schenk Sacco, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science and Women's & Gender Studies and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Political Science at Quinnipiac University, "Single moms—when they don't have financial support from another parent—are solely responsible for financial, emotional and physical support of children... There are many things [that] can make a mommune appealing; such a shared-living arrangement [which] can alleviate a lot of those issues."

Mommunes exist as a kind of safe place for single parents; they can live together to help one another raise children despite not being romantically involved.

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Schenk Sacco explains, "A mommune is a shared living arrangement—usually involving single mothers—where they pool their time, effort and possibly money, to assist in the maintenance of their households and the raising of children."

What are the benefits of a mommune?

As Schenk Sacco explains above, the responsibilities of a single parent are tenfold and often come with very little support (if any) from the other parent. This could include anything from financial, physical and emotional strains. Mommunes typically offer a solution to all three.

As to the perks of living in a mommune, Batykefer shares her favorites: "The support, the friendship, the financial benefits, the friendships your kids have—the list goes on and on!"

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Mommunes also offer a type of flexibility that isn't always available to single parents. Need a hand with carpool? Drop-off? Pick up? Won't be home in time for the bus? Need to be in two places at once? A mommune can help with all of that and more.

"Single moms have a harder time getting promoted at work because they cannot dedicate extra hours to getting ahead or travel for their jobs," Schenk Sacco explains. "They cannot assume someone else will take a car to the shop or stay home to meet a plumber when necessary, and they can't always rely on co-parents to manage children's activities, communicate with schools or healthcare providers, make dinner, pack lunches, etc."

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Mommune moms may not have a romantic partner, but they do have someone to lean on and share parenting responsibilities with—and that can make all the difference.

"Mommunes allow 'economies of scale' for households with children to include multiple adults," Schenk Sacco says. "The mothers can delegate particular tasks and responsibilities amongst themselves, and then provide those 'services' for the whole collective to make it easier than if only one adult were responsible for everything pertaining to a household and children."

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Schenk Sacco adds, "There are emotional benefits to members as well. It can be easier to go through life with a partner, to collectively problem-solve, celebrate, share. The children in such households have more playmates and social interaction with other children."

At its core, mommunes exist to support one another. They foster a sense of community for those who may not have the built-in community that can come from having a partner.

"I think that right now if I went the traditional route of being a single mom, I would be living alone, I wouldn’t have daily support, and I would be struggling financially to figure out how to build a new life for me and my daughter," Batykefer adds. "Living in a mommune is such a positive way to live after going through such a negative situation."

What are the downsides of living in a mommune?

Just as there are perceived downsides of traditional family models (including a tendency of isolation, relationship strain and emotional dependencies with either the two parents or in a parent-child relationship, according to The Encyclopedia of World Problems & Human Potential), there are some disadvantages to living the mommune lifestyle.

"As with all shared living arrangements, whether romantic or not, there can be conflict if it turns out the personalities are not compatible, or if material circumstances change," Schenk Sacco explains. "These are not legally recognized arrangements, so participants may find that support they once relied on is no longer available to them with no legal recourse unless they had a contract."

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Of course, there is always the possibility that one person leaves a living situation. If this happens in a mommune, there likely won't be the opportunity for child support or alimony. But as we all know, this can ring true for the traditional family model too—with almost 50 percent of all marriages in the U.S. ending in divorce or separation.

"If one participant decides to leave to join a household with a new romantic partner, it can leave a very large hole in the mommune," Schenk Sacco explains.

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There's one more thing to consider and while it may not directly be a downside of mommunes, it's still something that usually factors into the equation. Mommune members may be led to this lifestyle in the first place due to an unfortunate situation—maybe divorce, separation or even emotional or physical abuse. One could even choose to join a mommune if their partner passed away or if there has never been another parent in the picture.

"Mostly I would say divorce is what led me here," Batykefer says. "I never planned to live this lifestyle, but I am so grateful for it. I just sort of fell into it, but I think it’s such a great idea and something that should be more common. The statistics for single-mother households [are] crazy and we could be joining forces to support one another!"

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Speaking of single mother statistics, Batykefer is right: The 2022 U.S. Census Bureau found that there are more than 11 million single-parent families with underage kids—80 percent of which are headed by single moms.

For an introverted person or someone who really values privacy, life in a mommune may not be a great fit.

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"I think that if you are a person who likes alone time, you might not love living in a mommune," Batykefer admits. "It’s also a lot louder with three kids running around—but otherwise it’s such a blessing!"

What's it like to live in a mommune?

The definition of a mommune is pretty loose and it depends on who you ask. Do mommune members buy a house together? Do they simply live nearby other moms? Or is it really more of a network where a few single moms check in with each other from time to time?

It depends on the mommune. Batykefer describes her day-to-day life in the mommune as "supportive and full of love and fun!"

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"We currently live in a married couples' house, which they own," Batykefer explains. "My best friend and I have three kids together and we are on the market to buy a house for the five of us. We love the mommune we have now, but the couple we live with are empty nesters and we would like to eventually give them back their nest!"

According to World Economic Forum, communal living situations, such as a mommune, can not only provide companionship but can also remedy anxiety and improve mental health and feelings of loneliness.

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That data rings true in Batykefer's own mommune as the relationships between her and her fellow co-parents are as strong as can be.

"[The other moms] are both my closest and best friends [in] life and I’m so grateful to have this time to live with them while I’m healing from the trauma of being cheated on and going through a divorce," Batykefer says.

Next up, how much does the average adoption cost?