Half the month here, half there
June 12, 2011 2:10 PM   Subscribe

Help me live in two places at once. Part 1 - Managing two homes

Starting September, I will be spending about two weeks a month at home in Pakistan, and the rest of the month at home in the UAE. This is the first of a series of questions seeking advice on how to minimize the stresses necessarily involved in this much travel.

While the question says managing two homes, I actually do not have to manage the Pakistan home, just myself, my 4 year old son, and our belongings. The UAE apartment I do have to manage completely.

One thing I am considering is simply maintaining different sets of clothes, toys, storybooks, etc., for both places. Does that seem like a good idea?

Are there other things I could be doing? Should I resign myself to a plantless existence in the UAE?

I have looked at a bunch of the travel AskMes; this one seems quite relevant to my specific question today, but still not quite the same. I'll be asking for parenting advice, and travel-specific advice, in later questions.

Many thanks in advance for whatever advice you can offer.
posted by bardophile to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There's an old ask.me about keeping a winter home (which I can't find), which we kinda do. it's actually the putative in-law's winter house and while I don't live there in the winter (just visit , my guy usually does. No small children involved, and slightly different situation, but some we have found that for a lot of things, it's really just easier to maintain duplicates of a lot of things. You don't say how often you're switching houses, but this is what we have found for spending months at one place and then months elsewhere.

Stock both kitchens with plates, utensils and cooking pans and cleansers. If there's something (like your kitchen aid) which you love but don't often use in cooking, leave it at the place you spend more time and don't get a duplicate. Stock both bathrooms with basic toiletries and a back-up 30 day supply of prescriptions (my guy keeps his asthma inhalers both places). Stock both bathrooms with hairbrush, toothbrush, tweezers, curling iron, first aid, whathaveyou. Stock both places with linens, including a bathrobe (if you use one). Stock both places with underwear, pyjamas, socks, slippers, and raincoats. (Presumably if you need a jacket, you're wearing it while you travel between houses.) Otherwise, carry your clothes with you. You probably have a favorite shirt or something and it really sucks to want to wear that sweater that makes you look and feel great, but it's something you keep at the other house.

Keep duplicates of some entertainments (some novels, some games, a DVD player, a stereo, some cds), but don't go overboard. Carry your laptop between places. Carry your camera between places.

Make a "shut down house" protocol. You say you don't have to manage one of the houses, but I'm not sure what that entails. Our shut-down house protocol involves stuff like: stripping the beds, running the dishwasher, emptying the fridge of perishables, emptying the trash, setting the thermostat to the "no-one's living here" setting, forwarding the mail, canceling the paper, unplugging some appliances. Double-checking windows and doors to make sure they're locked. Arranging the lawn service. Setting the timers on some lamps. Saying goodbye to the neighbors and reminding them of your phone number in case a tree falls on the house.

Write it all down; make a check list. When it's time to switch houses, set aside a day for packing and shutting the house down. If you eat in the house before you leave, clean everything up and take the trash out before you leave.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:36 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sorry for not being clear enough.

1) My son and I will be doing this every month, starting in September. Essentially half the month in each place.

2) The place in Pakistan is a running family home, where people live year-round, so it doesn't need to be shut down, etc., although my rooms will need some kind of shutdown routine, I suppose.
posted by bardophile at 2:39 PM on June 12, 2011

For about two years I lived in a rented room during the week and in my own home at weekends and holidays.

I kept two sets of toiletries, toothbrush, hair brush, and so on and two alarm clocks. Of course I had to get a separate set of bedding for the rented room.

I didn't keep two sets of clothes - most of my frequently worn clothes lived in the rented room and I packed clothes for each trip home. I also only had one laptop which travelled with me.

I tried to keep the rented room as minimalist as possible, so the aforementioned items were pretty much the only things I had there.
posted by emilyw at 2:43 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Starting September, I will be spending about two weeks a month at home in Pakistan, and the rest of the month at home in the UAE.

1) My son and I will be doing this every month, starting in September. Essentially half the month in each place.

For how long will you be doing this? Just a few months in total or 2 years, or 10 years?
posted by hal_c_on at 3:03 PM on June 12, 2011

Well, we're trying it out for a year. It might possibly be as much as 2 or 3 years, but I'd be really surprised if it were longer than that.
posted by bardophile at 3:05 PM on June 12, 2011

I like the idea of different sets of clothes and belongings in the separate homes. If you can afford to, why not? It will make traveling and packing easier and less stressful.

Half a month is only two to two and a half weeks. I'm sure there are low-water plants that could work (e.g., get a cactus).
posted by J. Wilson at 3:21 PM on June 12, 2011

Given how much you'll be flying, it'd be pretty great to only have to bring a carry-on each way, and not check a bag except once in a while (after birthdays with lots of new toys, perhaps, as an example). So having duplicate stuff in each place would be good--or at least enough so you won't have to carry all your clothes back and forth each time.

Do you really have no help at the UAE house, not even a housekeeper? If you are hiring a housekeeper or maid for cleaning, then ask her to come by once or twice a week to the UAE house when it's empty, to water the plants and check-in and dust and such.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:36 PM on June 12, 2011

A few years back I was traveling extensively, every two weeks I was away for a week or so.
Double up on everything you can. The less you have to take the less you have to remember to take and the stress factor goes right down.
Make sure the staples for 12 - 24 hours are always in position. It sucks to arrive at an empty cupboard / no drinking water etc. You should organize so that you can arrive in either of your living places and fall straight into your normal pattern of living.
As long as they have something kids are happy. You could split his library and toys no problem.
Similarily for clothes, a wardrobe at each end, it doesn't have to be Armani (kidding)! Clothing is not exactly expensive in Pakistan so that should not be a big deal.
I guess Pakistan is covered by family / extended family so your rooms can be aired and ready for whenever you are due to arrive; as for UAE I am sure if you don't have a regular maid / housekeeper one of your girlfriends does and I am sure you could arrange for your fridge to be stocked the day before you arrive and the plants watered once a week whilest you are away.
posted by adamvasco at 2:42 AM on June 13, 2011

I live one week at my home in College Station, TX, and 2 weeks at my girlfriend's home in Houston. It's about an hour and a half to two hours' drive between each. I make the trip with my two dogs (which I realize are not your son -- but they have the same need for toys and accessories.)

When I first started, I had to pack weekly. It was wearing and I'd always forget things.

Now I keep separate clothes, separate dog crates, separate toys and feeding dishes, etc. in each place. The stuff in my College Station home is what we in the US call 'college' quality -- it's either hand-me-downs or pieced together from garage sales and the like while I was younger and poorer. Any high quality items get toted to my girlfriend's house.

Separate toiletries are a must, however I do haul prescription drugs for the dogs and I both ways just to keep in the habit of making sure I have them with me. Other than that, I generally only need to haul 'special' items (such as cases of spring water I can't get in College Station from Houston) back and forth.
posted by SpecialK at 6:57 AM on June 13, 2011

Oh, and for plants -- I use a set of Aqua Globes to keep my houseplants watered while I'm away. This bridges the gap so that they really only go a week without water...
posted by SpecialK at 6:58 AM on June 13, 2011

Thank you for the suggestions! So it seems like as much duplication as is economically viable is the way to go.

For plants, I talked to the maintenance guy in our residential compound, and he's agreed to water them, so that's my solution until such time as I get my hands on those Aqua Globes, which look like a perfect solution. Cactus, I don't like much. The whole point of plants for me is green, leafy things to cool the eyes. Cacti don't really do that, cool though they are in other ways.
posted by bardophile at 12:59 PM on June 25, 2011

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