Real State

‘Mommunes’: Mothers Are Living Single Together

The need is worldwide. Anna Dillon, a 42-year-old Irish mother living in Abu Dhabi, decided to create a mommune in 2021 with Emily Winchip, 40, an American. Both are education professors.

Ms. Dillon has been in the United Arab Emirates since 2013, but divorced her husband in 2019. In the first year of the pandemic, she said, the isolation was crushing, and caring for her two children — a daughter, 12, and a son, 13 — was challenging while juggling a social life and a full-time job.

Ms. Winchip, her colleague, was facing a similar struggle. She had lived in the Middle East for 13 years, but when the pandemic hit, she was newly separated and alone with her son, now 12.

“I told her I wished we all lived in a place where the kids could play together,” Ms. Winchip said.

In September 2021, they began renting a three-bedroom apartment in a gated community, splitting the rent evenly and taking turns cooking and watching each other’s kids. The arrangement isn’t forever — Ms. Winchip and Ms. Dillon both have new partners, and plan to eventually move out and start new lives with them — but after living through a pandemic in a foreign country together, they say their partnership has been essential.

“I wish we had done it about two years earlier,” Ms. Dillon said.

Back in Florida, Ms. Gilder and Ms. Batykefer also don’t plan on staying in that four-bedroom house in Jacksonville area forever. The duo hopes to buy and remodel a fixer-upper of their own in the coming year, and to allay costs, they’ve signed a deal with a television producer who believes the process of renovating their new mommune could make for entertaining reality television.

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