How you can keep going without going off
...is told by childminder Sigrid Hülskamp.
Brisk activity fills the house. The sun shines amiably through the windows, which are painted in a potpourri of colours. A young man wearing trainers is bringing in a box containing cartons of food. „Young man you don't have to carry them all at once,“ says childminder Sigrid Hülskamp, a wiry old lady with a silver-grey pageboy cut, sounding a note of caution in a well-meaning manner. „I know, but the boxes don't weight anything,“ he replies casually. (Photo: getty images/ ruizluquepaz)
A friendly grin on his pierced lips. Full of verve, he starts to stack the assortment of different cartons on the pantry shelves. They are filled with food and drink and thanks to aluminium they will stay fresh. It is the student’s turn to do the shopping for the multi-generation household today. It means that he won’t have to worry about doing the cooking later. Someone else will cook for him as well. The pensioner hands the 22-year-old the last of the cartons. “We like to make light work of things in this house,” she explains. “We complement each other; each of us helps the others. Not only does this reduce the daily grind enormously: it is also enriching. It is pure quality of life.”
A small girl with blond curls is portioning out the dessert. It’s easy. The apple purée flows out of the food carton and into the dessert dishes almost by itself. Then she eagerly tears open the carton completely so that she can spoon out the rest and in doing so discovers the shiny silvery protective aluminium layer. At the table, a little boy with a cute-looking gap between his front teeth is pouring juice and milk from child-friendly drink cartons into colourful plastic beakers. A red tabby tomcat is purring at his feet. Then it happens. The boy stumbles. Milk runs all over the table and drips onto the floor. The adopted grandma is completely unruffled and wipes the tabletop clean, while the cat licks up its fresh treat from the floor. “Yes, we make use of everything here,” she laughs heartily. “Even our cat knows that.”
Although she is in the thick of things, the pensioner exudes an unflappable calmness. Laughter lines dance around her wide-awake eyes. She formed this multi-generation household with a small number of like-minded people many years ago. Now there are over 40 of them living here in informal symbiosis. Families with children, young adults who are training or studying and pensioners occupy the 18 units in the restored factory building. The energetic woman needed a great deal of staying power for this project. Where does she get her staying power? She drinks some milk. “One can keep going for longer when one is doing something one enjoys,” she says confidently. Now she’s got a white moustache on her top lip, which delights the children. “Gran, you’ve been drinking out of my beaker,” complains little Marie. ”Perhaps I have but there isn’t a name on it, is there?” asks the retired teacher. She takes the top off the rigid aluminium tube of a marker. She neatly marks the pink beaker. Aluminium’s barrier properties have again provided optimal protection and prevented the marker from drying out. Although it has not been used for quite some time the ink is still as moist as on the first day.