I promised in my last post to give you a little more insight to the growing trend of multigenerational families. First let me say, this is not my first experience living in a multigenerational home.
When we moved into our current home in 2001 it was specifically in order to move my mother in with us. Her health was failing and we felt she needed additional care. We found this home to be ideal for two families living together. With 3 living areas, 4 bedrooms, 3 full baths, a HUGE storage room, and a large game room that could really be whatever we needed it to be, the home could easily accommodate several people without feeling like we were constantly bumping into one another.
Our experience was one I will always cherish. I loved having my mom with me. My husband, always gracious, enjoyed it as well. Our children learned an important lesson about sacrificing for the ones we love and taking care of our elders. In fact my daughter often talks of the impact it had on her growing up, watching me take care of my mother. This is something she wants to instill in her own children…a love of family. I admit that I am honored my children want to be physically close to us as adults.
But what do the experts say about this? Surely it can’t be good for our relationships to all be under one roof! Well, actually, it can be. Studies show that 75% to 80% of families find they actually grow closer and have better relationships in a multi-generational household. Why? The following excerpt from Ladies Home Journal may provide some insight.
In a multigenerational household, seniors find respite from loneliness, kids learn history firsthand, and those sandwiched in between get reliable childcare, help with bills and chores -- and a little less squeezed by modern life. "They're realizing families are stronger together than apart," says Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that focuses on intergenerational cooperation.
So what are we doing to make this work for us?· We sat down and discussed how things would work ahead of time. This included designation of living areas, private areas, chore delegation, parking, how bills would be divided, etc.
· We wrote it all down! Yes, we have a “Roommate Agreement” a la Big Bang Theory! Actually it helps prevent misunderstandings and serves as a resource if something comes up at a later date.
· We have designated private areas. We have private bedrooms and bathrooms for each “family.”
· We have designated living areas for each “family.” This allows for personal decorating and even added privacy.
· We respect each other’s privacy. We knock. As parents, my husband and I are more than happy to have our kids plunk down on a sofa and watch TV with us. But I always ask before doing the same with them. As a younger couple, without children, they are used to a little more privacy.
· We have a designated cook…me! Luckily I love to cook and am happy to do it. I post a menu and try to stick to it. Of course my son-in-law likes to grill, so that will give me some nice breaks in warmer weather.
· We communicate. I am working on this one…but generally things should be addressed immediately to avoid further problems.
The list above is not at all conclusive, but it does give a little insight to how we are handling our changing lifestyle. Keep an eye out and I will post updates occasionally on how we are doing.