I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, and most of it has to do with family stuff. My parents health problems, my cousin’s wedding, issues with my aunts, my in-laws retirement plans, and deep thoughts about becoming a parent.
Most families are complicated, and mine is definitely right up there. I actually think is one of the reasons I’ve had so many doubts over the last several years about if and when is the best time to have kids.
Thinking About The Future
Time has really started to catch up with me this year though, and made me realize how much family influences and supports us, especially as we get older. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends traveling like crazy for work, family events, socializing more with new friends, and attacking a large list of 2012 goals. All of this has definitely made me think more about the future and where my life is headed.
Since my parents and in-laws will need more and more help in the coming years, living far away just isn’t going to be ideal. I love to travel and see the world on vacations, but traveling all over the country for family gets exhausting quick.
Moving In Together
My in-laws are pretty open to the idea of my husband and I moving in with them in a few years or potentially even sooner, so my husband and I have started thinking about what that could be like and if it’s something we would want to do. Even moving from one end of a street to the other can be a stressful, time consuming process, so I imagine we will have our hands full if we go from living together as a couple to moving into a multigenerational household in an entirely different state.
But multigenerational homes are becoming more and more common now as families are on tighter budgets, the cost of education and healthcare keeps rising, and millions still struggle to find stable employment. Sure there are benefits and cost savings of having a multigenerational household, but being a very independent person and couple, I can’t help but worry if moving in together will put a major crimp in our freedom, privacy, and lifestyle.
Would the impact be drastic enough to drive us all nuts? I already know that my patience starts to wear thin after about 7-10 days of being under the same roof with my either of my own parents. Whether that’s any indication if it will be similar or totally different with my in-laws is uncharted territory. They’re very different from my own parents at least, which is probably a good thing. :)
Here are some pros and cons that I expect occur frequently in multigenerational households:
Build stronger relationships
In home day care
More pressure on the income earners
Clashes with habits and behaviors
Reduced alone time
Feeling like a permanent guest/host
Right now I have a lot more questions than answers, but I do know if we decide to give it a go as a multigenerational household, there will be lots of things to talk about, work through, and get acclimated to. Here are some questions I’ve put together that I’m certainly wondering about. I hope you’ll find them helpful if you are considering becoming or moving into a multigenerational household too.
Things To Think About And Discuss
Will this be a short term, long term, or permanent move?
Is the house big enough for all of us?
Will there be rules, roles, boundaries? How will they be decided and moderated?
Will we hold family meetings? How often?
Who sleeps where? Who uses which bathroom?
Are any rooms off limits to certain people?
What items will/will not be shared?
How will we avoid resentment and resolve conflicts?
How do we make sure everyone gets enough alone time?
How much will this cost? Who decides the budget?
How will expenses be handled? Who pays for what?
How will siblings and family members living elsewhere contribute?
Do we need to have fewer/more cars?
How will day care responsibilities be handled, shared?
How will chores be divided? Who is responsible for what?
Who does the cooking? Grocery shopping? Errands?
Is everything in the fridge up for grabs?
Will meals be eaten separately, together, or both? When?
Will vacations be taken as a group, separately, both?
What guidelines should there be for inviting guests?
How will we prepare emotionally, financially, logistically?
How will we manage each other’s expectations?
Treasure, Torture, And A Bit Of Both
I have several friends who are living in multigenerational households already, and they each have their own highs and lows. One simply adores his mother in-law and loves having her live with him and his wife, another tries to hide her unhappiness living with her in-laws by limiting the amount of time she spends at home, and a third enjoys the time he gets to share with his father and his own kids but feels constant pressure being the only income earner in a home of six.
Every family situation is different and some people are a lot easier to live with than others! Definitely get prepared and think things through before making this big of a decision. Tension can build up quickly if you don’t communicate openly. Remember it’s not just you who will be affected; everyone in the household will be too!
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences! Do you think a multigenerational household is in your future? What are your biggest fears, concerns, comforts, and reassurances?