GRAND ADVENTURE New residents: When grandparents move in
According to the Pew Research Center, one in every five Americans live in a multi-generational household. I am one of those. It was never my plan to live with my kids, but life happens, doesn’t it?
Now, after living under a multi-generational roof the last 30 months, I have learned some new grandparenting techniques as well as some life skills that make multi-generational living easier for all generations involved.
Of course, no one list exists that fits all situations and all personalities, I highly recommend — if you plan to someday to live with your children and/or grandchildren — you make a list that fits your specific needs, get input from your family and once you complete your list, share it with everyone under the roof, whether they can read or not (non-readers are part of the family too, right?)
Here’s what I came up with:
Communication: Get everyone on the same page — or in this case — the same calendar. We use Google Calendar, posting activities in our assigned colors, so there are few surprises. I like this system because it lets me know — in advance — about concerts, booster club meetings, recitals and the visits of my collegiate granddaughter. The calendar also allows me to post my to the gym, pedicures, haircuts, meetings, business, etc., and it helps me keep the kids’ travel schedules in mind as well as the days I need to be available to oversee grandchildren or our livestock.
Culture: While I have my own life and schedule, I also have the option of joining the family routine. For example, on family game night, I have the option of sitting down for a game of Scrabble or I can retire to my room for an early bedtime, to read or watch a favorite movie on TV.
Get into a routine: Sharing a bathroom? Figure out the best time to bath or shower. Sometimes this depends on the availability of warm water…and if you don’t have a schedule, you may find your shower lacks enough hot water. (Especially true on a Saturday night). Same for bedtime. If you want to grocery shop with someone, choose a date and make it a habit.
Meals: We usually eat our evening meal together, but breakfast and lunch are on-the-fly, due to differing schedules. I help with dinner whenever possible, and we use a lot of paper products for meals when people are squeezing mealtimes into busy schedules. Amazingly, this all works very well for everyone involved.
Chores: We all do chores. The kids alternate dishwasher loading/unloading. We keep our own rooms and do our own laundry. (The twins are good about asking if they can help Grandma with her chores.)
Discipline: Although it hurts me terribly when my grand darlings must be disciplined, I usually leave the room, so I don’t add to their humiliation. I also stay out of the way while my children administer severe talking-tos and pronounce punishments, i.e., no phone for a week, no gas money, no TV or video games, etc. I have found there is some truth to the old saying, “Silence is golden.” My silence.
Finances: We agreed on a number to cover some of my expenses when I moved in. I also help with a few groceries and housekeeping services. Both of my children carry one of my credit cards if I need them to pick up anything, like prescriptions. Because we live out in the country, planning is necessary and we check with each other before heading home from “civilization.”
Entertaining guests: Whether my friends, my children’s or my grandchildren’s friends, there are enough areas — particularly in the summers — where we can entertain. I also must say here, the house and family are fairly fluid, so there are times when we are all present, even if only for a short time, when guests are here.
Movie nights, sports: These are family events, although attendance is optional…but if you choose not to attend, you’ll miss out on a wonderful spread of chips, dips, salsa, wings, poppers, fruit trays, soup/chili and, of course, popcorn. Also some great fun and terrific memories. Same goes for birthdays. We decorate!
Grandma is in…and this is my favorite part: Because my grandchildren are now teens and older, they each have their own obligations, places to go and schedules to keep. This means our time together is growing less as they age. But when they need someone to play checkers with, someone to talk or simply listen, help with homework, etc. Sometimes running the possibilities by another person make the options clearer. Sometimes problems, once you talk about them, aren’t as big as they seemed…and sharing jokes can make your day.
The percentage of Americans living in multigenerational households is at its highest since the 1950s. Since the ’80s, the percent of people in multigenerational households has increased steadily — with a distinct incline during the 2007 financial crisis.
In 2018, Pew Research Center estimated 64 million people — or 20 percent of the U.S. population — live in a house with at least two adult generations. I’m one of them — and I’d say I’m a lucky girl.