As promised, today, I will be discussing Multi-Generational Co-Habitation, or the fact that we live with my parents.
I’ll be honest : when you hear of 20 (or God-forbid 30 or 40 or 50) somethings living with *gasp* their parents, you think of failure. You think of lazy moochers, sleeping in their childhood bedroom, either too afraid or too unqualified to make it on their own so they become like this guy:
And I’m not saying those people don’t exist. I can think of several people off the top of my head who for one reason or another would rather if mommy and daddy just took care of them forever.
Of course, there are those who set out with big plans, big dreams and ended up crashing and burning. It’s not their fault exactly, but they needed to come home to get a fresh start. I know of people like this too.
And then there are people like Hubs and myself. I moved out the weekend I graduated from college. Within 6 months and after Hubs had finished school, we were moving across the state from our families to begin a new life, one in which we could only rely on each other, because let’s face it, no one else was even close by. We had to make new friends, start new careers, find a church, and figure out how to be a family while living just far enough away from our support system. Just far enough away – close enough to visit on a weekend, far enough that it required planning.
But after 3 years and a baby, the journey grew burdensome and so when I quit my job to be a stay at home mom, we moved back to be closer to family. And until we knew exactly where Hubs would be working, that meant taking over spare rooms #1 and #2 at my parents’ house.
We had no idea what to expect. We are independent people. My parents are busy, busy people. This would be short term. 3 months, tops.
And while I’m certainly not trying to sugar-coat it or tell everyone this is what they should be doing, we have found some definite perks to this living situation. First, there are 4 adults to the 1 child. These are good odds. Chores are quickly and easily divided and conquered and everyone gets special time with the baby.
There are cons too, like the amount and kind of TV watching, what foods we eat, and the shared living space of 2 separate but joined families. Sometimes there’s a blurred line between whether I need to a wife or a daughter first. Sometimes, people (*cough* dad) don’t want to eat what I make for dinner.
And trust me, we get our share of judgement. The day after we moved in, I helped serve a lunch for a board my dad is on. A woman asked where we were living and when I said “Mom and Dad’s” she immediately said “O, that MUST be terr…” to which my mom cut her off and said “We love it!!” (By the way, my mom made me feel really great that day. So thanks Mom.) But people think this is crazy. People think we have failed. People think we are broke, or stupid, or irresponsible.
But living in a multi-generational home is not a new idea. In fact, it’s one of the oldest ideas. Many cultures still live this way in the “it takes a village” mindset, lending a helping hand and taking care of each other.
I’m still trying to figure out why it’s so out-of-the-ordinary here in the States. Everyone has to be out on their own, away (sometimes FAR away) from their parents, in their own house, with their own stuff. And again, I’m not hating on that. Sometimes it would be easier in my own kitchen to do some of the things I do, to have my knick-knacks out, and my organization system on the counter. But at the end of the day, I don’t have a problem with not having any of these things.
My parents are very supportive and have turned their house and lives upside-down to accommodate us and a 1 year old. They have rearranged furniture, lost their garage to storage, and started eating *gulp* vegetables. They get the baby up some mornings so I can sleep in and watch her while I run errands to make my life easier.
This multi-generational living wouldn’t work for everyone in every family situation, but right now, it’s working well for us. In fact, recently we have decided to extend our stay. After our initial trial period, all the adults saw great mutual benefit in us staying put. My dad is a pastor and that means his schedule is pretty full. Mom stays at home, but has a huge house to maintain all on her own and they both have some health issues. Hubs works 11-8 and I’m at home. I can help with up-keep of the house and Lemonade gets great grand parent time and no one has to worry about dinner because I just take care of it because I like to. We contribute financially to the household and through chores and general upkeep. We are also able to save money on things like babysitters, gas, and food because we have a combined household and we are able to pay off more of our student loan debt to be debt free in about 2 years.
So while we may not be doing it at all like any of our friends or anyone else that we know, we are happy. No, every day isn’t perfect, but it’s nice to have family support all the time and know that we are making solid decisions based on what is right for our family, not what everyone else is doing.