Your golden years are a time of rest and relaxation. Or at least it should be. But a growing number of seniors are finding themselves sharing their lives, and home, with family instead of retiring to a remote area and welcoming visitors on vacation. Houses may empty out when grown children leave, but can quickly fill back up if they return; sometimes with their own families. You may also end up moving in with your grown kids and their family to help meet either of your needs. But however this new arrangement arises, it’s important to be prepared to live harmoniously in a shared environment.
Here are some things to consider when deciding to live with family again later in life.
1. You Living with Your Kids
Moving in with your adult children can come with mixed emotions. You may have lost some of your independence and need help with your daily routine. Your kids may be reluctant about having you present in their family’s life or taking on care giving responsibilities. You may also have been invited by your offspring to join their household. Your companionship, baby, pet or house sitting abilities, and added income are welcome in these cases.
However the offer was made, living under another person’s roof can be a difficult adjustment. Especially when you once ruled the roost and now hove to follow someone else’s rules. But in the end it is their house and you are either a guest or a financial contributor. So you share responsibilities but need to respect their household system.
2. Your Kids Living with You (Again)
Having your grown kids move back in with you is becoming more commonplace. Whether they arrive alone of with a family of their own in tow, everyone has to adjust. You may both be reminded of an earlier time when you could tell your kids what to do. But things need to be a little different once your little ones have become adults. Household rules still apply, but you can no longer treat your children like they’re children. They don’t need to report to you or ask for permission to live their lives. Safety concerns aside, you and your kids should have at least somewhat separate lives even when living in close quarters. Everyone needs an oasis.
3. Navigating the Generation Gap
You and your grown children have grown up in very different social, economic and political climates. Whatever the arrangement, you should acknowledge and respect that the world is quite different now than it was when you were raising them. You may eat dinner in your own rooms in front of a television, laptop, tablet or smartphone instead of sharing stories of the day across the dinner table. You may see them hand their kids a tablet instead of taking them outside to play in the yard. You may also see them reasoning and negotiating with their kids instead of demanding respect, barking orders, and doling out punishments. Corporal punishment is no longer acceptable in some places, and self expression is generally encouraged over conformity. You could have a difficult time understanding the way things are done these days, but progress never stops. So go with the flow.
4. Surviving in a Full House
Special attention should be paid to personal space when living with family. Respecting privacy and boundaries is vital to a harmonious home. And although it can be tempting, meddling and over-sharing should be kept to a minimum. Try not to give advice, especially on your child’s relationship, unless asked. It may be difficult if you’re still in your own home, but try to remember to knock before entering rooms, offer to share common areas, and ask to use spaces or objects designated for others.
Generations living together under one roof can feel quite crowded or sadly disconnected. Living together can relieve financial and emotional pressure, or cause great tension. The goal is to find a balance and maintain the needs of everyone in the home. Common courtesy and respect is a start. Then, navigating the unique nature of each family’s relationship will solidify the decision to live with one another.