Tag: parenting

10 tips for parenting in a multi-generational household

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multi-generational family

As of April 2018 at least 64 million people live in multi-generational households in the US alone (Source).  People with children are undoubtedly among them. Parenting can be hard at the best of times but adding into this the stress of living with your parents can be life altering.

With increasing costs of living and stagnant wages it’s likely that even more of us will become members of multi-generational households before the end of the decade. Managing parenting and living with family can be difficult but doable and here are some tips and tricks for making it work.

 

1.  Lay out the rules from the beginning

If you know that you don’t want anyone else than you to discipline your children, then great, let them know! If you want them to discipline them if you’re not available then great, let them know that!

Be sure that all the adults in the house know what is expected of the children. For example, since my son is a picky eater if he doesn’t eat his dinner then he isn’t allowed to have snacks or dessert before bedtime. I make sure that everyone else in the house is aware that he is not allowed to have them. My son knows that my dad or my grandma are apt to give him a cookie or chips if he asks but when I tell them not to they won’t.

It is more important than ever when you live in a multi-generational household that everyone is on the same page regarding the kids.

Download your free rule chart printable

 

2. Establish boundaries

This is important for everyone in the house. At the end of the day we all need a space where we can relax and unwind, especially when you live in a multi-generational household. If you’re lucky enough to have a separate space from your parents (or in-laws) then make sure that everyone knows what areas, you’d like to remain private.

Or even what times you’d prefer they not enter your space.

If you’re not that lucky then don’t be afraid to spend some alone time in your room. You’re not being rude for wanting some personal space.

Also, make sure your kid(s) are able to have some time to themselves as well. My son loves nothing more after a long day than to sit on my bed and eat dinner and watch a show. This gives him some time to just be by himself and relax. (And he usually eats dinner way better unsupervised, go figure).

And make sure that they know what areas are off limits to them and where they’re allowed to play. This will cut down on any unintended tension from little Johnny leaving his toys on grandpa’s favorite chair.

 

3. Speak your mind

Now I know that for some of us (me) confronting our parents (or in-laws) can be nerve-wracking. But if they’re doing something that you don’t like, especially toward your child, then it’s important to say so.

When you’re living in a multi-generational household it is important to air your grievances in an effective yet non-confrontational way. You don’t need to go into the conversation ready for an argument, treat it as a discussion instead. Remember at the end of the day you’re still living in their home, so respect that.

This is so important because with so many people under one roof and so many different opinions unaired grievances can easily turn into resentment or anger. By being upfront about something that bothers you hopefully you can avoid unnecessary arguments.

But remember, this is a two-way street. So, if you tell them what’s bothering you be prepared to listen to what’s bothering them!

Also remember that if things start to get heated don’t be afraid to walk away. Then return to the conversation with a clear mind and calm heart.

 

 

4. Have adult conversations away from the kids

Above I mentioned that you should try to avoid arguments as much as possible, and that’s true. But there may be times where an arguments is imminent because one or both sides are angry.

If it comes to this make sure that you move this away from the kids.

Any adult conversations should be held when the children are not present. Set aside a time where the adults can talk without little ears overhearing. Nap time or after bed time are good times for this.

When you live in a multi-generational household there will inevitably be times where you need to have a conversation that isn’t appropriate for the children to hear. This may be about money, rules, a disagreement, or even vacation.

This way you can ensure that they don’t hear anything that they shouldn’t and if the situation does escalate they won’t here mom and dad fighting with grandma and grandpa.

 

5. Contribute to the house

Your parents (or in-laws) may or may not expect you to pay rent but that doesn’t mean this should be viewed as a free hotel. Make sure your kids know that they need to be respectful of grandma and grandpa’s house.

They should be expected to do everything at grandma and grandpa’s house that they would do if it were your own house. Make sure their toys are picked up, their dishes are put in the sink or the dishwasher, and their rooms are picked up.

Respect the sacrifice they’re making. If they don’t expect you to pay rent then find other ways to contribute, cook dinner, do the dishes, do laundry, or go grocery shopping. And if they do expect you to pay rent, or other bills, be on time with them, as you would if they were your landlords and not your parents.

Letting you return home, especially with children in tow can be a financial burden for your parents, especially if they have already retired. Be mindful of this fact and do what you can to lessen that burden.

A huge bonus to living in a multi-generational household is that you can all split the costs of the bills. This leaves everyone with extra money at the end of the day to do with what they wish.

 

6. Respect their home and their ways

By this I mean don’t expect things to be the same as they would be if you were in your own home.

There may be a lot of things that they do differently than you do. You don’t want to go into their home and completely disrupt their routine or way of life. For example, at our house the adults often eat dinner on the late side, like 7-8, which is way too late for C most nights. So, I’ll often make C dinner earlier, so he can eat at a reasonable time and the rest of us can still eat when we want to.

Another big rub for me has always been my uncle watching tv. The issue is that the living room (where he watches tv) is right next to my son’s room and he watches tv at an extremely loud volume. You can hear the tv perfectly clear in his room with the door closed, over his music and a fan.

It’s a bit excessive but we have made it work. He’s learned to not watch it quite as loud, and when he forgets a simple reminder does wonders.

 

7. Don’t take advantage

When you live in a multi-generational household you may have a built-in babysitter. Grandparents are usually extremely eager to watch their grandchildren, even if they do live with them. And because of this is can be easy to take that for granted.

Don’t expect them to watch your children. Make sure that they know you appreciate them watching your children. It’s so easy to just assume that they will they watch them that we can forget to thank them for doing so.

Respect the fact that they may not always be able to or want to watch your kids. If this happens it is important to have a back-up sitter. Will it be weird if they come in your house and your parents (or in-laws) are there? Possibly. But your kids are the priority, not any awkwardness that may ensure.

 

8. Grandparent Time

Your kids have the special opportunity to see their grandparents every day because they live in a multi-generational household.

Despite this, it is important that everyone makes time to do things together. It can be something as simple as watching a movie together or eating dinner together. Or you can plan a vacation together!

At the end of the day it’s not as important what you’re doing as it is that the whole family does it together. Take advantage of having their grandparents so close while you can and nurture the relationship.

This doesn’t have to be a daily thing by any means, but it helps to build that relationship between your kids and their grandparents. Just because they see them daily it doesn’t always mean they spend quality time together, by planning a few activities for everyone it ensures that they can.

 

9. Family Time

While it is extremely important for your kids to spend time with their grandparents it’s more important for you and your kids to spend quality time together.

Living in small quarters can easily lead to tension between you and your parents (or in-laws) especially if you feel like they’re undermining your authority. So, make sure that you take the time to spend time with just you and your kids.

Go to dinner with just your kids, take them to the park, or even to the movies. Whatever it is just make sure that you’re spending time with them without anyone else present. Your kids need to know that you still love them and even if there’s tension between you and their grandparents you still have time for them.

 

10. Set a routine

Kids need a routine. It’s important for them to know when things are happening and when they need to do what they need to do.

Your parent’s (or in-laws) routine may be vastly different than your family’s. But your kids are your priority, so it is important that you and your family have their own routine that is specific to their needs.

Make sure that your kids are waking, eating and sleeping at reasonable times, times that work for your family. You know what your kids need and when they need them so make sure that they happen when they need to.

You can work around your parents routine, but you don’t need to work within it if it doesn’t work for your family.

 

Remember:

At the end of the day parenting is hard. When you add the stress of cramped quarters and a multi-generational household it can become completely chaotic.

Also, you all live in the house together and share your spaces accordingly. And most importantly, remember that you’re all family and you love each other.

 

Leave a comment below!

And tell me about your experiences with living in a multi-generational household. Or tell me if you think you could do so.

Or share your stories about a time that you and your parents or in-laws disagreed and how you managed that!

 

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My Motherhood Journey

Reading Time: 6 minutes

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My Motherhood Journey

It was the middle of December and I had my yearly checkup. I have PCOS, so motherhood seemed like an impossible dream. So, when they ran a pregnancy test because I had been sexually active in September but, y’all I was not even remotely worried about it. Like being pregnant did not seem like even a slim possibility.

When they told me that I was pregnant I was in shock, and I made them re-do the test. And even when the 2nd test came back positive I still didn’t believe it.

When it finally sunk in, I was distraught. I felt like my life was over. I was terrified about how everything was going to play out. My mental health was abysmal, I didn’t have a job, I hadn’t finished school yet and just nothing was like I thought it was going to be when I had a child.

I left the exam room and I was absolutely hysterical. I was sobbing while I waited to make my ultrasound appointment. Those ten minutes while I sat in the waiting room felt like the most isolating minutes of my life so far. This was not how I pictured entering motherhood.

 

Telling my family:

Keeping myself together long enough to drive home was a struggle. I was crying on and off the whole drive home but once I got home and everyone went to sleep, I completely lost it. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed until I felt like I was gonna puke.

What was I going to do?. Was I going to keep the pregnancy? If I did was I going to keep the baby? How was I going to tell the father?  How was he going to react? What would motherhood be like?

Was I even ready for motherhood?

There were so many variables and unknowns that I just had no clue how my life was going to look for the next few months.

Telling my family was incredibly nerve-wracking. I had no clue how they would react. Were they going to be happy, sad, angry? Would I be able to stay until I get myself settled more? Would I be kicked out if I kept the baby? But I feared it wouldn’t be good. And I was both right and wrong at the same time.

Most of them took it well, but my dad was furious. And it was heartbreaking. At this point in my pregnancy I had a lot of shame, I had a lot of guilt and I had a lot of resentment. I didn’t think that I was ready for motherhood. And him being so angry at me just amplified all of this.

My journey to motherhood was clouded with fear and shame in equal measure.

 

Telling the father:

After the debacle of telling my family I was very raw emotionally. So, I was nervous now about telling the father, because what if he reacted badly too?

When I first told him, I didn’t have much information except a rough estimate of how far along I was and the fact that it was his. He was skeptical that it was his and more or less called me a slut. Accusing me of sleeping around and that there was no way my child could be his because I had to have slept with several people since then. All of which was false.

I was offended that he would insinuate that I wouldn’t know who the father was. While I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with sleeping around (unless you’re in a committed monogamous relationship of course). But I wasn’t doing that, and I knew full well that he was the father.

His reaction had me strongly considering if single motherhood was the right option for me.

 

The moment my life changed:

When I first found out I was pregnant I told him that I would text him when I had more information. And I did just that, then suddenly he’s blowing up my phone. Up until this point we had never talked on the phone y’all, just texted, so I was confused as hell. I answer the phone and it’s a woman’s voice on the other end.

His wife.

I asked him point-blank, multiple times, if he was seeing anyone and surprise surprise, he said no. I was beyond words.

This woman starts tearing me a new one and interrogating me about why I’m texting her husband. So, I tell her flat out that her husband cheated and got me pregnant.

This was a situation I never imagined myself being in. I could never imagine cheating on someone or sleeping with someone that I knew had a partner. But that’s the thing y’all, I didn’t know.

I can do everything I’m supposed to do and check in every way that I can to see if he has a partner, but he can lie, and I’ll never know. It shouldn’t be necessary to hire a private investigator every time I plan on sleeping with someone just to make sure that they aren’t secretly married.

I will never understand how the blame fell on me for an ignorance that her husband instilled in me.  Why she would rather be mad at someone who was lied to and dragged into a situation that they never wanted to be a part of than her husband, who actively and knowingly cheated.

But that’s where we were.

 

How I handled my sh*t:

This man who cheated on his wife, pulled me into his circle and all around just knowingly acted like a complete monster, came at me as if I was the one in the wrong. He told me to get an abortion, cursed me out and told me that he didn’t care at all about me or my son.

I was done. From that moment, I decided that he would have no part of my life anymore, nor my son’s. No on will be in my son’s life that doesn’t want to be there. I am not going to force anyone to be apart of my child’s life.

I can make myself and my son available to spend time with, but they have to put in some effort.

My son’s father then had the audacity to text me after the wife debacle and tell me that he was sorry for how SHE acted. Um, excuse me, what?? You’re sorry about her behavior? Her ire may have been directed at the wrong person, but it was understandable.

Him on the other hand, he went into this knowing full well that he was doing something wrong. He knew that he was cheating on his wife. Her behavior isn’t what was wrong here, it was his. I cannot believe that he had the balls to say that to me, or anyone truly.

But his reaction made me fully committed to my impending single motherhood.

 

The delivery room:

My son did not want to come out! I was two weeks overdue and he showed no signs that he was coming any time soon. I had to be induced, which sucked. Ultimately, I ended up needing a c-section, and I wasn’t happy about this either.

I think the hardest part of it though was trying to figure out who was going to be in the room with me. Normally you would have your partner in with you, but I didn’t have one. It couldn’t be my mom because she had to work, and I had no close female relatives that could do it.

So, I chose my brother. And on the surface that seems weird. I’ve had many people look at me like I have three heads after hearing my brother was in the operating room with me. But he sees this sort of thing all the time at his job and I knew that he would be able to keep me calm during a time that I would be the most stressed.

And y’all it ended up not being weird at all. He was calm and reassuring and even when I was puking my guts out into a bag he was holding he made sure that I felt comfortable. It was the best situation that I could have asked for. And because he was there him and my son will forever have a special bond.

My brother was the first person to hold my son. He cut his umbilical cord, and he was the first person to see him open his beautiful brown eyes. And because of this no matter how often they see each other or how far away they may live I know that the two of them will forever be connected.

baby boy

Leave a comment below:

And share your birth story! Did you have a quirky or unique delivery? Tell me all about it!

Or feel free to dish about your baby’s father, the good, the bad, and the ugly!

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