Multi-generational living was at one time a common way for people to live. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, multi-generational households increased 1 percent from 2000 to 2009. While this lifestyle has its advantages, there are a few things families can do to help the arrangement operate more smoothly.

Discuss Financial Contributions and Expenditures Regularly

Just as a couple would make a household budget when they get married, a new budget must be created when families merge. Preferably this discussion will occur before moving arrangements have been made. This conversation should include the costs of the needs and wants for everyone, as well as what percentages of the necessities are expected to be covered by each individual. This conversation should be had multiple times a year to ensure that all needs are being met.

Discuss Parenting and Household Responsibilities Regularly

Increasing the number of people in a household means increasing laundry, meals, and other chores. Having a discussion about the division of household chores leaves no arguing about who was supposed to do what. Of course, the abilities of all of the occupants needs to be considered.

Furthermore, when expectations are not met by children, whether it be doing their chores or otherwise, parents need to outline the consequences and determine whether grandparents should participate in the “parenting” duties. This dialogue should also happen before the merger actually happens. It may be helpful to touch on all financial aspects and household aspects at the same time regularly.

Give Each Other Space

Every member of the family needs space in the physical sense and an opportunity for privacy or time to oneself. While not every house will be able to afford a “secondary suite,” it’s important that each member of the family have a space they can call their own. For the sake of everyone’s mental health, individual interests need to be given priority.

Take a Break

While merging households with aging grandparents can be a blessing, it’s perfectly acceptable to take a break once in a while. If the elderly members of the household need regular physical care, consider contacting a respite service near you, like Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care. Taking a three to five day break every now and then can be just what is needed for the arrangement to keep working for everyone.

The benefits are immeasurable when multiple generations are given the opportunity to share their everyday lives. Hopefully, the above tips will be able to help your multi-generational family maintain the cooperation and respect that are needed to make the experience the best it can be for everyone involved.

By Erica Buteau

Change Agent. Daydream Believer. Maker. Creative. Likes love, peace and Jeeping. Dislikes winter, paper cuts and war. She/Her/Hers.

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