Tips for living in a multigenerational home
You figured out the spaces where your extended family can sleep and work and store their gear.
But how are you actually going to live together?
Here are some tips on how to make a multigenerational household function smoothly.
Money is the primary cause of so many conflicts. Before you launch your multigenerational household, spell out how all groups will share expenses, especially on the big-ticket items like:
- mortgage or rent
- property taxes
- home maintenance and repair
Easy to say, hard to do, but don’t let things build up. Living together takes trust, commitment, and the benefit of the doubt. It also takes more effort at communication than you might have expected. As a group, consider taking a short quiz on communication styles to learn more about each person and how they interact. The insights may save a lot of heartache down the line.
Set schedules, share calendars
It can be challenging to keep track of where everyone is. The goal is to share schedules without making people feel like their every move is being monitored. Use a shared calendar app or hang a large paper calendar in a common area. The key is to get buy-in from everyone that they will check and update it daily. Then you won’t have kids waiting at daycare or school, or an empty kitchen on the night that grandpa was supposed to cook.
Resentment can build quickly when it comes to housework, chores, and everyday clean-up. As a group, determine and agree on the daily and weekly chores, and who will take the lead if people need to be reminded. It’s important it be a team effort. Age-appropriate chores are a great way to teach teamwork and responsibility. And remember: appreciation of effort goes a long way!
Homes require maintenance and repair. Set some guidelines on who can take the lead on home repair projects, including scheduling and being present when repair people arrive, and who can approve large purchases.
Childcare, parenting styles, and boundaries
Each generation has its own way of raising children. Comparing or complaining gets you nowhere fast. Expect that you will have some questions or disagreements. Then do your best to adhere to schedules, boundaries, and established ground rules.
Make time for fun
You chose to live together for a reason. Now make sure you create time to have fun as well! Daily routines create familiarity; fun times create memories. Try to create some sort of occasion each month, whether it’s a picnic, a day trip to a state park, or movie night.