Four years ago we sold everything, quit our jobs, and moved in with my husband’s parents. At 38 years old we became the “basement dwellers”. For us it was not an economic necessity nor was it a health need on the part of his parents. This change in the way we live came about because of a discussion about priorities and some soul-searching. These are the questions we asked ourselves:
1. What is the most important thing in your life?
For us, our family matters most of all.
2. What do you really want?
We want to just enjoy being with the people we love.
3. Are you where you really want to be?
My husband had been on the phone with his mother and when I came home from work he asked me if I was happy. It turns out neither one of us was. Life was a constant grind. We were always in a hurry to get somewhere but never really getting there. We didn’t have time to just kick back and enjoy. Within one month we completely changed the way we lived.
I have found that with the recession many other adults are moving back in with their parents. For most, it is due to financial reasons. Interestingly enough, once they are back on their feet many families have no desire to split back up. The recession has caused Americans to go back to living arrangements they had prior to WWII. Multi-generational homes were the norm. It was in the years after the war families began to split into smaller units and a stigma was associated with those who stayed at home.
There are a lot of advantages to combining households. Older adults who have retired find the younger ones enlivening and are glad to feel useful. They provide child care, handle light housework, and are able to teach all of the younger family members a lot of useful things. For the working adults, housing costs are lower, the children have more security, there is less stress, and there is always someone around to lend a hand with things.
Disadvantages aren’t as many as you’d think, it is mainly setting the ground rules for everyone and following them. Most people that decide to live under the same roof find the transition causes no change in their relationship. Others need to adjust the parent/child dynamic. A very small minority finds it impossible to combine households with the folks.
So, how is it working for us?
We have 4 generations living in our home and we get along well. My husband’s parents are camping out in Florida until winter is over. Grandma, age 92, loves having family around her and is never lonely. There are a lot of things she can no longer do but she bosses me around in the kitchen and folds the laundry. Our daughter loves the stories her grandparents and great-grandmother share with her.
We are where we really want to be.
Photo Credit: HerbLady