Decades ago, it was common for 2, 3 and even 4 generations to cohabitate. While it’s less common now, moving in with family members of other generations still occurs because of caregiving, culture, financial issues or logistical reasons like relocation. Here are three tips for making the experience as low stress as possible:
1. Set boundaries. For example, if you are moving in with a loved one to help with caregiving, be really clear on what types of things you will help out with from the very beginning and for how long. For example if you move in with Mom after a surgery, let her know what types of help she can expect from you. You might say “Mom, I am glad to help with all the errands and cooking but I want you to get accustomed to getting around on the walker yourself.” Use “I” language when setting boundaries. “I want you to get accustomed to the walker” is better than “You need to get accustomed to that walker.”
2. Communicate early and often.
Prior to moving in together, acknowledge that there will be times when you won’t get along perfectly or will need to communicate something that will be hard for the other person to hear. For example if your daughter and her husband have moved in with you while they are building a new house, remind her of your “hot button” issues. If dirty dishes piling up in the sink bug you, discuss it before everyone starts living together.
3. Be clear about space. If your home is being moved into, let the newcomers know how much space they have. Consider making suggestions about local storage units, consignment shops, donation centers, etc. for surplus items the new roommate may not have the space for. If you are the one moving, be courteous and respectful before assuming you can commandeer an empty closet.
If you’d like tips on determining if moving in with a loved one of a different generation is a good idea, check out the quiz in my new book Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One (released on September 27, 2016) at www.cruisingthroughcaregiving.com. An entire chapter is devoted to this topic!