When my husband and I started to design our house many years ago, we wanted a large house that many people could enjoy. As the design progressed and the days moved on we realized that we wanted to have a place that we could be assured living our lives out with those that we loved.
Now most people do not understand multi-generational living. And I would be the first to say it is not for everyone. Basically, it is when more than one generation lives together in a cohabitation arrangement. That means that everyone has roles that are clearly defined and everyone pitches in to make the living arrangements comfortable for all persons.
That being said, there are some guidelines that must be followed for the living to be successful. Expenses are shared. This is not a “let’s move home and mooch off Mom and Dad”. It is assigning certain expenses to each person living there so all people carry the burden of the cost of living.
It also means everyone must share in the chores. This is not a situation where mom does the laundry or picks up after a lazy adult child. Mom might be retired but she did not retire to be a slave to others.
Everyone has chores that they prefer to do. Some people are talented cooks. Others don’t mind cleaning. Some people are responsible for carrying out trash, watering plants or doing yard work. You get the picture. All general living chores are divided up between inhabitants.
A major component of multi-generational living is knowing how to communicate. If you can’t talk subjects out, best not try living together. In some homes there are subjects that are just not touched. Politics and religion are off limits in some homes. We happen to be of like minds in our house and can talk about almost anything without getting upset. But you have to be willing to set limits.
One other consideration is parenting. We go with the thought that “It takes a village to raise a child”. So we all sort of co-parent. But I know other folks where only the parents do the parenting. You have to communicate about the roles persons need to play as you all live together.
A final area is respect. You have to respect everyone’s personal property and the need for everyone’s privacy. Sometimes we love to be together. Other times, we need our space. Understanding that each person is an individual and should be respected is essential in living together.
I love living multi-generational. It keeps me young. I know the latest fads, slang and dress of the teens. I understand the issues of the forty somethings. I listen to music, ideas, philosophies, that I would not be exposed to if I lived among only my generation. I eat foods I would not touch without the encouragement of the younger people. I venture into activities I would not be invited to if not for the younger ones.
But most of all, I have been saved since my husband died because I have people that are with me almost 24/7. I do not have to be alone unless I choose to be. I am cared for and kept busy by my wonderful live-ins. I am a social person but I am also a private person. But I cannot imagine having to go through this tragedy without my roommates. It may not work for everyone but it is the wave of the future and it is a wonderful way to face the real world. Love you guys.