Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The truth about multigenerational living

Everyone wants to know: what's it like living with your 70-year-old parents?  Here's the skinny:

  • You are exposed to new organization methods, which you are reminded to follow.  One day you open the kitchen drawers to find little notes about where to put the spatulas and the mixing spoons
  • You get to learn a new, better way to fold towels, which you never tried before
  • Beggars can't be choosers: you take the bedroom available to you.  Even if you end up in your sister's old bedroom, with pink Laura Ashley wallpaper and frilly Holly Hobby curtains, you get over it and thank God you aren't laying claim to a refrigerator box on the side of the street
  • You find the kids' dinosaur vitamins squatting next to Dad's pill collection, which takes up the rest of the shelf in the kitchen cabinet
  • You become intensely aware of your own mortality, as you scan all the obituaries your mother cuts out of the newspaper each day
  • You navigate strange idiosyncrasies your parents seem to have developed in their later years, like a tendency to pull items out of the trash can and save them
  •  Any way you slice it, there are now two sets of parents in the house.  So, you loosen your grip on things you used to control: running the house, managing your schedule, parenting your children
  • You have frequent visits from family members, and your children find themselves foster grandchildren to an extended family
  • Your children develop a unique and deep love for your parents that stems from living with them
  • Your babysitting woes vanish: now you have a babysitter you trust as much as yourself, and the children happen to love those babysitters
  • You have the opportunity to shoulder burdens for your parents: you cook, clean, fix technology problems and help out with aging health issues; this feels good
  • You secretly wonder how your parents would ever get along without your help, and you heave a sigh of relief that your life took such a strange turn and you are now in a position to assist them


  1. I love this list! The towel-folding especially made me laugh. My husband's mother just retired and came over last week to help with the kids. She folded all our clothes in thirds (I do them in half) and it drove me nuts trying to fit them into our drawers. I ended up refolding everything.

  2. By the way, my colleague's blog was featured on the NY Times Motherlode blog recently. She also writes about living with three generations under one roof:


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