How we live has certainly changed over the last year. The pandemic has impacted the living situations of millions of Americans. While multigenerational households were less common before the pandemic, more and more people are now living with multiple generations under one roof. Having so many people of different ages can pose unique challenges. Let’s take a look at how you can live more harmoniously with extended family.
Establish the ground rules
Not everyone has the same kind of lifestyle. When you’re mixing multiple generations under one roof, there may be differences of opinion about how things should work. For this reason, it is important to establish ground rules as early as possible. How often will you eat meals together? Who does the cooking? What are the rules for having guests? And perhaps most importantly – who gets to control the TV remote? Everyone should be on the same page to limit conflict down the line.
Create a chore schedule
Family relationships can become strained if some people feel like they’re doing the work for everyone. Create a chore schedule so that everyone can participate in keeping the house clean and tidy. Make guidelines about who will clean which areas, when, and how often. Consider having a rotation so nobody feels like they’re always on bathroom duty.
While financial discussions may be a little awkward, it’s vital that you take time to talk about how household expenses will be handled. One great benefit of living with extended family is having more people to share expenses. Determine who will pay for what and how payments will be made. This includes groceries, cleaning supplies, utilities, and even mortgage payments, insurance, and property taxes.
Communication is essential when you live with many family members. Not talking can lead to resentment, which can make your living situation very unpleasant. Keep lines of communication open and schedule time to have regular family meetings. This can be a time for family members to discuss problems and come up with solutions together. Give everyone a chance to speak and be heard.
Everyone needs privacy and time to be alone -- especially when we’re all sheltering at home during the pandemic. Set boundaries early on and be respectful of others’ needs. Since many family members may be working from home or going to school online, establish quiet zones or times so that they can work without distractions. Create a schedule for meal times and decide what the expectations are. Will everyone eat together? Creating and respecting boundaries will help keep the peace, especially during these challenging times.
Ask for help when needed
This is a stressful time for everyone. That stress can be compounded with many generations living together in one house. Depression and anxiety can be common right now. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed. This could mean getting a break from your responsibilities for a few days or even seeking outside help from a professional. Many mental health practitioners offer video and telehealth appointments right now so that everyone has access to the care they need.
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