Today, it is becoming common for parents, adult children, grandparents, and other family members to share a living space. There are a variety of reasons people wind up in a multigenerational household, but no matter what the situation, the goal is the same. You want to create a home in which everyone feels comfortable—about both the accommodations and the expectations. Here are points to consider when approaching multigenerational living.
Make sure everyone understands the financial arrangements.
These will change depending on the age of the family members sharing the home. If, for example, adult children continue living at home following college, you may want to charge them rent. But if your aging mother who needs regular assistance moves in, her finances may become your responsibility.
Provide for privacy.
No matter what their age, all family members have a critical need for privacy. If you have separate accommodations, such as an attached apartment with its own entrance, a backyard cottage, or a detached garage with an apartment, privacy is easy to provide. But if you are sharing rooms in the same structure, create ways to make sure everyone has private space and time.
Be clear about sharing tasks and responsibilities.
For family members who can help around the house, be specific about how everyone will equitably share in the household duties. These include everything from who cleans what in the house, to who takes out the trash. Also, nail down responsibilities for groceries and household supplies. Will everyone buy their own, or will the whole household share? Who will pick up the food and home maintenance items? How will utilities be paid for? Who is responsible for household repairs? Clarifying expectations will help maintain harmony.
Establish ground rules and boundaries.
For example, if your adult children are moving in with their families, map out specific times for when you are available to babysit. For children home from college or living at home after college, you may want to set ground rules about their having guests in the house. You also might like to establish times when people can be left on their own and not be expected to interact with family members sharing the same space.
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