When my husband and I retired early, we pictured long leisurely mornings reading the paper over breakfast. Maybe a nice stroll through the development across the street or walking the dogs in the woods behind the house, you know, a retired type of lifestyle. Then my daughter and her husband had a financial setback and they wanted to move in, along with Lexie, my then 2 year old granddaughter. It was supposed to be for a year until they got back on their feet.
Well, two years later and another granddaughter, Aubree, everyone is still here. Lexie is now 4 and Aubree is 6 months. So what happened, you ask? We got sideswiped by grandchildren. In our innocence, we didn’t realize how attached we would become to our grandchildren and the thought of them moving out really upset us. So here we are living in a multi-generational household.
There were definitely some adjustments on all sides. Luckily, we have a big home so we gave them the upstairs to spread out in. We moved our bedroom downstairs and my craft room to the basement rec room. I have my office where I work from. The kitchen and dining room is a common area and half the living room is my husband’s sanctuary. The other half is where my daughter and I sit, rock the baby and talk. We decided, after a trial and error period, to keep our food separate in the fridge and the cupboards. We eat differently than my daughter and her family so there’s less food waste this way. Our yard now has a sliding board, picnic table, and little playhouse in it among the flower gardens. Yes, there is the loss of privacy factor but, ahhhh, the pluses make up for it.
Do you know what it’s like to hear a little knock at your bedroom door and a “Mumum, it’s ME, Lex!”. She opens the door and pops into bed saying, “I’m sooo cold!” She squeezes in between me, her Poppa, two dogs and a cat or two and sticks her little ice cube feet on you. Or she drags in a book and says, “Mumum, I’m gonna weed you a warm bedtime story” and she reads her version of the books you have read to her. Or when you’re in the kitchen, your daughter peeks Aubree around the corner, you look up and Aubree gives you a smile which lights up her entire face. Or she laughs while you’re trying to feed her, it dribbles down her chin, she sneezes and you’re covered in smooshed bananas.
Everyday life but actually living and sharing life, THAT is what multi-generational living is all about.