In the course of human history, it really wasn’t that long ago that families cohabitated together, spanning generations. In modern times, however, it’s not all that common for kids to live with their parents when they have kids of their own.
And when they do, it can be challenging, yet wonderful at the same time.
These moms share what it’s like to live with their kids’ grandparents.
If finances are tight, you might find yourself moving back home — with your kids and your partner in tow. Or, your parent might move in with you. These unique situations can be difficult to manage, with space and boundary issues as well as telling Grandma or Grandpa to back off your parenting skills. However, living with your folks can also have plenty of benefits. How can you peacefully manage living with your parents — or your in-laws?
When you live with your child’s grandparent, you often have built-in help, whether it be for brief stints of babysitting or essential support as you parent your child. “Need to run out to the store after the kids are asleep? No problem.” said Kelly, mom of two who shares a home with her husband, her two kids and her mother. “Impromptu date night? Yay!”
Not everyone needs a full-time babysitter for Mom and Dad during work shifts, but moms told us that having a grandparent on-site made it a lot easier for them to dash to the grocery store or help cover when a parent’s shift overlaps with another one.
Big family environment
Some moms love having more family members around. “I’m never home alone and there’s always someone to hang out with when I get home from being out,” shared Brooke, who recently moved back in with her mom and stepdad. “I come from a big family and I hated living in a place with just Eliott and I.”
One of the biggest challenges moms report is that it can be hard to determine parental boundaries — and for the grandparents to stick to them. You might have a different parenting style than your mother does, for example, and it can lead to your kids being confused, particularly when it comes to rules and expectations. If you’re living with your parents (or in-laws), don’t feel like you can’t speak up, especially about issues surrounding health and safety. You are the parent of your child, and you are ultimately responsible for raising her. The bottom line is that grandparents can’t take on the traditional “grandparent“ role when you’re all living together, but you can give a little in certain areas.
Cheryl lived with her mother from the time her daughter was born up until a couple months ago, and did exactly that. “She was essentially my co-parent,” she told us. “Which was nice, except when it wasn’t. I had to bite my tongue a bit when our ideas didn’t mesh, because some things just aren’t worth fighting over.”
It can get hard to share your personal space — or that of your parents’ — when you’re living with them again. Heather, who lives in a basement apartment of her parents’ house with her partner and their two children, knows this all too well. “No matter how well I clean up after my kids or fix what they break, my mom is constantly reminding me of the damage the kids do to her home,” she explained.
Kelly, who not only lives with her mother but her husband’s grandmother, agreed. “A downside would be the lack of personal space,” she said. “And different opinions and beliefs. These can cause huge arguments in our household.”
Even with all the challenges, some of the moms we talked with couldn’t say enough about how wonderful it is to have Mom nearby. “I appreciate having someone so close capable of reading how my day went and willing to take the kids off my hands for 30 minutes here and there so I can take a moment to rest,” explained Heather. And the relationship their kids have with their grandparents as a result of living in the same home is priceless. “The best thing is the relationship she and Alannah have now,” said Cheryl.
While some cohabitation situations aren’t ideal, some work out extremely well. As Kelly puts it, “I’m pretty lucky that my mom and I get along well, and that she doesn’t try to interfere with our lives or our parenting,” she shared. “We have a pretty good balance.”