This weekend I went out and did a little shopping.
The stores were PACKED with Back To School Shoppers!
I miss those days!!! New notebooks, fresh pencils and the hopes for a Successful New Year!!
I ran into a friend who was with her grand child doing shopping duties for a return to school. She had a bedraggled look about her and when I stopped to say Hello, I asked her if things were good.
Well, it seems my dear friend, Evelyn, had been dealt one of “Those” life hands; the kind of cards that are all messy and mixed up!! Her mother had recently moved in with Evelyn and her husband. Everyone got along swimmingly. Then, just this past week, Evelyn’s son lost his job and his wife needed a “time out” and decided to move back to her native Australia! Evelyn’s son had no idea how he was going to make it as a single Dad with no income, so Evelyn and her husband offered the spare bedroom until they got back on their feet.
She seemed so calm with all of these major changes in her household! Originally their home housed just 2 people and now it was suddenly accommodating 5 people stretched over 4 generations! Evelyn said, at the moment, the biggest issue was getting everyone’s “stuff” to fit!!
Evelyn mustered a smile and moved along with her grandson, but it got me to thinking!!!
As of 2010, 16% of American households had 3 or more generations living together. Prior to 1940, 40% of American households were multi-generational. Because of the implementation of Social Security after WWII, older people could now afford to stay on their own longer. But today, many people have chosen to live with their adult children for a variety of reasons including safety, companionship and financial need. Because of the Economy, many younger adults have found their way back to the family home also. Those reasons are just as varied; income was not enough to cover basic living costs, loss of job, divorce and financial assistance. Whatever the reason that THE WALTONS television show is being reprised in our own lifestyles, the Big Question is….What do you do with everyone’s stuff???
I made a few calls to storage unit friends and did some investigation on line.
I am going to use Evelyn as my example.
Evelyn lives in Florida where we do not have basements. (The water table is too high) The garage becomes the basement. Most of us in Florida try to keep basic “garage stuff” in the garage because it gets HOT out there. Then there are others of us who need the space for storage. We put in shelves and organize boxes and bins to rotate with the seasons and usage. This is all very logical for a small family or retired couple or a single person. But, suddenly, that garage takes on a whole new design when you have Grandma’s stuff (which also includes some of Her parent’s things), Your stuff, Son’s stuff and Grandson’s stuff!!
The Rules For Making It Work: So what should you do to keep the family together, happy and new memories being made? I found an article on Huffington Post that gave some fantastic ideas!
COMMUNICATE The first word of advice I received was from a manager at a local Storage Facility. He told me “Communicate!!!” He then launched into a one-act show about all the situations that he has had to diffuse because Grandma wanted the old chair back at the house and her son in law wanted it stuffed into storage. “If everyone would just sit down at the kitchen table before anyone moves anywhere and talk about what they want, need and desire, then everyone would be much happier.”
MAKE A LIST Everyone, including the homeowner, needs to write down what items stay in the house and what goes to the garage or other facilities. Remember, feelings can become sensitive when giving up territory!!
NEGOTIATE Three couches in the living room probably won’t work. Negotiate what items stay and where they go. Remember, this is not a war zone! It is a family of Independent Households coming together to become One!
PREPARE THE HOME Perhaps there are stairs that will need a special railing or an electric stair lift added. If the youngest child is still a toddler, the house needs to be baby proofed. Do you need a walk-in shower or a special toilet? The home needs to work for everyone!
EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN SPACE Decisions need to be made BEFORE moving day on how the living space is going to be used. Is the old sewing room now Grandma’s space? And is there room for a living room AND a family room so that the youngest member and the oldest member of the New family have a place to relax.
INDIVIDUAL LIVES Remember, this is a coming together of generations. Each generation has their own style and ways. These must be respected and honored. If the homeowner has given up the former sewing room for Grandma, let Grandma decorate HER space HER way! The same is true for the younger generation.
SCHEDULES As in any household or life, a schedule helps balance the chaos. Try to set up the meal times to accommodate everyone being able to eat together. Bedtimes should become rituals! Think “Night John’boy!” And play time such as movie night or game night can create memories and solidify relationships.
REALITY It is essential to keep realism at the forefront. Does the furniture really work together? Talk about it! Does the late night TV watching of the younger adult impedes upon the early sleep schedule of the elder? Talk about it! Is there alone time for each family member? Talk about it! Are there other people and relationships outside of the house that are beginning to affect the relationships on the inside of the house? Talk about it! If an argument occurs (and there will be these from time to time) are there impartial moderators? Talk about it!!!
MAKE SWEET SWEET MEMORIES What a Great opportunity to create an amazing atmosphere, a home full of stories and tales and shared love from one generation to the next! Holidays should include the old and the new and the excitement for everyone’s achievements should be truly Celebrated!!!
Enjoy! And LOVE!!!
The next blog will include ideas on how to organize a storage unit for multi generations!
Until Next Time
Keep on Junkin’