I live in a multigenerational household. We have three generations under one roof. While I personally think it's great, it's also an extremely resilient way to live. Here's why:
- Safety is improved. The entire home is constantly being used. It's full of activity 24x7x365.
- We have a deep bench of skills/emotional support. We can pool our skills/training/knowledge (there is a lot of medical, mechanical, and military knowledge in our home) to solve problems. We can share chores. We also work together to resolve emotional problems/spats. In a big household there always seems to be someone that is neutral and can arbitrate.
- We are better off financially. Not only do we have more money coming in (numerous incomes), we spend MUCH less per person. Wealth accumulates faster and debt/bankruptcy is much less likely.
How to Make a Multigenerational Household Work
OK. For many people reading this, a multigenerational home might not be possible nor is it something they are interested in. For those that are interested in this, either as a lifelong or short term solution, here are some simple tips on how to make it work:
- Finances. Make and use a household budget. Build a household budget that allocates the costs of running the household (utilities, food, taxes, etc.). You could divide it based on income. You can divide into costs per person and have people contribute to a pool that pays the bills, or a generation could be responsible for paying specific bills. Finally, a combo of all three is possible (that's my approach).
- Housework. Divide up the chores. Making dinner. Cleaning up. Everyone has to do something. Balance household work with outside work. Appliances ease the pain of certain tasks (and you can divide the costs). Chores can be put into a calendar or done through an informal allocation depending on availability and role.
- Separate living areas (if possible). Attempt to build separate living areas (sound/distance). "Living areas" are a great way to relieve household stress since they allow alone time and a place to retreat to if things get crazy in the main part of the house. Optimally: every generation has a section of the house they have some control over, like furniture, decoration, and temperature (some sound proofing is an extra bonus).
- Family meetings are valuable to defuse problems and resolve issues. Get problems fixed fast. Before they fester/boil and explode.
- Rules of conduct. A big one: a strict limit on advice. A simple: give advice to another generation's adult only when asked for. Limits on noise (time and level). Expectations of privacy and ownership. Establish rules for using (including cleaning up after use) bathrooms and the kitchen.
- Spend quality time together. We eat together every night that its possible. It keeps us close and talking.