If your adult child and grandchildren have moved back in with you, it may be comforting to know that you’re not alone. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 report, “A third of young people – or 24 million of those aged 18 to 34 – lived under their parents’ roof in 2015. More young adults lived with parents than with a spouse in 2016.”
Furthermore, from the increasing popularity of multi-gen homebuilding in more recent years, it is no doubt the trend will grow greater for 2020 and beyond. But comforting statistics will not be enough to help you to successfully transition from a well-earned empty nest to a thriving multigenerational household.
When multiple households are combined, it’s all about creating a balanced home that encourages every family member to contribute to the house, so it is healthy and happy for everyone. The physical home you create can go a long way toward encouraging family collaboration that will create a balanced home:
A Delicate Balance
When you open your home to kids and grandkids, it’s of great benefit to all – if you can maintain an equilibrium between your prior empty-nester lifestyle and the new multi-gen household to suit the latest occupants. Nurturing a new family dynamic doesn’t just magically happen all by itself. To be successful, it requires daily thought and attention, from every member of the household.
Dual Living Spaces
When the kids and grandkids move in, try to create two living spaces —one for adults and one to be used as a playroom or gathering spot for the children. This may not always be possible, but it should at least be high on the priorities list. In other words, you will want an area where toys are kept and used safely, without endangering older family members. An adult living space should be free of the clutter and toys of childhood, while still welcoming kids for interaction with parents and grandparents.
A Bedroom and Bath of their Own
If space is available, giving each family member a room of their own would be the ideal arrangement. Add to that an en-suite bath, and you have the perfect living environment. Each person can retreat to their own personal space for some alone time.
If private en-suites are not achievable within your current house, then decorate what is available, so each person has their own dreamy space. For example, create a girl’s room with fairy lights, gauzy canopies, and lots of nooks and crannies for reading and napping. Give boys a space filled with whatever they’re obsessed with now. The theme is not as important as the fact that space represents what’s important to the kids. Again, it’s memories you’re creating here, sweet memories of this time your family spent together.
Washday Facts of Life
Configure your laundry room to be as convenient as possible so that all multi-gen family members – who are of appropriate age – can be responsible for taking care of their clothes, thus making life easier for everyone.
Whether your multi-gen family is high tech or technophobic, one of the best things you can give them is a spot in your home to serve as an organizational center. This area should include a cubby for each family member, so homework, books, and all things important are never lost – and always close at hand when everyone heads out the door. A colossal calendar with everyone’s schedule for the week – or month – will be a huge stress reliever. Coat hooks and tubs for boots and shoes should be added nearby.
A Place for Everything
In addition to a spot for schedule planning, organization takes on even more importance when a multigenerational family comes together to create a bigger household. Organized closets, cabinets, and shelving are so essential to ensure everyone knows where to find everything. This way, there will be no need to organize a search party to find an umbrella. Knowing that everything has an assigned spot will eliminate a lot of frustration – if each person returns it after use.
Create a Happy Place to Thrive
“Decorating done thoughtfully can achieve that and more. Color, texture, and pattern that makes us smile are what you’re aiming for. Not all families are the same, so what works for you may not work for other folks. Likewise, what works for other multigenerational families may not suit yours. As you blend diverse family members into one household, just understand from the beginning that the decorating you do now will change over time. Be flexible and enjoy every minute of this new home and your new way of life.” Read more from our earlier article, “Multi-Generational Decorating Ideas.”
The Value of Little Things
Don’t forget the small touches that can be very important to family members of all ages. Night lights are especially crucial to some, especially in unfamiliar environments. Whether it’s with safety in mind for older folks or the emotional wellbeing of small children, strategically placed night lights are little things of great importance.
Small, but very safe, stools in the bathroom so that younger kids can reach the sink to brush teeth and wash hands, mean more independence, allowing them to do more for themselves. That’s another thing that’s good for all.
A Safe Toddler-Friendly Home
While maintaining as much of your home’s character as possible, put away your most “precious” things that might be destroyed by curious little hands. This will save you a lot of frustration and make life easier for toddlers who won’t have to be told no at every turn. Child-proof kitchen and bathroom cabinets are ideal for this purpose. It’s easy to do and will protect kids who wander out of your range of vision.
Decorating for Visual Interest
In the decor within your balanced home, you will want to include lots of light, color, pattern, and art, creating an inviting environment where kids, and adults alike, can thrive.
As you welcome a grown child back into your home – along with grandchildren – creating a balance between maintaining your own lifestyle and possibly the beautiful empty nest you had come to enjoy. All this can be done while transitioning to a new way of life that includes your grown kids and your grandkids daily – a home for your perfect new multi-gen family.
Joanna Dorman is a freelance writer with over 16 years of experience creating interior design, home building, home improvement, and real estate content. Additionally, she has 15 years of field experience in the interior design industry and trained in interior design at the Art Institute of Houston.