Posts Tagged ‘mother-in-law lives with us’

Healthy multigenerational living = a reprieve

by Kanesha

As busy and working parents, hubby and I know uninterrupted time with our children is a luxury and a priority. As I’ve mentioned before with our multigenerational household, hubby and I make a point to create a space for nuclear family time.

This weekend we decided to head to the mountains and rent a rustic cabin. We wanted some private time, with just the four of us, to play, create, maintain connections and *unplug.

The rustic cabin. There were 3 beds, a table with 4 folding chairs, a ceiling fan-light and electricity.

When I asked my 11-year-old what she thought about this trip, she said,

“It’s important for us break-up our multigenerational family time because you get to do big family stuff and then spend independent time with fewer family members. You get a chance to do different things and just take a little time off. I don’t know. It’s just a good idea to have the breaks.”

My kiddos dancing and playing with the AEROBIE.

In Tips for Multigenerational Households, Elizabeth Mullins said something similar:

“Figure out what is family time, personal time and big extended family time. For instance, we like to all have dinner together a few nights a week but my daughter, husband and I still want a few nights just to ourselves.”

For our nuclear family getaway, my mother-in-law helped us prepare by grocery shopping, helping with the laundry, and purchasing craft supplies.

We love Cherrybrook Kitchen’s products! This is a great food solution for my son’s allergies and the food is tasty!

We had these chicken apple sausages for lunch. Delicious!

Craft supplies for our wreath

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Facebook confessional 1: To live or not live with your mother-in-law

I attended a fun party in late August and had the chance to meet some new people. I love people and I love to network. I think it’s fun to meet new people, find out who you know in common, learn about shared interests, and drink a bunch of good wine.

At this party, I was talking to a spunky woman who had on gorgeous shoes. She grabbed a great bottle of Pinot Grigio to set near us so we didn’t have to pause our conversation for refills.

When we got to “so what do you do”, she wanted to know how I appeared so balanced and not worn around the edges with kids, a traveling husband, and my own job. I explained my multigenerational living set-up, and she stared at me like I was speaking in tongues.

HER:            WHAT? You let your mother-in-law live with you? What is THAT about?

ME:            We enjoy it. It helps hubby and me focus on work as needed. We have more time to spend with our kids after work. My mother-in-law helps makes the house run well, and you know, the kids get to be with their grandmother.

HER:            Hmmm…Well how long will she be there? I mean did she just show up and not leave?

ME:            We invited her to live with us in 2007 when our youngest was born. I’m not sure how long she will live with us. We haven’t discussed that.

HER:            There is absolutely NO WAY my mother-in-law could live with us. NO WAY! You let me know if you need help getting your mother-in-law out of there.

At that point, I was pretty much done with the conversation. I politely excused myself and seriously thought about taking that bottle of wine with me as I went to find another person to gab with.

I reflected on this exchange some weeks later and I wanted to know what others thought about living with their mother-in-laws. So I posted a question on Facebook.

The responses where humorous, honest, shocking, emotional, and all over the place.

I came across an interesting study about how family communicate about their in-laws and with their in-laws.

“In one component of this study, the researchers asked daughters-in-law to report on positive and negative aspects of their relationship with the mothers-in-law. (Summary table)  One interesting aspect of these findings is that there are characteristics in this relationship that are listed as positive (i.e., linked to greater satisfaction) and negative factors (i.e., linked to less satisfaction).  This demonstrates that daughters-in-law have different “tastes” when it comes to what they want in their mother-in-law relationship.  For instance, some daughters-in-law felt geographic distance was a barrier to a more positive relationship whereas others believed geographic distance was necessary for a positive relationship.”

Click here to learn more about Dr. Christy Rittenour’s study.

If anyone is considering multigenerational living, they have to make sure this decision is right for them. Effective communication needs to be established when discussions first start and when the multigenerational living arrangement becomes a reality (or not).

Effective communication is essential in developing, maintaining, and strengthening relationships. Here are my top recommendations for communicating with your mother-in-law and in a multigenerational household:

  1. Practice (yes practice) active listening. This is a skill a lot of people do not have.
  2. Be honest and specific. Stick to the facts and do your best not to overgeneralize.
  3. Respond to what is being communicated instead of reacting.
  4. Adjust your communication style to the situation, age/generation of the other person involved, and the circumstance.
  5. Use common language. Speaking over your mother-in-law’s head (or anyone else’s) leads to unnecessary miscommunication and frustration. Your goal is to have the receiver understand, accept, and apply what you’ve communicated.
  6. Admit you are human and that you make mistakes. We all have stories to share when things are going well or when things are disharmonious. Showing you are human communicates your level of care for the other person involved.
  7. Love, respect, and forgive each other.

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My mother-in-law weighs in on Hawaii Five-O

by Kanesha

My husband, his twin brother, and their older sister were born in Hawaii. My husband lived there until he was about eight-years-old and then he moved back to the mainland with his mom (my *mother-in-law) and his siblings.

During our courtship and marriage, I have been fascinated about this part of my hubby’s life. A big contribution to this fascination is the way my mother-in-law becomes all dreamy eyed and animated when she talked about her life in Hawaii.

When I found out CBS was remaking Hawaii Five-O, I had to know what my mother-in-law thought about this. She did not hesitate to share her perspective.

[Summary of the contemporary version.]

K:            Did you know they were remaking Hawaii Five-O?

MIL:            The question is why?????? No I didn’t.

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K:             OK, I have more nosey questions. How long did you live in Hawaii?

MIL:            12+ years

K:            What made you decide to move there?

MIL:            Too long of an answer and too involved etc.

K:            [giggle] Would you ever move back?

MIL:            No, unless to outer island.  Also [I] would need much more disposable income because toooooo far away from everyone. That was a reason for moving back; the age of my grandmother, [my] kids didn’t know their grandparents.  I don’t even need to visit again. Never really felt I was in the tourist role. Too many changes last time.

K:            ¡Viva multigenerational living! Did you watch the original Hawaii Five-O?

MIL:            Of course.  Don (the father K’s hubby) was even in a couple of episodes as an extra. We did those sessions like you-all (meaning Kanesha and her girlfriends) do the Oscars!  It was always fun trying to figure out where they were.

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K:            Who were your favorite characters?

MIL:            The Hawaiian guy of course.

K:            [bigger giggle] Did you ever see the original being filmed while you were living in Hawaii?

MIL:            No.

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Our lovely multigenerational Sunday morning

by Kanesha

On Sunday, I woke up and the three-year-old had crawled into bed with me. He was demanding we get downstairs for breakfast and to see grandma (my mother-in-law). I could not be annoyed with him, even though I thought about it, because it was already 8:00 a.m.

Hubby was already up and moving around (can you see why I considered becoming annoyed?) and he was in a cooking mood. He coaxed me out of bed with the promise of apple cinnamon French toast, bacon, and strong coffee. Say no more, I was up!

After the lovely, non-healthy, and super delicious breakfast, the four of us (our daughter was sleeping over at a friend’s house) sat at the kitchen table, started talking about our super busy Saturday events, and  began working on our individual projects.

I was preparing goodie bags for my girlfriends. We had plans to watch the Desperate Housewives premiere. Yes, it’s low-brow TV watching and it gave us yet another reason to have a party on a Sunday night.

I purchased apple themed goodies to put into the bags. Simple and fun.

My son wanted to “help” me prepare the bags, so I set him up with his own project.

I showed my little guy how to use the hole punch. His hands aren’t quite strong enough to work the hole punch alone, but he was very determined.

Our local library had a used book sale on Saturday. All children’s and teen books were $.50. FANTASTIC!

My daughter and I had a great time digging through all the books. We picked up some picture books for my mother-in-law. She likes to make origami boxes with the picture book pages.

Hubby was doing some travel planning and pretty much just surfing the web. He would look up every now-and-then and offer us some positive feedback on our various projects. Yes, he’s the family cheerleader.

After about 90 minutes, the multigenerational project session came to an end.

My mother-in-law had created a super cute origami box.

My mother-in-law promised my son he could have the box if he helped clean up his project area.

He promptly used the box for his current beloved toy.

I finished the embellishments on my goodie bags. I was looking forward to the fun time I would have later on that evening.

It was a nice and relaxing start to a fun Sunday. It doesn’t get much better than this.

My mother-in-law is a mobile phone paparazzi

by Kanesha

When I’m at work, focused on a task, and forgetting about the outside world, my mobile phone will buzz.

Picture message!

There are other times I’m in a meeting that has gone too long. I’m glazing over and going brain-dead. I’m instantly jolted back to life when my mobile phone buzzes.

Picture message!

My mother-in-law often sends picture messages to me so I can have a quick peek into what my kids are doing while I’m away from them. I love it! I especially love that my mother-in-law initiated this picture-taking practice, about two years ago, without me prompting her to do so.

The pictures allow me to instantly connect with the kid as soon as I enter the house. I can ask them to explain what they were doing when my mother-in-law captured them with her phone.

I think it’s very sweet that my mother-in-law takes the time to snap pictures because she thinks (and actually knows) I will enjoy seeing my kids while I’m busy at work. And yes, I always enjoy it.

Here are my recent favorites:

My mother-in-law and my son were at the library. He picked out this magazine because he’s fascinated with the Eiffel Tower.

Chilly soccer practice

My mother-in-law was picking up the exhausted middle schooler. Look at all that stuff.

My mother-in-law is creating a Halloween costume with my daughter – made of Duck Tape.

To be continued…

My mother-in-law is helping my little artist learn the difference between his right and left hand (instead of the right and wrong hand).

Raising Hope = multigenerational dysfunction

by Kanesha

The fall 2010 TV line-up is underway and our DVR is being put to work.

I was so excited for all the new shows and returning favorites that I made a viewing matrix for this week. (I know, judge me!)

We do not watch a huge amount of television (no, I’m not going to define huge), but we do like to watch some shows as an entire multigenerational family (e.g. Dancing With the Stars).

Tonight, my nuclear family and I decided to watch Raising Hope (FOX). I’m a fan of Greg Garcia and I enjoyed his work with My Name is Earl.

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I was not at all prepared for what I saw. When I was wishing for more multigenerational themed TV shows, I wasn’t exactly talking about this.

The Chance family is a multigenerational family with a whole lot of crazy going on. (See show’s summary.)

As I watched the zany, jaw dropping, and wacky interactions of this family unfold, I laughed hysterically. Yes, I was totally into the potty humor and tasteless jokes of this sitcom.

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I guess you must have a good and sometimes obtuse sense of humor when you live in a multigenerational household.

As Jimmy’s grandmother, “Maw Maw” (Cloris Leachman), walks around in her bra, smoking a cigarette, yelling at her dead husband, and going in and out of lucidity, I inserted myself into this lunacy and imagined Maw Maw being my mother-in-law. What in the world would I do with my real mother-in-law if she was, in reality, that nutty?

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Then there is the grandmother to Hope (Jimmy’s mother), Virginia Chance (Martha Plimpton).

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Her smoking, trash talking, and tossing baby Hope around in the backseat would have me loosing my mind. I’m not sure if I would prefer Virginia or Maw Maw being my mother-in-law. Either way, I would have to drink heavily all day, install a nanny cam, and perhaps consider a divorce.

My multigenerational reality vs. Multigenerational chaos with the Chance family

When I went back to work after being on family leave, my little guy refused to take the bottle. Here my mother-in-law was living with us for only a month, still in transitional mode, and her three-month-old grandson would not take the bottle. I wonder if Jimmy Chance’s rubber glove method would have worked better than the cry your head off hysterically until you finally yield to taking expressed milk in a bottle.

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Then there was the time when my mother-in-law took my son to infant swim class. She received the “polite” stares and eyes that were secretly asking, “What’s this white lady doing with this little brown baby?” Someone even asked my mother-in-law from what country had her son (my hubby) gotten this baby. I’m glad my mother-in-law ignored those people, focused on singing Wheels on the Bus with her grandson, and didn’t have to explain anything about being in the penitentiary and not knowing the song’s words.

I’m especially glad my mother-in-law has never puked on my son due to a toxic and poopy diaper. There my mother-in-law was yesterday, at the recreation center, meeting her trainer for the first time. My son was in childcare and just as the training session was to begin, the childcare folks informed my mother-in-law that her grandson pooped in his pants, and yet, she did not puke. My mother-in-law handled the situation like a pro. She cleaned him up, sent him back to play time (albeit commando) and finished up her workout with the trainer.

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I’m not sure how long we will stick with this show. I suppose we’ll watch until it’s just too ridiculous to maintain our TV watching dignity. I definitely don’t have any plans to encourage my mother-in-law to watch it. She would be overly irritated on so many levels (the top issue being the portrayal of Cloris Leachman as a mature woman).

What’s on your must see list for the fall TV lineup?


Reflections on summer travel and fun – multigenerational style

by Kanesha

When Friday came around, I was absolutely thrilled!

Hubby was back from work travel, my daughter was heading to a sleepover, my mother-in-law was going for a night on the town, I had a dinner date with a great girlfriend, and I was actually looking forward to tackling my mega home-chore list.

(Oh, the little guy was hanging out with hubby on Friday – boys’ night!)

When Saturday morning came around, it was raining a bit and overcast. Forget about that mega home-chore list. It was time for some scrapbooking.

I love taking pictures. I enjoy sorting and categorizing them. I especially love putting the pictures in a scrapbook and retelling a story and reliving those fun moments. (This is a common interest my mother-in-law and I share.) And that’s how Saturday and today went as I scrapbooked.

Here is a glimpse into some of the summer memories of our multigenerational vacation time.

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