Posts Tagged ‘multigenerational’

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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Blue Bloods – a multigenerational show to watch


Tom Selleck and me, circa 2003


Television is not a huge priority in our house – we only have one.  I do not watch a lot shows; Mad Men and Parenthood are at the top of my list and of course, my alma mater’s football games.  I am NOT a fan of most reality TV shows.  I would rather be subjected to bodily injury than watch any of the Real Housewives series.  But, one new Fall show got my attention for two reasons: it is a show about a multigenerational family and it stars Tom Selleck.   

Many of my friends will recall my flat-out obsession with Tom Selleck when he starred in Magnum, P.I.  (Perhaps this is a better memory for me than them?  I can almost make out the eye-rolling as I write this.)  And later, when I was in college (as luck would have it, it was the same university from which he graduated) I met him several times when he attended alumni events – moments I will never forget.  And no – my dear college friends – no need to re-live my insanity at the alumni volleyball game that occurred the same day of  his birthday – a fact that no one knew but me… 

So when I heard about Blue Bloods – well, you can imagine that there was no way I was going to miss it.  I liked it – but not for the reason that you might think.   

It was an interesting storyline – family of police officers, with Tom Selleck the Chief of Police in NY.  He has four adult children, one son having recently been killed in the line of duty.  His only daughter is a district attorney.   Two other sons are on the police force. 

But it was the family-themed, (do not read this as poltically conversative please…) many generations close together every day, that got me.  And in particular, the family dinner with 4, count them 4, generations sitting down to a meal on a Sunday night that was eerily familiar.  

Does this sound like any dinner you have had with family before?…Lots of people in the kitchen, differing opinions among the adult kids and some snipping among parents, children and even grandchildren.  People up and down from the table, one person leaving early, and at some point, alcohol was located and consumed to provide some relief. 

Sounds about right….  Families are complex and people disagree and things can get a bit, shall we say, testy.  But family is non-negotiable in my book and for them it seems, too.  

Blue Bloods has been added to my TV list – and apparently, I am not the only one who liked the show – it reeled in the viewers on Friday night.  Tom Selleck is a big draw for me but it was really fun to watch the family dynamics and see how often I said, “I get that….”

a multigenerational business – I love it!

Who among the female readers of this blog do not love purses?  I sure the heck do and in Superior, CO, where I live, there is a local mom who gets my business.  Beth Shogrin is owner of Biscuit Bags.  She has an amazing eye for mixing patterns and colors and I love her creations – different sizes, styles, fabrics – her work is fabulous!

For mother’s day this year, I got my mom one of her waterproof bags – perfect for aquatics workouts and lazy days at the pool.  And I have given friends a variety of different bags – totes to evening bags.  And while talking with Beth one day, I learned that her Mom is a part of her business!  Viola – a multigenerational business!

To honor another aspect of multigenerational lifestyles, Beth has graciously offered a reader of our blog a $50 credit towards one of her bags.  And dare I say what you are probably already thinking – the holidays are around the corner and it is never too early to think about gifts for the fashionable (or not so fashionable) women in your life! 

To enter the drawing, leave a comment below and share the following:
“What is the oddest thing that you carry in your purse?”

The drawing will be held on September 25.  Good luck!

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My neighbor Michele – also living in a full nest..

Have you ever noticed that when something changes in your life, you invariably start running into people who have had a similar experience or someone knows someone who has had the same thing happened, etc?  Like attracts Like?  Now, I don’t want to sound new-agey or like a devotee of The Secret, but I have to admit, this is happening to me more and more when I tell people that my parents live with me and my family.  

Case in point, I only found out within the last year that a neighbor down the street, whom I have known for about three years, shares her home with her husband, kids and mom.  See? 

So, in a continuation in our series of conversations with people who live in a multigenerational home, let me share some of the insights on multigenerational living from my friend Michele. 

MICHELE’S NEST: married, two kids, and one husband.  Sounds typical, but she also shares her home with her mom and has been for six years.  This is actually, for her family, also quite typical. 

Michele’s family is of Polish decent and she says that generations living in the same home is the norm.  And in particular, it is the women who take care of the women.  Michele’s mom even said to her not long after Michele had her daughter, “A daughter is your daughter for the rest of your life, a son is your son till he takes a wife.”

HISTORY:  Turns out that Michele’s grandmother moved into her childhood home not long after losing her husband and she recalls with clarity her grandmother cooking and being an part of her adolescence.  

So when Michele and her husband decided to move west, she naturally asked her mom to join them – good thing her husband is a fan of his mother in law.  Her mom, single, was close to retirement age and it “just made sense.” 

UPSIDE:  Michele loves that her kids get more time with their grandmother, but she also appreciates that her kids have learned tolerance for people who are “older.”  They have a meal together about once a week – Michele’s mom still works part-time in the evening and is quite active so she does not feel like her mom is dependent on her. 

Living together is a safety net – Michele knows that in a pinch, her mom will help out with her kids and her mom loves doing it.  This is a recurring comment among the people I know who live in multigenerational homes. 

OCCASIONAL DOWNSIDE – she and her husband cannot really get into arguments – and this can be hard, she says.  She does not feel the freedom to yell and holler – not that she thinks that is a good thing, but she does not want her mom to hear marital disagreements.  (I totally know how she feels!)  

ADVICE:  Be ready to hold your tongue – and realize people do not change.  This is a concept that you might have to explain, and often, to children or your spouse.  If it is your parent, like in both of our cases, we know our parents subtle ways of communication, when they are angry or frustrated, etc.  Kids and our spouses do not have the benefit of years and years of living with our parents and being able to read these signs.  Patience is the key.  

And finally, you must be respectful of your parents’ needs and the choices they make.  Living together does not give either the adult child or the parent the right to interfere with the way in which either chooses to live.

WRAP UP:  After about 40 minutes of talking, it was obvious that there are many similarities between Michele and me – we could have talked for hours about the unique challenges we both face in our homes.  But again and again, both of us returned to the fact that despite these challenges, neither of us would change the fact that we share our home with our parents.

Multigenerational carpooling- what a blessing!

There are times, as I am sure you could imagine, that living with my parents is a blessing.  And as I am sure you can imagine, there are times when it makes me, well, a little bonkers.    

At school pick up time, especially the beginning of the year – it is always a blessing.   

The assessment days, back to school nights, parent conferences, meetings, school supply shopping, clothes shopping – could the start of the school year get any more time consuming?  There is one thing I never worry about, though, and that is how my kids get home from school.   

The most punctual man on the planet, my father, is in charge of picking up our two kids at the end of the school day.  And come hell or high water or snow storms – he is always there to bring them home.    

I know this because I hear from many of our friends that my dad is consistently the first in the pick-up line – they all know his red SUV and my kids’ teachers tell me he is in the same place, every day, eager for them to come out of class.     

XM Satellite Radio logo, used from 2001-2005

Image via Wikipedia


Here is his M.O. – he gets to school at least 20 minutes ahead of time because he detests waiting in line.  He listens to ESPN radio on XM while he waits, and on occasion, gets a couple of minutes of shut-eye.  (No, talking to him about the fact that he is still waiting in line – just at the front of the line, is meaningless.)      

My husband and I have asked repeatedly if my parents would prefer to set up a carpool for pick up, like the morning drop-off.  The resounding answer is “no.”     

Here is why – my dad LOVES picking up my kids from school.  He enjoys knowing that he is helping out is a very big way but he also gets to hear about their day, and has them all to himself for at least the ride home.  Because as soon as they are home, they play with neighbors, climb trees in the yard, and ride their bikes.  And occasionally, he breaks the rules and takes them for a doughnut.  ARGH!    

On the first day of school, my husband and I were there for drop-off and pick-up.  But from day two on, it has been my dad.  When I asked my dad how the pick-up went for my son on day 2, who had just started Kindergarten, a big smile came over his face.  Here is what he said: “I was waiting right by the kindergarten door and he came out and saw me – and gave me a huge smile!  And you know how I love seeing him smile.  It was just awesome.”    

I would say that it would be a cold day in hell before anyone else gets to pick up my kids from school…  What a blessing!   

a computer, a placenta and mosquitoes – there is a thread here, I promise….

A recent post on WordPress about the 10 most idiotic parenting products, which included a teddy bear made from a placenta – no, I am not kidding – got me thinking about the crap I bought as a newbie parent (wipe-warmer at the top of the list) and the useless crap I have bought my kids… (too many things to list)

The very next day, my mom said she thought my kids, entering KG and 2nd this fall, would get more use out of her computer than she would and she wanted to move it upstairs.  The placenta post and the computer made me wonder what in the world I did for entertainment when I was little?

So, Sunday night, when we have “family dinner” with my parents, I asked them what I played with when I was little.

As I am 43, it took my mom a while to think back and come up with a list.

Mom recalled that I did not like dolls, Barbie or otherwise.  But I loved to read and draw on my “etch a sketch,” played tons of card and board games like Old Maid and Monopoly, Clue and Battleship, invented elaborate make-believe games with neighborhood pals, and competed in a lot of sports – tennis, swimming, kick-ball and ping-pong.

To which I replied, “but what about when I was really little – too young to walk, barely old enough to crawl?  Did I have an exer-saucer, a kick-n-play, a special red/white/black padded mat to lie on that had a mobile arched over me, an automatic baby swing?”

No, no, no, no and no.  I had a play-pen with some stuffed animals – as did every other child born in 1967.

At the dinner table, in-between bites, my kids were amazed, listening to how I spent my time growing up.  We did not have a Wii, Xbox, computer, or other electronic toys.  We had a relatively small collection of games and toys that were contained in our bedrooms – certainly not a “playroom.”  I am not sure my kids would have really believed of such a simple childhood if their grandmother had not confirmed it.

One of the major benefits of having my parents live in our house is the perspective conversations like this give my kids.  It is important to me that they have some idea of the past – and that they hear about it from their grandparents makes it real to them.  If you are a parent, you know what I am talking about  – the familiar roll of the eyes, telling you, “mom, I am really not listening to you…”  That never happens when my mom tells my kids what’s what.

So, it is entirely appropriate that after dinner my kids asked if they could stay inside and play on the computer.  To which my husband and I responded, “No, go in the backyard and play.”

They obeyed and went to their special tree for the better part of an hour – they continued their make-believe game about Tom and Jerry and my daughter, who is catnip for mosquitoes, came in with several whopper bites.

Now, that sounds familiar – just like when I was a kid…

First week of work – complete! Totally exhausted and guilt free!

It’s Saturday! Hallelujah!

Last Monday, I returned to work after my four-week July vacation. It was brutal re-entry, but I survived my first week and it was totally guilt free! Monday morning was a “Let’s get Kanesha up and ready” team effort.

Hubby helped me get out of bed so I could go on my morning walk. My daughter and hubby made sweet “back to work” cards for me. Hubby made breakfast for all of us, and a healthy lunch for me. My mother-in-law made some high-octane coffee for my travel mug (no Folgers), and my son did not protest when I left for work. Everything was moving along well.

There is nothing wrong with my job and I enjoy most of it quite a bit. I even have a “newer” job this year and a very long new title. The challenge with me going back to work is that it completely changes, topples, dismantles, upsets, drives (I could keep going)…the flow and balance of  our household.

Our world becomes more structured. More lists and checklists are constructed. Details of schedules and stuff to do have to be minded. The family calendar must be updated and maintained.

I had to laugh at the family calendar last Sunday. I went to look at it and noticed it was STILL on June and had not been updated. I could barely see the calendar on the bulletin board. Why?

Because it was summer.

All of this “back to work” prep could drive any working mother into a tailspin of feeling massive guilt. I refuse to fall back into that line of thinking, especially since I have a well-functioning and supportive multigenerational household.

A few weeks ago, I was reading an issue of Working Mother (at the pool). The article that jumped out at me was Anatomy of Guilt by Ilisa Cohen. The article dissects the various factors and influences that lead working women (not men) to feel guilty about balancing their families, careers and time for themselves.

I used to feel this guilt all the time and it was not good. As the article states, guilt can make you ill. Guilt can tamper with your ability to sleep well. Your weight may fluctuate because the guilt may cause you to over or under-eat. You may become tense which can lead to digestive problems (especially if you are feeling too guilty to make time to get to the gym). It’s hard to focus on things when you are feeling guilty. This is magnified if you are feeling guilty about being a good mother.

I did experience many of these guilt ailments before my mother-in-law moved in with us. I struggled with figuring out how to be super at all the things I was trying to do. I asked my hubby once, before our second child was born, “Do you ever feel guilty about going to work and being away from home?” He looked at me like I asked him if I could take Hugh Jackman as my lover. Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit, but hubby did give me a strange look.

His response, “Why would I feel guilty about going to work? People have to work. That’s just how it is. I’m being productive. Why would I feel guilty?” Hmmm…oh, ok!

Since my mother-in-law has been living with us, I feel like I have a great team for managing a busy, productive, healthy and fun lifestyle. The kids are not over-scheduled. We have dinner together almost every night. If I need to work late, I know the kids are at home with my mother-in-law (and sometimes hubby) having fun and getting their needs met. I do not have to bend my schedule to attend all the during the day school events because my husband, mother-in-law and I rotate our attendance, and we often videotape the events so we’re not missing out.

My son climbed into my lap, last Sunday, and told me he would miss me “gynormously” when I went back to work. (He learned that word watching Charlie and Lola.) That made me feel loved, but not guilty. I reminded him that my mother-in-law had a fun week planned for him and they could call, email and text me if he had something urgent to report while I was at work. He thought that was great and he said he would be waiting for me, on the porch, so he could give me an after work hug. And when I got home, there was my son and mother-in-law, rocking in the rocking chairs and happy to greet me after my first day of work.

One work week done. A bazillion more to go!

Oh, and we updated the calendar. I’m still rearranging that bulletin board…