The Multi-Generational Home (MGH)

Do you live with your parents or do your parents live with you?

Well, neither. We live in a multi-generational home (MGH). In fact our particular living situation is one that is that more and more families are considering today as old-folks are living longer, young families are overwhelmed and money is tight all around.

A multi-generational home is almost what it sounds like. It’s a family living situation where more than two generations of a family line are present and participating in daily home life. This is not the same as a family member going through a rough patch and moving in with you until they get back on their feet (although this is how we got started). This is a permanent and planned living situation where all members are contributing and doing their part according to their strengths and everyone working together for the benefit of all.

I’m not going to tell people what they should do, I can only say that there are things to consider before doing a multi-generational home. I’m going to try to list them out for you here:

Just a quick note: Obviously if you have a lot of family drama, lazy/dysfunctional family members, or if someone in your family has serious issues like with addictions or criminal behavior you know this isn’t a good idea, right?  OK, good, moving on.

What are your priorities?

In our multi-generational home our priorities are 1.God, 2.Marriage, 3.Kids, 4.The rest of the family.  That’s right, after God, Marriage is first.  And this shouldn’t just be understood between a man and a wife. Make sure your parents feel that your marriage should come before them too. Trust me, there is a lot of dis-functionality out there and if you have a parent that has ever sought to subvert your marriage in any way you need to run the other direction.

Thou shall honor thy mother and thy father.

This is a good one. I learned a while ago that even as an adult it’s important to honor my parents by showing respect and even obeying them. Not only is it part of God’s design and his command, but it’s good for my relationship with them and it’s a good example to my own children. Where you might get into trouble is back with number one, your marriage priority. That’s why it’s important to have an understanding with your folks that your marriage comes first and your priority before them is your spouse. The last place you want to be is torn between obeying your father and your husband. And you never want to be a man that makes your wife feel like you put your mother before her. Thankfully, my folks would never put me in a position like this.  Would yours?

Do you have in-law drama?

This is important. In our MGH my husband is the one who lives in a home with his in-laws. We took careful consideration to make sure he felt good about this decision. They have a solid relationship built on respect for each other and this is key. My dad made it clear that he never wanted to step on my husbands toes and he wanted to consider what he wanted when it came to big decisions and man-of-the-house stuff. It is especially important for us because in our multi-generational home my husband is the only one who works outside the home and he can easily feel like an outsider.

Do you want to be a go-between?

Before moving to a multi-generational home make sure all the adults in your family are capable of communicating and working out their problems together. What you don’t want is one person in the middle constantly having to go between and mediate peoples feelings when something comes up. (And it will)

What’s your parenting style?

Part of the appeal of a multi-generational home is that you get the benefit of having your kid’s grandparents with you all the time and they can help you raise them, babysit and spend lots of quality time together. We believe that a grandparents true role in the family is to help raise their grand-kids and do what’s best for them, not simply to spoil kids and send them home, (although a little of that is a good thing too). So what’s important for everyone to understand is the hierarchy of parenting in the house, or as we say, ‘who’s the boss?‘  Who’s guide do we follow for rules and discipline. Who gets to make rules? What if you don’t agree with them?

What is everyone’s roll?

It’s going to be different in each household, the point is that everyone should have one. In our MGH my husband is the money-bringer/project-pusher, my dad is the home-builder/maintenance guy/ problem fixer, my mother is the matriarch (the center guiding force in our family)/grandchild-raiser, I am the mom/homeschool teacher/shopper, and my kids are the kids. Their job is to learn to grow into adults and to take on chores and tasks according to their abilities. We have family work days for big projects and couple work days for smaller projects. We all have individual responsibilities. Mine is to meal plan and shop for food. My mom’s is to cook for us all most nights. The older kids have kitchen clean up duty in both kitchens (we have two indoor kitchens). We didn’t plan all this, it just kind of worked itself out organically according to everyone’s strengths and preferences. It’s simpler than is sounds but the key is to have a family of caring and flexible people who put each others feelings before their own.

Who’s got the money?

In our multi-generational home my folks benefited by being able to retire and spend time with their grandchildren by sharing their home with us and we benefited by having a home provided for us mortgage free. We pay for all the bills including my folks medical insurance and prescriptions as well as fund many projects for home improvement. We are investing in a home that we live in and will one day be in our name. Now this sounds a little risky to some, and for some people it is. So you need to be especially clear with all adults involved about the financial responsibilities, and expectations of property ownership. Also, you need to consider any siblings and their expectations of inheritance. Do they get a portion of the property? What are the logistics? This isn’t something you want to have to figure out after it’s too late. Which brings me to…

What about everyone else?

It’s important to consider other people in your family who may not be invited to live with you. There may be family members who might not make good multi-generational home members but will also feel left out. If you feel like this may be the case it’s a good idea to have an honest conversation with everyone about who you are living with and why. It might not make everyone happy with you but it’s better that everyone knows what to expect going in. This is honestly the only part of our family that has drama and I wish we would have handled it differently from the start. Which brings me to my next point…

Who’s coming to dinner?

Do you like to have guests over? How does this affect everyone? It makes a difference depending on your house situation and if you have a separate space from your parents like we do. But still there are questions like: If you have people over, are we expected to eat dinner with you or can we eat separately? My parents aren’t very social so this is an easy one for us. But how do you explain it to other people? “My folks didn’t feel like talking to anyone today so they are hiding” It can get weird so don’t let it. Just have a policy in place and explain it to the people closest in your life. They will understand.

How close is too close?

My mom always brings up the point that when my husband comes home she often likes to make herself scarce. It’s not because she doesn’t like him (she adores him) but she recognizes that we may need “little-family” space, that is, time with just my husband and kids. This is something I didn’t think of we moved in together but in her wisdom, my mom did and I’m glad she does this for us. It is good for us to occasionally take time just for our little family without the grandparents, and it’s good for them too! She also encouraged us to buy our travel trailer and take our camping vacations without them. This is also, again, healthy for us all. Also my mom has set certain boundaries of her own regarding how much time the kids spend on her side of the house, how much noise they can make and when they are allowed to eat in her kitchen. This helps her draw the line between parent-Grandma and fun-Grandma and not be overrun with kids all the time.

What kind of house do you need?

The answer is different for everyone. But you need to consider things like, privacy, space, sex life, bathrooms, freezer space, kids toys, T.V. time, meals, the list goes on. In our case, my folks gave us their old house with three beds and one bath and then added on to the side giving us an extra bedroom and bathroom as well as an entire one bedroom apartment for them. It included their own kitchen, laundry, living room and an entrance from the back yard. Since we built it new, I insisted on making their apartment wheelchair accessible for the future with large doors and shower and even their main entrance has no steps. We have a passageway through my laundry room that has a locking door. We use our garage for extra refrigerators & freezers and as extra storage space. On our property we have a workshop and outbuildings that provide even more space for our particular lifestyle of building and making things. Which reminds me…

What’s your lifestyle?

We think of ourselves as homesteaders. We like to make or grow many of the things we want and we like to do projects together like drying food and making our own grape juice, figuring out the best way to grow beans, that kind of thing. I know this isn’t everyone’s style, but the point is, what is yours? Is it compatible with all your family members? Do you all have a shared vision for the future and how you want to spend your quality time together? It might not seem to matter unless you feel like you can’t plant flowers in the garden because someone else wants to fill them with potatoes, or if one person wants a video game room and the other wants a screen free craft zone. I’m just saying: What’s your lifestyle, and is there room for everyone?

Why are you doing this?

As a result of answering these questions, my family chose the MGH path because we are very close. Most of all, we enjoy being together and we saw while we lived together during a hardship that it was possible and we would all benefit everyone in both the short and long term. Also, as I mentioned at the top, a multi-generational home is when all people are present and participating.  One quick note, a good reason for doing a multi-generational home is when you have one family member that has a disability or special need and it’s better to pull together as a family to care for them. This is an especially good reason to have a multi-generational home and I would encourage you to consider it closely.

Lately we’ve noticed more and more families moving toward joint living conditions. What do you think about our multi-generational home, tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

For Further Reading

Blog

Is Multi-Generational Living For You? What Are The Pros And Cons?

https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-04-2013/three-generations-household-american-family.html

http://www.nextavenue.org/full-house-guide-surviving-multigenerational-living/

Restless Leg Relief While You Sleep

Restless Leg Blanket
Darren’s Weighted Blanket

Disclaimer

I’m not a doctor so this is just my own personal opinion. I have also never been diagnosed with restless leg syndrome (RLS).

Background

What I can tell you is that for the majority of my adult life I have had very active legs during sleep. At times during the day my legs hurt for no apparent reason. Long flights and car rides are basically a form of torture. I’m not sure the reason but I suspect that it has something to do with my time in the military. I don’t think a person can do three tours overseas and not be changed by it. That being said, I have always been a very active sleeper, tossing and turning all thorough the night. My relief has come in an unlikely place… a spontaneous Christmas gift from my wife.

Let’s Back Up

A couple years ago I got a Christmas gift from my wife. It was a medium size box that was comically heavy. I had no idea what it was. Certainly it was nothing close to the things I had asked for, if I had asked for anything. I open the box and its a piece of flannel looking material at the top. I’m thinking at that moment that she bought my some flannel shirts and weighed them down with rocks to completely throw me off the actual present. Turns out it wasn’t a prank as I had imagined but an incredible weighted blanket. To top it off I learned she had actually made it herself.

Jennifer: “I was actually on Facebook following a friend who did a post about helping traumatized children and kids with Autism sleep better. It peaked my interest because someone in our life has Autism. What I didn’t expect was to read about how weighted blankets can help people with PTSD sleep better at night. As soon as I read that I knew it’s what I needed to do for Darren.”

The Blanket

The blanket itself is long enough for a 6 foot tall person. It is probably throw blanket dimensions but I’ll measure it or ask Jennifer the true dimension when I get a chance. The unique feature of the blanket is that in between the fabric layers are weighted beads that she had to sew in. It has a quilted look because the beads are a certain size. She made mine out of shirt flannel but I’m sure if you have a blanket material of choice it is interchangeable.

The Benefits

The benefits of using the blanket have been night and day. I try and use the blanket most nights but it does not always stay on the bed. Because of its weight it is hard for Jennifer to move around and she likes to make the bed in the mornings. So normally when I get out of bed I put the blanket in a metal bin that I keep on my side of the bedroom. Some nights when I’m having a hard time sleeping and Jennifer recognizes that I don’t have the blanket on the bed she’ll put it over me. I sleep so much better with it that it is sometimes difficult for me to get to sleep without it.

Jennifer says: “He definitely sleeps better. I notice he doesn’t toss and turn or talk out in his sleep as much. But I won’t lie, it  can be a pain to sleep in a bed with what feels like a rock barrier between me and my guy. It’s worth it though to know he’s getting better sleep at night and I really believe it makes his life better as a whole.”

The Drawbacks

The blanket is not without a few drawbacks. For one, because of the design it is extremely heavy. I personally like to sleep that way but some people might find it constricting. My blanket is sized for me so if you are married it might be a good idea to make a full bed sized one with only half the blanket weighted. It would be even heavier but would make the blankets uniform rather than one person being under different blankets than the other. Another drawback is, as I understand it, it was difficult to make. From what I was able to glean from Jennifer’s explanation you have to place the beads, sew around them, and then place more beads to sew around. This means that you are constantly moving the entire (heavy) blanket around as you are sewing and having to move it in all different directions. Also our sewing machine was not up to the task so Jennifer had to borrow her mom’s sewing machine.

Jennifer: “It is really heavy but it only has to be 18-20% of the users body weight. It was really hard to make. I actually broke my machine and tried my moms, but ultimately I used my aunts Husqvarna machine that is so tough it can sew through brick walls. It also took me and my mom to man-handle the blanket for each pass.”

Conclusion

If you are like me and have trouble sleeping due to hurting body parts, or you have been diagnosed with restless leg syndrome then this project might be for you. I’m not 100% sure but it seems to me that this would also be something that you could find to purchase although I have no idea. If I can get her to do it, or if there is a bunch of interest in the comments maybe I can get Jennifer to make a how to tutorial of this project, stay tuned.

Jennifer: “Um, no, I won’t be making another one of these any time soon. Just watch the video below. I will say that I used these plastic pellets from this company. They were absolutely great and had the best prices I could find. They are just a wonderful Christian mom and pop company and I hope you give them a try.”

Want to Just Buy One?

Here are some resources for you to purchase a blanket if you don’t have the time or would rather just get one a bit quicker.

Mosaic Weighted Blankets – Mosaic has resources for purchasing blankets, Do It Yourself (DIY) blankets, and a bunch of resource for other uses of the weighted blanket. I had no idea that it is also a good idea for certain types of autism and sensory disorders. I recommend checking them out if you are wanting some more information on the health benefits.

SensoryGoods.com – A website built around meeting the needs of people with developmental disorders. Products designed for autism, sensory integration, and other needs.

For Further Reading

There are a bunch of articles on Weighted Blankets but I’ve complied a few here for your convince.

dyingandgrief.com – A website that supports family and caregivers

MedicineNet.com – A question/answer forum answering the question “What method did you find most effective in treating your restless leg syndrome?

Here is a nice well made tutorial for how to make your own weighted blanket.