To get to the point of this tale, let me give you a one sentence summary of my life: I grew up in the Midwest (Kansas to be exact), became a doctor (dentist), started a beautiful family of my own (amazing husband and twin girlies) – and life was perfect. After much thought and planning, my family and I started to embark upon the journey of our life to chase my husband’s dream of living in California.
We gave up all of the comforts of the “perfect life,” used up all of our savings, moved to Southern California, and purchased a dental office. While the weather is obviously gorgeous, there were definitely things we had to give up to make our dreams a reality. One of those things was the comfort and space of our own home. To save money, we moved in with my in-laws. And this is where the journey of this story begins.
I will not lie; Multi-generational living was an adjustment for all.
We are now going on year 3 of all living together under one roof. And while we do have plans to eventually get a place of our own, I would also be lying if I didn’t tell you there have definitely been some treasures unearthed in this life twist.
But before we get to that let me ask, did you know that in many other countries it is very common for multiple generations to all be living under one roof?
I feel that a majority of American adults would laugh at the thought of living with their parents because as a society we view this as being “unsuccessful” in a way. After personally living this journey for several years now I can say that yes this lifestyle can be cramped and there is definitely something to be said for having your own private space.
But there are some true life lessons to be learned from multi-generational living.
For starters, there is the constant reminder that Things Are Just Things. I cannot even begin to tell you how many boxes of “our things” that we have had packed away in storage for the last 3 years. And do you know why I can’t even begin to tell you? Because I have NO IDEA…. I don’t even remember majority of these things.
So what does that tell me? Well, if I have been living without them for 3 years…they must not be that valuable. They are just THINGS. Things do not add richness and color to your life, but you know what does? TIME.
The unexpected treasure from this multi-generational living period in my life is just that – we have had an abundance of extra time, experiences, and ordinary moments that we would not have been able to have otherwise.
In particular, our girls have had the unique opportunity to actually live with their grandparents during some of their formative years.
Do you know how much LOVE these girls receive on a daily basis? In a world filled with not so pleasant things, extra love for the little people in my life is something that I do not take for granted.
As a working parent, I have also come to fully appreciate the fact that there is always family around for my girls even when I cannot physically be there. And the times when I need some alone time or my husband and I want to have a date, we have peace of mind that our children are in loving hands while we take the time that we need.
Reflecting on this makes me think about the old adage: It takes a village.
I never used to be one to ask for help, even from family. But as I have grown (by age and spirit), I realize that not asking for help leaves one burnt out and stressed out. I now not only welcome the village, but fully appreciate that I am never alone in this thing called life.
So why do I write and share my multi-generational living story?
I share this because based on many conversations with other parents and TV/movies/books, I feel that multi-generational living sometimes gets a bad rap. Yet I know that there are certainly other families out there doing the same thing I am doing for various reasons.
I want to offer a different perspective on the matter and let others know that are about to embark on this type of journey that there are life treasures to be had. This past year has been a major reflection time in my life and I now have such gratitude for time with loved ones. You never know when time together will no longer be an option.
The STUFF doesn’t matter. The HOUSE doesn’t matter. TIME matters. Spend it with those you love in whatever way that you can.