Sharing a space with someone else always takes a certain level of self-awareness and mental toughness. When multiple generations inhabit the same dwelling, the importance of doing so thoughtfully increases. Living in a multi-generational home during a pandemic, well that can feel practically impossible.
Though challenging, it’s certainly possible to foster a sense of peaceful coexistence, even when you’re being quarantined in the same space with children, parents, and grandparents. All it takes is some thought, purpose, and a few well-defined boundaries.
Here are some of the most crucial tips to survive and thrive when living in a multi-generational home during a pandemic.
Communication is the cornerstone of all relationship success. Whether it’s communicating more or less, the number of interactions that you have with those around you will dictate how well you do or don’t get along.
With that said, communication must remain a top priority for everyone in your household. This includes one-on-one activities, like talking through your concerns with a loved one or properly expressing your feelings when you’re frustrated with someone you live with. It also can include things like regular family meetings to ensure that everyone is doing well and is on the same page.
Purposefully Divvy Up Responsibilities
Living in a household includes a host of different responsibilities. From paying bills to vacuuming the living room, shoveling snow, fixing leaky pipes, and buying groceries, the to-do list for a homeowner is never truly done.
This is why it’s crucial that everyone in a multi-generational household shoulder part of the burden of maintaining their shared living space. Assigning chores should obviously be done in a proportionate manner that considers the age and abilities of each person — however, no one should be left out of the equation entirely.
Start by creating a list of the things that need to be done. Then divvy up the responsibilities as evenly as you can. Children can clean their rooms. Parents can pay the bills. Grandparents can help with cooking or cleaning. Everyone should have their part. Consider creating a “Chore Chart” to keep track of who is currently doing what tasks.
Create Hygiene Requirements for High Traffic Zones
Along with basic chores, if you’re sharing a space with others — especially older individuals who are at higher risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus — you also want to establish clear cleaning protocols. For instance, along with cleaning, make sure that someone is tasked with regularly disinfecting different rooms. This is especially important for high-traffic, shared spaces like the bathroom and kitchen.
Additionally, when individuals leave the house to go to the store or to work, establish clear protocols that everyone agrees with as far as how they should act when they get home. Should they change their clothes? Wash their hands? Take a shower? Make sure everyone understands and is comfortable with the hygiene rules that you have in place.
Plan Family Activities Together
Disinfecting spaces, dividing up chores, and regularly communicating are all essential elements if you’re going to have multiple generations occupy the same space during a pandemic. However, if you want your relationships to remain healthy over the long-haul, too, it’s also important to make an effort to stay close and connected.
The easiest way to do this is to plan purposeful and consistent family time together. You can do this in a variety of different ways, such as:
- Setting up weekly movie nights.
- Exercising as a family regularly.
- Reading a book together in the evenings.
- Cooking meals together.
- Having family game nights.
Whatever the specific activity might be, make sure to maintain that sense of purpose behind your family time together.
Always Exercise Grace and Show Respect
Along with specific family activities, it’s also important to address your family’s mental health. Spending prolonged amounts of time together can be exhausting. So can excessive screen time — which comes far too easy with everyone attending school virtually and doing their work remotely.
As your family navigates the pandemic together, make sure to maintain a consistent emphasis on how you treat one another. Focus on important things like having grace for each other’s shortcomings and being respectful of one another. By striving to treat each other kindly and positively, you can encourage consistently healthy mindsets and regulated emotions throughout your household.
Maintain a Cup Half-Full Mentality
The pandemic has challenged all of life’s relationships, from interacting with coworkers remotely to hanging out with friends online and even dating at a distance. Nevertheless, by far one of the most pressing interpersonal concerns has remained trying to manage the relationships with those that share your living space.
Consistent proximity to one another, varying expectations, and the simple fact that you’re all navigating a pandemic naturally create stresses and strains all over the home front. However, if you approach your multi-generational living situation with care, you can successfully navigate life with children, siblings, parents, and grandparents all living under the same roof.
The first step is shifting from a pessimistic to a constructive attitude. Consider your situation and look for the good that can be found, even in the most frustrating of circumstances. The rest will follow from there.
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