You’ve probably read the headlines that say a majority of young adults have moved back in with their parents over the past year. But in my house, the opposite is true: My parents moved in with me during the pandemic. 

The move was meant to be short-term. They needed a place to stay after selling their house, but thanks to rising real estate prices, it’s taken them longer than expected to find a new home. So there have been nine people in my household for six months and counting: Me, my husband, our five children and my parents, who are living in the basement.

Like a lot of pandemic life, our living arrangement has had both silver linings and challenges that we’ve worked through together as a family. Here are some tips that have helped us all adjust to living together under one roof.

SET BOUNDARIES

Both of my parents still work, so my dream of having full-time nannies when they moved in didn’t come true. Still, the help around the house has been invaluable.

From driving the kids to their activities to simply entertaining the baby while we get dinner on the table, their help has been a lifesaver. And the sight of my son shooting hoops with his grandpa in the driveway is a memory that will stay with me forever.

Still, they need their personal time. Five kids are a lot for anyone, but especially for two people accustomed to having their own space (and silence). It’s important to know when my parents need a break.

We’ve worked out a few solutions. My parents will often housesit on weekends for my sister so they can have some time to themselves. We don’t let the kids go downstairs past a certain hour. And when we need help with the kids, we ask in advance.

BE FLEXIBLE

For me, working from home with the kids means that I'm deliberate about when I can work without distractions. Prior to my parents moving in, I would get up around 5 a.m., and I cherished that quiet time.

The problem? My mom is also an early riser and because they carpool, my husband became one, too. So instead of an early morning shift, I work mostly after the kids go to bed.

For when I must work during the day, I’ve also set a rule in order to stay productive: I’m not to be interrupted when my office door is closed. Someday I hope to get back my early mornings, but until then, flexibility is a necessity.

HAVE A MONEY TALK

Because the move was initially supposed to be temporary, my parents and I did not discuss a financial arrangement. We were happy to have them here and knew it would be great for our kids, too.

But once it became clear they could be here indefinitely, they offered to pay us a small monthly rent. While the benefits of having them here outweigh any costs, we also know they want to contribute, so we accepted it.

It’s not a huge sum, but it’s helped a lot. We pay extra towards our mortgage each month, and the rest goes to household bills (feeding nine people is no small feat!). My mom also buys one takeout dinner per week, which is a big relief to my husband, who’s the full-time chef most nights.

We don’t know when my parents will move out, but I’m grateful for the time we have together. Having them here — available for whatever the day may bring — has cemented our bond in ways that I'll always be thankful for.

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