Living with Parents is Underrated: How Cohabiting with Grandparents is Harboring a Healthy Lifestyle for our New Family

It wasn’t in the plan for us to move in with my parents. But what I realized these last few weeks of living with mom and dad is that independence is over-valued in this country. Individualism is lacking the benefits community has to offer. And living with grandparents is soooooo underrated. Despite having help from both my parents and Mike’s dad, we are still barely making it happen. I cannot imagine what it would be like going at this alone. Cohabiting with my parents is giving everyone involved (us, our parents and Casey) a healthy, happy, and fruitful lifestyle. And while it won’t last long, I am grateful we all had the opportunity to experience Casey’s first few months together.

We planned to set family boundaries.

Before Casey was born, we talked about not burdening our parents with childcare. But during our leave, we decided to buy a new-build home and sell our current townhome. We were blessed to get multiple offers after the first weekend, something we were NOT expecting. This put our living situation in limbo. Our new home wasn’t going to be finished until two months after the closing date of our townhome. My parents immediately opened their doors to us. From the bottom of my heart, it was the best gift providence gave.

As new parents, we talked endlessly about setting boundaries. We planned to have visitation hours in order to protect our family unit. I was carrying around the traumas from childhood that every child experiences. I didn’t want to translate those traumas to the next generation. I wanted us to start our family on a new (and better) foundation. We planned to build walls but I am so glad I was forced to break them down.

It has been an eye-opening experience to realize that they respect our wishes for raising Casey. This was an opportunity for me to heal from the scars of the trauma I received in my childhood. In essence, I realized that they were doing their best, and that this sh*t is HARD WORK. I will be the first to say that I was wrong. Now, I am so happy that we bought a home close to my parents. A five minute walk is all it takes to be at each-other’s front door.

It Takes A Village to Raise a Child

Nothing prepares you for the amount of work it takes to raise a child. Despite the warnings, books and advice, the experience cannot be summed up in words. I distinctly remember asking everyone during the first few weeks of motherhood how they managed to raise children. I was shocked by their answers:

  • Mike’s parents both went back to work, so his grandma was the one to raise Mike and his sister. At the time, his mom was living with her parents.
  • Mike’s aunt had her mother AND mother-in-law move in with her during the first month after giving birth.
  • My mom had two brothers living with her and the help of a nanny. My mom’s sister was at the hospital with her when I was born.
  • My friend Alex was living with her parents for 3 months, and then hired a full time nanny when she went back to work.

I compare these stories to our friends who have no family close by. In these instances, one parent went back to work while the other one stayed at home.

Living with my parents has been great for everybody. We take turns cooking dinner for the group, washing dishes, and cleaning the house. Four hands is better than two, and someone is available to give their full attention to Casey at all times. We share grocery lists so that one couple can shop at Albertsons while the other makes a Costco run. This saves us time and energy. Mom and dad manage the electricity bills, and I manage the cleaner. Plus it’s cute to see both grandfathers tag-teaming diaper changes.

Because of my parents, Mike and I can work. We have time to exercise and go out on dates (just us two!). Don’t get me wrong, it is still no walk in the park. I no longer write or read as much as I want to. I’ve given up walking dogs and baking bread. We are still tired at night. Yet we get to keep parts of ourselves that we could never have time for without help. Meanwhile, Casey is growing up with grandparents in his life, which means more people he can turn to and rely on.

All of this to say, we are not meant to raise children alone. We are not meant to fill eight different roles at the same time, all the time, every day, for years. I hope we as a society move towards community. I hope young people embrace connectivity and welcome people into their home. Accepting this idea of sharing really makes for a much easier life.

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