Keeping Sane When You Are A Panini
I am a Panini, the modern version of the Sandwich generation. Mother lives with us, and we are still helping our daughters out, even though they both work. Next spring, I anticipate our younger daughter and her boyfriend moving in with us while they get settled, look for work, etc. after he graduates.
It is not easy having a multi-generational household of all adults. It requires patience, planning, communication, and did I mention patience. I think it is hardest for the ladies, as we tend to be pleasers and also protectors of our space. My husband, when we had the girls at home and my mom had moved in, was more able to distance himself from the “dramas”.
If you have found yourself in this position, being the “middle” of the three generations, here is some advice I have found useful.
Don’t fight every battle. Be “wrong”, especially with your parent. Let them be right if its just a political discussion or choice in wine. It doesn’t matter in the long run if Joanie Mitchell or Carol King sang the song. Or if you were right about the election. Learn to let that go.
Write down plans and post them on the back of the front door. With the different adults, it’s easy to think you shared the change in departure with everyone, or that they heard you. If its posted on the door, they can’t argue.
Be sure and have time with everyone, alone. Take mom or dad out, take boomerang kids out, separately. This keeps things sane and you can have those talks with your adult children without grandparents chiming in. And of course have entire family outings.
Set rules or boundaries for adult offspring, regarding communication and mutual living spaces. I don’t expect my girls to tell me everything, but if they aren’t making it home at night, let us know. I would expect the same for anyone staying at my house. If I have a house guest, I ask to just let me know if staying away over night. Or plan on being really late. Otherwise, I won’t know who or what my dogs are barking at at three in the morning. It’s not that anyone needs my permission, it’s just to help keep the house hold less chaotic.
If there are issues with cleaning the house, then perhaps everyone chip in$20 or so a week and have someone come and clean the mutual areas- bathrooms, kitchen, living room. Worth every penny.
Say please, thank you, connect somehow every day. If going to store, train everyone to ask if anyone else needs anything. Just the asking means a lot.
Breath, it’s the best advice I can give. Breath and let go. Don’t let your ego, or pride get in the away of a harmonious house. If you find yourself repeating the same thing, just repeat it and try not to sound exasperated. Both my mother and husband are hard of hearing in one ear, so I find myself either having to speak loudly or repeat once again where the store is or some such thing. I am doing my best to just say it over without sounding snippy. Its all part of the aging thing.
With my daughters, it will be a different kettle of fish. They are awesome, but it’s the mother daughter thing. I need to remember to not be the “mom” but be a rational adult. I don’t need to be the “giver” all the time, and if I need the car or want to watch a show, I out rank them now.
I let them know my schedule and if I need the car (a usual point of contention), when I need the kitchen, and if we are going out as a family, that they need to be ready fifteen minutes early (Dear Dad likes to go when he is ready, so might as well be ready!!)
Once you settle on the basic ground rules, and remind everyone you are all adults, but that respect and communication are paramount, it can usually run pretty smoothly.
Patience, and as the Panini, you will need to have the most patience of all, will keep you sane. Just let go. Be wrong. Repeat yourself. Make notes and post them. Assign jobs. Pay, if you can, for a cleaner if needs be. Make sure you take care of yourself and get alone time. You will get frustrated with everyone. You will feel pulled in every direction. You will be in the middle of confusion and drama, can’t be helped.
Be proud you are dealing and be happy you can be so helpful with your family.
But mostly, remember to Live Lithely, and be good to yourself.