Move over – the in-laws are here.
A Greek philosopher once said, “The only constant in life is change”. Recent events on the world stage have certainly solidified the truth of that statement for many of us. In fact, the world seems to be in a constant state of flux at the moment. These changes are evident in both major and minor areas; from mundane elements like how we work and socialise, to more complex matters like the economy and society. For some of us, changes in the economic and/or political landscape have led to a restructuring of the family unit. Only a few years ago, the likelihood of our aged parents living with us was rare, however, necessity has now made this increasingly common, and even more so in many western societies. Faced with this new reality, how can families successfully cope and adjust to these new circumstances? We’d like to share three useful tips.
The truth is that, in this stage of life, our elderly parents are coming to terms with their mortality. Whether they wish to admit or not, at a certain age we are all physically reminded that we will not be here forever, which can be terrifying and equally frustrating. From reduced mobility, aches and pains, loss of sight and/or hearing to less financial freedom, even feelings of uselessness; these and other factors will certainly affect the elderly at some point. Now if you are a relatively healthy couple, you would likely have a hard time identifying with these concerns, so please just be patient. Try to see put yourself in their shoes. There will be times when you feel frustrated but rather than getting angry and ultimately worsening the situation, try to be understanding and forgiving. Those qualities will go a long way in making for a peaceful family life at home.
Interestingly, one area in which patience is especially needed is when getting ready. Our aged parents are probably unable to move as quickly as we can and, prior to moving in with you, they very likely had their own bathroom routine. So in order to reduce the stress of getting ready, why not establish a schedule for the bathroom if the toilet and bath are shared? It may seem trivial, but when life gets challenging simple activities, like being able to have some alone time in the bathroom, take on greater meaning as they become a way for us to briefly disconnect and/or recharge. Establishing a bathroom schedule will therefore remove one source of grievance common among couples caring for elderly parents. If you have your own home and your finances allow, it may also be practical to go even further and simply add another toilet and bath. See this article on other modifications that can be made in the home to better accommodate aged parents.
Show respect Perhaps the biggest challenge in living with your parents after many years apart is adjusting to the new family dynamic. Parents can sometimes have a hard time accepting that their children are adults, capable of making their own decisions. This may manifest itself in a critical attitude or lack of appreciation for the care being provided to them. Some parents may also be very willing to offer unsolicited advice on your relationship with your mate. On the other hand, children who become primary caregivers may have a tendency to become excessively authoritative, wanting to make every decision for their parents, or even be condescending at times. Granted the new circumstances do mean a shift in roles and/or responsibility, but it is
important to maintain respect for your parents. See some suggestions on how to discuss these responsibilities here. As far as your parents’ health and circumstances permit, allow them to maintain a measure of autonomy. This may come in the form of making their own decisions regarding medical care and/or treatment, going shopping and running errands and/or even choosing their leisure activities.
Chances are your initial plans as a couple did not factor in caring for your mate’s parents, however, as we said at the onset, “the only constant in life is change”. In order to successfully navigate this particular change, a change in attitude may be required. Rather than harping on how incongruent your current reality is with your aspirations, which can slowly weaken your relationship, why not focus on the positives? Many couples complain about not being able to visit their in-laws regularly enough. Now that yours live with you, view this as an opportunity to spend quality time with them. Have fun with them: go sightseeing, take in a movie or a concert, do a family photoshoot, have brunch at a nice restaurant. The possibilities are endless.
Do you have kids of your own? Living with grandparents creates so many opportunities for knowledge and skill transfer. So whether it involves learning the secret ingredient to the family’s favourite recipe or learning how to make minor repairs around the house, living with elderly parents can definitely enrich the home environment. At the very least, grandparents usually make excellent babysitters and now you don’t have to commute to get your kids over to them! This brings us to another important point, be sure to make time to have fun with your mate! Unfortunately, for some couples, living with a mate’s parents can create an emotional rift. This could be due to a number of reasons for example, emotional burnout experienced by one or both mates or constant clashes between the couple and the parents, etc. Regardless of the reason, it is extremely important to spend time together as a couple, without the in-laws, in order to nurture your relationship and simply enjoy each other. All things considered, the reality is that we aren’t on this earth forever, so make sure to spend quality time with each other and the in-laws and make as many pleasurable memories as possible.
In the event that you are reading this as you prepare for your in-laws’ arrival, we’d be happy to help you get them unpacked. With years of experience in removal services, as well as a wide range of packing and cleaning services, a sterling reputation in York and hundreds of satisfied customers, let us help you get them settled in and on to making those memories. Feel free to contact us for your quote today. We’ll be pleased to chat with you.