There are a number of reasons why a parent may want to move in with their child. In some cases, health or financial concerns could be the driving force. In others, simply having company may be the main reason, particularly for those who recently lost a spouse or are otherwise suddenly living alone. However, regardless of why, figuring out how to make it work when parents want to move in can be challenging. If you aren’t sure how to navigate the situation, here are some tips that can help.
Look at the Situation Before Saying “Yes”
Even if you know for certain that you are going to let one or both parents move in, it’s best to pause for a moment and examine the situation. Adding household members will have a distinct impact on your life, some positive, some less so. If you don’t spend time exploring how things will change in your household, you won’t be able to prepare for the challenges that may arise.
First, spend time reflecting on your and your other household member’s relationship with your parents. Are all of the relationships healthy? Is anyone – including spouses, children, or other housemates – comfortable with the idea? If not, what are their reservations?
Additionally, you need to consider how things will functionally change. Will a child need to give up their bedroom to your parents? Does everyone keep the same sleep/wake schedule? How will extra household members impact your budget? Will your parents be able to financially contribute to the costs of maintaining the home and caring for themselves?
Finally, you need to consider any responsibilities you may be taking on. Are you managing your parents’ doctor appointments or healthcare needs? Do they need someone present all day to take care of them, or may that be the case in the future? Can they drive themselves for errands?
Envision what life looks like with your parents living in your home. Consider both the positives and negatives, including physical, mental, emotional, and financial ones. That way, you can prepare for how things may unfold before they make the transition.
Set Ground Rules Right Away
One of the trickiest parts of letting your parents move in is the shift in the paradigm. When you were growing up, your parents were largely – if not entirely – in control of the household, and you had to follow their rules. When they move in with you, the situation often ends up reversed, and that can be hard to adjust to for everyone involved.
Ideally, you want to set up some ground rules with your parents before they move into your home. This can include boundaries when it comes to disciplining children, the use of household resources, cleaning schedules, or any expectations you may have about how your household runs. Spelling out financial requirements, like how much they’ll contribute to household costs, is also wise.
Discuss a Long-Term Plan Together
Depending on the motivation behind your parents moving in, the situation could be short- or long-term. However, in either case, it’s wise to sit down together and create a long-term plan, and possibly even more than one.
Have a conversation about how everyone envisions the next few months, years, and decades going. Discuss best- and worst-case scenarios, as well as how certain events could alter the plan.
While you can’t predict the future, you can use this time to see if everyone is generally on the same page. By understanding everyone’s goals, you learn a lot about each other’s mindsets, hopes, dreams, and fears. Often, this can make navigating the unexpected easier, should it arise, as there aren’t questions about anyone’s perspective or preferences.
Be Ready to Ask for Help
If you have aging parents with increasingly complex and challenging medical or care needs, don’t assume that them living with you means you have to shoulder the burden alone. It is perfectly acceptable to reach out to other family members to get support if you need it. Additionally, seeking out in-home care options should stay on the table.
Maintaining the idea that, since they live with you, you have to handle it all isn’t wise. Over time, it can lead to resentment, frustration, anger, and burnout, all of which will harm you, them, and your relationship with your parents.
It’s always best to be comfortable with the idea of asking for help and even begin paving those paths now. Speak with family members about what you may need, research care options in your area, and otherwise have plans in place that you can follow. That way, when you need help, you’ll have an approach at the ready and won’t shy away from reaching out.
Do you have any extra tips that can help someone make it work if when parents want to move in with them? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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