Life is a series of events that are not necessarily in our control. Every year since 2000 my family has had at least one major event that has required us to make a major adjustment in the way that the household is run. We have had to adjust our work schedules to accommodate doctor appointments and therapy appointments for 13 surgeries, 3 high school graduations, deployments, college, additions to our family (son-in-law and a grandchild), children moving in and out and back in again. And this is just the short list.
We always had the vision that once our children became adults, it would get easier. That statement couldn’t be further from the truth. As a late Baby Boomer myself and being married to an official Baby Boomer, we are finding ourselves in a situation that is quite interesting.
Both my husband and myself have parents who are in their mid to late seventies. They are relatively healthy for their age. They are still independent, physically active and enjoying their retirements. However, we are also seeing signs that are making us just a little unsure of a few areas, i.e. memory loss and vulnerability to society.
The Sandwich Generation is growing rapidly. We are experiencing the squeeze of parents needs and adult children’s needs – and, sometimes even grandchildren are playing a part in the mix. Our parents are counting on us to help us answer questions, make decisions and we are having to keep just a slightly closer eye on them just to make ourselves feel at ease. The Sandwich Generation is also experiencing the return of adult children into the home. Loss of jobs, divorce, college, long-term deployments, are just a few of the reasons that adult children are returning home to mom and dad.
What does this have to do with Organizing? A ton! Being in a constant transition or transformation of your home can cause total chaos and overwhelm. There is a part of our generation who are having our parents, children and grandchildren move back into our home. This demand; including jobs, household and life in general can be exhausting when we are also unorganized. It can, and probably will, turn your household upside down in a very short period of time.
It is important that space be maximized, schedules be coordinated, days be planned and communication be very open.
Making the transition can be easy with these 5 simple steps:
1. Communicate exactly what is expected of everyone who is not living in the home. Make a list of who is in charge of specific chores and when you expect them to be completed. Be very specific…Susie’s laundry days are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning. The bathroom will be cleaned no later than Saturday evening and that means (give a very exact explanation of your definition of a clean bathroom). Don’t leave anything open to interpretation.
2. Hold a weekly family meeting on Sunday evening. This can be done during dinner if necessary. It makes for a good conversation. Make sure that everyone is aware of after-school activities, events, doctor appointments etc. that are going on during the week.
3. Plan weekly meals ahead of time. Write them out on a piece of paper and post it on the refrigerator. This includes planning out the shopping for the meals. Making sure that you have everything required to prepare a meal will save a ton of time and stress.
Share and schedule out the weekly meal preparation. It is important that one person is not responsible for this job every night…unless that is what you really enjoy!
4. If needed, put items that are overflow in a storage unit. Merging two households usually results in an overabundance of furniture, etc. This is usually the last thing that I recommend, (because it is an added expense); however, since your transition isn’t meant to be forever, a storage unit may be required.
5. Be flexible and understanding. Welcoming your children and/or parents back to the home is important. However, a change in dynamics should be expected. Both your children and parents are used to being on their own and have developed their own ways of doing things that may not be in alignment with yours. And, remember that everyone is an adult. Hold children responsible for their actions and allow parents the ability to keep their identify.