Am I Crazy? We Moved in With my Parents

We did something crazy. It happened so fast, I’m still in a little bit of shock. You see… this summer, we moved in with my parents. No, it wasn’t just for a few weeks during a renovation or between home sales. We actually moved in together. Permanently. Both my parents and my family sold our individual homes and bought a new home together- to share.

Like all great life decisions, it started as a joke. I sent my mother an e-mail forwarding a property that went up for sale that was out of my husband and my price range. We weren’t looking for a new home, I just had an alert system up for nearby properties just for curiosity’s sake. This house was a literal dream- it had almost every feature that my husband and I would fawn and drool over on HGTV. So along with this forwarded listing I included a little, “If you were looking for a great five-year-anniversary present for us, we’ll take this house!”

Come the next weekend, I got a call from my mom to see if I wanted to go tour the house at the scheduled open house time. I figured it was all for the S & G’s and got excited to see this dreamy local property regardless of our inability to purchase it. As soon as my mother and I walked through the door, I knew she had different ideas than I had about the day. She’d clearly done her homework and walked me through the layout and then uttered the words, “This would be your dad and my room…”. Wait, what?

I think even then we might still have been half-joking. It’s a large home and the square footage was more than both of our old footages combined, so it’s not like we’d be on top of each other. But who moves in with their parents?!

Turns out, I do!

After having extensive and exhausting conversations regarding almost every possible outcome, conflict, or obstacle, we made the hesitant decision to put in an offer. There’s more to those stories and conversations, and all of our individual motivations differ. My father’s motivation was the grandkids and spending the later years of his life doing the things he felt he missed out on (He was a hard worker and missed out on a lot of family life). My mother’s motivation was my father’s deteriorating memory and her discomfort with watching him continue to age without a larger support system. In short, my mom doesn’t want to be alone if my dad passes before her and didn’t want to be accountable as the only reference for his memory lapses. My husband’s and my own motivation was a combination of providing an amazing home for the kids to grow up in and caring for my aging father while providing my mother with lifelong company.

So what’s it really like?

Kind of weird, to be honest. We made sure to keep all costs equal down to the penny, just to be sure that the situation wouldn’t be like reverting back to living at home with my parents on college break. So our dynamic is completely different… and equal. We have to be awkwardly open about our finances with each other, especially when considering new projects like a basement remodel or an in-ground pool. I’m sure my husband had more awkward feelings than I do because they aren’t his actual parents, but luckily they already had a very close relationship. Not one where “they approve” and they don’t really know each other, but my husband works closely with my father in their business and is well aware of his quirks and lack of enthusiasm for mornings and clutter.

Most importantly for our situation is that we have space to not overlap. We each have our own designated space (back from when we first toured that open house) where we not only had separate floors for sleeping, but we both had separate living spaces if we wanted to be left alone. More often than not, we’re found in an accessible living room and they drop in and chat for a half hour or so at the end of each day.

Some things that we prepared for ahead of our joining of households was having our two oldest share a bedroom to reserve a room upstairs—away from my parents—as a playroom. So when the kids rise early or get too rowdy with tons of toys, they have a space that won’t disturb Grandma and Grandpa too badly. There’s also been some failures, like me keeping our joint kitchen clean; a constant battle that transferred flawlessly from our previous home. Something about perpetual snacking toddlers keeps kitchens full of dishes. My parents have handled it graciously and also never use the kitchen anyways (literally- they do not cook.)

So I guess my story to share comes down to how individual these choices are. I know most families couldn’t handle this type of change, nor should they. For some reason, with all of our extensive overthinking, we are still alive and enjoying the 7 AM squeals of “Good morning, Grandpa!” while my dad grabs his banana and heads out the door. I think this multi-generational move was a crazy idea, but maybe it’s just a crazy change—not good nor bad, just different. And it turns out we’re getting along just fine!

Alexa Kate Photography
Nestled into a small town just outside of Madison, Kyla is raising her three boys alongside her amazing Hubs while they live with her parents for half of each year. Kyla has been writing for Madison Mom since December 2015, became the Social Media Coordinator in 2018, and began Content Creating for City Mom Collective in 2019. She was born and raised in the Madison area, and kept her roots planted here, with the exception of a short stint at UW Milwaukee while getting her BBA in Marketing and cheerleading on the collegiate team. Kyla chronicles her life and family on Instagram (@kylamariecharles) and advocates for her youngest son who was born with a fluke eye condition that left him with a prosthetic left eye.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Wow GIRL! The house is amazing from what I have seen on social media but, I don’t know if our marriage could survive it!!! Cheers to you for making it work. In Chicago, a city known as the melting pot, I have found that many cultures consider it normal to have multiple families living together. My co-worker, who is from Yemen, lives with his two brothers (and their families) and his parents. He is the eldest child and considered the head of the household. He takes care of the operating finances and ultimately makes decisions on how things will work in the house. It works for them. Many of my neighbors, growing up in a diverse neighborhood on the northside of Chicago, had multiple family members under one roof. I think there are a lot of positives. I think it’s so good for your kids to have that time with their grandparents. I do wonder how the disciplining of the children goes when grandma and grandpa are around. And disagreements had between you and your hubby. I commend you — a better woman than I!!!

  2. Lol!! It was a HUGE debate- like not taken lightly. SO MANY CONVERSATIONS. Grandma and Grandpa stay out of discipline for the most part but know how we discipline- so far we haven’t had any issues with it! The only issue that we have had with discipline is in disciplining my dad when he drops some naughty words and needs some snarky looks shot in his direction, but meh, it gives ’em character. When hubs and I need to take 5 to chat we have our private areas to head but we’re also already well versed in keeping our chill around the kids anyways. I think the extensive space is what makes it livable for the culture we’re accustomed to, if we had forced shared space I would definitely snap! lol!

  3. We did the same with my mother in law when my father in law passed. It started as temporary when we sold our house quicker than anticipated and then morphed into permanency. The bond she has with my daughters is so special, I am glad to be able to give her that at this stage in her life.

  4. Such a great story! We, too, are in the same boat and we wouldn’t change it:) yes, there are times we wanna kick them out but I’m sure they want to do the same to us lol… we love them and the kiddos love it just as much! My father in law lives with us on one end of the house and my mom lives with us on the other end. Going on 4 years now! It is very rewarding and hard but definitely worth it!

  5. So cool! I’m sure your kids will thank you for it when they look back in years to come. We don’t live near any family and I wish we did. I don’t think I’d be up for what you did, but certainly wish our society was more extended-family based.

  6. We just recently bought a house with my mother, who is retired and widowed. She was ready to not be alone anymore, and we were ready for a bigger house (having to share your only bathroom with a 13-year-old boy gets a little old…) It’s been an adjustment, and we’ve already had run-ins over noise, cleanliness, and other irritants, but I believe in the long run this will have been a good thing for all of us. As an only child, I feel very responsible for my mom, and I know that I’ll be responsible for her care as she gets older, so we started talking about this a few years ago, thinking that maybe in 10 years we’d be ready to do this. The more we talked, the more we realized that there was no real reason to wait. My mom now has a relatively carefree lifestyle (we take care of paying all the bills, and she just writes me one check every month, and we take care of any house-related issues) so she’s able to enjoy her retirement, and we were able to buy our forever home. My son gets to spend time with his grammy, who (conveniently for me) picks him up from school every day. She loves to cook, and now (after being alone for several years) has a family to cook for a few nights a week, and we get the pleasure of coming home from work to a nice dinner. I’m sure we’ll have many more moments of questioning if we made the right choice, but I know we’ll have many more times where we thank God for putting us on this path.

  7. We are getting ready to sell our home and move into a house with my mom that she inherited from her grandmother (my great grandmother) she is also selling her current home. She is very particular and that may cause some issues, today she was already warning me that she doesnt want too many holes in the woodwork. I hadnt planned on destroying any of the old wood, but we need to put blinds up in all of the upstairs bedrooms that we will be occupying. The issue is that we should have looked for a house together so it feels like eveyones, but instead I’m afraid it will just feel like hers and we are just staying there. We need lots of prayers

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