If you are considering living with inlaws then this post is perfect for you!
(Please note – they are not my real in-laws in the stock photo above. My in-laws are much younger and my kids are much older than that!)
If you had asked me when I was a teen whether I would ever want to live with my in-laws or parents as an adult, back then my answer would have been a resounding no.
Make it a H#LL NO (excuse the bad language, but I was that adamant it would never, ever happen!).
Back then the notion of living with either set of parents beyond adulthood felt like the most terrible form of torture, not to mention an invasion of privacy.
Wasn’t the beauty of adulthood that you got to finally be FREE?
Ah how times have changed!
Here I am now, many, many years later, with seven years of living with my in-laws already under my belt.
And what can I say – this is definitely not a lifestyle that I anticipated as a youngster. Yet the good has far outweighed any bad consequences in my opinion so far.
THE WAY WE DID IT
When my children were 7 and 5 we bought a pretty large house, with the solely purpose of having my husband’s parents live with us.
His parents have always been the most beautiful, loving, inseparable couple so when my father-in-law’s health took a turn for the worse, my husband and I decided that we wanted them with us while they were still around.
Over in Croatia, where my parents were born and where I lived for almost three years following university, communal living is pretty common. The belief is “you take care of your own.” Family means everything to me so I loved this notion of togetherness and community.
I myself went to live with my grandparents a few days after I finished university and it was the most amazing experience for me. I didn’t realize how much I missed having grandparents in my life until I was blessed to have them in my everyday life.
So why are grandparents so great?
Well I could list a hundred reasons but here are the top few that come to my mind immediately:
-They love their grandkids unconditionally
-They are a wealth of wisdom and knowledge
-They are generous with their love, kindness and patience
-They are the matriarch and patriarch of your family tree, a tie that bonds you forever to them
I must note that if you choose to make the decision to live with your in-laws that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with its own set of challenges but life is full of challenges, right?
Here are the top ten things I have learned from living with my in-laws for the past seven years.
1 – YOU AUTOMATICALLY HAVE BUILT-IN BABYSITTERS
This is of course the number one benefit to living with your in-laws. You can run to the shops and not have to drag your kids along with you. You can go out at night and know your kids will be tucked into their own bed at the right bedtime (okay maybe a little later when with their grandparents!).
You can go for a walk in the mornings while the kids are still sleeping and if one of the kids are sick and I still need to go to work, my in-laws have that all covered for me.
Even better, we can go away for holidays and have our dog taken care of . The peace of mind that everything will be watched over while I’m away is so precious and priceless.
2 – YOU TEACH YOUR CHILDREN THROUGH ACTION WHAT FAMILY IS REALLY ABOUT
People often say family is everything and then they don’t speak to their parents or siblings for days on end. They catch up with important members of their family only on special occasions and think that is enough to keep the bond strong.
When you live with your in-laws, you show through action that it is important to take care of each other. You create an environment, where family comes first and children have the opportunity to learn firsthand what “through thick and thin” really means.
3 – YOU LEARN HOW TO COMPROMISE
If we lived alone, our family would probably be able to entertain more often. Knowing me (and my life prior to this arrangement), the house would be jam-packed with friends every day. Living with my in-laws is at the same time both a hindrance and blessing in disguise. There are definitely sacrifices to be made.
We have learned about compromise through necessity because compromise was necessary in order to achieve a harmonious living environment for everyone in our home. And the good far outweighs any negatives associated with living with our in-laws.
4 – YOU HAVE EXTRA HELP ON HAND
There are days when I come home after a long work day and the last thing I feel like doing is cooking is something more exciting than pasta with tuna. Lo and behold my mother-in-law must be a mind-reader because when I come home I see she has already whipped up something amazing for us.
If I have to run to do school drop-off, there’s someone at home to help put the washing on the line. There’s usually someone there to collect important postal deliveries. My father-in-law is our designated “taking out the garbage” guy and he loves watering the garden.
If they come home earlier than me, someone will usually take the washing off the line and fold it. Over the years we have evolved to each find our way of contributing to the household so it doesn’t completely falls on my shoulders and the lighter weight of responsibilities and chores is honestly a godsend.
5 – YOUR CHILDREN GET TO SOCIALIZE WITH ELDERS TOO
I didn’t realize the importance of this point until I went to live in an island village which was populated with lots of elderly folk. It was only then that I realized that “hey, I have never actually spent much time hanging out with the older generation.”
In Australia, it seems that most people when they get to a certain age end up going to live in a nursing home. In Croatia, old people are EVERYWHERE – sitting on benches under the oak trees in the village center, congregating outside crowded the local shop or friend’s house. They aren’t tucked away into dark hidey-holes.
When I was living in Croatia, I would pass these old folk by and they would expect a conversation. They wanted to engage with me and so that is what I did, became friends with a different generation than I wasn’t used to hanging out with.
I feel blessed that my children now have this same opportunity – to hang out not just with their peers but both young and older adults. They aren’t frightened or perturbed about having conversations with someone a lot older than them.
To the contrary, age has become now arbitrary to them. To them, what is important is what is inside a person’s heart.
6 – YOU DISCOVER OLDER PEOPLE ARE A WEALTH OF INFORMATION
Only through conversing with older people do you realize that they are actually no different from you – just a little or a lot wiser and currently residing in an older shell.
Every older person will say they don’t even feel that old inside. All of them wonder where the years have gone. Old people have the most AMAZING stories to share and so much knowledge with the gift hindsight.
So for me to be able to give that same opportunity to my kids – to spend time regularly in the company of elders is a beautiful thing. I love that my kids regularly hear stories about what life was like when their grandparents were growing up.
I love that they can ask questions about what their dad was like as a youngster or teen. I love that they have access to this overflowing tap of resources and information that is always there whenever they want or need it.
7 – THERE’S MORE LOVE TO GO AROUND
Grandparents love their grandchildren differently from how they loved their own kids growing up. They can love your children without the need to discipline or reprimand. They can get away with spoiling them with love and affection and even “things” if they want too (and hey who can blame them because I will probably be exactly the same when I’m a grandma!)
Even if I’m annoyed with my kids, I do love that they can go to their grandparents for a hug or comfort. I don’t even mind if my kids vent about me being mean (because my in-laws always know that I have their best interests at heart).
Finally I love that there are other significant adults in their life who also provide my kids with love, security, affection and acceptance. I think that has contributed considerably to my children’s strong sense of confidence and self-worth.
8 – YOU LEARN TO BECOME MORE RESPECTFUL OF PERSONAL SPACE
This has definitely been the biggest challenge we have faced whilst living with my in-laws but it has been an important life lesson to learn too. We have had to learn to be respectful of each other’s space and boundaries.
We have learned how not to get in each other’s way. If someone goes to bed early, we know now that we need to be quiet. If we have friends over, my in-laws give us some privacy when the occasion calls for it.
Learning about respect, personal space and privacy is so important for your kids and where better to learn this lesson but inside the home?
9 – YOU FIGHT LESS
Before we lived with my in-laws, I would occasionally snap at my husband when he was being irritating, unhelpful or “fill in the blank” and I never thought anything of it. And maybe – very possibly – back then I thought he was irritating, unhelpful or “fill in the blank” OFTEN. But the moment our in-laws moved in our bickering decreased a thousand fold.
Why? Well for starters my in-laws are the most serene and lovely couple – in the seven years I have lived with them I haven’t heard them argue even once (weird, right?) They are indeed the perfect role model and example of how to have a harmonious marriage.
And here I was, getting aggravated about my husband sitting down to read the newspaper, when there were still chores to be done or not managing to read my mind exactly. It’s funny how parents and couples are so keen to say things to their partner or kids in private that they would never say in front of others in public.
And another thing, I never realized before living with my inlaws just how often we complain about the MOST STUPID STUFF. It’s like we complain and vent and bicker because that’s what we think all married couples do.
Well wrong. Now my husband and I had an audience, it made me think twice about the things I may have said carelessly in the past without thinking. It made me opt for happiness and chose peaceful resolutions each time instead of whinging, nagging and complaining like a broken record.
As they say you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, right? With extra people in the house, it has definitely become more important than ever to make our house a happy home.
10 – YOU CREATE MORE MEMORIES WITH YOUR LOVED ONES
Nowadays most relatives, friends and family discover stuff about each other kids via Facebook and Instagram. You need to specifically post a photo of your kid holding a trophy or make a special announcement in order to pass the message along that something fantastic or not so fantastic has happened today.
Well, that isn’t the case when you live with your in-laws. As soon as your child walks inside bursting with excitement, they are already part of that celebration.
They are always there to hear firsthand accounts of important stuff happening. They can give real life hugs, wipe away tears, give advice and join in any celebratory dinners that take place.
Even though there are admittedly things I miss from living alone – more privacy and independence – all in all, I consider living with my in-laws to be a massive gift and privilege for the children to grow up with their loving grandparents.
To learn why it’s so important to give back to your parents check out this fabulous post by Big Family Organised Chaos.