How to survive living in your parents’ house with your family in tow

When I was single, I moved back into my parents’ house a few times, and it was always wonderful.
This time—when our house sold quickly and we didn’t have a new one yet—was different. I didn’t just come with my boxes of stuff. I brought my husband and our two adorable, energetic children. And I have to admit that I was a little nervous about making it work.
Somehow we’ve lived together for more than a month and my parents don’t seem to be sick of us. And as we’re realizing we’re going to be moving into our new house fairly soon, I thought I’d consider why everything has gone as well as it has.
Why it is working:
1.       We are here at my parents’ invitation—and they are amazing. There are homemade cookies and there’s always someone for the boys to play cards with or introduce them to Wonder Woman movies.
2.       My parents have house rules—and they’re similar to ours. We could never have lasted here for any length of time if they kept saying, “Oh, just let him dangle from the chandelier, the little dear. He can’t hurt it.” Children (and their parents) need rules.
3.       Absence makes the heart grow fonder. It helps that we are at work and school during the day, and on weekends we try to take some time away from the house to give everyone space and have time as a family of four.
Visiting the Fire Museum
4.       We try to help. I have cooked dinner a few times, and I always make the boys breakfast and lunch. And we do our own laundry, though my parents seem to do all the dishes. It’s sort of like being on vacation, only the meals are homemade.
5.       We made the offer on our new house the weekend we moved in with my parents. This was just how life happened to happen (or how St. Joseph orchestrated it), but it certainly helped all of us to know that this was for a defined period of time.
A couple regrets:

1.       We should have told the boys sooner that we were all going to walk through the house the way Darth Vader strides through the Death Star. Our sons have only two speeds—fast and faster. But ever since Leo got his Darth Vader costume, he has learned to walk in a rather regal way.
Isn’t he a great Darth Vader? Now we just have to make sure the costume lasts to Oct. 31.
2.       We should have soundproofed the boys’ bedroom. The boys are sort of quiet on weekday mornings, but on weekends they wake up early. They’re bouncy and ready for fun. Those are the mornings my parents probably wish they weren’t going to see us again until Thanksgiving.
The better list of survival tips would be written by my parents, of course.
Have you ever shared space with your parents or in-laws? What advice could you give?

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.