This month’s blog post stems from several people recently asking me for suggestions on how to stay organized when a family member moves in. Adult children – either on their own or with a partner or child in tow (or maybe both) – are moving back home. Elderly parents have downsized for health or financial reasons and have moved in with their adult child. And, all of a sudden, your house is not only yours.
- Set Ground Rules. Think about the things that make you crazy (i.e.: discovering an empty container in the refrigerator or pantry) and set rules surrounding those stress points. Perhaps something like “If you use it up, replace it or, at the very least, put it on the grocery shopping list.”
- Determine What You’re Willing to Tolerate. Perhaps it’s important to you that your kitchen counters remain clear, but you’re willing to tolerate dirty laundry on the floor in your adult child’s bedroom. Clearly articulate the things you find unacceptable; remember, it is still your
- Identify what space is available. Ideally you should do this before your family member moves in. If the only space you have for your adult child and all his stuff is the spare bedroom, make sure he knows that before arriving with a king size bed and two sofas. Encourage him to put excess items in storage or sell/donate them. This includes identifying space available for his car. Do you have room in your garage for an extra car? Do you live in a townhouse community that does not permit on-street parking? The time to figure out logistical constraints is in advance of the move.
- Add/create storage. It’s hard to require your family member to organize and store her possessions neatly if there is nowhere to do so. So, add a set of drawers, shelving, or built-in bookcases to provide a place to house her things.
- Evaluate your attic, basement or garage for available storage. Take a look in these storage areas and see where you can set up extra shelving for your relative to store her out-of-season clothes and equipment, storage bins, and other items. There likely isn’t enough space in the bedroom you’re offering, but there may be space that can be used in one of these storage areas.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Don’t let things fester; if something is annoying you, have a discussion and be open and willing to listen to everyone’s viewpoint.