April 7, 2020
A Boomer’s Guide to Having Your Kids at Home
As your children, and maybe even their families, return home for quarantine, here’s our guide on how to make the transition from an empty nest to a full house easy and enjoyable.
One of the few silver linings of this global health pandemic and the government-issued stay-at-home orders is that your children may have returned home to self-isolate. As the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, stated about having his daughter home for isolation, “I’m now going to be with Cara literally for a few months. What a beautiful gift that is, right?”
As your adult children move back home, whether they’re millennials or Gen Xers, your empty nest turns into a full house again. We took advice from Dr. Judi Bloom, Los Angeles-Based therapist on this transition. Here’s a guide on how to make the experience enjoyable for everyone.
Have a Family Meeting
The first crucial step you should be taking is creating a family plan. On March 30, 2020, Trump extended the coronavirus lockdown until April 30. That means if your kids came home, they’re here to stay.
A family plan can help both you and your kids get used to this new routine. Be sure to cover logistics such as who’s doing which chores, where each of you will be doing work during the day, what the cooking and grocery shopping routine will be, who will be taking the essential trips to CVS, and more. Creating a plan upfront will make your time together more seamless and minimize any potential arguments. While they might be at your house, it’s important to remember that your children are now adults. There may be differences in routines and they may have their own way of doing things.
Manage Your Expectations and Set Boundaries
Your children are now grown with responsibilities such as work, online classes, or taking care of a family. Remember to give your child proper space and leave them to do their own thing. This can mean that not every dinner will be a family dinner, and that some days you may not see them until the evenings. This might be challenging with the whole family under one roof. If your child is working-from-home or back from college, give them the room they need to focus on their own daily tasks.
Get to Know Your Child as an Adult
Even though you may not see your children during the day because of their own responsibilities, the time you’re able to spend with them represents a time for long-overdue family activities and bonding. This is a great opportunity to watch your favorite movies, play your favorite board games, cook your favorite meals, and look through old and embarrassing photos.
It’s also a great time for you both to learn something new about each other. For example, they can hear about any new hobbies or skills you may have learned since they moved out. If your child plays video games or enjoys cooking, try playing one of their favorite games or letting them cook a meal for the family. And if you’ve started gardening or scrapbooking, teach them what you’ve learned.
Host A Technology Knowledge Swap
If you’re still using dial-up for internet, it may be time to upgrade your technology. Luckily, your children can teach you a thing or two about modern technology including hardware, software, apps, and even the cloud. Many new companies are developing products to help streamline everyday tasks and foster collaboration.
For example, are you missing your Tuesday night book club or Friday night wine tastings? Your children can show you how you can still meet your friends through virtual conferencing like Zoom or FaceTime. Some apps aim to make your life easier by minimizing your trips around town. Food delivery apps, like Uber Eats, deliver your favorite meal right to your door. Also, your bank’s mobile app allows you to deposit checks with just a picture. There are many other apps out there that can simplify your daily routines with one tap.
In addition to digitalizing your daily routine, there are new apps to help manage your finances and secure your retirement. If you haven’t discussed with your children about your retirement plans, this will be a great time to share and leverage the current apps they use to help with their own finances. It’s important to have these conversations with your loved ones so they can prepare for the future and support you with your goals.
Enjoy Time With Your Grandchildren
Your child might have even brought their own family home with them, such as their spouse and kids. It’s incredibly exciting to be able to spend time with your grandkids. However, you may need to make your house kid-friendly again after you haven’t had young kids in it for years. If you child is working-from-home during the day, you may take on the new role of babysitting. Before taking on this task, discuss with your children about a schedule. You also have your own responsibilities that need to be considered.
When you watch your grandchildren, there are plenty of ways to make this fun. You could play board games, or try to see if you can dig up any old toys you might have stowed away in a closet such as Legos, action figures, or stuffed animals. You can also take them on walks during the day, as long as it’s acceptable, and bake cookies and other sweets together. Also, make sure you have plenty of kid-friendly entertainment that they can watch on TV or an iPad such as a Hulu subscription to get some time back for you.
Above all, it’s important to make sure proper safety checks take place before your children and their family join. One idea is to have them self-isolate for two-weeks in one part of the house before coming together. Remember that your safety is important. When you’re all together, make the experience enjoyable and for your family to look back on fondly.