Tips for Families Living Together Over the Summer

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I believe that going to Deal for the summer is a privilege. For most it’s an expensive venture, which is why the majority of community families decide to bunk up together for the summer months. Living with extended family can be tricky. Navigating a summer with different family members, with their own ways of doing things and their own needs, may be challenging. But for those who head off to a summer together, they recognize that the challenges they face are worth it, since the alternative might be to not get away at all.  

Some of the typical dynamics come into play when the parents own a home and they invite their adult children along with their families to come live under the same roof. Offering to host is a magnanimous gesture, and the parents can sometimes feel taken for granted. Inconveniences come in the form of messes left on highchairs, grandkids with no bedtimes, finding the house extra messy at all hours of the day, or grandparents treated like built-in babysitters, to name a few. 

 It’s not so easy on the kids, either. At home you could leave dishes in the sink and the highchair a mess until the housekeeper straightened up. But when living with parents, adult children might find themselves constantly reminded to pick up after their children, and this can be really stressful. Add to this the expenses for groceries, housekeepers, etc. Some families  wonder why did they move in together at all? Is it really worth it? 

I recognized that had I asked my followers to just tell me about their summer experiences, I would hear a lot of complaints!  But I wanted this article to be helpful, so instead I asked for tips. Are there any guidelines or boundaries that people put in place at the beginning of the summer to help things run smoothly? Here are some of the responses I received.

Jamie Cohen

The key for us is rotating dinner nights. Instead of one person being in charge of cooking, or everyone cooking for their own family, we take turns cooking dinner for the house. This way it’s fair and we all have off days where we don’t have to think or worry about it. 

We also break up the shopping, one person is in charge of the Costco run, another Wegmans, another kosher stores, etc. 

Rotate dinner nights. Don’t make dinner for just your family, each family can have a night to make a large meal and then have off a bunch of nights.  

Another awesome tip is to get one credit card. All expenses for the house go on that card and you split it between each family so no one feels like they’re carrying the brunt of the expenses. 

Leah Nachmani @dumbanddelish 

Even before the summer, make rules and plan to stick to them. A good rule is that children of similar ages should go to bed at the same time. This seemingly small rule can make all the difference. If you’re going to have multiple housekeepers, discuss ahead of time what you pay them and consider leveling the playing field, even it’s just a summer bonus, because they will compare paychecks and if they are not getting equal pay things can get hairy quickly. 

Summer can be hard on couples because alone time can be hard to come by. Try your best to prioritize a weekly, or at the very least bi-weekly, date night. If you don’t have childcare at night you can use each other to babysit! This takes a little planning, but if you have a set schedule that you agree upon, one couple can babysit while others go out, and then you rotate.

Grandma B

I’ve got lots of advice on this topic! For starters, don’t get into each other’s business. You should practice looking the other way when it comes to other families living in your home. When you live with your kids and your grandkids, don’t try to parent your grandkids and don’t be a parrot to the parents. Let the kids’ parents take care of things their way. If you have an opinion keep it to yourself or discuss it with them in private, not in front of the kids. You never want the kids to feel they can side with you and defy their parents. Trust me, if they want your help, they will ask for it 

Also, let the atmosphere in the house be easy and don’t harp on everything. Of course, things will bother you. But you have to learn to let things go. Remember, you invited them into your space. There are ways to have your own space without an argument. When something is really bothering you, go for a walk or do a home goods run and when you come back hopefully everything will have settled.  

Don’t stress over dinners. If you are making dinner make it for everyone in the house, not just for your own family. If your kids don’t want to eat what you made and your daughter/ daughter-in-law makes chicken nuggets for her kids, don’t say, “But I made a whole dinner!” She knows what her kids will and won’t eat. 

Laundry is a big thing in my house. We have a lot of little kids that need their stuff, so afternoon works best for me to do my laundry, or early morning before the rush. 

Also, remember they are moving into your space. Make designated closets in the kitchen for the snacks and cups and bottles so they have space, and so they feel comfortable in your home. 

Make a list at the beginning of the week for someone to do the food shopping. If you have more than one family living with you alternate who does the shopping, but be prepared for the mom (grandma) to be the main person that does the food shopping. 

My last tip is to be mindful of everyone in the house and to respect everyone’s privacy.

Terry Nigri

I share my summer home with one of my best friends and her family. I think letting things go is the best thing to do. It may be difficult at times, but the benefits far outweigh all the little annoyances. Here’s something we’ve done to make the summer run smoothly. We both got credit cards which we only use to charge things we need for the house, such as groceries and supplies. At the end of the summer, we tally up and split it down the middle. We also do rotating dinner nights so we each have free days and dinner days. It’s worked out great for us!

Mazie Jemal 

First off, we split up the week and each have a set day or days that is ours to make dinner for the household. We also use an app that allows us to make a grocery list called Out of Milk, and we are all able to add to the list what we need and subtract what was purchased. My father takes on the job of shopping for the whole house, which is very sweet and helpful. But if you don’t have a volunteer, you should work out a rotating system so everyone gets a turn. We each have our own set day for laundry, so the machines are available when we need.  

Each summer we try to get my mom a gift she’d appreciate as a thank you for having us. One year we got a home organizer to come and go through her kitchen. She loved it! 

Debra Levy, ADHD/Productivity Coach 

I had a houseful, 16 people, little and big, in my space. I had to let go of my desire for order. I let my heart fill with love instead for my beautiful family and I was really proud of myself. I didn’t let messes bother me because I kept focusing on being grateful! 

I try to be aware of what’s happening in the moment. If I’m feeling a little stressed or tense I tell myself that this is temporary and that I want to make everyone feel welcome and loved. I know that they are all trying to do the best they can – especially since they have little ones. I also find that taking a pause before I react and take a few relaxing breaths helps a lot! 

Margi Erani 

My best advice is to learn to let things go. You can’t be uptight and expect all the rules you have for the summer to work throughout the whole summer. Everyone has different personalities and people will get offended no matter what. Jut just don’t take things personally. If you take it personally then you ruin your relationship with family members and those relationships are very important ones. If you think it’s hard for you, know that it’s hard for your them too. 

Another big one is don’t try to parent your siblings’ kids. Try not to overstep – when in doubt the best phrase is, “Go ask your mommy.” 

If something comes up that really bothers you that keeps you up at night, bring it up before you bottle it up and explode in the middle of the summer. Also, if you don’t bring it up, and manage not to explode, you’ll start hating that person and it’ll chip away at your relationship with them. You may not even realize what’s happened until the damage is done. 

Rachelle Levy 

I’d say it’s very important to set ground rules at the very start of summer. That way everyone is on the same page as far as the basics, such as who’s making dinner which nights, whose housekeeper is cleaning what, etc. 

For the families moving into Grandma’s house, drop the entitlement. Know that this isn’t your home even if it used to be. It’s all about respect. Throughout the summer I keep reminding myself of the money they’re saving me. Every time they get me upset, I say to myself, “My parents are doing me a kindness.” 

Esther Tawachi, Relationship/ Prevention Specialist 

In summer homes of today, multiple families bunking together creates various intricate dynamics. Every experience presents great opportunities as well as great challenges. looking through a rose-colored lens we can see the beautiful opportunities we can attain during this season. 

Grandparents should use this time to forge strong bonds with their grandchildren. Cousins can get to know and appreciate each other on a deeper level. Sisters and sisters-in-law can learn to extend themselves and become more selfless with one another. Let’s explore the road to reach these lofty yet attainable goals together. Just a few small changes in the behaviors of each household member will yield great and positive results. 

For all members of household, from the youngest to the oldest, let’s cultivate two skills that will help to facilitate smooth sailing. Here’s the mantra: (1) Let’s be flexible (2) Let’s be a mevater. (Let’s give in even if something rightfully belongs to me.) These middot are priceless. If we can role model these behaviors, our children will learn to become flexible, and having a flexible child is very desirable. Also, when we leave room for the other person, we will win on all fronts.

Here are some examples:

  1. Daughter-in-law parked in a rush in mother-in-law’s spot. Mother-in-law can be flexible, judge her daughter-in-law favorably, and park on the street (with a smile, as opposed to her usual rage). 
  1. It’s your sisters turn to make dinner tonight but for whatever reason she can’t do it. You can say, “Ok, I’ll be flexible, I’ll do it tonight.”

Being mevater is such a great middah in the eyes of Hashem. At the time when we are forgiving, it is such a lofty moment that we can say a prayer right then. There will be countless opportunities to flex this mevater muscle. Many times, one is clearly right, however, if we keep in mind throughout the summer the importance of being able to be mevater, we can ensure peace and harmony in the home and the overall atmosphere will be friendly.

Following these seemingly small tips can make all the difference. Most of all, you should pray that there should always be peace amongst us. May Hashem answer this prayer and may we all merit a beautiful and peaceful summer.

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Wow, we have here lots of wise words and sage advice! Living with family can be difficult, or it can be as good as you choose to make it. A common theme for many was setting boundaries and schedules from the beginning of the summer, so you don’t have to address things when they have already become an issue. Using past summers to remember what worked and what needs to be worked on can really help determine what those rules and boundaries should look like for your family. Also, of course, you need to have the proper  perspective going in. Remember, it’s not about me, it’s about making the house function as a whole. This may mean taking your own feelings out of the equation and being mevater. I hope this was helpful. May you all enjoy a safe and peaceful summer! 

Until next time, 

Frieda Schweky!  

Comments on this article? I’d love to discuss! Also, if anyone needs family photos, please feel free to contact me. You can reach me on Instagram @friedaschwekyphoto or by email Friedaschweky@gmail.com.