Sharing space with my family – how we have made it work

May 05, 2024
One family has discovered the joy of co-habiting arrangements. Source: Getty Images.

Now in my seventieth year, my life has become a bit of an adventure. It has not turned out as I had once expected, with a little home of my own. It is a lot more random.

I’ve written before about how renting has become my only option as I was unable to purchase a new home with my divorce settlement thirty years ago. So, I can look back fondly and sometimes not so fondly on some weird and wonderful dwellings which I have rented.

At the end of last year, my single parent daughter and her three children, also unable to purchase a home in this current market, came across a rather unusual proposition for a new living arrangement. As a busy teacher, she often needs another pair of hands or wheels to help with the children’s activities, and as my current rental was no longer suitable, we put our heads together.

Both of us need our own space, and I like a bit of quiet too – so when a large family home with a nearby studio flat came into our lives, we were very excited to try it out.

Now in our third month of sharing one large block of land, it has been a total blessing to both of us. I can pick up kids if needed from school, attend doctor’s visits and be nearby if she needs some time out. The little girls visit often, especially if there is ice cream in the freezer, or for a hot chocolate on a rainy day. I can cuddle her cats, and often she makes too much dinner so I benefit with a chef made meal. Yum.

Her older son will mow lawns when nagged enough, and he helps with the bigger chores when needed. It is also quiet with lots of bush around us, so the kids enjoy being outdoors more often.

I think what makes it work is that I can go back to my little place and just chill out when it gets too crazy in the main house. Occasionally the teenage grandson will come down for a visit and a big D&M (deep and meaningful conversation) with his wise old nan.

Or the girls will come singly just for a cuddle or to examine my jewellery box. Even my daughter comes down alone occasionally and I make her a cup of tea and tell her to have some time out on my couch and to gaze out at the birds on my deck.

With one child needing a hospital visit soon, I will be on hand. Also, if I get home too late I get a phone call to make sure I am all right. Talk about role reversal.

For anybody contemplating moving into the same space as their children and grandchildren, my tips would be to have a few rules about boundaries, have your own space, respect each others privacy, and above all, enjoy the security of knowing you are alone, but not really alone.

Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up