How could living with your in-laws’ possibly be awesome? Even the word “in-law” can strike fear in many couples. They have heard horror stories of the meddlesome mother-in-law who “just wants to help” or of the intimidating father-in-law who believes no man will ever be good enough for his baby girl. In-laws are constant sitcom fodder, and, as pop culture would have us believe, they are impossible to please.
They can’t be all bad, though. At the very least, if it wasn’t for them, you wouldn’t have your spouse. Maybe they helped pay for your wedding—or even your house. Maybe they’ve been there for you when your parents couldn’t be.
If your in-laws’ quirks mainly give you cause to smile, rather than run away, you may have even considered having them move in with you.
As you may have learned from The Lego Movie, “everything is awesome; everything is cool when you’re part of a team!” The first team you were ever a part of was your family, so living with your in-laws or parents should be awesome, too, right? Don’t believe us? It can be. Living with your parents or in-laws can add value to both your life and theirs. It can add security (both financial and emotional) and flexibility. We all need more of that in our lives, so here are just some of the benefits of living with your in-laws.
“Free childcare? Yes, please!” said every parent ever. Every little bit of savings helps.
More important than the cost-savings, however, is the emotional security you’ll find in having your parents watch your children. Finding someone you can trust to watch your children, so you can visit that new restaurant in downtown West Chester is never easy. Ask any harried mom on a date night who checks the phone every five minutes for an update on the little ones.
But if your parents live with you, you’ll have a baby-sitter who loves those kiddos just as much as you do. Many grandparents only have the opportunity to spoil the grandkids a few times a year; many would dote on the kids more if given the opportunity.
Sure the kids might stay up later or eat a bit more sugar than if a high schooler watched them. But grandparent sitters are generally happy to take unlimited hugs and kisses as a form of payment. It doesn’t get more affordable than that.
Not only could they help out on date nights, however, they could even watch the kids while you run errands or go to appointments. Errands are a lot easier and faster when you do not have to keep kids occupied at a store or in the car. Unfortunately, your children are not as interested in completing your to-do list as you are. Your parents, on the other hand? They most certainly understand and may even lend a hand. In general, their help would give you a lot more flexibility with your time, and you can’t put a price on that.
If you’re really lucky, they may even watch the kids for a few days, while you get away for long weekends or a couples-only vacation. Once children enter the picture, these get-aways get fewer and farther between. If your parents or in-laws live with you, neither they nor your children would have to leave the comfort of their own home while you’re away.
Parents can always use help with kids. It’s why they say it takes a village to raise them. If it’s easy for your parents to help, however, you can rely a little less on the village. Everybody’s calendar is booked these days, so here’s another task your parents could do: be a kid’s cabbie.
When your carpool falls through, you have to work later than expected, or you have to get your son to his soccer game, but need to take care of your sick daughter, you can count on your parents. Sometimes activities land on the same day and time, whether it’s birthday parties, company outings, or Little League games. It’s bound to happen. With the extra support from your parents or in-laws, however, being double-booked doesn’t have to mean double-stressed.
With work and children taking up much of your schedule, how many times have you said to family, “We need to get together!” And of the number of times you say it, how often does it happen? If it’s not that often, you’re not alone.
If your parents lived with you, however, you would not have to make special plans. You could have dinner—maybe even your favorite homemade meal from childhood—almost any day of the week. No reservations required! You could watch a TV show or movie together. Want to take a break from a screen? Now you have more people to play cards and board games or do a puzzle.
Having your parents with you may even give your siblings an excuse to drop by. More of the family, if not all of the family, could get together without the pressure of a holiday. No spotless house or perfectly prepared meals are required. Getting together for take-out and a movie or games sounds a lot more relaxing than a holiday gathering inspired by a lifestyle guru.
Splitting up chores makes life a whole lot easier and gives your family more time to do the fun stuff. Even if they’re retired, they’re not retired from activity. If you have opened your home to them, and perhaps even splurged on a home remodel for them, they will probably be happy to help out.
Is your dad a handyman? Does your mom have a green thumb? If so, then you have help with appliance repair and your garden. Everyone enjoys sharing their talents to help out. The more help you have, the merrier the home.
Even if your parents don’t want to admit it, they may need your help, too. Maybe their vision isn’t what it once was, and they need help reading important documents. Muscle strength and balance often decrease with age. You can help with the stairs or carrying heavy items…some of the same things that they used to help you with when you were a child.
By living with elderly parents, you could also assess if certain activities are getting more difficult for them and if there is something they could do to improve it. If they are willing to talk to you about their health, you could help them eat better or exercise. Those things are always easier to act on when we have someone cheering for us, or even giving us that knowing look that says, “You shouldn’t be eating that.”
Much like how you may struggle to decide who should watch your children, you may find it challenging to determine who should look after your parents. If they live with you, that pressure is no longer there. And if the time comes, money not spent on assisted living could be spent on more flexible in-home care.
While we poke fun at our in-laws, they play an important role in our lives and more importantly, in the lives of the people we care about the most. That’s why you may open your home to them, even change it for them, to make their life more comfortable, more secure. As you care for them, they will care for you, too, giving you more security and flexibility in your life.
So, go ahead. Let your mother-in-law meddle a little while you frantically try to prepare a tasty and healthy dinner you know won’t be as good as hers. Let your father-in-law act like a tough guy. In the long run, it doesn’t matter because they sure do love those grandkids, and you, too. Most of the time.