The news that lockdown was being eased last week by the Welsh Assembly Government was good news to the many of us who had been steadfastly following the guidelines. We are now allowed to go out to exercise as often as we like, we can meet up with unlimited numbers of people as long as they are only from two households (although we’re not allowed to enter each other’s homes yet) and that they are within approximately 5 miles of our homes.
(Our rules are slightly different from those in England as our devolved assembly has been more cautious in allowing too many easements to the rules as our R rate (our infection rate) had not changed since they were reviewed 3 weeks ago.)
So how has this changed things in our home and how has it been living in a multi generational household for the past 11 weeks?
At the beginning of lockdown, there was a lot of scurrying around, people were quickly deciding where they were going to spend the that time and with who. In my family, my 80yr old father was classed as ‘vulnerable’ because of his age and some underlying health issues so was advised by my siblings and I to come to stay here for the duration of the lockdown.
Now as anyone who knows my father would attest, he is a strongly independent chap who is still driving and living independently without any outside assistance. So not the type to sit in a rocking chair and to be molly-coddled then!
Living in a multi generational home
We made sure that my father had his own space to start with. He had a large bedroom upstairs, his own bathroom and his ‘own seat‘ at the dinner table. He had stayed over many times in the past so this wasn’t strange to him and this all seemed to work well.
We were also all conscious that we needed our own spaces and thankfully, we all could find somewhere downstairs that was ‘ours‘. This helped on those not so sunny days where we could easily have fallen over each other without that having been accepted.
But, as if it were somehow planned this way, the majority of the time in lockdown was sunny. This helped in so many ways; each generation could be outside as often as they wanted, my father, who is a skilled gardener spent hours discovering and rebuilding hidden borders and paths in the garden, whereas my husband and I were distracted by the installation of an inflatable hot tub on the patio. We also had a ‘Lockdown VE Party’ on our front lawn celebrating the end of the 2nd World War, dressed in clothes of the time, complete with knotted hanky!
But the major blessing was that we didn’t feel too hemmed in, we didn’t find ourselves on top of each other and of an evening, P and I could spend a few hours in the hot tub and my father could have the run of the tv!
Were there any difficulties?
One major thing that we all were aware of though was the need to compromise; to be aware of and to respect each other’s feelings. (or as darling P describes it “I say what I want to do, you say no and I say ok” 😆)
But obviously it hasn’t been without its challenges; people have their own daily routines, getting up and bedtimes and these may differ from yours. They may have differing food tastes to you and love eating sausages when you hate them and yearn for some pasta. They may be content to leave dishes on the drainer while you need to get them put away in order to relax.
Whatever it is, with a multigenerational family, there are bound to be differences but the word compromise just has to come into play. A real sense of ‘does this really matter?’ and ‘will it help?‘ has settled in the household and has helped life tootle along quite nicely. (Along with many hours of adult colouring books to aid distraction….. 😝)
Are there any positives?
One huge advantage living in a multi generational household though is just spending extended periods of time with a parent. It has been an absolute delight to sit down and chat with my father, to find out details about his life that I didn’t know before and just to have that precious time even if it’s peeling potatoes side by side, erecting a washing line or just helping to fold carrier bags to get rid of the mountain of them in the cupboard.
As we emerge slowly from the shadow of lockdown, it is with newly opened eyes I believe. Having spent lockdown in a multigenerational household, we are very much more aware than ever that now it is not possessions that are the be all and end all, what is most important and precious is simply time, time spent with others who we are not normally in such close quarters with and that time spent with other generations is a wonderful gift and should be treasured.