Sunday, February 7, 2016

Who Buys The Toilet Paper?

In retrospect, there were a whole lot more details about living together that we should have hashed out before DS1 and family moved in with us.

At the time, we didn't want to be too nit picky, and it seemed pretty straight forward.  We had a few simple rules:

1. Clean up after yourself and your children.

2. Both DS1 and K2 needed to attend school full time (after all, that was the whole reason for them moving in with us; to save on expenses so they could both concentrate on school rather than working full time).

3. We would provide housing so they would not need to pay for heat, electricity, garbage pick-up, or internet access in addition to rent.  Anything else (food, personal care items, clothing, auto expenses, etc) was up to them to provide for their family of four.

All adult parties (being DH, myself, DS1 and K2) agreed to these terms.  So we spent several thousand dollars moving them from South Carolina to Michigan (plane tickets for DH and I to get to SC, the moving truck, fuel for the moving truck, meals on the road during the move, a hotel room --so we didn't have to try to drive 16 hours straight through after spending 12+ hours packing the moving truck).  And, for the first four months DS1 and K2 were here, we did not charge them rent, absorbing the extra cost of the increased utilities, etc so that they might be able to pay off their remaining bills from SC (last electric, internet, broken rent fee, etc).  When we did require rent, it was barely enough to cover our extra costs per month of having their family live with us.

The idea was that we would be two households in one house, sharing the kitchen, the laundry room, the dining and living rooms, and the mudroom.  They would have their own bathroom(s)--they had access to a full bath and also the 1/2 bath off the mudroom--and a large portion of the basement as their 'bedrooms'.  Cooking would be shared as much as possible, with them expected to provide food in the same quantity as they consumed.  Their laundry and personal care products (including diapers for the grandkids) were their responsibility. We--and they--wanted them to be autonomous as much as possible, yet sharing the kitchen to cool six meals rather than three each day seemed crazy, so meals where we all were present were to be cooked by one person at a time on a rotating schedule. Kitchen clean up and dish washing were also to be done on a rotating schedule--a volunteer schedule, no less, where no one was 'forced' to cook or clean on a day that conflicted with their work or school schedule.

Sounded simple.

In hindsight, sixteen months into this whole three generations in one house thing, we should have went into a whole lot more detail and been nit picky right from the start.  Because running out of things, especially food and toilet paper, was a constant issue.

Now, it has been years, possibly even a decade or more, since I ran out of any regularly used item such as laundry soap, shampoo, toilet paper, or food staples. In fact, I had a system where I knew what our monthly consumption was, and did a large stock-up type shopping trip once a month.  With that system, I even had a 'stash' of enough of our regular staples to last a month or two if needed. (And, in the past, had used that stash to avoid spending money on groceries during times of unexpected large bills--such as car repairs).  To have this stash used up and never replaced, to constantly be running out of necessary items, and to have my grocery bill almost double just was not cool. Especially since they qualified for both WIC and food stamps, yet rarely did they go to the grocery store to buy the milk, bread, fruit and veggies that they were allotted freely by those government programs.

The agreed upon chores were rarely done as scheduled either, even though the schedule was based on what and when DS1 and K2 wanted to do certain tasks. And even though DH purchased a new dish washer after they moved in--our old one had died over three years before--getting dishes washed on a nightly basis (in order to start each day with the maximum amount of clean dishes and cookware available) was an ongoing frustration.

I don't want this post to turn into a long winded rant, so I'll skip most of the specific irritations that have come up in the last sixteen months.  Instead, I'll just say that I am looking forward to getting back to 'normal' now that they have moved out.   Should they, or any of our other adult children, need to move back in with us again, DH and I will be sure to lay out the terms in a whole lot more detail.  And in writing.  Probably with signatures of all parties at the bottom.

Something like:

Rent Includes

  • water--but not half-hour long showers!
  • trash removal
  • heat
  • electricity
  • parking for 2 vehicles if married, one if single
  • internet service historically used (fee for upgraded service will be responsibility of person desiring the change)
  • use of kitchen and laundry appliances
Rent DOES NOT Include
  • groceries
  • toilet paper, laundry soap, and other personal items
  • premium tv services
  • maid/housekeeping/laundry service
  • unlimited child care
All Adult Occupants WILL
  • clean up after themselves and their minor children
  • assist in lawn care/snow removal/household cleaning and maintenance
  • share meal cooking and dish washing duties
  • replace any items they or their minor children break

You would think that last item (well, all items) would be common sense.  I sure did.  Based on the past sixteen months, apparently that is not so.  Dishes, glassware, coffee mugs, food storage containers, a refrigerator drawer, spatulas and wooden spoons, a deep fryer (that was $75 brand new less than a year before their arrival), storage bowls, and many other items got destroyed or 'mysteriously' disappeared, not to be replaced.

So, live and learn.  And be more detailed and business contract-like in the future.  And look forward to building my grocery stash back up so that I never run out of anything again.

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