Coping with Extra Family Members: Strategies to manage in the house

Extra Family Members in the House

There are many reasons that your house may fill up with extra family members. It could be older folks who need to be taken care of. It could be children or even a whole family unit that need to live with you.  Or perhaps it’s just your sibling or cousin in need of a place to stay.  Let’s check out the strategies for Coping with Extra Family Members. 

When that happens, your regular family dynamics are certain to be challenged. So we’ve gathered together some strategies for Coping with Extra Family Members and to help them cope with being in close proximity to you. 

Quiet Hours

If you are suddenly overflowing with people, you may need to establish quiet hours in the morning and evening.  You don’t have to keep to the schedule forever, but it can help while everyone is adjusting. This means that voices need to be silent or hushed, and entertainment has to be earbuds only.  

You’d be surprised how much this brief interval reduces tension. It forces the most talkative to be quiet and trains the children to respect household rules. For some, it will push them to take a walk outside, getting into good habits for the future. As everyone settles into a routine, you can lift the quiet hour rule while leaving some elements in place.  Media or music noise levels have to be reasonable and respectful of others. 

Individual Space

Everyone needs their individual space. It’s essential to feeling settled.  However, space may be the last thing anyone has in a small home.  To remedy that, you should start by making an inventory of your house. You may discover shelving and drawers that are underutilized. You may discover closet space that is just storing old, unneeded items.

Of course, you shouldn’t give up the things that matter to you. Likewise, the family member who moves in may have too much stuff for the area you can give them, but they probably don’t want to give up their belongings either.  

When you add that up, the clear answer is to rent a storage space. You can make more room by storing excess furniture and other large items that aren’t in use every day.  Everyone’s off-season clothes and seasonal decorations could be kept there.  You may find that you do have space after all.

Chores and Cleanliness

When people move in with you, you should be honest with everyone about chores, cooking and other demands of communal living. Women should be especially aware of the tendency to have everything fall on their shoulders, and they should insist that there be equal distribution of the housework and caregiving. If everyone gives a little, it will mean a lot to the overall condition of the house.  It may be hard to keep things tidy but doing so will reduce the feeling of crowded conditions.

You may consider a schedule to make clear what everyone’s responsibilities are.  Each person should be given equal responsibility if they are able adults.  Children and teens can be given chores that they can handle.  Of course, work and school schedules will have to be factored into how the housework and cooking is distributed. 

Take Time Off

Just as people need a mental health day from work, everybody needs some alone time at home. This will take more scheduling but it will be worth it to you when you get time alone in your own house. Even if you don’t have a lot of money there may be outings that can get the crowd out of the way and take the stress off of those who stay behind.

The library is a good choice for this type of activity. It is free. There are computers for those who want to get on the internet.  Hopefully, WiFi is available for those who have their own devices.  There may even be couches where people can lounge and read to themselves or to their children.  Sometimes there are outdoor areas where noisy children can run around.  

Of course, if the weather is good, the crowd can head for a park with a picnic.  The goal would be to leave just one or two people at home, allowing them some peace and quiet for a few hours.  

Check In With Your Children

If you have children, you should set aside some time to be alone with them. They will be affected by the change of routine and may be frustrated by the increased level of activity in the house.  It is important to talk to them every few days at first about the changes that are taking place. 

The reasons for combining households should be explained to the child, but only if necessary. New household members may be sad, depressed, or angry due to the circumstances that forced them to live with you.  This can cause friction between adults, causing fights or backbiting that your child will overhear. You also want to watch for signs that your child needs protection from a bullying adult, teen or other child.  

It is hard to share your home, even with people you love dearly.  Taking proactive steps for Coping with Extra Family Members from the beginning can help you ease the transition and, hopefully, you and your immediate family will come to appreciate the upside of extended family in your home. In the best scenario, that’s more love and hugs for everyone.


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