Combining households can be tricky. Many people just jump right in without giving it any thought. We have a few strategies on how to stay sane and not argue (as much) during this huge transition.
Step 1: Define Who
Who will be directly affected as a result of this change? Are there children involved? If there are children involved is there a former spouse and/or partner that should also be involved? If a parent is moving in with an adult child, what family members will be part of the plan and how do you expect the current household to be effected? Or is it a new couple joining forces for the first time? Defining who will help you to clarify expectations you each have for one another during the process.
Step 2: Define What
What has prompted this step to combine households? Is it a major life event, such as a wedding or a death? Defining the “what” for all those involved may take away some of the unnecessary stress. Even small children should be given the respect of open communication. Knowing what is causing this life change will also help you to be more compassionate for one another. Moods may change and arguments may erupt over what seems like nothing, but if you have communicated to everyone involved what is happening there will be an understanding that exists during the process.
Step 3: Define When
Do you have a month, a year or just a few days? This will also impact moods when combining households. Everyone involved must understand why the change is occurring quickly or even why you have a little extra time. A change like this will cause a rush of emotions, especially for children. Be aware of their feelings during the “when,” especially if it needs to be done fast.
Step 4: Define Where
When combining households everyone involved in the process needs to be given the opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of where to go. Do you move to his house or to her house? Does your mother come to live with you or do you need to relocate to live with her? Or do you go an entirely different direction and buy/rent a new home somewhere in the middle?
Step 5: Define How
Will you have movers or will you be doing all of the heavy lifting yourselves? This is another step where you need to define clear expectations. If you will be staying in your current home and you have people moving in with you it is important that everyone know how the home will look with everyone in it.
Remember that while combining households may be a challenge, it is a challenge that may be managed if you are all on the same page.