Category Archives: Multigenerational living and life

Vicki Gunvalson, call me!

VickiThe original housewives of the Bravo TV franchise are back – and Vicki is a new grandmother.

During the premiere of season eight, Vicki is shown preparing for a multigenerational household.


One would think I would be saying, “Way to go Vicki! Embrace the “new”clear family.

Instead I was yelling at the television telling Vicki she needed to call me.


Because based on Vicki’s judgmental point of view of how Brianna and Ryan didn’t date the right amount of time,  didn’t get married the right way, and became pregnant too soon – I do not see Vicki setting up a foundation for a successful multigenerational household.


Vicki is loving, emotional, concerned, and has no boundaries. She uses her love tank, full or on empty, to explain away practically every interaction she has with loved ones. The interactions can be positive, negative, hostile – you name it – and Vicki explains it away by saying how much she cares.

I believe her.

Here’s the thing – if Vicki wants to be the grandmother who is nurturing – not overbearing – supportive – not barky – and contributing – not blocking, then she should listen up to these multigenerational household and new grandparent tips:

Actually read the terms and conditions

Multigenerational living is tricky, especially when an adult child is moving back in. Vicki should take care in not treating Brianna like an adolescent. Vicki would be wise to set up time to speak with Brianna about giving their adult mother/daughter relationship a facelift. They have to outline the terms and conditions of this adult relationship and agree to operate within these parameters.


Put the seat up

Vicki has to remember she’s not Ryan’s mom – but his mother-in-law. She cannot base their relationship on fixing whatever his parents didn’t do, how she wants Ryan to behave as a husband to Brianna (and father to Vicki’s grandson), or on how Ryan can please Vicki.

Hopefully Vicki will be smart enough to keep her energy and communication open (aka putting the seat up) so Ryan can be his true self with Vicki. I suggest Vicki spend some alone time with Ryan getting to know him before he is deployed. This way Vicki will be able to have meaningful and thoughtful conversations with Brianna when she is missing Ryan and trying to care for their new baby.

Clean the dryer lint trap – regularly

Nothing crushes a multigenerational household like an Acme anvil on Wile E. Coyote – than holding on to things and letting them fester. You know how you should clear your dryer’s lint trap after each use to prevent lint build up and a potential inferno? Same goes for a multigenerational household. A Safe Chat protocol has to be established so if anything feels, looks, smells, or sounds wonky – it can be handled right away.

(S) Say exactly what you are feeling – not what you are thinking.

(A) Answer any questions that come up after you say what you are feeling.

(F) Forget your ego. This is your family – the ego is not invited to the Safe Chat.

(E) Exhale. Start fresh. This keeps the multigenerational household warm, open, and functioning.

Run software updates

A new multigenerational household and adjusting to a new baby is a lot to take on at once. Once they think they have things running well, some type of glitch will surface. This should not send Vicki, Brianna, and Ryan into a tizzy if they are running software updates. They should set up time for family discussions to celebrate what’s working, clear the air on any misunderstandings (aka viruses), outline what may need tweaking, and decide whether they need to upgrade their living situation (aka software) or not.


No clothing items “laughing out” the drawer

Growing up, my friend’s grandmother lived with them during certain parts of the year. She was bossy, outspoken, and hilarious. She liked things tidy and neat and on laundry days when my friend was putting away clothes her grandmother had meticulously folded, her grandmother would exclaim, “Get all of those clothes neatly into the drawers – nothing sticking out and laughing out of the drawers. Laundry ain’t no joke!

I think this same sentiment can apply here – specifically for Vicki when she wants to support Brianna and Ryan as new parents. Yes, Vicki is an experienced parent, and she has cared for babies – but this baby is NOT Vicki’s baby. This is Vicki’s grandbaby and it may be hard for her to keep her good intentions folded neatly.

I encourage Vicki to try her best not have baby advice, tips, and “should dos” laughing out of her experienced mom (new grandmother) mouth. It’s enough to have the pressure of caring for an infant when you are tired, leaky, sore, overwhelmed, and afraid of breaking the baby. Having information laughing out and over into your baby haze mind is no fun and new parents do not forget how unsupportive and judgmental that felt.

What other multigenerational living and grandparent tips would you offer to Vicki?


Nanny vs. No Nanny

The Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHoA) keeps me going on Sunday nights while folding laundry, tidying backpacks, and semi-gagging while cleaning out lunch boxes with old containers*.

I’ve been wanting to write about Kordell and Porsha’s family planning, gender roles, career vs. stay-at-home-mom, and “nope, no nanny” discussions – but I was shy about you all seeing just how deep my love of the RHoA is. Yup, I watch it, dissect it, love it, hate it – and then write about it (when I catch up on my DVR queue).


Ok – back to Kordell and Porsha…

They have been married since 2011. Unfortunately Porsha suffered a miscarriage, but in this current season of the RHoA, their doctor said they were ready to get back to baby making. This is great news except Kordell, in my opinion, is too controlling, overbearing, and out of touch with all that goes into raising children and having a thriving family.

Porsha expresses her desire to do charity work, continue to maintain their home, keep her body fit, raise the baby, and take care of her husband. She talks about hiring a nanny to help her do this and also having her mother come in to support her from time to time.


As I watched, I’m thinking,

Porsha, you are smart. All moms need support. Yup, multigenerational support is fantastic. I hope you set up a great system with your mom – heck, both sets of grandparents if that’s an option.

Well, my upbeat multigenerational thinking came to a quick halt when Kordell told Porsha there would be no nanny care, no mother (grandmother) support, and no career doing charity work. He told her it was her job and duty to stay-at-home and that would be her only job.

I paused the DVR, turned to my hubby, and said, “Can you believe him? Can you believe Kordell is stuck in another era? Who can raise kids, have a great marriage, and career without help? Is he a fool or just clueless?



Just to be clear, I think women can be working moms, stay-at-home moms, 50 Shades of Grey moms – or whatever. And with all these options, there should be the option to have whatever help the mom may want or need.

When I find myself overwhelmed, over scheduled, over tasked, and ready to submit my resignation from motherhood, I realize that I’m not asking for enough help.

Amy Morrison echoes this in her post Why You’re Never Failing as a Mother:

“If you think about it, if you had a baby thousands, if not hundreds of years ago, you would have had your mother, all your sisters (all of whom were probably lactating) and your nieces all taking care of your baby. They would help with food preparation, show you how to manage and make sure your baby wasn’t eaten by a bear. Your kid’s feet probably wouldn’t have touched the ground until they themselves would be able to carry around an infant.”

Amy goes on to highlight how parenting, specifically mothering, has amped up and there is a lot to do while we have a lot of other things going on – all at the same time. She points out how seeking help and scaling back are options available to all of us so we can stop making motherhood such a high stakes vocation.

I would love to sit down with Kordell and Porsha for a coaching session. I would have them read Amy’s work, write down their expectations of being co-parents, and define what those roles can look like based on them teaming up to create a family that would work for both of them – not just based on what Kordell is dictating.

I do not think I’ll be getting that chance since I just learned Kordell filed for divorce.

Was Porsha’s stance of being a mom with a nanny (or granny nanny) and career the deal breaker?


*Hubby and the kids dump those lunch boxes on Friday and never look back. I get it and don’t judge them – but still, I gag.

Teacher Accused of Putting Sleeping Pills into Toddler’s Sippy Cups

Anyone else outraged about this news story?

For parents and many grandparents, the idea of entrusting precious babes to strangers is pretty terrifying – I know it was for me.

The comments on this news story magnify the investment grandparents also have in the quality of care for their grandchildren.


When I talk with other families who have a multigenerational household or have grandparents as caregivers (aka – granny nannies), the top reasons are:

  • More flexibility with childcare schedule.
  • Feeling more comfortable and secure with a family member caring for the child.
  • Less guilt, for the working parent (typically the mom), about being away from the child.
  • Easier to trust that love will prevail – even in the most challenging childcare situations.
  • The grandparent will not drug the kids to take a nap! (Ok – it’s not that specific – but parents feel the grandparents will not intentionally harm the grandchild.)

Nanny News Network lists 10 great reasons why a Granny-as-Nanny could be a potential option if it hasn’t crossed the minds of parents seeking childcare.

Having a granny nanny may not work for many families – or it may not even be a viable option due to health of grandparents, relationship issues, location/proximity, level of childcare needs, and other factors.Anytime a parent entrusts their child to a caregiver – they are always taking a chance.

The biggest thing, I think, parents should remember is to always trust their intuition when it comes to their children.


Empty nesters

Boxes, and peanuts, and tape – oh my!

Yup, that’s my youngest having a snack, watching TV, and lounging in one of my mother-in-law’s moving boxes.

We are about to have an empty nest.

My mother-in-law is heading northeast this month and the rest of us will head west to California, in December.

How long have I known about this?

Since early August.

Why am I just writing about it?

I struggled with what to say and what not to say.

The move for hubby, the kids, and me is great. New job, promotion, more diversity, and new adventures – I’m thrilled!

The move for my mother-in-law…well, I don’t know what I can say about that. I have never tried to tell her story here – and I’m not starting now.

Why isn’t she coming to California with us?

I’m not so sure about that, either. No clear, succinct, or press release-esque message or response has been provided to me, and I’m not going to push for it.

With this exciting change came a huge wave of discomfort.

Discomfort around:

  • finances
  • security
  • power plays
  • passive aggressive behavior
  • communication
  • openness
  • gratitude
  • familiar structure
  • relationships

Since early August, I feel like I’ve been on this rickety teeter toter of joy, pain, anger, and jubilation. It’s completely exhausting.

What have I gained from all this?


Clarity on what it means to keep family structures positively in place. How to listen intently to the emotions behind the ill-chosen words. How to dig deep and recalibrate a personal lens and shift it to a lens focused on compassion.When to stop talking and let it all play out. How to find internal joy and create space for love in the chaos of change.

It’s been a humbling and lovely experience all at once.

Would I do this all again?

Absolutely – but for a shorter period of time.

Will I continue to write about multigenerational/intergenerational families and in-law dynamics?

Yes! This is a topic near and dear. I greatly enjoy supporting my readers, clients, and community. It’s a full nest will stick around.

Will I ever live in a multigenerational household again?

I’m counting on it!





Jerry Jones – collaborative father-in-law?

Oh, I love a great in-law dynamics chuckle!

Two friends sent texts to me asking if I had watched the Dallas Cowboys football game.

Uhm, no. I believe I was up to my eyeballs in:

  • reading Busy Busy Town,
  • serving as the master quizzer with French flashcards (Lord! Why didn’t she take Spanish – a language I actually know!),
  • attempting to brush tiny teeth – even when the tiny mouth will not open wide enough for me to get way back there,
  • and following the Twitter feed about the DNC.

No, no football.

So…to get me in the funny know about Jerry Jones and his son-in-law cleaning his glasses, my friend sent this video clip.


Nothing like a great multigenerational/in-laws chuckle on pre-Friday!


Woman Gives Birth to Her Grandson

What did you think when saw the title of this blog post?

Yes, sounds like a headline from an unreliable tabloid magazine, right?

When Lara Spencer announced this story on Good Morning America, my head whipped around so fast – I scared myself a little.

I sat in awe and was overwhelmed with gratitude, joy, and amazement – at these two women, a mother and daughter, who worked together to bring a son – a grandson – in the world.

Talk about co-creating!

I listened to Sara Connell (35) and Kristine Casey (61) talk about this journey to motherhood and grandmotherhood in an intimate and determined way that suggested infertility was not a challenge Sara would go through alone – the entire family was onboard, supporting and involved.

I reveled at the openness, expressed by both women, on the necessity of sacrifice to bring Finn into the world. This included setting up a multigenerational household and all the medical treatment.

I cannot wait to read this book and learn more about this journey.  (Book excerpt)

What do you think about this? Could you, as a grandmother, be a gestational carrier for your son or daughter – if they needed you? Would you (adult children) be able to ask your mother, to be a gestational carrier if you were challenged by infertility?