I was reading an article yesterday about how having children later in life means that you inevitably end up looking after parents and children at the same time. This got me thinking about what that means for my own child (or future children). I am by no means an ‘old’ mum compared to some who are leaving it much later in life to start having children, but I was 34 when my daughter was born, which means that when my daughter has children, if she follows the trend, I will be 70.
Now, I think that a 70 year old today is quite different from a 70 year old of the past and in fact a lot of my generation will probably still be working full time jobs at 70. I hope I won’t be in this position (unless I want to be), but of course the key to not being a burden to my own children, at the point that they are caring for their own children, will be to ensure I am fit and healthy for as long as my body allows it.
This article was fairly negative in its viewpoint because the writer was caring for parent who was very unwell so it was taking a its toll on her having to care for small children and unwell parents at the same time, which is of course very difficult, and understandable.
However what about when the need is not driven by a need for physcial care, but driven by economics? I wonder if the trend to have three generations of family all living closer together at a certain point in your life is driven by a desire for a more balanced life for everyone. With the ridiculous cost of childcare, and more physically able grandparents who have retired from employment and want to help, and be a part of their grandchildren’s life, maybe it is just common sense.
For me it feels a bit uncomfortable, as it feels like an achievement to have flown the nest and achieved independence. However perhaps the idea of having three generations living together is the answer to avoid the situation of both parents having no choice but to work all hours, to pay for expensive full time childcare, for children they will always wish they had more time with.
This is not balance in my mind, and balance becomes so much more important once you have children. Balance for me now is family, career, and self. Probably in that order (although I know you could argue that self should be higher up in the ranking but that debate is for another day). To achieve balance we can try our best to avoid excessive consumerism, but there is no doubt that the cost of general living is so high that for most of us, we do not have a choice but to work full time which is then a vicious circle as you have to pay the high full time childcare costs.
So while we grow up, leave home, spread our wings and follow our dreams, perhaps the answer to finding balance is to fly home, to build a bigger nest for all of the family, and to lay our eggs back where home once was, back with our parents.