By Will Stroet
BC’s first Family Day is coming up on February 11, and I say it’s about time! A lot of parents lead extremely busy lives and the idea of having an extra day every year to spend with your kids seems like a great idea to me!
As someone who works from home, I’m very lucky to spend lots of time with my daughter. That being said, I also spend more and more time on the road and miss my family a lot during those times. One thing that reassures me while I’m away is that my daughter is being well taken care of because my family’s multi-generational living arrangement. My wife, daughter and I live in a duplex that is also my parents’ home.
Let me recap how my family and I got here. The year, I graduated from high school was also the year my dad retired. He had dreamed of building his own home ever since he was a teenager and helped his dad build homes in Smithers. Before I started university, I took the year off so that I help my dad build the house.
My dad had other motivations to build as well. One was to build a house that was more hypoallergenic for my mom who suffers from many severe allergies. Finally, he wanted to build a house that would have a ground level suite so that my aging grandfather could move in. When the house was finished, my grandfather (in his mid-eighties) moved in, and the Stroet Multigenerational Family Home was born. My grandfather lived with my parents for almost 10 years until he passed away at the age of 96. He enjoyed a much happier and longer life because of the incredible care provided by my parents.
After university I moved out, went traveling, rented a couple places and then bought a small condo with my wife-to-be, Kim Thé. When Kim and I decided to start a family of our own, we realized that our small condo was not ideal for a family. In a city like Vancouver, this is a challenge for most young families. My parents, who were anxious to become grandparents, and also had a house with much more space than needed, invited us to move in. Kim and I thought about it and realized it made sense in so many ways. So we moved in – now we can’t imagine our life any other way.
- My daughter gets to see her grandparents almost every day.
- Babysitting! My parents love taking care of Ella. It’s also nice to be able to pop out for quick outings when she’s sleeping if they’re around.
- I get to see my parents regularly. A morning coffee here, a family dinner there. It’s nice.
- We pay rent to my parents, instead of a stranger.
- If my parents are away, which happens quite frequently as they are both retired, they don’t worry about the house because they know we are there.
- As my parents grow older, it will be much easier for us to help them out.
- When I’m preparing dinner and I forget to pick up an onion, I can always try downstairs and they usually have me covered. This also goes both ways.
- I get to live in a house that I helped build.
Is it always perfect? No. Are there some challenges with this style of living arrangement? Maybe. But really for us there aren’t that many challenges. Sometimes we don’t have 100% privacy, but we have set some ground rules that help keep us from just walking into each others’ homes. Honestly, the biggest problem is that my daughter gets spoiled with lots of attention, and I have a hard time seeing that as being a real problem.
The days of every family being able to own a nice house are more and more a thing of the past. City living is increasingly expensive, especially for families. Of course, everyone has their own reality in their living situation, but I feel there are lots of alternative options for people to find ways to live the way they want. For me and my family, I think we’ve found what works for us.
Join Will and the Backyard Band for a concert and video screening of Will’s Jams in celebration of BC’s first Family Day at the Jewish Community Centre in Vancouver on February 11 at 10:30 am. Doors open at 10 am. Tickets are only $15 in advance for a family ($20 at the door) and also include open gym and family swim time.
Buy tickets now