Meal Time Rules & Conundrums


Multigenerational living is tough for a variety of reasons. One of them being arranging meals and who does what. Did we sit down and discuss exceptions and what would be fair? Nope. That would require people to be openly honest, not worry about social customs and/or potentially being impolite. Even getting my in-laws to state what they would prefer for dinner is IMPOSSIBLE. #1 Talk about it  

When we first moved in, my father-in-law began making dinner during the week and we would make lunch and dinner on the weekends. It made sense since we both work full time jobs and our daughter goes to daycare all day. I told my FIL several times that I appreciated his efforts since I know it took effort on his part. #2 Show gratitude  Sometimes my husband would complain to me on the side about his creativity in meals but I reminded him that the effort counts and not to complain.

Something to note also, is my in-laws had a traditional family setup with a homemaker wife and working husband. Somewhere along the way (in the last few years) my MIL has stopped cooking all together. We think its best since she tends to forget things like leaving a burner on low ALL DAY. The other day she made a sandwich, put it in the toaster oven and forgot that she even made the sandwich. Those were the only two times she has done anything regarding using heat to cook in the whole 4 months we have been here. One point being is she’s unable to perform the task which is partly why we are here. My other point is my FIL hasn’t been cooking for the household for the last 75 years and only recently started. Therefore he doesn’t have a wide variety of meals and I think he stresses about what to make at times. #3 Understand other’s limitations

Recently, there was a disagreement between my husband and FIL so he went on dinner strike and stopped making it all together. We appreciated him making dinner but we can manage on our own just fine. We got over that hurdle after a week but now dinner is hit or miss. Basically how it goes is, we come from work and either dinner is already in the works or its not. If its not, then we are expected to make it for the whole family. Nothing said. They will literally wait hours for dinner without a word sometimes or my Mil will come over and ask when dinner is. Clearly we need a better format but here are my concerns:

If we start doing a schedule about who cooks what night, then we are obligated to cook those nights. What if we get stuck at work? What if we have a crappy day? What if we want to go workout and not stay home for the evening? It’s a lot of work making dinner and putting a toddler to bed.

If we decide to do meals separate, as in they are responsible for their own meals and us ours, that leaves my constantly munchy MIL at the mercy of my FIL to make them food. She likes to eat a lot and is always scrounging through the kitchen and asking when dinner is. She also doesn’t get to have the same sit down opportunity at the table with our daughter and that is a majority of the interaction they get on weeknights.

One thing I’m not doing is cooking every night for a family of 5. I get up 5 am and don’t stop until 8 pm every weekday. I barely have time for myself much less taking care of everyone else more than I already do.

Ideally, I would be a stay at home mom and could take care of the household but thats not our reality so we have a conflict of couple who works full time with a toddler (exhausting) and elderly parents who see us as a young couple who should be able to take care of everything. What would you do?

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