Pappy Moved In with Us During Deployment


Pappy Moved In with Us During Deployment

Image credit: Tara Glenn

What to expect when you’re caring for more than the kids

As a navy family, we often get to live in amazing tropical locations, but there’s sometimes a nasty trade-off: deployments.

Our time in Pensacola, Florida, was no exception—even though my husband had a shore-duty assignment, he was still unexpectedly sent to Cuba. At the time, I was in the middle of a high-risk pregnancy, and we pleaded our case to his chain of command, but this person insisted my husband had to be the one who went. And so we did what we do best and adapted.

Shortly after my husband was deployed, my father moved in with us. So there I was, a Solo Mom also caring for Dad. Below are some of the things we learned from this experience and what you might expect to encounter if your elderly parents come live with you and the kids.

Our time in Pensacola, Florida, was no exception—even though my husband had a shore-duty assignment, he was still unexpectedly sent to Cuba. At the time, I was in the middle of a high-risk pregnancy, and we pleaded our case to his chain of command, but this person insisted my husband had to be the one who went. And so we did what we do best and adapted.

Shortly after my husband was deployed, my father moved in with us. So there I was, a Solo Mom also caring for Dad. Below are some of the things we learned from this experience, and what you might expect to encounter if your elderly parents come live with you and the kids.

Parental health. One of the biggest factors of moving a parent into your home can be his health. Even if he is mostly healthy, he may still need everyday medications such as baby aspirin or for common conditions such as allergies, asthma, or acid reflux. If he is moving to your location from another area, you should also check to make sure that his health insurance will provide long-term coverage and that he will be able to access nearby doctors, health clinics, and pharmacies.

Vices. Your parent may smoke, drink, or engage in other behaviors that aren’t ideal for her health. If your parent does engage in some type of unwelcome behavior, you’ll want to have an honest conversation with her and manage her expectations of what is allowed in and around your home and children so there aren’t any surprises for anyone.

Finances. Having a parent around can be expensive—especially if he does require specialized care. Your parent may also be unable to work and not yet eligible for retirement, so you may find yourself covering his needs in addition to your own, especially if he doesn’t have a large sum in his savings. You should expect to expand your budget for things such as groceries, utilities, and fuel while he is staying with you.

Keeping up the house. Oftentimes with another person around the house, it means that you’ll end up doing more in general. You may spend a few days showing your parent around town and taking in the sights with your family, and if your family is like ours, you’ll find yourselves always on the go. One huge relief can be having someone come in to thoroughly clean your home for you once or twice per month so you can save some of your energy and relax instead of tidying up.

Being active. Your parent may also want to stay active, and helping her make friends in the community by seeking out activities that she’ll enjoy is key. Staying active will help the aging process by providing her with exercise and socialization. She may want to consider joining a sports league, getting a gym membership, or even just choosing activities to do with the kids, such as basketball, soccer, or flying kites.

Growing relationships. The best part about having a parent live with you for an extended period of time is the opportunity for him to have a greater relationship and bond with your child. You may also find yourself growing closer to your parent because now that you have your own child, you can better understand some of the decisions that he made while you were growing up. You may even experience some of the same struggles your parent went through.

A possible helper. If your parent is still healthy enough to be active and independent, she might watch the kids while you go out with friends. Your parent may also be able to drive your kids to and from activities and school. If she is able to help in those ways, it will truly help her feel useful and like a productive member of the household. Your parent may also want to help keep the house clean by doing simple chores such as dishes or sweeping the floors, and if so, embrace this.

Burnout. One of the most important things you can do to have a successful integration is to take care of yourself while your parent is in your home, even if he doesn’t require specialized care. You may find that prolonged exposure to your parent stresses you out, or an added person in the house may make you feel stressed out at times. You don’t have to spend a lot on self-care, either—you can simply go for a walk, have a cup of coffee at your favorite coffee shop, or grab an amazing face mask the next time you’re out shopping for an at-home spa night.

To stay or go. Eventually, you’ll have to make a decision about your parent staying with you for the long haul. You may find yourself exiting your Solo Mom status eventually, your parent may get a job opportunity in another area, or you may even have to make the decision to put your parent in an assisted-living facility at some point. If your parent does have to leave your home, expect that your children will be extremely upset about it. They may feel bummed out and unmotivated to play; in that case, be as comforting as possible to your children. Remember, though, that those multigenerational memories made together will be with your children for a lifetime.


Tara Glenn is a Solo Mom of four who currently resides in Pensacola, Florida. She has a background in public affairs, writing, and photography. Tara spent five years in the Navy and now volunteers with the Civil Air Patrol as a public affairs officer. She enjoys working with small businesses as a ghostwriter as well as encouraging her children’s love for aviation in her free time—the running joke being that she only creates pilots, as all of her children love to fly!

Please feel free to contact us with any comments or questions.


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