Apartment Guru: Move Over, Dad's Moving In

dad as a roommateDear Apartment Guru,

My dad asked if he could move in with me for a few weeks this summer. He has to be out of his house due to a whole host of complications that have been coming up for him since late last year, when he lost his job. He has a new job that is really close to where I live, so I think he just sees it as the best option for now. (My sister lives about an hour away.)

He promises to be out by August 1st at the latest, or sooner if possible.

I live in a tiny New York City one-bedroom apartment. Two people can't even fit in the kitchen at the same time. Plus, as a girl, I just feel so weird about my dad and I sharing a bathroom and everything else!

To be honest, I barely have room for myself, much less my dad and all his stuff. But I know he's in a tight spot. My mother died a few years ago and a lot of his family has moved out of state. And I have a futon in my living room that I know he could use.

So, if I'm gonna agree to do this, what do I do?

-- Daughter's Dilemma

Dear DD,

First of all, go stand yourself in front of a mirror and repeat the following:

"I am not only a very good daughter, but a very good person, and I should leave my tiny apartment as soon as possible to reward myself with a big sundae with even more whipped cream and at least five cherries."

Then follow it up with a foot rub because, kiddo, you deserve it. And not just because it's almost Father's Day, but because you are doing such an amazing job of loving your dad and at the same time remaining very realistic about your situation.

So, here's what I think. This Sunday, over brunch, tell your dad that what's yours is his. Let him know that if he needs a place to crash for a month, he is more than welcome to stay with you. Ask him his plan for how, where and when he is going to apartment-hunt until you are satisfied that by "a month" he actually doesn't mean "six months." Then spend the next several days getting ready for him.

Start by cleaning out your bathroom. Put "unmentionables" in a safe place in the back of your closet. Then clean out a drawer or clean off a shelf for him. This will keep to a minimum his rooting around in your bathroom for the toothpaste .

In the living room where he will be sleeping, prepare a "dad corner." It's only for a month, and even though it will cut into some of your very limited space, it will be helpful to have it established in the long run. So buy a pretty Shoji screen or move a bookshelf so that it cordons off an area of the room. Behind it place the pile of bedclothes he will use with the futon. This way, he has a place to fold up his blankets when he remakes the futon as a couch before leaving for work.

If you can, invest $30 in a small set of drawers into which he can put his personal items. Target sells them, as do most container and bed and bath stores. Otherwise, set up a chair in that area as a suitcase holder.

Also, pack your July with as many weekend getaways and after-work events as possible. That will help you maintain a bit of autonomy during the month of daddy-daughter time.

Finally, DD, I want you to write down the best things you two do together while you are sharing your home. Because getting a month with your only remaining parent in your adulthood is special, and might be happening for a reason you couldn't have anticipated. So enjoy it, and while he's living there, ask him to spot you twenties every now and then, just to sustain the balance of things.

Happy Father's Day!

Have a question for the Apartment Guru? Email her at: apartmentguruquestions@gmail.com.

The Aparment Guru is Joselin Linder, co-writer of "The Good Girls Guide to Living in Sin" and "Have Sex Like You Just Met." Having rented apartments and houses in Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, Brooklyn, Columbus, Ohio and Prague, she knows what it means to live in a home you don't own and still make it homey. Anything she doesn't know, she isn't afraid to ask.
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