Let’s face it: living with your parents once you’ve already experienced independent living can be tough. It’s easy to feel like you’re taking a step back when you’re sleeping in your childhood room again.
It’s important to remember, though, that plenty of adults presently live with their parents. 15% of 25- to 35-year-old Millennials were living in their parents’ home as of 2016, and that figure continues to rise. Moving home can be a smart money-move if you’re trying to save for a downpayment on a house or pay off college debt.
There are, of course, other reasons than money to move home. I’ve had a particularly hard year with the cancellation of my wedding and decided to stay in Westchester with the support of my parents as a result. My plans have drastically changed and I need time to figure out my next steps; being home is a good place to do that. I’m currently subletting my Harlem apartment until my lease ends in September.
I felt a huge sense of relief once I made the decision to move home, but I also felt this weird sense of shame and hesitated to tell others. Was I failing because I was moving home after seven years of being on my own?
My therapist helped me understand that no, moving home was not a sign of failure. It was an act of strength to be realistic and take responsibility for my own life during a critical time. I made a choice that was right for me and there’s no shame in that. Now I’m trying to talk about it openly.
I’ll admit that living at home again hasn’t been all roses and daffodils. Old habits reappear in familiar environments, and familial relationships can be different from the last time you were all under the same roof. Figuring out boundaries is difficult. It’s easy to experience major FOMO when your friends are posting pics from a new bar in the city and you’re watching the news with your folks for the fifth time this week.
There are definitely a few actions you can take to make living at home a more enjoyable, peaceful, and successful experience for everyone involved. Here are five tips I can offer for adults currently staying with their parents:
1. Establish Personal Spaces & Respect Them
Living at home again can make it feel like you have less privacy in general, but having a private space can help with this. Whether it be your bedroom or other parts of your family home, do what you can to establish somewhere where you can be alone with little disturbance.
Use this personal space when you need a break from your family and don’t feel bad about it. Everyone needs some personal space to recharge. If your parents aren’t respecting your private space, have a conversation with them about it.
I struggled with this when I first moved home. You see, throughout my teen years, my parents would nag me for spending too much time in my room and sometimes come in without knocking. I feared this would continue once I moved home, but that hasn’t been the case. They know I need privacy as an adult and deserve to have a personal space.
On the other side of the coin, be sure to respect the personal space of your parents and other family members. They may have developed new habits in the time you weren’t home, so try to take note of their current personal spaces. My mom’s favorite place to unwind is on the couch with her iPad, so I try to not disturb her when she’s chilling out. My dad prefers a specific chair on the deck, so I won’t sit there when he’s home.
If everyone under the same roof has some sort of personal space to retreat to, co-existing will be a lot easier.
2. Observe & Adapt
When you first move back home, you may expect everything to be just like it was when you left. This is a silly assumption. The lives of your parents probably changed when you (and your siblings, if you have them) moved out in more ways than you might expect.
Observe these changes and look at the way your house generally functions. If your parents kindly allow you to live at home, you should do what you can to not disturb their current way of living. Take note of their lifestyle preferences and do what you can to adapt out of courtesy. It’s their house, after all.
This tip totally depends on your specific family. Maybe your mom loves the sink to stay empty. If that’s the case, do what you can to clean your dishes as quickly as possible. If your folks like the lights to go out by 9PM sharp, respect that rule and work around it. Do your best to be a good roommate.
An example with my dad: He’s a total dog person and really does not like to leave our pups at home alone. Whenever he has to run an errand or leave the house, I try to be available to stay with the dogs, especially if my mom isn’t available. Sure, maybe I want to spend more time out, but it feels good knowing I helped out my dad and respected his preferences.
Another example: My parents and I have always been pretty close and I know they like to spend time with me. I do my best to carve out some time to spend with them, whether that be having dinner together a few nights a week or watching a movie now and then. Sometimes I’d prefer to do stuff alone )I can be a bit of an introvert) but I know spending quality time with my parents makes them happy, so I do it. They’re letting me stay with them, so it’s only right to do what I can to show them I’m grateful for their support.
Be conscious of the lay of the land and make choices that will keep your parents content. You’ll avoid potential conflicts.
3. Pitch In Somehow
This one is related to the previous tip but goes a step further. In general, you should do what you can to help out around your parents’ house. This can be monetary or chore related. It all depends on your specific situation and the living agreement terms within your family.
If you are able to pay your parents rent for your room or help cover utilities, then consider talking to them about doing so. They may appreciate you offering and you’ll feel more responsible handling your own expenses. You can also offer to buy groceries or pay other bills for the house if they would prefer you pocket that rent money.
Regardless of money, help your parents around the house with cleaning, cooking, maintenance, and other domestic tasks. Don’t just clean your bedroom, clean other parts of the house as well and don’t half-ass it. Take out the trash without being asked to do so. Dazzle them with a homemade dinner and bottle of wine occasionally.
Pitching in will show your parents that you respect their home and appreciate their generosity.
4. Make the Most of Your Time
Though I’m not sure how long I’ll stay with my parents, I certainly know that it is temporary. With that in mind, I’m trying do what I can to take advantage of all the good that comes from this brief moment in time, and that includes time itself.
Even with pitching in around the house, I have far less responsibilities than I would if I were trying to pay for rent in Manhattan and a lot more time on my hands as a result. Time can be a blessing or a curse depending on who you ask. I can see how it could be easy to become a little lazier and less motivated when the stakes are low(I have had my fair share of lazy summer days since being home,) but I’m doing my best to stay as active and engaged as I can.
Use the valuable time that living at home gives you and don’t let it pass you by. My extra time is used in a few different ways. I’m taking a lot of time to explore future career options. Exercise is a big part of my life again for the first time in a while, and having the extra time made it easier for me to jump back into it. I’m writing a lot more than I had been and even started this blog since moving home.
Sure, I could’ve done these things while I was living in an apartment on my own, but having the extra time is making it easier to accomplish my goals. I can actually complete my checklists now, and that’s a splendid feeling.
Furthermore, my parents seem happier when I’m more productive. It shows them I’m putting effort into my life and not becoming too passive.
5. Spend Time Away From Home
Look, there’s nothing wrong with being at home a lot (doing so is great if you’re trying to save,) but it is definitely healthy for you to leave the premises of your parents’ property and spend time out and about.
Just because you’re living at home does not mean you should be a homebody. Do what you can to get out now and then, and preferably do so with people your age.
Try to maintain the social life you had when you were living on your own to the best of your ability. Meet friends for dinner and go to local events that interest you. It may not be able to be exactly the same as when you had your own place, particularly when it comes to your dating and sex life, but keeping some of your solo routine will help you feel normal.
Take this to the next level by going on vacations away from home when you can. Whether you stay with a friend in a nearby city for a weekend or fly to Europe for a solo adventure, vacationing without your parents present is a great way to get some space when you need it.
Are you living at home with your parents? Share your experiences and tips in the comments below.