Moving Back Into the Nest: A Survival GuideShannon Robb

Moving back in with your parents is hard. I should know – I did. After 7 and 1/2 years of college and law school, I’m back in the nest and it sure is small these days. This is the first of many Augusts in which I will not be packing up most of my belongings (and fun stuff) and moving back to school. And, let me tell you, it is a really weird feeling. About this time every year, like clockwork, I’d be saying my goodbyes until Thanksgiving, getting pumped about seeing my friends at school and yes, living out on my own. But, things change and loans come knocking on the door and jobs are hard to come by, and like many of my friends, I was forced back into my old bedroom at home. Not to worry though, I’ve come up with a list of things that have helped me, and will help you, survive the transition.

A space of your own: This is key – in order to survive living under your parents’ roof, again, you need to have a space that’s all yours. Be it your old (and now current) bedroom, a den, an office, a mancave (girlcave?), whatever. Seriously. Coming back into a house where you’re  no longer alone is jarring, and a space that’s all yours will be a welcome sight. Repaint it, redecorate it, buy some new pillows, do something to make it feel new and homey and put your mark on it.

A good set of headphones: Noise canceling if you can afford ‘em. Because, no matter where you are in the house, there’s always going to be something going on (especially if you’re like me and you have a big Italian family where drop-ins are a regular occurrence). Headphones are a GODSEND. You can tune everyone and everything out (in the space of your own), or still spend time with your parents, but engage in a new and different activity.

A workout routine: Trust me – even if you’re not a regular, having an exercise plan helps get you out of the house, keeps you active and can help alleviate any stress you may feel being back at home. Even just daily walking around the neighborhood, biking or your regular gym routine. Plus, it’s a great way to maybe meet new people. Or just get out into society a little bit.

Good storage space: Prioritizing what you can feasibly move back with you and what is going to need to go into storage is super important. There’s no way all the stuff you had when you were out on your own is going to be able to come back in, or even get used. Selling some of it before you move back home (old dishes, books, DVDs, clothes, that ratty couch you had with weird food stains on it) is a good way to pocket some money and save on some space. Figure out what you can’t live without, what you can live without but want to save and what you just don’t need anymore and stick to it! Finding good storage space, whether it’s a rental or the garage, will save you some stress.

Now for some of the fun stuff:

Alcohol (if you’re 21+, duh): No, I’m not condoning becoming an alcoholic (times aren’t that hard), but it’s nice to have some beers or a nice bottle of wine set away for those times when you’ve just had it up to here. Or, it’s also a nice way to bond with the ‘rents again. Open that bottle and watch the funny come out. Crack open a beer with Dad while you watch the game with him (it doesn’t matter which game, which sport or even if you like it), sharing that family time will make you both feel good. Unless your house has somehow managed to include a Yankees/Red Sox or Cowboys/Giants or Celtics/Lakers split. Then, the beer might be a necessity.

A shoe budget: If you’re living at home like me to save money (no rent, no groceries), then you might, MIGHT, have some flexibility to set aside some money each month or couple of months for some much needed retail therapy.  Who doesn’t like new shoes? Or purses? I mean, make sure you can still cover your loan payments and your phone payments, and don’t add too much onto that credit card that’s burning a hole in your pocket, but get out and have some fun.  Hitting sales with mom is a good way to kill a weekend afternoon, and again, engage in some bonding. Especially if you’ve been away at school for a while. And hey, you might even get some swag out of it. Or at least a free lunch.

 A good group of friends: This might be one of the most important survival tips you can have for moving back home. If you’ve been lucky enough to keep some of those good/best friends from high school, and you’re lucky enough that they live in the same area- go out and paint the town with them! I know I’d be crazy right now if I didn’t have my small group of friends. Every time I came home I made sure that we hung out, and while I was at school I made sure we kept in touch. It’s been wonderful coming back home to people who already know me. And now I have people to go and do stuff with and reacquaint myself with the city. Plus, I can always count on my friends to have open ears and hearts when I need to get out of the house. Also, don’t forget about the people you left! Whether you all moved away or back home, or you’re one of the few who moved on, keep in touch as best as you can! It’s hard once everyone starts working full time, but emails, texts and even stupid, funny, Facebook posts keep everyone connected in the smallest ways. Try to save up money for visits, sign up for Skype if you haven’t already, and remember that the phone works both ways.

Your own activities: Along with having your own space, make sure you have activities you can do on your own. Things you liked doing before, or things you’ve just discovered. Maybe you’ve taken up knitting (cheap, fun, Christmas presents), or reading, or blogging or hiking. Something that you can do when you want your alone time or just don’t feel like watching the same tv show with your parents. Books, DVDs, a guitar, who knows. The world is your oyster. Just don’t ignore your parents too much, they are feeding you again!

 A good sense of humor: Most importantly, you’re going to need a good sense of humor. And humility. Moving back home is going to be stressful, even if you and your parents have the best relationship ever. It’s hard coming back into the house you left, after being independent and on your own. Sometimes it’s even hard coming back to the city or town that you left- especially if you were living it up in the big city during school. But, with a good sense of humor, and an ability to see past the situation, it can work. I am so grateful that my parents had the ability to have me back in their home. The home they expected would be theirs and theirs alone. We all know that there are so many people my age in the same boat and we roll with the punches. The ability to laugh at myself, and my parents, has been the most important factor.

Just keep in mind – it’s not the worst thing that could happen and there are a lot of other people in the same boat. It may feel like a lonely boat at times, and it’s not always easy but, isn’t it better than living off of ramen noodles and scrounging for laundry money? Yes, it definitely is.

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  1. I’m feeling all of this. After my husbands job change we’ve had to move into my parents house with our two children. It’s really hard! They do nothing the way my husband and I would and it’s stressing us out! But I think this article is a good reminder of the things I can do to keep my sanity. Thank you

  2. Oh jeeze – this is exactly what I’m going through now! It’s tough stuff and the future feels exceptionally daunting. The tips are great though – the sense of humour is one I will DEFINITELY try more, along with picking up a new hobby to occupy my restless-moments. I’m thinking the violin!

  3. I have had to live with my parents on and off a couple of times, and I wish I had read an article like this for the first time! I am now looking at possibly moving back in with my dad, and will have to consider all of this again, because lets face it, after living on my own for about five years now, I have accumulated a lot of stuff. Some of this also seems like sound advise for if you are getting ready to move in with someone.

  4. So timely! Thank you!

  5. Thank you for this article! I moved back home this summer because I just graduated in May and am doing a year of an unpaid internship. Your list is pretty much everything I’ve been doing to remain sane!

  6. This is so true! And I’ve been back home for only 2 months (and used to visit basically every week while away)! I love my parents, my grandparents, my friends…but I do miss the city life so much! Working as a freelance in tv is definitely not stable… hopefully something will come up in the fall (and I’ll move out again!)