Many adults – including recent college graduates, the late 20s entrepreneur or the early 30s starving artist – are moving back in with their parents, the reasons being to “get stuff in order”, “figure out what the next move is” or “my parents just really need me right now” – basically any justification that isn’t “I’m broke, not sure what to do with my life, my credit sucks, and I have no other options.”
As much as I’ve justified why I’ve moved back to my hometown and in with my parents to random people I used to know, I won’t try and justify it to you. I moved home four months ago and will be here two more months until I move to NYC. And I turned 31 in August. I can’t tell you how hard it is to admit that, even though I don’t know you, I still care what you think.
After college I moved to Vail, CO for 3 years, then moved to Dallas, TX for a little over 5 years. I have not lived at home since I was 18 and started college. I was in a four-year relationship that ended, was renting a place I could barely afford and watching my credit drop each month. I was straight up unhappy and going nowhere. I can’t tell you how hard I tried to find other options. THERE HAS TO BE OTHER OPTIONS, but really there wasn’t. I knew I was moving to NYC at the beginning of the year, but recognized it was all a dream (shout out to Biggie) unless I saved all my money. What’s the best place to save all your money? Home sweet home. Or, home sweet kill-me-now-I’m-moving-back-in-with-my-parents- home. So whether you’re fresh out of college, a 27-year-old who put all his money into a business that failed or a 31-year-old writer, the circumstance doesn’t matter, it’s all the same: you’re going home. I’m here to tell you what to expect and how to manage staying sane.
The first 2 weeks will be hell. Pure. Hell. Just know that going in. You realize instantly your parents aren’t treating this like all of the times you came home to visit, they are treating it how it is: you’re a guest, you’re under their roof and you follow their rules. Just as much of a change as it is for you, you have to remember it’s also a huge change for them. They have a level of comfort they’ve gotten used to since the kids have been gone for 10 plus years, they have their routines (like instantly deleting ANYTHING ON THE DVR BECAUSE THEY DON’T WANT IT TO GET TOO FULL, WHAT!?!) and you are messing up their game. This is also when you realize your parents have more game than you. So the first two weeks you will constantly feel suffocated, like you have no freedom. You will instantly decide this is the worst decision you’ve ever made, you will feel like you’re walking on egg shells and have at least two panic attacks. But if you can make it through the first two weeks, you can make it through the long haul. Each day just do whatever you can to make it through, think positive and yes, officially do your change of address, which will be much harder to do than you think, because it makes it super real.
After the first few weeks, everyone will start to settle down a bit and become more comfortable with the change. One of the biggest things you can do to make this experience better for everyone is to treat your parents with a huge amount of respect. You are a guest, so be a good guest. Be thankful for the AMAZING WASHER AND DRYER THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO PUT COINS INTO, but don’t just throw your stuff in there like you would have when you lived at home as a kid and expect your mom to have them folded for you later. You’ve been doing your own laundry on your own for however long, don’t let that change when you move home.
You will also realize you have food. Like, everywhere you look, there is food. Homemade food. Fresh fruit. Good snacks. This will briefly overwhelm you, because you’re used to day-old Chinese take out and beer and, well, pretty much just that. Don’t take advantage of this, though. The trick here is to offer… actually, don’t even offer – just tell your parents you are making dinner at least one night a week. This shows them that you respect the fact they are now buying groceries for you as well, and it lets them have a night off cooking. You won’t feel guilty about eating their food because you’re contributing, not just taking.
Be honest with your parents. The hardest thing about this process is feeling like a disappointment to them. But sugarcoating things, or making up false reasons you’ve moved back home gets you nowhere, and your parents are smarter than that anyways. Tell them what is going on in your life. That you’re confused, broke, made some bad decisions, can’t get a job or whatever. Just totally open up. You will be amazed at how understanding and supportive they will be when they see how honest and sincere you are being.
Don’t set a timetable. In your head you know – YOU ABSOLUTELY KNOW – you will only be home for one month, if that. Maybe you really believe that, but setting a timetable that is unrealistic will only complicate things down the road. You’re coming home, you don’t know how long you will be there and asking for a little patience goes a long way.
You will find that going out for drinks, dinner, basically entire social life is gone, or if you’re anything like me, it will be. You don’t want to go catch up with random people you went to high school with that never left or have to tell 50 different people you haven’t seen in years that you are back home living with your parents. It will slowly start to kill you inside.
But here’s where things get really strange: you will start hanging out with your parents, and you will like it. There will be a moment, around the second month or so, where you look at your Facebook timeline and realize the majority of your posts have your mom or dad or both tagged in them. “Sake Bombs at The Sushi House! – with Scott Dean and Karen Dean.” “Watching Project Runway and my dad just can’t stand Ven, totally agree. –With Scott Dean.” What. Is. Happening. Your parents are starting to be your BFFs. Deep breaths, people. It’s okay. You’ve always looked at your parents as your parents, but now you are seeing a total different side to them. You see how funny they are, how actually cool they are, and how fun it is to hang with them, your pals, not your parents. There will even come a time when Friday night rolls around and you are kind of expecting them to hang, but then you find out they are going out with their friends to see a play and you’ll be like, “Oh cool, totally, have fun!” but when they leave, you’ll be like, “Wonder what they are doing now, if that play is any good? Who are these ‘friends’ anyways?” It will be one of your more “pathetic” feeling moments during this time. When they come home you will jump off the couch faster than the dogs with a million questions about how the night went. Again, deep breaths.
You’re an adult, and your parents know that. But that doesn’t mean you can go out and stumble home at 3am all the time. Be respectful. Let them know ahead of time you’re going out, and it might be a late one, and if they hear someone toasting a pop tart at 4am not to worry. You are under their roof, and you are an adult, so act like an adult in those kinds of situations. The more respect you give them, the more respect you will get in return.
Communicate. Let them know what you’re thinking about in regards to your future, what ideas or plans you have, what you hope to work out. You will end up getting great advice, and total non-judgmental advice at that. Your parents want the absolute best for you, and totally have your back. They aren’t telling you what to do or what not to do, they are supporting your ideas, offering their opinions, but ultimately letting you figure all this out on your own.
Turn a negative into a positive. The one thing you should take advantage of while you’re back home is getting to know your parents in a different way, and spending quality time with them. Take the dogs on walks with your mom each evening; sit on the back porch while your dad smokes a cigar and talk about nothing. I’ve learned more about my parents in the past 4 months, more than what I’d known about them the previous 30 years. Listening to their stories about falling in love, bad dates, trying pot, how they went through very similar struggles. It’s beyond strange but you will actually see them differently. You will see them as people, not just your parents. It’s a super weird but wonderful thing that happens organically over your time back home.
Lastly, be supportive. Help out in any way you can. Don’t sleep until 11 each day. Do chores or little things around the house without having them ask you to. Help out in any way, and just try to be a positive thing in their life. Don’t feel sorry for yourself the entire time, be thankful you have parents who are so supportive and want nothing but the best for you, and know that most people don’t have that in their lives. Most people don’t have the opportunity to move back home with their parents and complain about it.
It’s not easy, and you will have multiple times you start to pack your bags to leave because you just can’t stand it anymore, you need your freedom, and you just can’t take it any longer. You will have bad fights with your mom or dad or both, and things will be bad for a few days. No matter what, your parents will not understand certain things, they will not see things the way you do, but you have to accept that. Keeping your mouth shut is half the battle, and as annoyed or irritated as you might get, it’s nothing you won’t be over in a couple of hours or by the next day.
In time, you will start to feel healthier, both mentally and physically, you will realize life has slowed down a bit, and you will feel calm and optimistic. And maybe, you will see that moving home was the best possible thing you could have done. Eventually, your plans will come together, your move date will be set, and you will start to think how much you’ll miss your parents, but more than anything, you’ll miss two of your new best friends.
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