Leah Di Paola
June 12, 2015 7:00 am

If you’re one of the many millennials currently living at home with your parents, fear not. Times are hard and living on your own (especially in major cities) is becoming increasingly difficult to do. After living by myself in a studio apartment for seven months, and being unemployed for one, I found myself moving back in with my dad because I could no longer afford to live on my own without racking up massive amounts of debt. If you’re lucky enough to have parents living nearby, and if they offer to help you out, there should be no shame in moving back home. Trust me, I felt like a 26-year old failure for having to move back, but it’s such a commonality these days – and the reasons to do so vary so much – that there is really nothing to feel ashamed of.

If you DO find yourself moving back in with one, or both parents, there are some things I’ve learned that can make the transition much easier, and drama-free for everyone.

Respect their boundaries and set your own

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The first thing to remember is: you are all adults now and should treat each other as such. Whether they’ve given you your childhood room back, or the guest room downstairs, utilize that bedroom as your own space, and stay out of theirs as much as possible. You don’t have to avoid each other, but if you’ve been out of the house for a while, your parents have gotten used to you not being around. Trust me – it’s an adjustment for them too. Be aware of not leaving your items strewn about the house. Don’t barge into their room without knocking. Don’t let them barge into yours without knocking either. Whatever the dynamic was when you were living together in the past doesn’t matter anymore. There must be mutual respect now in order to co-exist as adults.

Help out with household items and buy your own food

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In most respects, living at home means you have roommates who just happen to be related. Try to view them as such. If you split things like toilet paper, dish soap, or paper towels when you lived with someone else, do the same with your parents. They’ll respect you more if they don’t feel like you’re using them for their toiletries. Also, buy your own groceries and don’t be stingy about sharing, especially if they give you access to their food. And if you finish something off – like a carton of eggs, or a bag of bread – replace it.

If you’re not paying rent, help pay utilities

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My dad wanted me to move back home so I could save up, so he’s not charging me rent. However, he charges me for utilities (water, electricity, internet, television), and that helps us both feel better. I feel like I’m contributing something while still saving the money I would have spent on rent, and he feels like I’m not free-loading.

Clean up after yourself

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This should go without saying, but if you’re a bad roommate, it doesn’t matter if the person you’re living with is a parent or a college friend – they’re going to resent you. Wash your own dishes, and clean up after yourself when you cook. If you share a bathroom, wipe up your hair from the sink. Don’t leave your clothes all over the floor. Treat your parents the way you’d expect a roommate to treat you. And don’t be afraid to request they clean up after themselves too if they’re the ones leaving the mess and it makes you crazy. Mutual respect goes a long way.

Don’t let them treat you like a child, but don’t act like one either

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Don’t feel like you can’t do anything fun now that you’re living at home again, but also don’t invite 30 of your closest friends over when your parents are upstairs trying to sleep.  My dad is single, works from home during the day and likes to go out at night, and I work long hours starting early in the morning, and like being home to decompress for the rest of the evening. If I want to bring friends over, I make sure to tell my dad beforehand. Likewise, he’ll tell me if he’s having a friend over so I can stay out of the way or just leave the house.

You can have totally different lifestyles and still be respectful of the fact that they’re your parents, and you’re their child without it being overbearing. If issues like drinking, smoking, or a curfew comes up, just talk to them. Be reasonable, open, and honest, and they’ll probably be more likely to work with you on any issues that may arise.

Look at it as a temporary solution

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Whatever your situation, moving back home should always be seen as just a step and not a permanent solution (in most cases, but there are many exceptions, of course). If you don’t know what your goals are, that’s fine – many of us don’t, but you’re in a safe place to begin figuring it out. Moving back home should be a leg-up, not a crutch. Don’t get comfy in your ways and decide you never need to move out. Some parents would be okay with their kids never leaving, and some parents can’t wait until their kids leave. Every family is different. But if you’re living back at home with your parents, especially after living on your own for some time, you shouldn’t be treating them as the final stop. I needed to get out of debt and save up to move out again on my own, so I moved back home. Set a goal, and stick with it. The last thing you want to do is overstay your welcome, or get so used to your comfort zone that you never intend to be an adult on your own. It truly is a fine line to walk.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

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The secret to any healthy living situation is open communication. Don’t move back home with any assumptions; make sure both you and your parents lay down some ground rules, but be open to rules changing once you’re there. If an uncomfortable issue arises, don’t let a lot of time pass before discussing it. Get it out in the open so you can all establish what the proper way to handle it in the future is, apologize if necessary, and then move on.

In general, be as easy-going and patient as possible

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At the end of the day, you’re the young adult living in your parents’ home, and as easy-going as they may be about it, there can be some uncomfortable moments from time to time as you try to navigate living together again and reestablishing rules and household courtesies. The more laid-back you are about accepting what’s comfortable to them, the better it will be for everyone. And at the end of the day, if you’re having a hard time dealing with it, you can always just leave for a bit to clear your head and blow off some steam. Remember: whether you live with your parents or not, you’re still an adult.

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