If you are reading this because you, too, are still living at home, don’t feel bad. According to a recent study by Ohio State University, nearly one-third of people between the ages of 25 and 34 say that they’re either living with their parents or have recently done so. I happen to be one of them. I lost my job and moved back home, and I’m here to tell you it is not easy, especially when you live with a single mom. We’ve had lots of fights, some heated conversations, and plenty of compromises—but we made it work. And you can, too! I’ve gathered some survival tips, which will make returning to your family home more peaceable, and perhaps even the springboard you need to motivate you into Round 2 of adult life.
1. Set Boundaries
By default, the act of living with a parent or two in the house you grew up in is going to re-instill old roles—you are the kid again. As in any relationship, the act of setting boundaries is extremely important, and should be done before you officially move back in. If you are already living with Mom and Dad and resent having to tell them where you’re going, who with, and when you’ll be home, it’s time to sit down with your folks and firmly establish that your situation is temporary and you are an adult now. It will help if you put your money where your mouth is—make financial contributions whenever possible. If you’re paying for rent, food, and utilities, you are technically their tenant, and your parents need to respect that and try to keep your business and personal relationships separate.
2. Be Responsible
If you act like a kid, they’re going to treat you like one. And who can blame them? Living with your parents doesn’t mean you have to regress to being a teenager. Don’t leave your clothes on the bathroom floor and dirty dishes in the sink, don’t eat all the food in the fridge, and don’t return the car with an almost empty tank. Instead, rewire your parents’ view of you by showing some responsibility and behaving like an adult.
3. Make Some Family Time
From the day we are born, our parents are responsible for us, but this level of responsibility varies depending on our stage in life. There’s a big difference between parenting a rambunctious toddler and a young adult who is juggling a full-time job and college classes, but you might need to remind your parents of this. Having you back home is going to bring up old feelings in your parents, who probably still see you in some ways as the 18-year-old you once were. You may be used to staying out until four in the morning, strolling in after a party and eating everything in the fridge, then sleeping until noon, but trust me, it’s not a way to keep the peace while you’re living with Mom and Dad. You may be an adult, but they’re still your parents and it’s their house. Show them you appreciate it and interact with them. Make time for your family, even if it’s just a cup of coffee and some time to catch up each week. They’ll appreciate it.
4. Don’t Get Comfortable
Maybe you can’t afford to pay rent, or at least not much. Maybe you’re jobless, or holding down a part-time job. Either way, you have more time and less responsibility than you would if you had your own place. Time is money. Use this time to improve your situation. Make sure that each day you move closer to getting out the door, not becoming more comfy in your old bunk bed.
5. Don’t Get Sucked In
This pertains especially to living with a single parent. Don’t allow your temporary living situation to fill an emotional void. The worst thing you can do is to become a pseudo-husband or wife. Sometimes, rather than your parent becoming more parent-like, you may be tempted to take care of your dad or your mom in a way their significant other never could. Be careful with this, as it can lead to disappointment or, worse, having your parent not want you to move out and lead your own grown-up life. Remembering your role in a relationship is crucial to living-at-home success.
They say everything happens for a reason, and the older I get, the more I find this to be true. Before I moved back home I was in a crappy, unhappy roommate situation, which I left for a crappy, unhappy living situation with my mom. As Eminem said, “I guess I had to go to that place to get to this one.” Being back at home with my mom taught me a lot about her, but even more about myself. I learned that we argue because we are so very much alike. Living with my mom has also shown me how much I’ve matured. I truly love Mom, but we weren’t meant to live together forever. This realization caused me to become proactive about my career, and in many ways I have my sometimes irrational, yet hardworking mother to thank for that.
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