So I did the uncool thing to do upon graduating college...
I moved back in with my parents for a year and a half.
No rent? Living in a home I could never afford on my own? Home-cooked meals?
Uh yeah. Mom and Dad, get ready because I'm coming home.
For some people the idea of moving back in with your parents is unimaginable. Live...with my parents? 24/7? Oh my god, no.
Overall, living with my parents has rocked. Living with my mom and dad taught me so much both about my parents and about myself. I learned who they are as individual adults, not just as my childhood mom and dad.
And in return, my parents got to know the real me. Not the naive child "me", or the rebelish highschool "me", but the fierce, independent, feminist woman I am toady. A individual adult with her own thoughts, ideas, and dreams.
Trust me, living with them was not always rainbows and butterflies. I'm a parent-pleaser. I thrive in the limelight of my parent's approval. And while I shared a living space with them, I definitely didn't always please them.
I learned how to respectfully push against my parent's opinions and judgement, how to challenge their assumptions, and how to face day-to-day frustrations. I learned how to form my own path and form my own opinions outside of what my parents believe. And I had to learn how give them the same space and respect to hold their own beliefs.
My parents and I may not have the same political beliefs. We may disagree on the best ways to spend time and money. But I was reminded of how much I love, respect, and honor them despite our differences.
And I believe you can actually enjoy (and not just endure) living with you parents, despite any differences you may face.
Be prepared to tell people you're living with your parents (And be prepared for some awkwardness).
Oh man, the dreaded, "So where are you living?" question. You're going to get it. You're going to have to answer it.
My advice? Just be honest and let go of the rest. A lot of people will be encouraging. Most people will be awkward. Sadly, some people will be judgmental. (But who NEEDS those judgmental people anyways?)
Here's a sample of the responses I've received why I reply, "I live with my parents."
- "Wow, you're saving so much money!" Why, yes I am.
- "Haha, guess your dating live is going nowhere quickly." That's not really any of your business (but you're right).
- "Omg, how do you do it? I could NEVER do it" Uh...I just do?
No matter their response, just remember you don't need to justify yourself.
You're living your life, making decisions YOU see as best fit. Everyone has their own reasons for where they choose to live. No one has the power to make you feel inferior for a decision YOU made for yourself.
You're in control of your life. You know your reasons for living with your parents.
Take a deep breath, smile, and say, "Why I'm living with my parents!" If you feel at peace when telling people where you live, whoever asked you will pick up on that inner peace and be more likely to respond in a similar positive tone.
Your parents are only human and the only relationship you've had with them thus far is the parent-dependent-child relationship. You're entering a new phase of parent-independent-child relationship. To help your parents transition between the two relationships, it's crucial to set guidelines upfront.
It may be lame to set "rules" with your parents, but laying out expectations up front helps lead to less frustration and miscommunication down the road.
When you set guidelines, you are able to alert your parents in a non-threatening, anti-dramatic way when a boundary is crossed. It's way less threatening to pull people back across the line, rather than try to define lines in the heat of an argument.
"Hey Mom, I know you're frustrated that I haven't made my bed in a week, but we agreed that how I decide to upkeep my room is up to me, remember?"
"Hey Dad, remember how we talked about boundaries? I love hanging out with you and I know you just wanted to chat, but I'd really appreciate you knocking before coming into my room."
See? Not so bad if they've already agreed to a fair set of rules.
Some questions to consider addressing in your boundary conversation:
- What are expectations for financial contribution?
- How much do your parents want to know about your whereabouts?
- What are expectations for household cleaning/maintenance?
Breathe. Compromise. Acknowledge the fact that these compromises won't last forever. A little compromise now will create a lot of peace later.
"When you set guidelines, you are able to alert your parents when a boundary is crossed in a non-threatening, non-dramatic way. If you've already set the ground rules, it's way less threatening to pull people back across the line rather than choose that heated moment to decide rules."
But respect that you're not a full-blown independent adult while living under their roof.
So it kind of sucks, but living with your parents means actually you are not totally financially independent. Which means some strings may be attached. Which means you might have to take out the trash, clean your room past the point of your personal preference, and turn down the music when getting ready in the morning.
If you set appropriate boundaries, these strings should not be materializing out of nowhere in an attempt to manipulate you. They should be laid out up front and expected. Just remember that these compromises is your equivalent to the price of rent.
Make plans. Get out of the house.
Living at home can be super cushy. Home cooked meals every night. Early parent bedtimes. Possibly a magical laundry fairy every now and then?
I personally struggled with staying in the house too much. I love my parents. They're so easy. I don't have to put on make up, or watch what I say, and I can do it all from the comfort of the comfiest couch in the whole world.
When you don't have a roommate, the spontaneous mid-twenty adventures don't come around as often. You're not living with someone your age, randomly asking you to tag along to a concert, inviting you out for drinks with her new work friends, or staying up late watching the Bachelor with you.
Since your random opportunities for social interaction aren't there, schedule those moments. Make plans to get after-work drinks with a new co-worker. Attend a Bachelorette viewing with college girlfriends. Offer to try a new restaurant with a friend you haven't seen in a while.
Do your best to create a sense of independence within your parents home. Investing in friendships will only help you when you do eventually decide to move out.
"Acknowledge that the rest of your life will be brimming with friends, significant, others, and one day, maybe kids, and that this season is a special season to love your parents as adults.
Fully and completely enjoy this time with your parents. You're creating a deep and lifelong relationship with them and that is so special and valuable. "
But...Don't forget to stay in too. You move back in with your parents once (In theory).
Soak up those Wednesday nights with your parents, joining them in a glass of wine on the patio.
Savor working alongside your mom, cutting veggies, talking about your day.
Acknowledge that the rest of your life will be brimming with friends, significant, others, and one day, maybe kids, and that this season is a special season to love your parents as adults.
Fully and completely enjoy this time with your parents. You're creating a deep and lifelong relationship with them and that is so special and valuable.
Questions for you...
Did you ever live with your parents? What worked for you? What didn't?