It turns out that you can definitely go home again. I know because I did.
I left my childhood home at age 18, bound for college. After graduating at 22, I moved to New York City and began a career as a writer and reporter. The seven years of life and work that followed completely changed my plans, desires, and circumstances.
So when I moved back home at 29, my parents had to meet their adult son all over again. It was an adjustment for all involved. Mom and Dad sacrificed space, routine, and some degree of privacy in hosting me. I had to design a new way to conduct myself; where I had once been a single guy in New York City, largely free to do as I pleased, I now needed to identify new boundaries and carve out a routine within them.
In any event, my live-at-home arrangement with my parents was a simple one: As long as I was earning money, I was free to stay with them. Working from a paranoia stoked by my parents’ dictum, “We charge rent when you stop making money,” I found myself signing a new apartment lease shortly after my 30th birthday.
Read on to soak up the wisdom I gained in my 11-month-long tour of duty with Mom and Dad. Living with your parents can be a positive, enjoyable experience if you try. Here’s what worked for me.
As a young adult in the US, it’s easy to feel vague shame when your parents are also your roommates. But plenty of American millennials are living at home — according to recent research from Zillow, 28% of college-educated 20-somethings live with their parents.
In other parts of the world, this is simply business as usual. In Egypt, kids often leave home only for marriage, and Italian adults might live with their parents for a variety of reasons, according to ABC News. If you live at home, you’re in good global company.
Get a job! In my case, I set up shop as a freelance writer. You are bound to feel your freedom being hampered when you live with Mom and Dad, but having money is a version of freedom. Income lets you go out for drinks with friends and buy yourself nice things.
Beyond this surface-level stuff, earning money places you several rungs higher on the household ladder. It puts you in a position to contribute, which leads immediately to my next point.
The bigger idea here is “find ways to ease your burden on Mom and Dad".
The fridge couldn’t stay full enough, and I was a big part of the reason why. It was a no-brainer for me to spend a little money on the occasional grocery run.
Mom and Dad didn’t keep financial score on the food I ate, because my gesture of bringing resources into the house was more valuable than the eggs that disappeared every morning.
In simplest terms: Clean your room. The bonus power move is to tidy up after your parents, but beware of doing so passive aggressively.
Nothing will solidify your family unit quite like eating together on the regular. Ask your parents about their days, their friends, and their plans. Have positive things to say when they ask you about yours.
Put your dishes in the dishwasher when you’re finished eating. You likely know these moves from when you were younger.
How better to avoid the negative, stereotypical perception of “stay-at-home loser” than by visiting new places and doing interesting things? In my case, I took a twice-a-week Russian class and joined a local chess club.
No matter how small or undesirable you consider your hometown, there is worthwhile community to be found outside of your family.
Do you drink and smoke? Do you have a beloved vice that is totally alien to your parents? Minimise it, hide it, or replace it with something constructive.
How do you want to remember your time with your parents? Disagreements are probably inevitable, but screaming matches are a choice. The ball is in your court to tip the scales in favour of positive memories over negative memories.
One way or another, you will have your own living space in time. So pass that time with your parents peacefully.
These are the people who created you, after all.
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