If you’re a millennial and you currently live with your parents, you are not alone. According to a study from the Pew Research Center, 33 percent of Americans aged 25 to 29 were firmly back in the nest in 2016. That said, moving back in with your parents isn’t always the easiest of decisions to make — it can feel like a huge step backward. You may feel like you’ve lost your independence or been defeated by “adulthood.” Of course, the stigma surrounding it certainly doesn’t help things either.
As with all hard pills we’ve been forced to swallow, there are ways to make the most out of this situation. It’s not completely impossible to respect your parents’ home and rules while still living a life of your own. If you’ve found yourself compelled to move back home, here’s how you can limit the upheaval and make the transition as smooth as possible.
The Emotional Aspect
As an adult, your relationship with your parents needs to change from a vertical one to a horizontal one. That means you need to treat your parents as fellow adults, rather than engaging with them as a child. Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done.
If there were points of contention before you moved out, they need to be addressed head-on when you move back in. For example, if talking about politics always ends in a screaming match, make it clear early on that this is now an off-limits topic. Communicate openly with your parents and address any problems as they arise.
The House Rules
Whether your parents are strict or fairly easy-going when it comes to house rules, you won’t know what their expectations are unless you actually ask. As soon as you move back in, have an open discussion with your parents about what rules they expect you to follow. Some basic ground rules you might consider include when you can have company, if significant others can spend the night, and guidelines for respecting each others’ privacy.
Moving back home with your parents doesn’t have to change everything. You should absolutely continue doing the things that make you happy and give meaning to your life, such as spending time with friends and volunteering in the community. However, it’s important to keep your parents informed of your plans. Let them know when you will be out late so they can make dinner arrangements and plan for time alone together.
“Pulling Your Weight”
It’s easy to fall into child-parent roles when you move back in with your parents, but it’s important to not let this happen. Start by drawing up a written agreement to outline the expenses that you are expected to cover, such as rent, groceries, or utilities. Then, volunteer to take on certain chores. You could cook dinner a few times a week, do the dishes, sweep and vacuum, walk the dog, mow the lawn, and run errands. It goes without saying that you should keep your room and common areas tidy. Most importantly, you should do these things without your parents having to ask you to.
When paying bills, it’s important to do so on time (early is better.) If you don’t, you could end up hurting your parents’ credit score. Paying the mortgage on time is especially important as not doing so can lead to penalties and the loss of the payment grace period.
The Silver Lining
Thanks to lackluster retirement savings, many baby boomers can’t afford to retire. And since the aging population is experiencing a boom of its own (by 2050, there will be 83.7 million adults aged 65 or older), jobs for senior citizens are likely to become scarce. By cohabitating with your parents, you can help take on some of the expenses they normally carry and allow them a more comfortable retirement.
On a lighter note, living with your parents gives you the opportunity to get to know them better. Eat meals together at least once a week, plan movie nights, and spend some time talking about things you’ve never talked about before. Enjoy your time with one another — you won’t regret it.
Though it may seem like it at first, moving back in with your parents isn’t the end of the world. Instead of viewing it as a failure, look at it as an opportunity to get to know your parents as an adult. Appreciate this time you have together and be grateful for it. Many people don’t have the privilege of having a soft place to land when things get rough, so acknowledge that being able to live affordable, safely, and with people who truly love you is actually something incredibly special.
Do you live with your parents? What are your tips for making it work?
Also by Liz: Being “Friends” With Your Parents Is Actually Possible–5 Lovely Ways To Bond
Related: How I’m More Like My Parents Than I Realized
Why Many Millennials Have Decided to Be Childfree (And That’s Okay)
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