You live in a world unlike your parents. Their twenties were met with the expectation of home ownership, marriage, and children by 25. Now, if you have a job and health insurance, that’s considered a significant victory. There’s no shame living with Mom and Dad after graduation, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. If you’re about to make the transition back under your parents’ roof or you live there now, here are six challenges to be aware of and solutions to keep you (and them) sane.
1. Loss of freedom
Want to fist pump to Icona Pop until 3 a.m. in college? Go do it. Enjoy shoveling tasty Saturday brunch from the dining hall wearing sweatpants in the afternoon without judgment? No problem. Living with your parents means those days are over. Even if you’re fortunate to have “cool” parents who treat you as the adult you are, you can no longer do exactly what you want, when you want. It’s tough because you’ve tasted the freedom that comes with living on your terms, but now your actions are dictated not only by your approval, but also what’s acceptable for your parents.
2. Adapting to someone’s living style
No longer are you the captain of your household. Even if you lived with roommates in college, they were your peers. You were all on equal footing in terms of sharing rent, household responsibilities, and input into your living situation. Now that you’re living with your parents, they set the rules. If you enjoy burying your head under the covers until midday on the weekends, but your parents rise early, you might have to adjust your natural preferences.
3. Clash of expectations
You graduate with a business degree, but you slowly realize you’re actually more interested in social work helping homeless youths find employment and housing. As you take time to find a job that best fits your interests, your parents grow upset that you aren’t applying your business degree. There’s a clear conflict about how you’re supposed to live your life. Your parents may want different things for you. Normally you’d be able to say, “thanks Mom and Dad, your suggestions are great, but I’m going to do this my way.” However, since you live under their roof, their opinion carries greater weight.
4. Loss of privacy
“Who was on the phone?” asks your Mom as she bursts into your childhood room. “What are you up to right now? I need to use your laptop for a while.” Your parents mean well, but it’s frustrating sometimes to feel like you don’t have room to breathe. While you’re living with Mom and Dad it’s easy to feel like you’re on Big Brother—always being monitored. If you’re introverted and need alone time to recharge, those quiet moments can become more fleeting while living with your parents.
You did everything right. Graduated high school, passed those damn SATs, poured over thick textbooks while researching for difficult finals, took on debt to earn a college degree, endured unpaid internships, and now … you live at home with your Mom and Dad. It’s eerie sleeping in your childhood bed when you’re no longer a child. This can hurt how you view yourself because your living situation isn’t the picture you envisioned when you dragged your possessions into your dorm room freshman year. You must remember you’re not alone. Just because you don’t live independently yet isn’t a reflection on your worth, it’s a reflection on the difficult times many Millennials endure.
6) Awkward Social-life: You meet a cool guy. He buys you dinner and you tell him funny stories. You share laughs. You want to go back to your house, relax, and continue the evening. Oh wait that’s right. You’re living with Mom and Dad! Your parents might not even mind you entertaining company at home, but later questions arrive like the NSA. “Who was that? Where did you meet? When are you going to hang out again?” Creating a dynamic social life—especially dating—isn’t impossible while living at your parents’ house, but it’s not the same as inviting your friends and significant others over on whim.
So how do you deal with it?
Sit down with your parents, preferably before you move in. Even if you live there now it’s not too late. Say “look Mom and Dad, I am thankful for you letting me stay here. I want to make this temporary transition easy for you. What expectations do you have for me living here?”
This talk is critical to your sanity (and theirs). By openly discussing your expectations, you allow everyone to join the same page. Many disagreements between parents and their adult children happen because they operate from two different rule books. Consistent, open dialogue creates clear boundaries and expectations about your time living at home and leads to less stress for everyone. Then, when actions occur breaking those boundaries, you and your parents have an established mutually-agreed reference point.
The second action is express gratitude. Tell your parents you appreciate them letting you stay with them temporarily. Show them you don’t take their hospitality for granted. Your parents, like everyone, want to feel appreciated. You can show thanks by performing small actions like taking care of chores without being told, occasionally pitching in for a cheap $10 pizza for Thursday night dinner or offering to walk the dog. These gestures help not only lighten your parents’ responsibilities, but also generates tremendous goodwill for you.
Lastly, get out of the house. Spend time with friends after work (if you’re employed). Volunteer. Join an adult sports league. Even if you are desperately unemployed, make a point to get outside daily for a long walk. If you trap yourself inside your parents’ house, you will feel even more resentful of your situation, which might lead to arguments with your parents. If you find activities and people you enjoy spending time with outside your Mom and Dad’s house, you will appreciate the short time you live there more.
Do you currently live with your parents after college? What was your biggest challenge and how what method helped keep you sane and happy?