I recently said "screw it" to my life in Los Angeles and moved back to my hometown of New York City. Real estate here being the nightmare it is, I’m temporarily living at home with my mom until I find a place ... a reality that’s been super-sexy to explain on first dates. Trust me, I know I’m incredibly lucky to have a nice apartment to stay in while my life gets sorted. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to feel like my independence has regressed. Every question, whether it’s asking about whom I’m going out with or why I’m cooking Easy Mac in my underwear at 4 a.m., requires explaining. I know I’m her kid but I’m not a kid — so why does my mom incessantly ask what time I’ll be home?
Luckily, I’m not alone. Out of school or out of a job, moving back home is a necessary evil for so many of today’s adults. While it’s easier on the checkbook, it’s a tough adjustment for everyone. Living under your parents’ roof can make you (and them) feel insane or even homicidal, but we’re all adults here. Whether it’s just for the summer or until you get back on your feet, here are some tips to make it work.
1. Remember: You’re Not A Child
You don’t slam doors or lock yourself in the bathroom with your friends, so why is it okay to behave like a cranky 13-year old around your parents? It’s not.
Resist falling into your childhood habits. Set your own alarm in the morning, do your own laundry, and when Mom or Dad harps on your posture or life choices, breathe, do yoga, practice a 15-second meditation, or excuse yourself and go for a walk. Just try not to react with unnecessary drama that raises everyone’s blood pressure. Act like a level-headed adult and, hopefully, the sentiment will be reflected in their treatment.
While I'm telling you to keep your cool, I also know it's not easy. You probably have other things on your mind, like looking for a job or dating drama, so things like Dad “cleaning up” by throwing all of your mail in the garbage can put you over the edge.
You’re entitled to your feelings, but don’t let them build up and prevent you from rising above. Tending to your emotional health will keep you sane and put you in a more grounded place. I grab a journal and head to the local café to get things off my chest and work through my thoughts. If writing’s not your thing, have lunch with a supportive friend who won’t mind hearing you vent, or make a weekly appointment with a professional. Whatever or whoever it is, make sure this outlet is constructive and easily accessible for those oncoming meltdowns. Putting words to your feelings will make you feel better and can remind you that the small stuff is, well, small.
3. Respect Each Other's Space & Go Solo
Mom overhears your phone conversations and chimes in with her two-cents. You have a lot to say about how much Netflix Dad binges on. Everyone is in each other’s business. Respect each other’s space and create boundaries. Set aside some alone time every day. You need it and they need it.
My Mom has a friend over for wine and chitchat every Monday evening, so I scram and take the opportunity for a movie or barre class — anything where I can enjoy some time in my own head. In exchange, she doesn’t complain when I ask her to schedule a couple of hours to have the house to myself to do whatever I want in peace and privacy. These small, respectful concessions make everyone feel more independent, and less like prisoners.
4. Spend Quality Time Outside The House Together
Just like with a significant other, the routine of living with someone can make it easy to take each other for granted. Your parents like you enough to help you out, so a willingness to hang out will be appreciated.
Get out of the house and do something you all enjoy (watching the news together on the couch while scrolling your phones doesn’t count). Pick an activity that’s relaxing for everyone and won’t cause stress. Check out a museum, grab a picnic spot in the park, or take a day-cation to explore a nearby town. If it’s in your budget, take the initiative to treat them. The time together will remind you that you’re sharing a home with people you love, not just landlords.
5. Try To Be Grateful
Remember that lovable parental adage, “I brought you into this world, I can take you out”? Well they can also kick you out, and you’re lucky they haven’t already. While it’s easy to feel entitled when it comes to your parents’ generosity, remember: you're the moocher. They worked hard their entire lives for a home of their own, and you’re a guest. Behave like one and don’t be stingy when it comes to showing your appreciation.
Offer to make dinner, do the dishes without asking, and above all, thank them. Your parents have feelings and simple gestures will mean a lot to them — and above all, remind them they raised an adult with manners.