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At 22, I had just graduated college, landed my first big-kid job, and moved back in with my parents. It’s a decision I’m proud I made – I saved up a heck of an emergency fund, became closer to my parents, and got to be with my three cats (who had to warm back up to me because I had abandoned them during college, but now we’re fine).
But before I made this life-altering decision (that may sound dramatic, but it’s true), my parents and I set a few ground rules. Moving back in with your parents is a major adjustment, and it takes both parties being completely up-front about what they expect from this new experience.
1. Set Some Ground Rules
Moving back in with your parents as an adult can feel a lot like you’re right back in high school. But it doesn’t have to – talk to your parents about curfew. I know it sounds ridiculous, but some parents will set rules and curfews for their children no matter how old they are. My parents didn’t expect me to be home at a certain time, but they’ll always be helicopter parents; I knew that when I went out, they would stay up and wait for me to get home (no matter how tired they were).
I didn’t have to come home by midnight, but I chose to because I didn’t want them worrying about me. In order for this living arrangement to work, you all need to be on the same page. Talk to your parents about their expectations so there’s never any confusion.
2. Talk Money
When I moved back in with my parents, we discussed the possibility of paying rent. But the goal for me moving back in was to save up enough money for my own place, so we decided I would clean for them instead. Growing up, I was basically their maid anyway. I really don’t know how they survived the four years I was in college, honestly.
I love devoting my Saturdays to vacuuming and scrubbing toilets, oddly enough, so it works for us. If you’re good with tools, offer to fix things around the house as a form of paying rent. If you’re good at running errands for your parents or you’re fine with footing the grocery bill, suggest that. If you have way younger siblings, offer to babysit. Different things work for different people, so find what works best for you and your parents.
3. Compare Schedules
Your parents are basically your new roommates, so it’s important to be familiar with each other’s routines. Talk to your parents about your needs – your routines have probably changed a bit since high school, so fill them in on your schedule.
If you need to get a shower every day at 7 a.m. and you don’t want a freezing cold shower, that’s something they need to know, so they can wait until 7:15 a.m. each day (or you can take a shower at night – this is about compromise, people).
4. Set Boundaries
I’ve been in a long distance relationship for the past five years. When I had my own apartment, my boyfriend would visit on the weekends. He still visits now that I’m back home, but my parents have one rule: no sleeping in the same bed. Do I like this rule? No. Do I follow it? Yes.
You may think some of your parents’ rules are dumb, but it’s their house, and you’re choosing to live there. So like it or not, you have to respect their rules. My parents don’t ask for much from me, so I try my best to respect what they do ask of me.
5. Be Appreciative
Your parents don’t have to let you back into their house. As much as they love you, they probably enjoy their freedom. You’re going to get on each other’s nerves and fight over the TV sometimes, but you need to remember that at the end of the day, you owe them for giving you a roof over your head.
Try to do random acts of kindness every now and then. If you see that the dishwasher is clean, unload it. If your mom has had a rough day, go straight to the kitchen and cook dinner instead of waiting on her to do it. If you’re doing laundry, ask if your parents need anything washed too. If you have a Netflix or Hulu account, share your login info and let them binge-watch Everybody Loves Raymond. The bottom line: Don’t make your parents regret letting you back into their home.