Thanks to nearly unprecedented levels of layoffs and unemployment, more and more adults are moving back in with their parents after college or job loss, as Forbes recently explained. The situation may seem awkward for both parents and son or daughter, but there are ways to make the living arrangements and budget constraints more pleasant for all. Five simple practices can help you cope with being an adult in your parents’ home and can help your parents cope with the reality of a floundering economy.
1. Hire Movers
Did you know that in addition to moving your furniture and household goods, you can also ship your car with auto shipping companies? Or that some movers will help you pack your things? The idea of having to move back home is stressful enough without worrying about the details associated with moving. Arrange for a moving company to take all of your belongings to your parents’ home, including your car. Shipping your car can help you avoid a long drive when you’re already stressed out, or at the very least, keep you from having to make the drive more than once if you have more than one vehicle to transport.
2. Be an Adult
You may always be Mom or Dad’s child, but living together as adults should not be a reason for you to revert to a child — or for them to treat you as such. You have to do your best to remain independent while still being respectful, and your parents need to view you as an adult capable of making decisions and helping out.
For example, you should no longer be subjected to a rule saying you can’t go out and do what you want with whomever you want; however, you can be respectful of your parents’ rules and the fact that they may worry about you. You can go out, but offer to return home at a reasonable time each evening — unless you’re staying at a friend’s — and to call them to let them know whenever your plans change.
3. Pay or Do Your Share
Just as you’re not a child being told what to do and when to do it, you’re not a child who gets free room and board either. You should be paying rent, or at the very least, contributing to household expenses and the grocery bill. You can either decide to divide the costs evenly among the adults in the household — including you — or to buy your own groceries and take care of a household bill or two.
On the other hand, if your parents are doing fine financially and they’d like to give you the opportunity to save your money for your eventual move back on your own, you can offer to “pay” your fair share by doing extra housework or going on errands. Even if you do contribute financially, though, you should be contributing to the household chores. Clean up after yourself and offer to assist with your parents’ to-do list.
4. Re-examine Your Budget
You probably don’t want to be stuck with your parents forever, any more than they want you taking up the space they’d planned to turn into a hobby room. To one day be financially comfortable enough to move out on your own, you have to live on a budget. Use this opportunity to save what you can, especially if you don’t currently have a job. Cut out or scale back on unnecessary expenses such as:
- Dining out
- Cell phone
- Buying books or going to movies (head to the library instead)
- Buying new clothes (shop at the thrift store)
5. Hold a Discussion
There’s no one-size-fits-every-family protocol for moving back home. Sit down with your parents to discuss everyone’s expectations. It’ll help them feel more comfortable with the situation knowing you’re going to be doing your fair share of housework and making a financial contribution. Let them know what they can do to help you and be open to hearing their expectations for the living arrangement.
Because of record levels of unemployment — as much as 9.7 percent of the population in some states — people have to adjust to a new reality: Not all children are out the door for good at age 18 or 22. If you and your parents agree to treat each other as adults, the situation doesn’t need to be as stressful as you may have initially thought. The most important tip to remember is to keep the lines of communication open, and agree to sit down and discuss a compromise when something about the situation isn’t working.
About the Author: Rose Mills is a contributing writer and family therapist. She sees a lot of adults moving back in with their parents and promises it can be a beneficial living arrangement if everyone is willing to work at the new family dynamic.