When you move away from home to go to college, you probably don’t expect to ever have to move back in with your parents. Life and circumstances often force us to go in unexpected directions. Whether you’re moving back in with your parents because you just finished college and need time to find work, or because you’ve run into tough financial times, there are some rules you should follow to make your stay as pleasant as possible.
Share Your Plans
In many cases, your parents will be surprised that you need to move back in with them. They have a rhythm to their lives, and though they may be happy to have you home awhile, at some point they’ll want to get back to their routine.
Have a plan for getting back out on your own. Perhaps you just finished college and need to find a job. Perhaps you’re going through a tough break-up or divorce, and need a place to stay while you look for a new home. Let your parents know that you are looking for work, or for that new place. Come up with a plan, and stick to it.
Follow the House Rules
We’ve all heard the axiom, “My house, my rules.” Follow your parents’ rules while under their roof. However, if they expect you to abide by a certain curfew or change your social life outside the house while living with them, you may want to stand your ground. Remind them that you’re an adult now and that while you’re happy to follow the rules in the house, where you go and whom you spend time with otherwise is up to you.
Remind your parents—in a friendly way—that you’re not the same person who moved out. You’ve gone through college, or perhaps you’ve been on your own for a couple of decades, but have fallen on tough financial times. You are now an adult, and as such you will take on adult responsibilities, and get adult privileges.
Be a Thoughtful Roommate
Think about your parents and their neighbors. They may live in a quiet area, so do your best to keep the noise down. Listen to your music with headphones. If you come in late, enter quietly and get to bed without waking them up. After you finish eating, clean up after yourself.
Help with Chores
When you were growing up, you may have had assigned chores. Now, as an adult, you can be responsible enough to chip in without being asked. Are there dishes in the sink? Wash them. Are dirty clothes piling up in the hamper? Do a few loads of laundry. Put away things that you and your parents left out, dust, sweep, vacuum, and so on. Your parents will notice and appreciate the help.
Help Pay for Groceries
We understand. You may not be making much money when you first move in with your parents. So, once you get some kind of work, or you get on government assistance while looking for work, you can chip in for groceries. Your parents are used to a certain food budget that includes them. Adding another person to that can cost a lot.
If you get on food stamps, technically, that food is supposed to be for you alone. Even that will help your parents, because they won’t have to pay as much for your food.
Help with Errands
Do your parents need to do a grocery run, mow the lawn or take out the recycling? Offer to either run the errand for them, or to help. Yes, you may be busy looking for work, but even so, you can take a little time to help make errands easier for your parents.
Spend Time as a Family
Chances are, this will be the last time you live with your parents. Why not make the most of it? Eat dinner with them and talk about your day. Suggest a movie night, where you’ll watch movies at home and have popcorn. If you’ve moved back in with one or more of your children, go to the park with them and your parents. Sure, when you move out, it might be within the same city, but you may never get to spend quality time so frequently with them again, so make the most of it.
Focus on the Prize
Keep in mind your plan to get work and to move into your own place. Your parents won’t forget that this is your goal, so you shouldn’t, either. If they see you spending a lot of money on things not related to you getting your life back together, you can be sure they’ll complain to you about it.
Yes, you should be able to enjoy yourself sometimes by eating out or seeing a movie. Still, consider sticking to bargain theaters, or eating at more affordable restaurants. Before you had to move back in, you may have been making a good living and been able to go out often. Remind yourself that your circumstances are different, and that you have to work to get back to where you were. Your parents are making sacrifices for you to be able to live with them, so think about that and treat them with respect.
With focused goals, you’ll be able to get work and get your own place in time. If you and your parents got along while you were staying with them, there should be no hard feelings when you move out.