How to Survive Living With Your Parents in Your Twenties
When I packed up all my belongings from my childhood room and rammed them into my Dad’s car to drive to my new Uni accommodation I never imagined I'd be moving it all back a few years later. I had the somewhat naive idea that once I had flown the nest I was never coming back. Adult life had now begun, farewell teenage me, hello badass, independent, new and improved, all grown up me. And yet here I sit, surrounded by fairylights and childhood teddies feeling much less Carrie Bradshaw and much more Tracy Beaker.
It can feel a little soul destroying coming back home after years of flying solo, especially if it was never part of the plan. But I think the most grown up thing of all is accepting that life doesn't always work out the way we planned and that is nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes we have to make the sensible decision, even if we don’t like it.
I have learnt how to survive living at home the hard way. For a while I was the prime example of how not to do it. The first few months I went straight back to being a moody teenager. Grunting whenever my parents asked me a question, hibernating in my room, fighting with my sister, sulking if I was asked to do chores. I’m surprised my parents didn’t kick me out. I wasn’t a pleasant housemate or a pleasant daughter.
I think the turning point for me was when I stopped seeing it as a setback and decided to look on it as a stepping stone to get to where I want to be. It’s easy to feel you have taken 10 steps back when you’re ramming your stuff back into those heart covered draws. But what you have actually done is made a decision that will get you closer to the future you want. You haven’t hit a bump in the road, you’re still on the road and you’re still moving forwards it just looks a little different to how you imagined.
So here are my top tips - tried and tested - to make the best out of living with your parents:
Help out with the ‘grown up’ chores
You are no longer a child living with your parents. You are an adult living with other adults. Nothing will make you feel more like a teenager than having your mum wash your underwear. Do your own washing, whip the hoover round every now and again and offer to cook for everyone a few nights a week. If you want them to treat you like an adult you have to act like one.
Have your exit strategy planned
Having a plan helps you view the situation as temporary. Set yourself some goals. Where do you want to live and how much money do you need to make it a reality? Give yourself saving goals and even set a moving out deadline so you can countdown to it. Knowing that the situation isn't permanent makes it much more manageable.
Do your own food shop
This one will depend on your situation but when I first moved home I really missed doing my own shopping and cooking. I had gotten so used to meal planning and eating what I wanted to eat when I wanted to eat it. So I started buying my own food (and clearly labeling it to avoid 'accidental' theft) I still eat with my family some nights too but being in charge of my own diet gave me some of my freedom back.
See your parents as ‘flatmates’
Your relationship with your parents will inevitably change as you get older but it's easy to revert right back to ‘parents vs teenage’ when you move back home. Realise that things are different now. You are on the same side! Sit and have a glass of wine with your Mum in the evenings or watch a movie with your Dad. It’s going to be hard to adjust to the new dynamic for them and for you but things will be much more harmonious when you treat each other as fellow cohabitors. They are not the enemy!
Learn to compromise
Yes, you’re an adult and yes, your parents can’t really tell you what to do anymore but you do live under their roof and there has to be a little give and take. It used to drive me crazy that my Mum wanted to know where I was going and what time I would be back. I felt like I was being parented all over again. But really she was just being a good Mum. And in the grand scheme of things it took no more than 30 seconds to send her a text if I wasn’t going to be home for dinner. Learn to bite your tongue when necessary and make the compromise, in the name of keeping the peace.
Forget about judgement
Those dreaded words, ‘I still live at home’, that we have to utter to our date or new work colleague and so often demonise. We put the judgement on the sentence ourselves to somewhat cushion it if they make a face or wince. (which, in reality, rarely happens) There really is nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone is on a completely different path and yours just happens to have taken you home for a while. If you don't want other people to judge you stop judging yourself. Embrace it, accept it and make the best of it. And if it makes you feel better, recent statistics show that 55% of 18-24 year olds still live at home with their parents. So you are actually in the majority.
Find the positives
We automatically focus on everything we hate about living at home and so often forget all the good. All the money you are saving, no bills or council tax to worry about, the ease of living in a well oiled functional household, the constant company and motherly advice. Don’t let your own negative woes taint the entire experience. This is your home, not a dodgy old flat with leaky celins and annoying housemates. (which is probably where your friends are living) Find the silver lining because I promise there is a whole bunch of them you just need to change the way to look at things.
Here are some living at home pros if you need a little help finding them….
You’re not spending hundreds of pounds on rent
You don't have to be incharge of bills
There is always food in the house
There is always someone to talk to
The internet actually works
Home cooked meals
Freedom to take risks, change jobs, make mistakes
Give you time to figure out what you want to do
You can drink your parents wine
Develop friendships with your parents
DIY Dad on hand to fix things
There’s a dog to walk or a cat to cuddle
More money to spend on your social life
They might occasionally pick you up from the pub after one to many
You can avoid the hard parts of adulting for a little longer
Most of all be grateful that you have a home to return to! Your parents could have turned your room into a home gym or new office the second you left, or even downsized, but luckily for you they didn’t. Whatever happens in your life you will always have somewhere to call home. Not everyone has the luxury and that alone is reason to be grateful.