7 Steps to Make Living at Home Bearable for You and Your Family
It’s quarantine, and many of us have moved back into our family’s home. Or maybe you’ve been living with your family from day 1. Or maybe you’ve hit some challenges and are maybe having to move back home to get back on your feet — the reason why doesn’t matter. Even with twenty and even thirty-somethings living at home being considered a shameful thing in the U.S., it’s even normal and expected in other countries.
Living at home is completely normal and acceptable in Italy, Greece and Slovenia among many other countries as described in this article. In other parts of the world, like India, even 80% of millennials live with their parents (read here). Long story short, in other parts of the world we’ve normalized living at home and even though it’s not considered the fashionable or respectable thing to do in the U.S., 1 in 5 Americans live at home now according to a CBS news article.
I recently talked to two separate people who were in their late twenties and early thirties who each described their living situation as either their parents were living with them or that they had “roommates” (aka their parents). This shame that many people experience about their current living circumstances is unfortunate. I have never lived on my own and I’m 25 years old. I used to feel terrible about it, but I realized that there were certain reasons why I didn’t feel good about it. I’ll explain in the following chapters, as I describe the 7steps to making living at home more bearable (for you and your family).
Step 1: Create boundaries
It’s easy when you’re living at home to just act like your lives are completely fused together. And in some cases maybe that’s somewhat necessary (ie you’re depending on each other to help out with certain things — I help with my brother and other responsibilities for example). It’s important to set boundaries though so you have your own lives and identities outside of the home. Yes, you’re living at home, but you still want to have some independence. Which brings me to…
Step 2: Contribute in some way
It’s hard to have independence and set boundaries, when you don’t have the right to it. You earn that kind of freedom when you’re giving something in return for being able to live there. I personally pitch in with groceries, gas money, and help with the homeschooling of my brother. This roughly can equate to the rent of a small room. For you it may look different or the same. It doesn’t have to equate to the amount you’d spend on rent, but for me that’s what makes me feel better about it. It could look like you do the cleaning of the house once a week, mow the lawn, do the cooking, or whatever else there is.
Step 3: Still do your own chores
Step 2 doesn’t mean that you just clean your own room and leave it at that. That’s a given. You still have to keep up with your own chores like you’d have to do if you were living on your own. So do your own laundry, do at the very minimum your own cooking, clean after yourself, and don’t add to the list of things your parents or family is doing for themselves.
Step 4: Make sure to show your appreciation
I regularly invite my parents and family out for lunch or dinner. I try to show how much I appreciate them letting me stay with them because regardless how much I pitch in, it’s their CHOICE to allow me to stay with them. Your family could at any time decide that it’s not a practical situation (unpleasant as that thought is), but I guarantee you that it’ll be a much nicer time for everyone involved if you showcase your gratitude in some way on a regular basis. You don’t have to go overboard but every once in a while definitely show it.
Step 5: Have a good attitude
Don’t allow yourself to feel bad about your living circumstances. It’s not forever, you’re contributing to your family in some way, and you’re still going on about your life in the same way just returning to a home where your family is. Your family is not going to enjoy you living there if you’re grouchy about the situation. This goes with step 4 but it’s crucial to work on your mindset. You’re also a lot more likely to find the pros of living at home and dare I say enjoy it if you look at the positives instead of dwelling, whining or complaining about it.
Step 6: Have goals
This is a two-fold step. First of all, it’s important to have goals when it comes to how long you want to live at home and what you’ll need to do in order to move out. Discuss this with your family members so they know what the plan is as well. Maybe they’ll want to support you in certain ways, like keep an eye out for job opportunities or something different. Secondly, it’s important to have some sort of goals so that your family doesn’t think you’re bumming off of them. They obviously (hopefully) want the best for you, including a thriving life. Seeing you never come out of your room or just watching TV all day isn’t that. Make sure you’re actively working towards something and bettering yourself. Seeing that will give your family peace of mind, and allow for both of you to keep respect for yourself.
Step 7: Spend time with your family
It’s nice to let your family know that even though the situation isn’t necessary ideal (or maybe neither of you mind), you enjoy their presence and company. Nobody wants to feel like you hate them or don’t want to be around them. Show that you enjoy spending time with your family and make time regularly to either watch a movie, have dinner together, or do a game night. It’ll also make it a lot more fun and feel less like a bad spot in your life when you’re laughing and growing closer.
Now that we’ve discussed all the different steps on what to do when you are living at home, whenever you ARE ready to move out, make sure to give your family ample notice ahead of time. They also need to prepare for that move mentally and emotionally. Maybe they’ve now gotten used to you helping out at home, and need to rethink their time management if you’re not around to do so anymore, or maybe they need to hire someone to do the lawn mowing. Generally, be courteous and don’t spring it on them the day beforehand!
You know now how to make the most out of living at home, and I want to repeat — DON’T. Feel. Bad. About. Yourself. As long as you feel like you have your own life, independence and are contributing to your family in some way there’s nothing to be ashamed about! This too shall pass. And frankly, I love my family so I don’t mind spending more time with them, knowing that we all have a limited time on this planet anyway — make the most of it!
And as Marge Kennedy said: “In truth a family is what you make it. It is made strong, not by number of heads counted at the dinner table, but by the rituals you help family members create, by the memories you share, by the commitment of time, caring, and love you show to one another, and by the hopes for the future you have as individuals and as a unit.”