Did you know that 52 percent of young adults now live at home with their parents? According to the monthly Census Bureau, 2.6 million young adults have moved in with their parents in the U.S. over the past year, which makes 26.6 million young adults living at home right now.
Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 is the primary reason behind this cultural shift. In a study conducted by TD Ameritrade, 39 percent of younger millennials blame the pandemic and the economic downturn for their return to their childhood homes.
For many of us, these stats are unsettling — and yet oddly comforting. As finance author Bobbi Rebell and host of the Financial Grownup podcast said, “If ever there was a time that you would not be judged in a negative way (for moving home), this is it.”
With so many fellow young adults moving home, anyone who’s in the same situation is truly not alone in the experience. We might be tempted to feel embarrassed or like we’re regressing in adulthood, but moving home doesn’t have to be a step backwards. In fact, it can actually be a positive experience that helps us reset and refocus on what matters most.
The key to making this transition home a beneficial chapter in your life is to approach it with boundaries and intentionality. So, if you’re one of the millions calling mom and dad “roomie,” we have a few tips for not only surviving, but thriving at home.
Don’t be ashamed
For many of us, the idea of moving back home is wrought with shame. Culturally speaking, living with your parents has become a sign of failure or a lack of independence. But sometimes, self-sufficiency is upheld to a fault. We must remember that independence is good, but not to the point of being incapable of asking or receiving help.
In the movies, we see 18-year-olds go off to college, immediately snag high-paying corporate jobs after graduation, and move into wealthy apartments or homes. The reality is that most 20-somethings hit road bumps and end up leaning on family from time to time. Sometimes the burden of student loans or unexpected unemployment places us in a situation of temporarily needing a roof over our heads. This is totally normal.
“What will everyone think of me if I move back home?” is usually the first thing we wonder in shame. Remember to be kind to yourself. You’re not the first person to move home and you won’t be the last. Imagine what you’d think of your best friend who needed to move home. Would you think critically of her or be filled with compassion and understanding? Treat yourself with that same kindness.
Figure out chores & rent ASAP
Before you step foot into your old house, make sure you know your parent’s expectations. Do they expect you to pay rent? What about chores? Errands? Cooking?
Being oblivious to expectations will lead to conflict and resentment — it’s a recipe for blow-ups over unwashed dishes and incomplete chores. Don’t set yourself up to feel guilty for not respecting your parent’s generosity.
If your parents want rent, settle on a specific day of the month and method to pay them. Figure out the weekly and monthly chores they want you to complete, like taking out the trash every week, unloading the dishwasher every day, or cleaning the bathrooms once a month. Make sure you know when and how often you’re expected to do these chores.
Pro tip: It’s easy to slip into your teenage routine of forgetting to do chores, so put reminders on your phone!
Make your space distinctly yours
Moving back into your childhood room — complete with Care Bear bed sheets and Little League trophies — can be a smidge depressing. You’ve outgrown the space, so make it reflect who you are now. Set yourself up to feel positive about moving back home by revamping your room. This will help you feel like you’re starting a new chapter of life, rather than regressing.
Make sure to ask your parents if they’re comfortable with any permanent changes. Are they okay with a new paint job? Or with replacing or renovating furniture? Once you get the green light, spend a couple days purging your old room of all your childhood toys, clothes, books, and decorations (boy, that’ll feel good.)
Then get to work on making this space your own haven! Choose a mature color scheme and peruse local antique shops and secondhand shops to find affordable pieces that suit your taste. Even though you’ll be back in your childhood bedroom, it won’t feel like it.
Create boundaries with your parents
Have you ever gone home for the holidays and found yourself slipping into your teenage self? Suddenly, you’re easily aggravated by your parents’ flaws and getting into old quarrels and annoyances. If you slip back into your teenage responses to their idiosyncrasies, your whole experience at home will start to take on that demeanor.
Don’t take two steps backward in your emotional growth when you move home! Create healthy boundaries with your parents by first identifying exactly what behaviors affect you. Does your mom try to control your actions? Does your dad make judgmental comments? Are your parents overbearing or dismissive? Look critically at how you respond to their behavior — is it reactive or proactive?
Take some time to plan healthy responses to the behavior that upsets you. Learn when you should detach and when you should sit down with your parents to have constructive conversations. Better yet, seek out a professional who can equip you with the tools to handle these situations.
Get out of the house often
Moving back home can make you feel like you’re trapped in a temporary limbo zone. After days and weeks of following the same routine and only seeing your parents, you’ll need a change of pace.
Avoid the slippery slope of social depression by planning regular outings. Re-establish old friendships from your hometown, but also seek out new ones. Bumble is great for finding dates, but it’s also great for finding friends! Just change the setting to Bumble Bff.
Make sure you plan activities you enjoy doing by yourself, too. Commit to spending Saturday mornings strolling through the local downtown area. Get your nails done every month, hit up Sunday Mass, treat yourself to ice cream on Friday nights, or spend rainy days in your city’s museums.
Even weekly trips to Target, Chick-Fil-A, or your favorite grocery store can be important ways to get out and enjoy your independence. You’ll be surprised at how simple, regular outings can help restore balance in your life.
Create a game plan for achieving your goals
The best way to maintain sanity when moving back home is to actively work toward your future goals. In fact, this time is ideal for re-focusing on what you want in life. Get excited about your future and start planning! Sit down and don’t be afraid to dream big. What have you always wanted to do? What do you need to do to get there?
Want to go back to school for that masters degree? Is there a book you’ve been dying to write? Art classes you’ve been wanting to take? A business you want to start? Or maybe you just want to work on prioritizing your personal health and investing in your faith life.
Whatever your goal is, take the time to write down the steps you need to take in order to get there. Put your dreams into action by taking those concrete steps. Seek out the support of your family and ask your friends to hold you accountable to your goals. This is the time to take that leap and pursue your passions.
Being intentional with your planning could turn the situation around and allow you to leverage some of the benefits to living at home: you have a solid network of support, familiar access to friends and family (and their endeavors and expertise), fewer living expenses, and a connection to the deepest and most formative places and relationships of your life.
The more you work on these goals, the less you’ll feel like this time at home is an “embarrassing” regression. In fact, you just might end up seeing this period as a blessing in disguise, impacting the rest of your life for the better.