By Emily Roseman, Alumna of American University
I vividly remember the moment following my graduation back in May of 2012. We had emptied out my studio apartment down to the last cockroach, and once again, my big SUV was packed to the brim.
I have moved out of college so many times before, but this time was different. I was now under the law of the land — parent law — the minute I closed the door to my car. The ride from D.C. back to Connecticut felt like a century as I contemplated the highs and lows I was about to experience as a student reentering my childhood home. But now a year to the day past my eventual move-in, I see my experience as something truly beneficial rather than painful.
Have “The Talk” With Your ‘Landlords’
Having a frank talk with Mom and Dad saved me weeks and well, months now, of pain and awkwardness regarding our “temporary” situation. By explaining my intentions to my parents, I wanted to create an honest forum for them to express their concerns, demands and questions regarding our living arrangements. As uncomfortable as you can imagine talking finances and responsibilities with Mom and Dad could be, let's be honest … it's worse.
Give and Take
Asking before receiving is always a good measure of how willing your "landlords" are willing to give back. I am fortunate enough to move back home with no rent or demanded prerequisites. But as my living situation is unique to my own post-grad life, your experience with heading back to the childhood home will be different. Always see your situation as beneficial rather than a chore for your parents or guardians. Try to offer your skills or your presence in the home as an advantage for your parents. Set aside time to discuss any chores or errands you can offer to the household day-to-day tasks like dishes or laundry. Let's be honest, living rent-free is great for saving up, but giving more than taking from your parents pays back tenfold.
When discussing the options of living at home for the time being, make sure you reiterate that this is just temporary. I am lucky enough to have a fabulous relationship with both Mom and Dad at my house, but obviously they did not picture supporting a 20-something-year-old for the rest of their days. Explain to Mom and Dad that while this is not the most “desirable” situation, it is what works for right now. When in job flux, your parents or guardians will more than understand that it's their duty to provide a roof over your head. The rest, however, is up to you. Being humble and more importantly, respectful, of your parents' living arrangements allows them to see that this is not just a free ride, but rather, a small roadblock in the journey of life.
Communication Is Key
My family is like something out of "The Godfather." Supplement the Italian mobster mentality with the age-old Jewish mentality from the mother country and you can understand how vital communication is to what I call the "core three." Over the years, I have developed a trust between Mom and Dad that is ironclad, so the thought of moving home was beyond an option, it was totally acceptable! But for many other post-grads in the world, relationships can be a tricky thing, let alone talking. To be able to have a smooth transition from campus to childhood casa is to be open and very willing to talk with your guardians.
No matter the age or life spectrum, talking will open up a forum for honest chats like the idea of rent, job applications or time limits at the old homestead. For those who aren't too comfortable with talking openly and frankly with family, try a test talk with friends or close confidants before presenting your case to Mom and Dad. But for those like me who know shower times down to the millisecond, talking about your life goals and dreams will be a fruitful and honestly cathartic experience. But let's be honest, letting dear old dad know cutting down that shower time to 10 minutes will surely save you time on the work commute!