How to deal with moving back home with your parents

Guestpost by Melissa Wellham on May 30th

With colleges getting out, we know more than a few of you will be making the move back home with your parents for the summer (…or the foreseeable future). Here are a few tips from Melissa of

Don't expect your folks to fetch you juiceboxes. By: JhayneCC BY 2.0

Curfew. Nagging. Rules. Chores.

I recently moved back in with my parents.  This is because I made the decision to stop working full-time, go back to university, and make an attempt to "concentrate on my writing" (as obnoxious as that sounds).  I have lived out of home for over four years – the entirety of my adult life! — and as you can probably imagine, quite a bit has changed at my childhood home in that time.

My little sister grew up, our family pets aged, and my bedroom became a storage facility for the entire house — filled predominantly with camping equipment, space blankets, and long-life milk.  It was like walking into a Kathmandu.  But what changed most of all were my family's routines and habits — implicit family "rules" that you only know if you live there.

Aside from, you know, one or two screaming matches with my sister, where we have reverted to our ages the last time I lived at home (16 and 18 years old), the move back into my parents' house has been relatively painless… so I thought I'd share some tips for anyone confronting the same move.

Keep calm, and carry on…

Take a deep breath.  It isn't going to be that bad. 

Yes, you will have to let your parents know where you are going when you leave the house.  Yes, you will have to subscribe to a higher standard of cleanliness than you did in your share house with unruly 20-somethings.  Yes, you will have to participate in your family's weekly boules match, designed as a "bonding experience."

But there are many positives that come with living at home as well.  Whenever you feel like you're about to tear out your own hair / your mother's hair / your father's limited coverage of hair, just remind yourself of the upsides. Of course the specifics of each person's "moving in with your parents" situation will be different, but here are a few common upsides:

  • Reduced or free rent.  You will be able to save so much more for that overseas trip / Sofia Coppola handbag / your own place
  • Free or cheaper utilities like internet / phone connection / pay television / laundry / etc.
  • Okay, I think the general point is: living at home is a lot cheaper than living out of home, yes?
  • Home cooked meals. If you are an average university student, you probably got by for three years subsisting entirely on Mi Goreng/Top Ramen, baked beans, and peanut butter eaten straight out of the jar.  No longer is my diet so limited!  At home I can enjoy a selection of omelettes, frittatas, gourmet soups, stir fries, etc. — all things that I usually wouldn't have the time or the inclination to cook for myself.
  • Hanging out with your family as an adult.  I'm not even kidding.  Once you are old enough to relate to your parents as people, rather than just those old fogies who get in your way and won't let your boyfriend stay over, you will be surprised at how much more enriching your relationship with them can be.
  • It's (maybe?) for a limited time only.

Making an effort…

However, despite these numerous positives, it's also a good idea not to take all these things for granted — because that will make the arrangement a lot more negative, trust me.  Make sure that you're making an effort, so your parents know that you're grateful for being able to live with them.

  • Willingly talk to your parents about your life.  What you did during the day, what your plans are for the week, or that interesting documentary you watched about carnival folk the night before.  Your parents will appreciate being included, and if they already have some idea about your plans, they won't be so annoyed when you merrily skip out of the house on a Friday night for a house party.
  • Help out with the cooking.  Okay, we have already mentioned that your (my) cooking skills might not be much past boiling water for instant noodles, but this is the perfect opportunity to refine your (my) culinary aptitude!  Plus, your parents will appreciate not having to cook for an extra mouth every night of the week.
  • Help out with the chores.  What?! You mean that even though you're no longer renting a place for yourself, you still have to clean?! Actually, yes.  Emptying and stacking the dishwasher, or hanging out the washing, will take no time at all — and a stitch in time saves nine. (The "nine stitches" I am referring to are your parents moaning that you aren't pulling your weight.)
  • Tidy your space.  You may not care how messy your room / corner of the basement / nook / whatever is, and there's probably a method to your madness — but messy spaces really bother parents.  Keep it relatively clean just so they know that you appreciate the floor space. 
  • Still, you know, get a job.  Maybe you're struggling to find employment, and that's why you're moving back home — but keep making an effort, even it's just to find a part-time gig. Nobody wants to be that ungrateful 40-year-old still living in their parents' basement, yelling out for their mother to bring them down a juice box.
  • Ask their permission before having your significant other stay over.  It's polite to ask before bringing a stranger into the house anyway, and saves you being caught in a compromising position.
  • Don't bring one-night-stands home, ever.  It's just not worth the awkwardness. 

If you're going completely crazy…

No matter how hard you're trying — and let's also remember, how hard your parents are trying — there are bound to be a few road-bumps along the way to a delightful domestic life.  But if you need to blow off some steam, then it's best to get out of the house and talk it out with your friends — as opposed to getting high in your father's man-cave.

  • Get out of the house. Go for a walk, a run, or a bike ride. Not only will walking around the streets from your childhood be a trip down memory-lane ("Oh, yeah, that's the tree that I fell out of, and broke both of my arms!  That's the community playground where I knocked out my tooth! There's that little Pomeranian puppy that always barked at my cat — I can't believe that thing is still alive!"), but you'll also be getting some exercise which will release endorphins and make you feel happier!
  • On one evening, have a glass of wine in your bedroom, chill-out, and watch a movie instead of interacting with your parents.  Everyone needs some time alone.
  • Make sure you still catch up with your friends, even if they live in a more distant part of the city. Or Skype if they live in a different city entirely!  It'll make you feel more like yourself, and as if you haven't completely regressed.
  • If you have a fight with your parents, try to sort it out. But if that fails, blast mid-'90s angry girl music from your bedroom.  Petty?  Maybe.  But you sure will feel better afterwards.

A final word of advice…

Just communicate!  Seriously, ask your parents how they think the arrangement is going, and if there's anything else you could be doing to smooth the transition.  Equally, if your parents are being stubborn about how late you stay out, just sit down and discuss the issue.  Explain where you're coming from, and what you want, in a polite and calm manner — and you'll probably be able to sort the issue out.

For those of you living with your parents, what's your ONE most useful tip for peaceful cohabitation with the folks?

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About Melissa Wellham

Melissa Wellham is a freelance writer (of scathing film reviews, mostly), blogger at Melicious (, and prolific tweeter (@melissawellham). She is currently studying journalism, working in an independent bookstore, and has two pet mice called Nymphadora and Tonks.