Leaving home for the first time is one of the most liberating experiences of a young woman’s life. Even if you only have one tea cup and your room isn’t big enough to accommodate anything beyond a mattress. Knowing it’s yours, that your bedtime is something you can stretch out to whenever you want. That no one is asking what time you’ll be home, or wondering where you slept instead, is thrilling.
It’s also exhausting, lonely, and often scary - both physically and financially. I left home at 17, and although the idea of going back seemed horrifying, it gave me the very privileged sense of knowing that if I really fucked up there was always a spare room waiting for me.
Over the years many of my friends (including my younger sister) have gone back to live with their parents as adults. Some by choice, and many due to circumstances beyond their control. So for this "how-to" I have asked them for tips on surviving arriving back in your teenage bedroom. Because asking for help from your family is OK...that’s what they are there for - even if they drive you mad!
Luisa Savoia - PR for Bleach and BeautyStack
Luisa moved home while reassessing her life, and just moved back out on her own this week! Her one tip for moving back home as an adult is:
Now... I am currently studying to be a psychotherapist, so this is often my answer to many things, but I would say that when you lose a sense of your own personal space, and you work in a fast-paced city/industry, therapy can become one of your only salvations.
I ended up living with my parents for around 18 months (to save money and renovate a flat) and it made me confront some of the lowest moments I have ever had in my life. I’m an introverted person, and really need a sense of my own home to recharge and replenish myself. The house I grew up in never felt like my home in the first place, so going back did not feel comfortable. But alas, I had modern-day needs.
The difficult thing is feeling like you cannot talk about it, because you are in an incredibly lucky and privileged position (there is no doubt here that we are all very grateful). I do get on with my family very well, but there are still those long-standing, creeping issues that will come to the surface when you are cohabiting. Especially when you have been away from them and out of the situation for a while.
Take all of this to therapy, talk about it, understand your group dynamics, learn how to deal with them and how to look after and protect yourself. If you can, talk about it with your family... but that’s not easy, and definitely not something I was able to do. Just keep feeling. Feeling your way through the frustrations, the pain. Sit with it and understand it. Hopefully that way it will get easier. And then before you know it, you’ll be out of there, in your own home, and friends with your family members again."
Katie Goldstein - Software Engineer (and my sister)
Katie is currently living with my mother while she renovates her house and takes further education in software coding. So, escaping a building site as well as some of the day-to-day bills has been very welcome.
“My survival tip for moving back home is, first and foremost, to remember the importance of understanding.
At home, parents will expect a time warp, and that you will be the same as you were when you left. And, to some extent you’ll expect them to be the same.
You all need to remember that all humans are evolving creatures. Bad habits may have gotten better since you last lived there; or, sometimes, they've gotten worse. You need to give all members of the household room to be the individuals they are. If on a Wednesday evening your mother has a book club, take that time to get out and do something you enjoy, so you don’t feel like you’re 14, grounded and hiding out in your room. Respect that everyone is their own person and needs their own space as much as you can allow. And try your best to stay out of old comfortable roles. Don’t let mum cook every dinner, don't let dad do all the DIY. Remember that you are an adult, so you still need to act like one,and share the adult responsibilities.”
Emma Bailey - Police Officer
Emma returned home after having her beautiful daughter Alyssa, because as we all know it takes a village. Her suggestion was as follows:
“Haha, oh goodness! One tip is having patience and learning to keep my mouth shut when my mum wants to 'help' and offer advice. It takes a lot of patience and muttering under your breath with clenched fists sometimes, but you know it all comes from a loving place.”
Stephanie Hughes, Writer and Founder of the Femps
Due to her parents' ailing health, Stephanie has recently moved in with both her mother and father.
“One tip that worked well for me was discovering how helpful medical marijuana can be. When you are dealing with ailing, elderly parents, YOU are going to want to be as functionally high as possible. Ha ha.
If not that, try reuniting with a junior high buddy who has also moved home to help his parents out. Then find the nearest dark bar, add copious amounts of bourbon, and end the night by making out in each other’s cars in front of your parents' houses. Because lawd knows, even at 43, you can’t invite them in.”
Ellie Stephens, Executive Assistant
After moving back to the UK from the US, Ellie returned to her childhood room. Her advice is:
"Ensure that you make your space a little sanctuary. I found it hard to fit 10 years of living away from home into my small bedroom at my parents', but I made it a comfy space that resembled my own apartment. I also got a TV in my bedroom for the first time in my life. It meant I could escape and solo Netflix and chill!"
Kirsti Highland, Principle at Signature Accounting.
"I remember thinking when it came to space just thinking in my head that it was now all about being “efficient”. Just having to consolidate from a large house to a bedroom can be extremely stressful. Efficiency is key.
But, more importantly, making sure that your space (ie bedroom) is sacred. A space to process your emotions and heal. Not cluttered. A place you can center yourself when you might be spiraling out or frustrated with your parents."
Mary Casey-Lang, Executive Assistant.
"I think my tip would be to do your best to have a timeline in mind. I moved back in with my father when I started grad school, so to me I was on a two year plan. My father was supportive of this two year plan (as opposed to an ambiguous timeline) and I felt less embarrassment and anxiousness because the arrangement was agreed upon. Like, there was no awkward elephant in the room where I always wondered if I was overstaying my welcome and he wondered what was keeping me from being an adult and getting on with my life. Maybe my tip would be better described as work out the arrangements in advance, the length of stay and terms.
Also, it was the perfect time to manage all of my nonsense and get my life together. This of course depends on a person's relationship with his/her parent, but for me it was a time when life was hard and I was broke. I just ended a relationship and moved back to my home town. I had no money because I just spend three months "finding myself" in Kenya. Moving back home and living with my dad was very comforting and supportive. I was still expected to be an adult, but the loving and supportive environment made it easier to rebound and reframe my existence. And yea, that sounds totally cheesy. But if you have that type of a relationship with your parent, my tip would be to not take it for granted. Take the time, recharge yourself, and get your life right."
Alexandra Plesner, Digital Strategist
"I learned to focused. (Freelance work and working from my MacBook from the living room, is not really seen as "REAL" work from my parents.)
I reconnected with nature. (Austria is a dream when it comes to a green and fresh environment).
Most importantly though: Make a plan beyond the time spent back at your parent's place and remind yourself why you are doing this when you feel like drowning.
I respected my family on a whole new level. (We have a small business and we always stick together.) I will miss it, and already know, in some years from now I will take time out, come back home and hang out with my parents and my brother; even just for a month.
In the end our relationships are what makes life so precious.
Melina Nicolaide, Co-Founder at Seed Of Happiness
Meditation would be my tip, finding your true inner home, It centers you when everything else outside is in chaos.