You’re nearing the end of your degree and you’re facing that dreaded prospect: moving back in with the parents. According to the Office for National Statistics, an increasing number of young people are making this choice. In 2014, it’s estimated that twenty-six percent of adults in the UK between the ages of twenty and thirty-four will be living at home with their parents; not surprising really as rising living costs and an unstable job-market sometimes mean it’s impossible to consider anything else after years of accumulating massive debts at uni.
So, you’ve packed up three years of your life and dropped off your keys, said an emotional goodbye to your housemates and sobbed all the way home. You get in and your mum tells you dinner is ready. It’s already like you never moved out. But what do you do now? Below are some tips for surviving the first few months back home.
Surviving the First Week
The first week isn’t so bad; you’ll wonder what you were ever worried about. Your mum keeps saying how nice it is to have your things left all over the house again, they let you lie in and there’s a free supply of alcohol readily available.
But don’t be fooled. A week later, you find all the stuff you left lying around in a pile by your door and if you’re still asleep past nine in the morning, your mum may suddenly decide there’s a patch of carpet just outside your room that needs vacuuming.
Oh, and when you go to the fridge for a glass of wine three nights in a row, be prepared for the concerned looks and questions and be ready to say no, you don’t have a drinking problem. Then just neck the rest of the bottle anyway.
Once the first few weeks are over and your parents have exhausted the list of relatives who haven’t seen you in years to invite round for dinner, brace yourself for some pretty long nights doing nothing. Gone are the days when you could spontaneously plan a night out. Now you have to plan in advance. Friends might be busy or live miles away, and good nights out are not often readily available if you don’t like in a city as vibrant as Manchester. You will find yourself wondering if you will ever be ridiculously drunk again, or whether you are confined to watching The Chase and Holby City every evening for eternity.
It’s vital though- both for your own sanity and your parents- that you spend some time apart. You might be shocked to notice that after a month you’ve began channeling your sixteen year-old self, whining about tidying up, or crying because your dad won’t let you watch X-Factor in the living room. The first time you notice this, after the initial ‘what have I become?’ moment, you should be more than motivated to have some much needed time to yourself. Start going to the gym perhaps, or take up a hobby that gets you outside of the house and enjoying yourself. Unfortunately, you have to start working out what adults do for fun now.
There is no such thing as ‘clean enough’
You may not be paying hefty amounts of rent in a crumbling student let anymore, but that means that you have to pull your weight around the house. Welcome back to the world of chores. At uni, cleaning may have meant washing all the pots when you ran out of plates and glasses. But back home, your parents run a tighter ship.
The cleaning cupboard’s a minefield. Who knew there were so many types of disinfectant? But get used to using the right ones, because the first time your mum spots you using kitchen cleaner in the living room, there’ll be hell to pay (even though they’re probably the same thing).
You might feel obliged to do the odd spot of housework if you’re living at home rent-free. So you clean all day and you’re feeling pretty proud of yourself by the time your parents walk through the door. However, be prepared an hour later to find someone redoing the floors because ‘you missed a bit’. Don’t be offended; maybe one day you’ll understand this level of perfection (or obsession). For now just leave them to it.
The prospect of returning to ‘family mealtimes’ and a bedroom that has been frozen in time since you were eighteen may seem pretty bleak, but there are advantages too: your bank balance (and liver) will get some well-deserved rest and your health can only benefit from you eating vegetables again.
Moving home can actually be a great alternative if you iron out the creases in the first few weeks. Your parents need to see that you’re not the same person you were when you moved to uni, but equally, you need to understand that they developed a certain way of doing things in your absence.
So, take a deep breath and just get on with it. Always wash up after yourself, turn down your TV after ten pm and never, ever let your mum catch you putting a drink on the table without using a coaster. Remember, it could be much worse and it won’t be forever. One day you might even miss it!