Surprise – I’m home! How to make it work best when your adult child moves back in.
According to a recent Pew Research Center study, rooming with parents is the most popular living arrangement for millennials, with 32.1% under mom’s and dad’s roof.
This trend is likely more about booster rocket failure. Most of these young adults got to the launch pad, and all systems were go — at least initially. They probably moved out, attended school and even found a job, but they still need help financially. Or, maybe your adult child has gotten themselves a decent job and happily launched into independent living, but because of a change in circumstances (loss of a job or some other unforeseen financial event), they end up back at home with you.
No matter the scenario, it’s not easy. When you find out your young adult is moving back in with you, we suggest the following:
- Grab a good bottle of wine (you might be choosing the cheaper stuff soon), and savor life as you know it now.
- Check out what your fully-stocked fridge looks like, and pick up some extra reusable grocery bags —you’ll soon be buying more groceries.
- Download relaxation and meditation podcasts. Practice being lighthearted and looking for humor in everything.
Whether you’re looking forward to the new living arrangement with joyful anticipation, or concerned reluctance — it’s a change. And, change means:
- Disruption to routines and schedules is inevitable.
- It will take some transition time for things to fall into place and be comfortable.
- A strong dose of patience, at least a little flexibility, and a whole lot of love and humor are key ingredients to a smooth transition.
Success is all about the 3 Cs:
Communication – Be open, respectful and kind. Choose your timing well. The right conversation at the wrong time is the wrong conversation.
There will be plenty to discuss. Top of the list should be a plan for how long your child intends to live at home, and what their financial goals are for while there. With higher housing prices, many of these young adults need to save for a down payment on a home. They may also be paying down student debt. Other discussion topics can range from, is it ok for your child to park in the driveway or garage, to what’s acceptable when it comes to entertaining friends — overnight or otherwise.
Parents: It might be hard to remember your child is an adult, and even harder to avoid old patterns of getting up in their business, and offering your opinion — even when it’s not asked for. Refraining from giving advice unless it’s asked for will go a long way toward peace and harmony. We’d be willing to bet that rooming with you was not their first choice after graduation or a change in job circumstances, etc. As much as they love you, the choice to move in was likely driven (or at least influenced) by finances. Try to be sensitive to that. Keep in mind that your kiddo may be struggling with being back under Mom’s and/or Dad’s roof.
Kids: Your parents’ home is not just a place to lay your head, wash your clothes, grab food and run. Show some interest in hanging out with the old folks once in a while. This can actually be an enjoyable time. You just might discover how much you like your parents, now that everyone’s an adult. You could even have several things in common with them — maybe a favorite pastime like pouring a few glasses of wine or beer, and binge-watching the last season of Game of Thrones.
Contribution – This applies to more than just expenses. It’s also about pitching in around the house, and making sure everyone’s happy with the living arrangements.
Monetary: What your child can afford to contribute to household costs will vary depending on their income, expenses and financial goals. It also has a lot to do with your philosophy on how much you want to, or can feasibly afford to help them out. Sometimes letting your child forego paying rent, but asking for monthly cash to offset part of other expenses like utilities and groceries works well. And, it might mean that they can achieve financial goals (like saving for a down payment on a place of their own) sooner. Ahem — translation = you get your empty nest back. Whatever the approach, avoid possible misunderstandings by having a clear conversation to be sure everyone is on the same page.
Team effort: This one also requires open dialogue and buy-in. It might seem easier for you and your adult child to fall back into the old routine of mom or dad doing most of what’s needed around the house. Maybe you like things done a certain way, and doing it yourself is easier than explaining how you want it done? Your kiddo is certainly not going to look a gift horse in the mouth by objecting to that set up. However, this can lead to resentment and too much work for you. It’s important that everyone does their part with chores. (This doesn’t include your child taking care of his/her own sh*t like keeping their living space clean and doing their own laundry. That’s a given.) We’re talking about tasks like cleaning shared living spaces, cooking, grocery shopping, trash, yard care, etc.
Living with your adult child (for a defined length of time) can be a source of happiness and fun…and a new set of great memories. But, as we know, all good things must come to an end. So, in the event that there is no end in sight, or it keeps getting delayed, don’t despair. We’ve dug up this Huffington Post piece to give you inspiration and ideas on how to make it happen.