Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Faux Life Coach: On Living At Home After College

Fuax Life Coach is a feautre in which I pretend to know everything about everything, and you listen to ALL OF MY ADVICE WORD FOR WORD! Yep, those are the rules here. They will be enforced by the strict, strict law of the internet. One area in which I have major experience in (after three months), is living at home after college. (And for me, a couple years of work. Hey, I'm still 23. Go easy on me.) It's not easy, that's for sure. There will be fights, awkwardness, and lots of family time. But it's possible to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone- you just have to make an effort. These are some foolproof rules I've come up with for myself. They make life a little bit easier 'round the house. I try to follow them at all times, but nobody's perfect.

1. Don't expect that your life is going to be how it was- So you're moving back in with your parents. Okay. This isn't the end of the world. The first step in this journey of regression is to aknowledge that it is an adjustment, and your life (and your parents' lives) can't possibly be the same as they were pre-move-in. You need to adjust your behavior, and they probably will, too. When you're living on your own, you don't necessarily have to act in a way that Mom and Dad would approve of. While things like a curfew and drinking ban are definitely off the table, being courteous of your parents really is key here. Does your Mom have a hard time getting to sleep when you stay out partying until 3am? Will keeping this in mind change your behavior? As much as it can be frustrating to keep your parents in mind when making decisions, unfortunately it's part of living at home. It has to be a give and take... Give in to the change. Admit you're in transition. But also always remember this is temporary, and that you need to be working towards something bigger than your parents' basement.

2. Find enjoyment in family time- I don't think I would have ever even considered moving home if I didn't LOVE spending time with my family. It was a huge factor in my decision to relocate to Ohio. But I realize that for some people, living at home isn't actually a choice, rather a necessity. Some people don't actually enjoy quality time with their parental unit. Hey, I get it. I remember being 16... vaguely. That whole "ugh my parents are ruining my life so I'm going to make this angry face on family outings" thing is sooooo 2003. It makes you look immature and frankly, you're probably ugly when you scowl. You're so much prettier when you smile! (Has your Mom told you that since you were 5-years-old, too? Well, that's because it's true.) Finding the joy in actually being around your parents is going to make this whole transition a lot easier. If family outings aren't your thing, try movie nights, or dinners out at new restaurants. If even that is too much to muster, try little things like grocery shopping- that way you can make sure you get all the food you want and as a bonus, you spend some time with your family, too.

3. Set ground rules- Easier said than done, but establishing ground rules early on is beneficial for everyone. By getting all of your wants and needs on the table right away, your parents can't inadvertently piss you off without knowing better, and vice versa. If you want them to stay out of your room at all times, tell them that. It might be up for debate, but at least you're expressing your wants and needs up front. They'll certainly have their requests, too. But be realistic. If one of their requirements is that you wake up every Saturday morning to help clean the house, and you just don't see that happening, it's much better to discuss beforehand than get in a fight every Saturday morning. Certainly you'll have to bend a little because it is their house afterall, but here's hoping they'll be reasonable. My parents certainly have been so far.

4. Share parts of your life with your parents- A big part of any functional parent/child relationship is trust. If your parents feel like they can't trust you, your life is going to be miserable. Staying in your room all the time and only coming out to ask for favors or to borrow their car isn't going to go over well. No body likes to be treated like a doormat. Instead, share pieces of your life with your parents. Tell them about work, about your love life, about whatever the hell is going on with you. I'm not saying you have to tell them everything, but establishing a relationship of honesty and openness will put them at ease. This means less "20 Questions" when you walk in the door at night, and more trust. It will make them less inclined to think you're lying to them, or behaving badly.... Which also means you kind of can't behave badly. I don't know if it's just me, but since moving back in with my parents, I actually want to "behave better." I think that's okay. This goes back to rule #1- making your actions and decisions something your parents would approve of is nothing to be embarrassed by- I actually think it's a sign of maturity and growth. Let's leave intentionally trying to piss off our parents to the kiddos. So make good decisions whenever possible, and share some of that with your parents. More trust means a better home life for everyone.

5. Create your own separate little world- I'm not advocating a "CARMEN'S ROOM- STAY OUT!" policy by any means, but establishing your own space is crucial when living with your parents. There's nothing worse than being a grown ass woman and having your Mom accidentally walk in on you changing. Luckily that hasn't happened to me since I've been home. This is for two reasons: 1. There's a lock on my room, and 2. My parents have respect for my room as my own space. I'm lucky that my room is upstairs and they're downstairs, so there is a definite separation of church and state in our house. Usually if they need me when I'm in my room, they just scream up the stairs and I pop my head out. It's so crucial to have your own getaway spots when you're living back at home again. Otherwise, I think even I might go crazy.

Living at home again post-college isn't for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of work on both ends of the bargain. But if you have parents that are nice enough to let you crash at home while you figure out what you're going to do with your life, I think you're pretty damn lucky. It's nice to know someone has your back, no matter what. So be thankful :)

2 comments:

  1. Jiminy - someone sounds like an adult. Couldn't have said it better myself (excluding dangling prepositions, that is). Well put. If I ever need to move back in with my Dad, I'll follow your advice to the letter.

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  2. Good luck with finding out what you want in life :) I am 23 as well but still studying, and I have no idea what to do after..

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