Two weeks ago, I accepted my dream job with a company based in my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. This position not only brings me a higher salary, great benefits, and telecommuting days (oh snap!), but the opportunity to be closer to my family. Closer to my grandmother’s Sunday dinners, closer to random adventures with my little sister, and closer to my mother—actually, very close. I’m moving back into her house.
The idea of living with my mother after being on my own for nearly a decade didn’t hit me until I started packing two nights ago. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom and I’m thrilled about living rent-free for a while, but I suddenly remembered Saturday mornings dedicated to yard work and military-like room inspections. Over the last five years, my Saturday mornings have been dedicated to unlimited mimosas—how can I go back to pushing a lawn mower during brunch time?
And whether I was in a dorm or cohabitating, I was master of my domain. Dishes in the sink for more than two nights? Spray them down with Clorox and hope for energy on Sunday to scrub them down. This won’t fly at my mom’s house.
I know I’m not alone with anxiety about moving back home after years of being on my own. So here are a few rules that I think will guide me and anybody else moving back to “the crib.”
1. Call Your Mom (and Let Her Know You’re Not Coming Home)
So you’ve been living curfew-free for nearly a decade and now you’re back at home with the people who knew you in diapers. Curfews are a distant childhood memory—just like standing in the corner or detention. Or are they?
While the woman who spent hours in labor with you may not implement a curfew upon your return, you should at least call or text her and let her know you’re safe and won’t be crossing her threshold that night. It will put her at ease and take away the guilt you’ll feel when you’re crawling up the steps at 6 AM.
2. Keep Your Room (Now Her Office) Clean
Since my departure after high school graduation in 2004, my mom has transformed my room into her home office. I’m still not sure where I’ll be sleeping, since my twin-sized bed is covered with files and pillows from the HomeGoods clearance aisle, but regardless, we’re going to have to share this space.
I’m sure none of our parents ever thought we’d move back in, so the fact that they’re allowing us to sleep in their new workout rooms or offices (our old bedrooms), is pretty thoughtful. And I know my mom is a stickler for order, so I’ll try to keep the clutter to a minimum—or at least safely hidden in the closet.
3. Don’t Be a (Total) Freeloader
Watch out Geico! I just saved a bunch of money by moving in with my mom. But before those jet-setter excursions to Costa Rica and Kenya get the best of your extra savings, remember to pick up a few bills. I thought this might be a common sense rule for moving back in with your parents, but I know a few people who are most definitely breaking it.
Whether you’re taking care of the cable and internet bills, the water bill, or the lawn service (since you don’t want to cut the grass), pitching in a little bit financially can go a long way to show your parents that you’re down to help out around the house.
4. Join (or Start) a Support Group
And by support group, I mean meet a group of friends that you can regularly meet at happy hour to avoid going home. (Bonus points if your crew is also venting about the joys of living with parents!) Remember, before you came along (again), your parents were empty-nesting in bliss—I know my mom was, anyway. Now that life has brought us together again, it’s important to maintain autonomy and to give each other breathing room and space.
And that's the bottom line. Though you're likely grateful that your parents are letting you crash on their couch until you're ready to leave again, remember that you're moving back in as an adult, so it’s important to act like an adult by respecting their space and flexibility.
Oh, and I'll be praying for patience for me, for my mom, and for you. We’re going to need it.
Are you moving back in or living with your parents? Share your experience and rules to follow. Remember, we’re in this together.