It’s hard for me to say this out loud but at the end of 2017, I had a very cliched existential crisis in Ubud, Bali. Yep, I am that girl. It was a fully-fledged Eat Pray Love situation that led me to leave my Los Angeles advertising career and move back to my Aussie hometown of Byron Bay. Or, more specifically, to my childhood bedroom with Jonathan Taylor Thomas posters still intact.
But, as it turns out, returning to the nest isn’t all that uncommon in 2018. In fact, as millennials battle student debt and rising unemployment rates, the trend of returning home to live with the parental units is actually increasing — although it doesn’t come without its stigma or challenges (hence this guide). So, in the spirit of sharing — and caring — may my regressive living situation be your gain.
1 | Own it —
Even though The New York Times reports that “one in five people in their 20’s and early 30’s is currently living with his or her parents,” people are still going to call you out on your new sleeping arrangement. In fact, the media has even coined a cute term to label millennials living with their parents. It’s called “boomerangs.” Clever, I know.
Needless to say, you’re going to need to be prepared.
When the haters start to inevitably hate, maybe just mention that you were born amid several unfortunate and overlapping economic trends. And that you also graduated college as both the housing market and financial system were imploding.
Plus, for an added bonus, you’re part of the generation that just happened to face the highest debt burden of any graduating class in history (#humblebrag).
So yeah, maybe you do live with your parents because racking up your credit cards, living in a closet, or staying in a relationship and/or career that is sucking your soul doesn’t sound so good right about now. So what?
Also, have you met my parents? They are very cool.
2 | Think of them like roommates —
The first step was to think of my parents, not as parents, but as roommates who went prematurely gray and whose Netflix account over-indexed on small-town British murder mysteries. That also meant they were officially off the clock on all domestic duties. But they did try…
In my first week back, my mom had ironed my underwear and (after a detailed explanation on why eggs and dairy are not vegan) had dropped a small fortune restocking the fridge with plant-based snacks. For me, it was important to pull out the old Excel spreadsheet and divide and conquer household duties and expenses. It’s one thing to move back home, and another one completely to make my parents cater to my every need.
Ironically, the reality is, as much as you protest them picking up after you, they’ll still regress to parent-mode — because parents are awesome, kindhearted, and nurturing humans.
3 | Make “IT’S ONLY TEMPORARY!” your mantra —
You’re in a transition phase. And that’s okay. It’s just a pit stop on the way to whatever your next thing is. This one is especially helpful when you see an 85-year-old woman and her 65-year-old daughter doing their weekly groceries at Ralph’s. Breathe. That is not your story. And if it is, hell, at least they look happy.
4 | Pressure test any personal growth, yoga, or therapy —
They say family and relationship are the toughest forms of yoga. This is the truth. In fact, Yogi Bhajan says after 72 hours under the same roof as your family unit, you need to tap out before you regress.
For me, superficially, it’s my dad biting the spoon over a bowl of cereal. However, at a deeper level, it’s my own self-righteous judgment about their lifestyle choices.
Normally, on shorter visits, I’ve come in all entitled and focused on all the family neuroses that I refuse to inherit. This time I’ve left my judgment at the door, right next to mom’s novelty pig shoe rack. And my God, how the relationship has changed!
More and more each day, my parents blow me out of the water with their strength, grace, resilience, and compassion. Now my focus is on all the incredible traits that I hope to live up to and pass on to future generations.
5 | Explore your neighborhood as an adult —
When we move abroad, to a new city or suburb, we’re like culture vultures hungrily devouring our new hood’s art, food, and social scene. We invest in exploring our local area and integrating ourselves into the community. I don’t know about you, but for me, I’ve never paid my hometown the same courtesy.
Moving back after 15 years, I decided to come in with a traveler’s mentality and look at my neighborhood through foreign eyes. To my surprise, my small regional Aussie town was a treasure chest of delights to rival any big city. All the usual metropolitan suspects were on offer: yoga, barre, organic farmers, every social club under the sun (including a laughter club, LOL), foodie havens, art galleries, nationally acclaimed theatre performances, cool co-working spaces. But wait there’s more. It’s all set in UNESCO heritage listed rainforests, pristine beaches, rolling paddocks, and zero traffic on the 405.
As an 18-year-old girl, I couldn’t wait to leave, but now, in my early 30’s, I found myself wondering why I’d ever even left. Well played Universe. Well played.
6 | Cherish the time together —
The fact that a) your parents are cool with you moving back into their home, and b) the idea of this doesn’t make you run for the hills, means that you’ve probably got a pretty special connection. Truth be told, I love hanging out with my parents, and, as they move into their early 60’s, this time feels all the more precious.
For the last 15 years, our relationship has subsisted on Skype calls and fly-in, fly-out whirlwind visits. Now we don’t have to try and cram a year’s worth of hanging out into one week.
We’re allowed to simply be in each other’s company, sit in silence at the breakfast table, clear out the old boxes in the garage together, check out the local gallery on a Tuesday afternoon, jam out to The Rolling Stones on the way back from the store… we’re allowed to just live. And while life will change again soon enough, this feels less like a backward step, and more like a gift.