‘Hi Mom, I’m coming home’


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Macy Freeman writes an occasional column about rental issues.

When you first leave home for college or the workforce, there is a range of emotions you might experience: excitement, fear, curiosity.

You take your first few steps onto a college campus, you rent your first apartment and everything is going pretty well. But let’s say you don’t land that dream job after school. Or you have a job, but don’t make enough to live on your own or you get laid off a year or two into your career.

What then?

For many, the answer is moving back home. But if you too come from a small town, years of city living can make that seem like the worst-case scenario.

Truthfully, if I didn’t come from such a small city and didn’t fear not being able to find work in my industry there, I don’t think I’d have a problem moving back home. My mom and I have always been close and for a long time it was just her and me in the house after my older siblings graduated and moved.

One of my best friends decided to move home after graduation. And though she comes from a big city, living with her parents again has been a bit challenging. Her father can be especially hard on her, coming down on her for being out late. Though she wants to explain that she is an adult and can make her own decisions, she’s living there rent-free and doesn’t want to rock the boat. Understandable, right?

If you’re moving back home, there are certainly things you’re going to want to think about first, including how to talk to parents who still want to treat you like a teenager. First, understand that it may take a while for your parents to get used to the “adult” you, especially if the last time they saw you for an extended amount of time was during holidays and summer breaks when you were in college.

Your parents are going to worry about you whether you’re 21 or 41 — that’s just what they do — so realize their concerns are coming from the right place.

That being said, there are a few ways to assert your adulthood:

• Come up with a time frame and let your parents know how long you plan to stay at home. You may need more time than you imagine, and that’s okay, but setting goals never hurt anyone. This will show your folks that you’re thinking long term and that you’ve set goals for yourself.

•  Pitch in around the house. Offer to cook, clean, buy groceries; don’t wait for your parents to ask.

• Get up and out of the house. If you’re job hunting, too much time in the house can discourage you, and make it look like you’re not doing anything with yourself.

Stuck at home with no job? This can be a tough one. If you saved up during college and your savings is enough to last you a while, you should be in decent shape while you search for career opportunities. Never underestimate the power of your network. Stay in contact with your former professors, supervisors and classmates. You never know who might help you make that next step, and one day you might be able to return the favor.

To make the most of your time at home, give yourself objectives. If you’re working part-time or freelancing, here’s your chance to build up your savings. Use this time as an opportunity to learn something new. Consider taking some courses online. Edx offers free courses in art and culture, computer science, biology, history and many other topics. You can take them at your own pace and even earn a certificate of achievement for a fee. Don’t spend too many days stuck in the house.

Look for temp jobs; that way you can make some money on the side while you work on building your career. If you seem to be hitting roadblock after roadblock in your job hunt, get out of the house and away from that computer. Sometimes we get too wrapped up in what we do for a living — so much so that it begins to define who we are. Try to avoid this trap; especially you overachievers. Don’t spend so much time stressing about your career that you forget to enjoy your 20s. The job market can be tough, but trust that something will come through when you least expect it.

With the onslaught of bills, landlord woes and empty pockets, plenty of young people living on their own will tell you that if you can afford to live at home, stay there for as long as you can. Move on when you’re truly ready.

I know it probably feels like you’re taking a step back, but you’re not alone, and it’s only temporary. Things don’t always work out the way you expect them to and sometimes you come across a detour or two.

The way we handle the major and minor forks in the road of early adulthood will depend on how well we prepare for them.

Read Macy Freeman’s previous blogposts:

Keeping peace with your landlord

Making your first apartment your own

Hunt is hard when roommate is on a different page

Income restrictions prove to be obstacle in housing search

 

Macy L. Freeman is an editorial aide for the Weekend/Going Out Guide section at The Washington Post.
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