Reader Karoline wrote in to me recently (and some other readers as well), sympathizing and asking how living with the ‘rents has fared for me.
Well… there’s always good and bad right?
Here are my thoughts on how I deal with my parents before I moved out and tasted independence, and after I moved back in to re-nest.
Living with your parents, before you move out
This is the time when you most want to move out.
There is no space, it’s cluttered, you can’t even make chocolate spread-covered butter biscuits for breakfast without your Dad shoving an orange in your face.
You get in fights over who should have taken out the garbage.
You are constantly told: My house, my rules.
And you get these worrying looks when you come home past 8 p.m.
Like at 8.15 p.m.
You think living on your own will be THE BOMB and you can eat cookies for breakfast, sleep in until noon with nary a care in the world.
I moved out when I was 19, got my own apartment and a job to pay for it.
It was a quick lesson in how to be an adult, that was for damn sure.
The thing I forgot about in my fantasies of leaving was how things were going to get done and paid.
Bathroom filthy? It may not have been your chore to do at home, but now you have to do it ALL.
Bills getting paid? Gotta get a job to do that, the electricity doesn’t work without it.
And I didn’t pay rent BEFORE I moved out. Only after I move back in, do I have to pay rent.
Remembering to buy toilet paper and toothpaste? Er…… can baking soda and tissue papers suffice for now?
Learning how to do little fix-it things around the home? Had to be Googled.
And cooking: where else are you ever going to get mom’s home cooked meals filled with love, unless you do it yourself? Gah.
Of course, the best thing about living on your own is you CAN eat cookies for breakfast, sleep in until noon and do what you want without someone nagging you.
But change starts to take place, and before you know it, you are shrieking at someone for putting down a cold glass on the table without a coaster, and wondering how to get burnt food off from the bottom of a pot without ruining it.
With freedom, comes responsibility. Ahhhh…
Still, it’s pretty awesome living without your parents.
You can decorate and do whatever the heck you want, and no one is going to try and use your room as a storage for old dusty boxes with useless parts of ancient computers, or store furniture in there because they have too much junk everywhere else.
Living with your parents after you have moved out
So you had to move back in for various reasons.
It wasn’t awful living with my mom. But I felt a real sense of guilt of not being there more during the week on some nights when I came home late, or went out after.
We only saw each other briefly in the mornings (she left before I did), and briefly at night when she and I both came home hungry and exhausted.
There were a lot of good things, like having more bonding time with my mom, which helped our relationship a lot, and I felt good being able to help her do things she otherwise would have taken hours to do.
I came back to a room totally filled with JUNK. My family’s JUNK.
And a new rule was installed: You put junk in that particular room, and I will get rid of it as I see fit.
The last time we went back with BF’s truck, we hauled away 10 boxes of JUNK, 1 huge broken computer chair, and cleaned the room of its mess.
Did anyone notice? Probably not.
But the room looks a heck of a lot better.
I don’t think there’s anything shameful or wrong in living with your parents past the age of 19, or moving back in
Maybe it’s just my sort-of traditional upbringing, but I had lots of friends who lived with their parents, and some who still do.
And they are normal, human beings who are not weirdo recluses who stay in their basement in their PJs all day, playing Dungeons and Dragons, shunning all human contact.
Some people think it’s a sign of weakness, or that you couldn’t hack it on your own, so you had to crawl back to mommy and daddy.
I already moved out on my own at 19, and proved I could be independent.
And when I moved back in the first time, it was for practical reasons, rather than emotional ones.
I had a project in my so-called home city (Toronto is NOT Greater Toronto Area, people!! GTA is not “local” for me.), and I didn’t want to pay 12 months of rent to a stranger when I could just pay it to my parents.
This time, since I had already left the family home once, it meant I would move back as a contributing member and renter.
I paid $600 a month, bought my own food, stayed only for 4 days in Toronto and spent the other 3 in Montreal with BF.
For 8 months.
I also pulled my weight as a member of the family and became a typist & editor for my mom’s papers, garbage-taker-outter, official lunch-maker-and-packer, and a pianist at night.
This second time I will move back in with my parents, and with my BF, will not be because we cannot afford rent, or are running back home with our tails between our legs.
I am not ashamed at all for going back, and neither does BF feel weird for going back to my parents.
I wouldn’t feel strange going to his place to live if it was for practical reasons, and if I knew it wasn’t permanent.
Again, as always, it’s for practical reasons — that we don’t want to pay 12 months of rent to a stranger, as we could potentially be leaving after a month of being in Toronto, or after 7 months.
Plus, it’s a totally enclosed separate apartment on its own, and we can have our own privacy any time we want, with our own bathroom, kitchen and separate doors and entryways.
It’s like being tenants, while having the freedom to do what you want in your own space, AND roam to take over the rest of the house as well.
It’s uncertain how long we will stay in Toronto, and I’d rather take advantage of the available situation rather than getting an apartment, paying the same rent in the same area, just to prove a point.
I have no qualms (and neither does BF) about moving back in with my family.
It isn’t permanent, and we aren’t parasitic moochers.
Besides, my mom is really craving the company at night, and we are planning on doing lots of chores that my much older mom cannot handle on her own, cooking and buying food for the family in addition to paying rent while we’re there.
Even with my older brother, they don’t find it weird that my dad has moved in with them to nanny their kids.
And I don’t either, because my dad gets paid a decent salary for doing it, and he WANTS to take care of his grandkids.
We’re family but we are not a family of moochers, even to each other.
We understand that nothing is really for free, even if we’re family.
Lessons learned so far
Living with your parents at the age of 19 or coming back when you’re 23, and 26, can be both annoying, but also comforting.
I found that over the years of not physically living with my sometimes very demanding, annoying parents, was that I grew closer emotionally.
I called my mom more. On a whim, just to hear how the family and she was doing.
I emailed my dad more, to show him pictures of food we made, and to promise to come back.
I actually even tried to get more sisterly with my brothers, and tentatively, it’s still walking on hot coals for some parts. But it’s getting there.
You sometimes need to move away to get closer.