Returning To The Nest: A Guide To Surviving Life Back At Home

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Returning To The Nest: A Guide To Surviving Life Back At Home

Welcome to the real world. You’ve survived four (or more) years of personal freedom and debauchery under the guise of “earning a degree” and now has come the time to leave that beautiful little sanctuary of a state school that you call home. I’ll bet you didn’t even realize that all of your happiness and happy hours would soon be replaced with feelings of confusion and discontent! No worries, you aren’t alone. You’ve finished college and now you don’t know what the fuck to do with yourself… so back to the parental’s house, you go. There are plenty of other people out there (myself included) who have been through the same situation, and we’re here for you.

Now, other than the obvious blows to your self-esteem and dignity that making this move back home comes with, there’s also a silver lining. There are ways to make this uncomfortable little transitional phase of your life actually work in your favor, and strategies to make your newfound living situation tolerable for all parties involved. I’ve compiled a short but sweet list of situations you might now find yourself in, and guidelines on how to survive being roommates with your mom and pop… again.

1. Be grateful that your parents even let you move back into their home.

If you think, for one second, that your parents weren’t the slightest bit relieved when they moved your Blink-182 posters and trap set out of what is now an elegant, transitionally-modern guest bedroom 4 years ago — you’ve got another thing coming, buddy. Imagine all of the quiet nights they had together, watching NCIS and sipping on a second-or-third grocery shelf petite Syrah after enjoying a homemade meal of baked halibut and fresh Greek salad. Now their favorite 23-year-old is coming back home, and you’re going to ruin everything. As annoying as it may seem to you (the brand new “adult”) to have to move back home, the thought of having you around 24/7 in what was previously your parents’ sanctuary is probably about as appealing as a dumpster fire. You may not like it, but you really need to sack-up and be thankful that you even have a place to live.

2. It’s not going to be all fun and games: your dad is now your landlord.

I’ve always had a great relationship with both of my parents, but it would suffice to say that moving back home after all of my freedom and lack of responsibilities in college put a strain on the “friendly” part of our relationship. No longer are you allowed to walk around in your underwear, smoke cigs on the front balcony, or drink alcohol on a Wednesday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. Hopefully you’ve gotten yourself some kind of job (I did), and you can afford to go and buy and do things for yourself, but even that doesn’t mean you can act like the animal you were in college anymore. Gone are the days of passive-aggressively leaving the garbage overflowing or the dishes piling up. Now if you do that, your mother will probably (and rightfully) kick your ass. And if you were blessed with younger siblings who are still young enough to be in school (shout out to my 9-year-old brother), you also can’t just stumble around being a loud and obnoxious idiot all the time. No more of my favorite four letter words, no getting hammered on a Saturday during a Bama football game and screaming profanities at the tv screen (really, though, Hugh Freeze: GTFO). Moving home means you have to start acting like a real human again, something no college teaches any of their students.

3. Casual relationships with people are out of the question.

Living at home means no adult sleepovers. This is not even a thing that needs to be discussed. As the oldest and only daughter of a man who keeps a NRA sticker on his office door, and a gun safe by his desk, I don’t even think I need to delve any deeper into this topic. Just pray and hope that your Tinder date has their own apartment, and it doesn’t reek of weed and dirty laundry.

4. You get good food…all of the time.

It may seem like there are more cons than pros, but I haven’t even gotten to the meat and potatoes of describing this situation here (pun intended). Do your parents cook? Do they find cooking deplorable, but they like to go out to eat? Either way, you’re racking up the wins here, pal. I am lucky enough that my mother is a fantastic and talented cook, which she does quite often. The lack of homemade and hot meals I had in college has wholly been made up for by the exquisite dishes that my mother has made for me since I’ve been home. Is your pops a grill master? I bet he’d be down for grilling up some steaks (medium rare or you’re wasting it) and downing some brewskis with you. You may not get to walk around and hang out in your skivvies anymore, but I can guarantee you’re not the one buying the steaks OR the brews. You win some, you lose some.

5. Being with your family can be pretty nice.

If you’re like me, you went away to a school that was relatively inaccessible for frequent family visits. I lived 10 hours and over 500 miles away, so needless to say, I only saw my ‘rents at Thanksgiving and Christmas; maybe spring break if they were lucky. I have two younger brothers who I think are pretty decent, and being able to talk to them in real life and not via FaceTime is a really sweet deal. After years of only calling your parents to ask for (more) money, or to let them know you were alive the morning after posting what was probably a really inappropriate Instagram photo/ getting tagged in a 2 a.m. Facebook location check-in at The Campus Party Store, your family is probably grateful to have real conversations with you, too.

6. You’re going to get really, really, really bored.

I’m from an extremely small town near Houston, and I’ve been a complete failure at keeping up with more than a handful of my high school classmates and friends. Needless to say, I moved home and only hung out with my mom and my coworkers. My coworkers are some of the coolest and funniest people I’ve ever met, so I have no complaints about that, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t imagine teleporting some of the old college squad out to the local Mexican restaurant/watering hole for a rowdy Tuesday night with some margs when I was feeling down in the dumps. Plus, not living in a real city with any accessible brunch/happy hour spots has really taken a toll on my personal well-being. If I’m not blowing $40 on a Sunday brunch, then I am just not happy. Best way to battle this is to get some hobbies. Start exercising, read some books, learn a new language. Seriously, the idle hands are the Devil’s workshop, so don’t let the boredom get to you. Plus, if you exercise, it gives you a new reason to rock an entirely athleisure wardrobe, anyway.

7. You’re probably going to have more money than you’ve ever had in your life. Use it wisely.

In other words, do not do, in any way shape or form, what I did. Moving home should be a time in which you strategize, plan, and organize for what comes next. You’ll be bringing home the paychecks and suddenly have all of this expendable income- even more than your friends! Wanna know why? Cause you aren’t paying rent, you dipshit. Of course you are having a hard time finding friends who want to hit up brunch with you 3x a week and try the “Top 10 Trendiest New Bars in Houston.” It’s because your friends have bills to pay. And while you’re chillin’ at mom and dad’s, enjoying the #marglife, and becoming Nordstrom’s favorite online customer — your buddies are saving up their pennies and living the true post-grad existence. Now in my defense, I did take it upon myself to start an investment account this year, and the little emails they send me about receiving dividends really get me hype, but in all honesty, I didn’t play this hand as well as I should have. Save your money, my friends, save as much as you would be spending on rent if you didn’t have this cushy situation with your parental roommates.

8. Have an exit plan.

Failure To Launch. Wedding Crashers. You’ve seen the movies. As funny as it was the first time you yelled at your mom about “Mom! The meatloaf!”, she didn’t get it then, she doesn’t get it now, and it’s probably time you start thinking about moving out. Being back at home should be used in a transitional fashion, not in a “I’m permanently back here until further notice” kind of way. Moving home kinda sucks, that’s just the reality of it. But you don’t have to stay there forever, and you shouldn’t. Start saving your money, and making plans on what you’d like to do when you move out. Set a date you’d like to be in your own place: and stick to it. It’s a lot harder to enjoy that $60 meal at the new steakhouse downtown when you know you’re just extending your hometown stay. Have your exit plan mapped out, and make it happen.

9. People are going to ask you what you’re doing now, and it’s going to be a huge pain in the ass admitting you’re still at home with your folks.

This is not a life or death situation, it is but a mild inconvenience. All I’m saying is that you need to be prepared to have the conversation, as it will come up 10 times out of 10 when running into someone you know. A lot of you are going through the same exact thing, and it’s really not something you need to be embarrassed about. In my experience, I usually try and lead the conversation to discussing what I’m doing next, or what my next plans are. You can only discuss your morning ritual of watching web gems with your 9-year-old brother so many times before people start thinking you’re weird. (Not really, Jackson is a future ESPN analyst and he teaches me more about sports than anyone else in my life at this time, so get out with the negativity) Most of the time the people who are asking you about this are going to be old classmates, or people around your hometown. Other times, it’s going to be your Bumble or Hinge dates. Obviously, the latter is the tougher conversation to have, but in my experience, if you’re not a loser and can kind of show that you’re just a regular person getting their shit together, you’ll still have a chance at a second date.

10. Again, remember that it’s temporary.

As I write this column, I’m on the brink of moving out of my parents’ house literally this weekend. My room is a barren wasteland of desolation, and I’m living out of a laundry basket, but 23 years worth of junk is packed up and ready to be moved into my best friend’s new house (shout out to Haydn for growing up and allowing me to be her roommate). Sure, there were some trying times in this house during my existence here. My mother screaming at me when she discovered me sleeping in my bed at 8 a.m. after taking a $350 Uber home from downtown Houston following a work function with my car nowhere in sight, not remembering getting to bed after downing two and a half bottles of wine by myself during the Iron Bowl and saying many questionable things in mixed company, or my little brother using my Netflix more than me and leaving candy wrappers in my bed. All of these things add to what is now the myth and legend I am leaving behind me here in this house. A part of me is going to miss it…but the other part of me can’t wait to get the hell out and return to my trash can ways. Thanks mom and dad, y’all are the real MVPs. To everyone out there rocking the suburbs with your folks: godspeed.

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