Living with your parents as an adult is a difficult egg to swallow – but in 2017 it sometimes seems like the only thing on the menu. In a report conducted by the National Housing Federation, first time buyers are advised that they need to be saving £2,300 a month to stand a chance of having enough money for a deposit on a place in London within the next four years. Personally that statistic makes me want to eat dirt and move into the ocean on a permanent basis.
But for everyone else left on land there’s a simpler solution. Move back in with Mum and Dad. On the one hand – yes please. You’ll save money, you’ll be back somewhere familiar, you won’t have to live with strangers in a damp flat where the heating doesn’t work and your landlord is just three large rats in a trench coat who keeps shouting at you to give them more money. On the other hand – MY GOD NO. No. Because living at home in your 20s is not just low-rent, baked potatoes and warm towels. It’s regularly feeling like a large pathetic child who can’t do anything right. It’s not being able to come and go without questions. It’s losing faith in the future. I know this because it happened to me. Here’s how I’ve (mostly) avoided a breakdown whilst living at home.
BE HONEST WITH YOUR DATES
Don’t pretend that it’s your place. Don’t call your parents Judith and Mortimer and refer to them as your much older roommates. They’re not your roommates! They’re your parents and they didn’t squash their crotches together twenty plus years ago just so you could disrespect them like this. Be honest about Judy and Mort. They deserve that much. And yes, that honesty can seem like a risk when you’re trying to make a good impression. But really it’s the only thing that’ll free you from the shame and the potential awkwardness of telling a whole pile of lies. Being upfront about your situation is the only way to conduct yourself in love (or even just in casual sex-bonking).
DO YOUR OWN WASHING
She’s going to try. She’s going to tell you it’s fine. That she wants to do it. That you have enough on your plate. THAT SHE LIVES FOR THIS SHIT. She’s going to try and wrestle your dirty socks out of your arms. But you can’t let her. Doing the things that you’d need to do at your own place is an exercise in maintaining your independence and responsibility. Enjoy the perks of living at home, sure, enjoy saving money on rent, on being somewhere with clean forks, with wifi, somewhere you don’t have to worry about flatmates selling your electronic goods to buy an illegal drug plant. But don’t let it be how it was when you were a child. Your mental health and progress rests on you looking at it differently. It’s a stop gap and a chance for you to get yourself sorted. Shout that into a bag of corn until you believe it.
DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY WHEN PEOPLE GIVE YOU “THE LOOK”
The look I’m talking about is a mix between pity and embarrassment, like they had a bad pistachio a few hours ago and it’s just catching them up. They probably don’t even realise they’re doing it. All you can do when it happens is try your best to smile and ignore them. Remind yourself as loudly as you need that the good and solid people won’t give you that look. They’ll say, “fair enough” or “cool” or even just nothing at all. And they’ll go on eating their apple slices, understanding that it’s a hard world to be a young person in and that there’s nothing to be embarrassed about at all. So try to forgive yourself for needing to do this. Work very hard to keep other people’s judgements out and get through it. Be a cool little jelly egg.
YOUR MUM WILL BECOME THE WORST MICRO-AGGRESSOR OF ALL
There’s no safe moment to leave a spoon by the sink instead of immediately washing it up. Your mum knows. If she’s at work: she knows. If she’s in the garden: she knows. If she’s deep underground defusing a 2000lb World-War Two era bomb: SHE STILL KNOWS WHAT YOUR INCONSIDERATE, AWFUL SOUL JUST DID. But she can’t yell about the little things anymore. You’re both adults. The dynamic has changed. No, she’s not going to yell. She’s just going to breathe heavily when you get up at 11am on a Saturday. She’s going to clean away your plate whilst you’re still eating off it. She’s going to talk loudly at you when she knows you’re hungover because you foolishly got drunk on a Tuesday night. She’s going to do tiny aggressions on you until you clean up your act. Clean your spoon and get used to it.
GET TO KNOW YOUR PARENTS WHILE YOU STILL CAN
Not because they’re about to DIE or anything. Relax. They’re definitely fine. They eat plenty of yoghurts and they go spinning at the leisure centre twice a week. All I mean is that you should take the opportunity to get to know your parents before you move out again for good. This isn’t like when you were a kid living at home and their primary focus was making sure that you were fed and you weren’t putting marbles in your nose. Now that you’re a grown-up who HARDLY EVEN DOES THAT ANYMORE you can focus on knowing your parents as individual people, not simply your caregivers, protectors and marble police. You’ll probably find out a lot of stuff that makes you understand and respect them more – which will also make living together way easier.
PRIVACY IS FAKE NOW
You can’t go into this expecting that your business is going to stay yours alone. It’s not. Your parents are going to pick your up business and take a good look at it. They’re going to turn it upside down, inside out and back to front. They’re going to put a novelty hat on it and call it Lil Carlos. They’re going to want to know where you’re going, where you’ve been, what you ate, who you saw, what kind of underwear you have on. They’re going to want to know what you’re doing about getting a job, or a house, or a life of your own. They’re going to come in your room when you’re asleep to measure a window. They’re going to say “WHAT I CAN’T MEASURE A WINDOW AT 4 IN THE MORNING IN MY OWN HOUSE NOW, KEVIN??”. They’re going to call you Kevin when that is not your name. There is no turning back. You are Kevin now and you have no secrets.