Back Home: The Final Round

A more recent life development has been one that as a teenager I promised myself would never happen. After graduation, however, it appeared inevitable.

Here it is (deep breath):

I moved back to my parents’ home.

Perhaps it’s not glamorous, but it’s the truth. I didn’t graduate with a job lined up in my field. One week after graduation, I moved to Shenandoah National Park and worked with A Christian Ministry in the National Parks for the summer. But that ended, and I had to face the music of returning home and job-searching.

I know I’m not alone. Conversations with friends who are in my same boat prove that. It takes time to establish financially, make a living, find affordable housing. Leaving the nest might be more of a process than we first expected, and certainly desired.

Moving back home may feel like a step backwards in independence. Technically, perhaps it is, but only as much as we allow it to be.

John Eldredge (one of my favorite authors) says, “We must have life, but we cannot plan for it.” It is possible to thrive where we don’t plan to be, if we choose to find the full life our situation offers.

So here are some thoughts for how to flourish if you find yourself in a final round of living at home:

1. Stay in touch with your family
Even if you’re in the same house, it can be easy to pull out of the loop of what’s going on in parents’ and siblings’ lives, especially once you land a job. Take time to find out how your family members are doing. Spend time together—do game nights with them, have lunch dates, go to siblings’ school events.

If you have extended family members, how can you connect with them? Make an intentional effort to visit relatives and help them if they have a need.

2. Be an active family member
Every family has a never-ending list of chores and projects related to the house. Put yourself out there to pitch in and help even before your parents ask. Offer to take over painting the stairway, ask if there are groceries you can buy on your way, wash dishes, take care of pets.

3. Have patience
Butting heads with parents may be a real concern. Patience may become your best friend as you wade the momentary frustrations together. Realize that you’ve essentially established yourself as an adult, and that your living habits have shifted some. Communicate with your parents about the changes you’ve adopted, and don’t assume they know what you’re thinking.

Being patient with yourself will also spur you on in establishing as a full-fledged adult. Set realistic goals for jobs and finances. Be responsible, but avoid putting unnecessary pressure on yourself so that you’re discouraged when you fail to meet your expectations. Give yourself the needed time, and don’t rush the journey.

4. Be a part of community
How can you give to those in your neighborhood, town, or church? Volunteer with a cause. Get to know your neighbors, the elderly, and those from other countries in your hometown.

On the flip-side, let yourself be poured into. If there are people in your community who show interest in investing in you over coffee, take them up on it. Don’t shy away from building new relationships.

5. Set good habits now
This goes beyond regular exercise, healthy eating, and consistent sleep schedules. Think about your social sphere, how you’re using your time and finding space. What balance have you struck between spending time with family and friends and having personal time? Have you made a physical space where you can rest? Explore yourself outside the context of college life, and find living habits that allow you to thrive.

What are some ways you’ve adapted to becoming an adult while living in your parents’ house? What can you think of that promotes thriving in this situation?