Many of us decided to move back in with our parents once quarantine was put into action. Everyone’s reasoning for making this move could vary, but I know one things for sure, that the initial idea of home cooked meals, laundry service, living rooms and bedrooms bigger than the size of cupboards all seemed pretty amazing. Now don’t get me wrong, I recognize my privilege and am so grateful for my situation. But this still is a huge adjustment that definitely needs attention that many of us are currently working through. So, the honeymoon phase is over and it hit us. The WHY going off to college and then living on our own felt like freedom now shines through more than ever. Do you feel like you have regressed to your teenage years?
With no real end in sight, here are a few tips for making living at home with your family more enjoyable!
1) Set Clear Expectations
The first few weeks living at home, none of us knew how long this would really be. I definitely came into my house acting like I was here for my vacation like I have been doing so over the years. My parents are used to that. Three big differences though now are
we’re all stuck in the house with nowhere to go
we all still have our daily work to do
we can’t plan social activities with other friends or family members
So, we’re a few weeks in and we realize this is our new norm and this is not vacation mode. Think about this before you say or do anything to your parents: It is natural for your parents to go back into parent mode once they’re child is back under their roof. It’s like learning to ride a bike: you stop for years, and when it is introduced to you again, you can get on and ride like you did years before. This is exactly what it’s like for your parents: they had you for years in their home, responsible for you and in charge, then you leave and once you’re back in, they pick up where they left off. Can’t blame them. It’s natural for them. Now that you can see that unconscious act on their end, you can go into explaining to your parents with more empathy and compassion. So, what do you do?
Set up clear boundaries
o Give them your work schedule and say, “From 9 to 5, I will be working and during these hours, I won’t be able to chat or help out around the house.”
o Give them times when you are available. “From 8 to 9 in the morning and after 5 o’clock, I can help out or catch up!”
o Give them specific days that you know ahead of time that you scheduled a virtual happy hour with friends, virtual game nights, or virtual dinner dates.
If your parents are visual rather than auditory, and you see it’s hard for them to remember and keep track of your full schedule, write it out and give them a schedule that they can refer to. This will prevent any tiffs from building up and everything is clearly stated so confusion can be minimized.
2) Help around the house
Your parents have gotten used to having the house to themselves for quite a while now. So you coming back in is technically throwing off their routine as well as you invading their space. Last thing you want is for your parents to feel taken advantage of and you acting like you’ve checked into a hotel. We all know to prevent screaming matches the big thing is be active rather than be passive. Thoughtfulness goes a long way.
Some examples of things that you can do:
o Pick up around the house
o Offer to order more supplies if needed
o Offer to grocery shop
o Help clean the dishes and table after eating
If you don’t know where something goes because it’s been awhile or don’t know how the coffee machine works, just ask! Don’t just leave it there for mom or dad to pick it up. You want to prevent the buildup of frustration. In order to prevent that, be vocal as time goes. If you help out consistently, your parents are more likely to return the kindness your way when you need it.
3) Designate your own personal space
As you know and see how important it is to set clear expectations and boundaries with your personal and work schedule, it’s important to physically create that boundary. Something that comes with living with your parents is a huge privacy adjustment. Setting up your own personal space can create getting that privacy back and retain some normalcy. Having a place to call your own but also re-creating your home and work space will help you feel more comfortable in this environment.
4) Make time for family time
This time for everyone can be really stressful, different, and uncomfortable to handle. There’s no rule book on how to handle this, what to do, or how to behave. It just is and we are all figuring it out as we go! What has helped me is to remind myself what I am grateful for and what I have been given during this time at home. For me is that at my age, getting to have this quality time with my parents that I probably will never get time like this again. So, cherish these moments and make time for one another because it is special.
o Set nights to have dinner together
o Bake with your mom
o If you are able to go outside and social distance, take a walk together
o Find a few shows that you all enjoy watching
o Little Fires Everywhere
o The Plot Against America
5) Be kind and understanding
We all clash with our family, friends, and significant others. Especially when locked under one roof, this is inevitable. It’s helpful to tell yourself, you are not alone! This happens to all of us. I’m sure growing up, especially as a teenager, you felt your parents were annoying you. Now next time you have that feeling, before acting on it, take a pause, breathe, and tell yourself that maybe you’re annoying them too. It’s never one sided and especially during stressful times, one of the most important things is to have self-compassion but also compassion for others, especially those who you love.
Want more tips eating & living during covid-19? Check out this recent article.
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