We all have an idea of what our lives will be like post-grad. A great apartment in our dream city, a fabulous dream job, nights out with your friends and SO—basically your perfect life. But even the best-laid plans go awry, which all of us have seen this year while experiencing a global pandemic. When you end up back at home after graduation, it can be a bit of a bummer – especially if you feel like you don’t have a next step.
But just because your parents aren’t #roommategoals and you aren’t living your best life right now doesn’t mean that everything is hopeless. With the right attitude and some boundaries, you can make living at home after graduation a fantastic situation.
Be grateful—and show it.
If you’re allowed to live at home rent-free (or rent-reduced) while you are job-hunting or dipping your toes into the workforce, be grateful. Not everyone has the opportunity to come home to a situation like that. And while it’s clear that your family is helping you because they love you, don’t take that for granted and become an unwelcome guest.
“I felt very frustrated and angry living at home when many of my friends were living on their own already,” says Caitlin Fitzgerald, a graduate of Lasell College. “My parents and I needed to adjust to the fact that they were no longer the only adults in the house and we all needed to be more respectful of each other and our schedules.”
If you aren’t working yet, spend the day tidying the house, or offer to cook dinner a couple times a week. If you are out on a job interview, stop to pick some groceries. These little tasks may not seem like much, but they will mean the world to your parents.
Use it as a learning experience.
If you are stuck at home after graduation with your family, it may be frustrating but try to make the best of a bad situation. You may have left college with a degree and a deep knowledge of topics like Victorian Literature, but you may also be missing some essential knowledge needed to truly adult like how to change a tire or roast a chicken.
If you have questions about life skills like budgeting, cooking or emergency preparedness, now is your chance to ask them. Your parents and other family members will be excited to share their knowledge with you.
And don’t limit your learning! If your local library offers classes like knitting, cake decorating or hula dancing, check out one of those! See if your local fitness center offers courses on marathon training, yoga or rock climbing. In the future, you might not have the time for fun learning opportunities, so pick up some fun new skills while you can.
At college, you were used to having your own space. And while you were away at school, chances are your parents got used to having their own space too. To avoid any fights about rules and space, set up a roommate agreement with your ‘rents. Discuss issues like who gets control of the TV when, who’s responsible for cleaning up spaces around the house, what to do when one of you has company over and curfew.
“While you may be an adult and used to living on your own on campus, it’s still your parents’ place and you have to respect their rules,” says Colie Lumbreras, a graduate of the University of Iowa.
“Even though I was used to coming home at 2 a.m. on weekends, [my mom] was not used to it and would be worried about me until I got home. We worked it out so I let her know that I was staying out late and that I would wake her when I was home, so she knew I was safe.”
And just like you did with your college roommates, practice common courtesy with your family. Don’t leave piles of your dirty dishes in the kitchen, and if you know your parents have to be up early for work, avoid making lots of noise late at night. Your parents will be grateful for the respect, and you’ll be thankful that they give you your privacy!
Find time for yourself.
If you are splitting your time between working (or job-hunting) and hanging with your parents, chances are you are going to need some time to yourself. So, get out of the house! Hang out with friends in the area or find some new hobbies.
“[Find] anything that may help you get out of the house,” Caitlin says. “I joined a gym, have dinner out with friends once or twice a week, walk my dog and go out very frequently with my boyfriend.” Caitlin also points out that if you are living at home and saving up, you may have extra money to treat yourself to fun activities like a concert, vacation or new pair of shoes. Treating yourself is definitely a silver lining to living at home.
It’s sad to say but you won’t be living with your family forever, and there will come a time that you have to leave the nest. And while that’s exciting, you will come to realize that a small part of you may be sad about leaving home. While you’re there, enjoy it!
When your parents ask if you want to go to the movies with them or offer to make you dinner, say yes! You’ll miss these days when you’re exhausted and coming home late from work and have to make your own dinner.
If you are honest and take the time to talk things over with your parents, living at home after graduation isn’t as bad as it seems.