We’ve spent four years living with who we want, living how we want and living where we want. We eat our meals at weird times and in odd places. We scrub our bathrooms only when they reach an insanely unsanitary level. We let our yards become jungles of untrimmed grass and weeds until our landlords harass us. And now we’re just expected to move back in with our parents?
Among all of the other adjustments graduating seniors have to make, this one ranks pretty high up there on the list. As if leaving our friends, our campus and our houses isn’t enough, we now have to abide by our parents’ rules yet again.
It’s not just seniors though. Students oftentimes move back home for the summers between all four years of college, whether it’s for a job or to save money or to live in a home with a functioning air conditioner.
In high school, we’re used to living at home because it’s all we know. But after college, it’s different. I watched my sister endure the transition two years ago, and it wasn’t exactly smooth.
We don’t realize the freedoms that come with living away from home during our college years. Our parents won’t understand our incessant need to blast music from our iPhones while we get ready for the day, clean, cook, shower or do just about anything else around the house. They won’t empathize when we flop on the couch whining about needing a nap. And they definitely won’t find any entertainment in the stories we tell about our previous night’s endeavors.
This move is an even bigger adjustment with siblings. There are four kids in my family all within five years of each other, so we’re used to chaos. But everything changed once we all hit college. We had all lived on our own and adapted to our own ways of living, so bringing us back under one roof each summer is somewhat torturous.
Have a load of laundry to do? Get in line—there are five others ahead of you. Saving some tasty leftovers for later? Don’t worry, your brother will scarf them down before you get the chance. Did you want to watch your Sunday night TV show line-up? Too bad your sister is marathoning “Real Housewives of Orange County” on the biggest screen in the comfiest room of the house. The car sharing situation? Don’t even get me started.
Learned independence is hard to readjust to; at this point, we’re accustomed to our own ways of living. But as we uncomfortably force ourselves back into our adolescent homes, we have to avoid being selfish and remember a few things. We’re incredibly lucky to have parents who will do us this favor—we might not feel lucky in the adjustment, but it’s the truth. After graduation they could easily blow us kisses and wish us luck on our merry ways into the real world. I don’t know about you, but by the look of my bank account right now, I’d be homeless on June 1.
We also have to remember that this isn’t just a weird transition for us, but we’re throwing a wrench into our parents’ daily lives, too.
They’re not used to having us constantly in their space. Whether or not we have younger siblings still at home, the house dynamics will change once we move back in. As independent as we think we are, we’re under our parents’ roofs. So as much as we hate it, they’re in charge. We just have to hope they’ll be understanding and compromise with us if we do the same.
Some people don’t even have this option; if your family doesn’t live nearby the city where you’re working, you don’t have much of a choice but to get your own place. And then there are the people who smartly built enough of a savings solely for the purpose of getting a place right out of college. Moving home is not in the cards for everybody.
Struggles aside, I think it’s worthwhile in the long run. Moving back home is beneficial, even if it’s just for the summer after graduating. It saves so much money—a break from paying rent (if our parents are extremely generous), utility bills disappear and buying weekly groceries is a thing of the past. For recent graduates, it also gives us time to settle into our new jobs (or, for many of us, find jobs) without the stress and financial burden of moving into a new place. Of course, it would be so fun to dive right into the heart of Uptown and live with friends again, but that’s just not feasible for everyone. If you can make it work to move home, I think it’s worth it.
Whatever we choose to do, it’s going to be one of the million other adjustments that come with finishing college.
I guess the real world has to hit sometime, right?
Anne Gaslin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.