A Quick Guide to Making Multi-Generational Households Work as Boomerang Children Come Home
A relatively new social phenomenon, that of the so-called boomerang children, is affecting the lives of millions of families. Young adults are moving back home after years of living on their own, and the reasons vary from loss of jobs and financial problems to the high cost of living or relationship dissolution.
More and More Young Americans Are Living with Their Parents
It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s one that happens a lot more often these days than it did in the past. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, from the 80s until 2017, the number of young adults living in their parents’ homes doubled from 11% to 22%.
In absolute numbers, that means that, in 2017, about 24 million people aged 18 to 34 were living under their parents’ roofs. Some of them simply hadn’t moved out yet, for different reasons, such as being in school or because of housing costs, but there’s also a high proportion of young people who were forced to return home after years of living independently. About one-in-three parents of adult children say that at least one adult child moved back with them in the last few years, usually due to economic conditions.
The State of New Jersey has the highest proportion of people aged 18 to 34 that live under the same roof with their parents (47%), followed by Connecticut, with 42%, and New York State, with 41% percent of young adults still sharing a home with their parents.
Seeing how this became such a pervasive social phenomenon, here are some tips that will hopefully help parents and adult children who live together create a happy and healthy environment for all parties involved.
Make Room For Each Other
You already remodeled your child’s former bedroom and made it into a crafts room or a home office, but, as it turns out, he or she needs to move back home for a while. It’s going to be a hard adjustment for everyone, and, in order to make things easier, you need to give each other space – both figuratively and literally.
A cluttered house makes everyone irritable and uncomfortable. No one wants to walk around boxes of stuff for months on end. Your adult child won’t be able to think, regroup and focus on his or her future in a messy room filled to the brim. Empty out their former bedroom, allowing it to be organized and made comfortable enough for their needs.
Store Instead of Cluttering the Home
Depending on how long a person lived independently, they probably accumulated stuff like furniture, electronics, appliances, cookware and so on. When moving back with the parents, most of those items become redundant and only hog space.
Renting a self-storage unit is the best solution for both parents and adult children trying to readjust to sharing the same space. Extra furniture and appliances have no place in a home that already contains all that’s needed, so simply put them in self-storage for the time being. Young adults moving back home should contemplate storing an even wider range of their possessions: books, off-season clothing, sporting equipment and so on. Self-storage units are widely available to renters, in some cases even with 24/7 access, so it’s not a big inconvenience to keep stuff in there.
Parents should also be willing to sacrifice something, for the greater good. Make room by packing and moving into storage any stuff you could do without – which could be quite a lot. Organize all common spaces (living room, kitchen, bathrooms) to accommodate more people.
Stop Buying New Things
Moving back with parents is generally a temporary situation for a young adult and should be treated as such. Postpone buying new acquisitions, whether it’s a new TV, a coffee maker or even small stuff like books and clothing. Buy only what’s objectively necessary – after all, you’ll be moving away hopefully soon, and the last thing you need when you’re leaving is more stuff to pack up and transport.
Establish Clear Rules and Stick to Them
Once the issue of “too much stuff” is properly solved and packed away in self-storage, it’s time for the parties involved to sit down and establish some clear co-habitation rules that will make everyone’s life easier. When children move back home, even as adults, it’s easy to fall back into the old parent/child family dynamic, but that’s just not healthy.
Parents don’t have to clean and cook for young adults, and definitely shouldn’t impose a curfew. Instead, establish a clear schedule of cooking, cleaning and shopping tasks, discuss house rules, and go through any other subject important for harmonious living. Use this time to build a mature, friendship-based parent/child relationship.
An adult child moving back home can be a stressful and trying experience for all those involved, but, with communication, coordination and some house re-organizing, you might be able to turn it into something positive for the entire family.