Moving back home after university can be a bit of a shock to the system. Whether you lived alone, in student halls or a student house; it’s hard to give up the student lifestyle and independence you had. I moved back with my parents in June, after spending a year in a student-house and three months living completely by myself during lockdown. So, I’ve been there.
It’ll take a wee while to adjust to living back home back again, so give yourself time to get used to it. In the mean-time, here’s some tips to help you get settled:
Rearrange or redecorate your room:
If you’re like me, this is probably one of the first things you’re going to want to do anyway. There’s no better feeling than rearranging your furniture for the sake of it and feeling like you’re on a Home Transformation Show. “Ta da!”
It’s important to have your own space and for you to feel comfortable in your house. Your bedroom’s probably where you’re going to spend most of your time and if you’re in your parents’ house, it’s probably the only room you’re actually allowed to decorate. So, make the most of it and make it yours. It’s the same way that your first port-of-call when you move into student accommodation is to give your room a makeover and put cushions everywhere. Grab your fairy lights, fake plants and candles, and sure why not try putting the bed over there instead? Go nuts.
Find a new routine:
Chances are that when you lived away from home, you had your own wee routine that you loved. It can be tough to have your routine completely changed when you move back; you’re likely living in a different area, doing different things and meeting different people.
Don’t try to re-enact your life as a student and keep the same routine you had – it won’t work. You’re not a student anymore, so you need to find a new routine which suits your location, lifestyle, free-time and family. You mightn’t have to change what you do as much as where you do it. You don’t have to quit the gym, your yoga or sports club; just move to one nearer your family home. Try out the local shops, pubs, cafés and takeaways; you might find one you like just as much. Still meet people; just meet them halfway or somewhere handy to where you both are now.
It’ll take a few weeks to really get a new routine going, because you need to get used to living at home, what’s near you and what you actually do. So, don’t worry if you feel a bit unsettled when you first move back.
Take time to yourself…
It can be a bit overwhelming to move back home and be surrounded by people and noise all the time. It’s different to a student-house where people come and go, are hardly home or just spend all day in their rooms with their boyfriends.
But, just because you’re living with your family, don’t feel that you have to spend every waking moment with them. You’re allowed time to yourself. It’s a bit like the way you probably spent some time with your uni housemates and some time alone in your room. Space is normal.
When you first move back, your family might want to spend a good bit of time with you because it’s still a novelty to have you home, and you might feel the same. But, after a while, it does normally die down as you all get used to living with each other again. So, if you find your family wanting to spend loads of time with you, there’s a good chance it won’t go on for too long. Plus, you should feel flattered. After living alone for months, a bit of attention did me rightly.
…but don’t hide away:
I know I said take time to yourself, but don’t take too much time to the point where you’re isolating yourself. Socialise with your family; make the most of the company and support they can offer you. You don’t have to do everything together, but sitting and having a cup of tea, eating together or watching TV can provide some real comfort, especially with COVID restrictions on socialising.
For me, I wake up way before anyone else in the house, so have breakfast alone, sit reading in my room, go for walks during the day and I watch TV alone in the evenings (I’m not sure that Married at First Sight is my parents’ thing, and CSI definitely isn’t mine). But, we all eat lunch and dinner together, go for walks and get coffee together; so I have a nice mix of “family time” and “me time”.
It’s just about finding a balance that works for you; maybe you’d rather watch TV together and eat alone, maybe you want to spend the day by yourself and have evenings as “family time”, or vice versa. You know yourself when you want some company and when you just want your own, so do that.
Retain some independence where you can:
One of the things I struggled most with when moving back home, was losing some of my independence. I was used to doing what I wanted, when I wanted and having no one to keep in the loop or explain my plans to. I did my own shopping, cooked whatever I fancied and had no judgement if I just wanted a big bowl of peas and sweetcorn for dinner (unlike the way you’re probably judging me now).
If you’re living under someone else’s roof, you have to respect their rules and that they’re kind of in control. You will have to give up some of your independence sadly, but not completely. Take the reigns and control what you can. You might have to explain this to your parents or whoever you’re living with, because you don’t want them to feel like you’re being ungrateful or anything; just let them know how you’re feeling and that you want some degree of independence.
It might be things like: doing your own washing; making your own meals; going to the shop to buy in the food you want instead of having to ask your parents to buy them for you; taking yourself out if there’s somewhere you want to go and making your own way (driving, walking or public transport) instead of asking for or relying on lifts (this also avoids all the awkward “you’re late”s).
It obviously depends on who you’re living with and what your family culture is like, so just do whatever you can and are comfortable with. It might seem small but it really does make a difference, trust me.
Share your struggles:
If you’re finding it tough to be living at home again, don’t worry; that’s completely normal. Your routine, where you live, who you’re living with and what you’re doing has changed, so it can be hard to get used to it. It’s normal to feel like this, just make sure you tell someone instead of keeping it built up inside.
Talk to your friends or other people who have moved back home. It can be reassuring to know that you’re not the only one feeling like this and they might be able to give you some advice. Maybe you could talk to your family and let them know that you’re finding it difficult to be back, and they might be able to work out ways that you can have more independence or give you more space.
You could even write start a journal or diary. That way, you can share exactly and honestly how you’re feeling. Or, you could send one of your legendary WhatsApp voice-note rants. Whatever works best for you.
Thank you very much to Niamh for writing such a helpful post, on a topic that we all struggle with. Moving back home after university is not an easy thing to do, so you’re most definitely not alone if you’re struggling.
Click here for more advice on taking care of yourself as a graduate.