After getting a job offer back in Richmond, I began the arduous process of hunting down a new place to live.
After getting a job offer back in Richmond, I began the arduous process of hunting down a new place to live here in RVA.1 Simultaneously, my husband spent each evening applying to jobs. We had roughly one month before my new job’s start date, which meant we had one month to pull everything together.2 We started out optimistic. You can do plenty in a month! No problem! Time stretched out before us like a long plane of endless possibilities. But one day passed by another, and before we knew it, time was running out. The clock was ticking down to The Dreaded Backup Plan:
We would go live with my parents. And my two younger adult brothers. Womp womp.
Now, having family around is a wonderful thing. Far be it from me to pooh-pooh their hospitality and generosity. That said, the idea of moving back in with my family (while pregnant) along with my husband and bunny and a 14-foot-Uhaul’s worth of our belongings was less than pleasing. Because we’re hermits.
Of course, our situation was always meant to be temporary, so we weren’t looking at a life sentence of co-habitating. We simply needed a little more time to get everything straight. With that in mind, we bundled up our two dogs for a two-week stay at my in-laws’ home, and arrived with our van of stuff on my parents’ doorstep.
What follows is a list of basic tips for easing the transition when moving back home, whether it’s a short or long-term change of address.
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1. Be sensitive to schedules.
Try to nail down the schedules of the people with whom you’ll be sharing a bathroom. If you’re lucky enough to get your very own guest bathroom, I suppose you can skip this tip, but for those who–like me–found themselves bathroom “roomies” with their two younger brothers again, I ventured to ask what their morning work schedules were like, lest I end up making them late (or vice-versa). Obviously at home with my husband, if he wants to brush his teeth while I’m in the shower, it’s no big deal, but…elsewhere it could cause a bit of a delay if left to chance. Nobody wants to be late.
2. Do your dishes.
I’m a chronic cup-leaver. That is, I can be tracked like an animal around the house based on the cups and mugs I leave scattered in my wake. I tried very hard not to do this. It was definitely made easier by the fact that they had a magical device known as a “dishwasher” that wasn’t my own two hands. Suburbs, man! Suburbs and their siren songs of dishwashers. I also recommend doing dishes other than your own. It’ll make you feel good about staying there, as though you’re contributing something, however small.
3. Buy your own food.
I felt a lot less guilty about staying with my parents by opting to continue to purchase our own groceries. When we did raid the pantry after being told numerous times to feel free, I still felt obligated to check to make sure we weren’t raiding something that was a planned ingredient for a meal. We stuck to our basic schedule and cooked our own dinners, and tried to follow a general “leave no trace” policy.3 Your mileage may vary here; some families may feel hurt if you don’t participate in a group family meal. My family, however, already was scattering its individual meal-times, so it wasn’t an issue for us. But it still can’t hurt to ask. If anything, consider contributing to the communal groceries if you’re expected to attend communal meals.
4. Don’t be a laundry hog.
I made sure to only do laundry when I was going to be around to quickly switch loads from the washer to dryer. This is mostly due to the fact that I didn’t really want my bros moving my underoos if they found my dry laundry sitting abandoned in the dryer while I was out of the house and they needed said dryer. I tried to not mess with other people’s laundry too, if at all possible.
5. Hold the judgement (or at least try to).
After all, you’re a guest, even if you’re also family. It’s weird to adjust to living in a house with your family after being out and about in the adult world making your own habits and running your own household.4 But the thing I tried to remember when I inevitably encountered things I might have left a passive-aggressive note about as a teenager was this: I’m probably just as annoying to have around suddenly. After all, I’m the odd one out here, the “stranger” crashing in through the proverbial ceiling. I’m the invader. I’m sure that was weird and kind of annoying for them, too.
Above all, I recommend trying to maintain your autonomy and not fall into what How I Met Your Mother5 termed “revertigo”–that is, re-adopting patterns set by our younger selves when placed in a situation that drops us back into that landscape. Don’t revert into your teenage self.6 Be the kind, responsible adult you are. Own your responsibilities, even as you thank your mom for buying you your favorite kind of mac-n-cheese.7
Photo by: bsabarnowl
- This process includes making meticulous spreadsheets because have you searched for new digs online lately? It’s a recipe for crossing your wires every which way. ↩
- Including finding sub-letters for our current apartment which we’d just moved into a couple months prior–oops. ↩
- See above about the dishes. ↩
- By “running” in this case I mean “leaving cups scattered all over my house like an animal,” apparently. ↩
- Curse them and their series finale. ↩
- Assuming your teenage self was as horrible as me… ↩
- Shapes: they cook better! Thanks, Mom. ↩