I graduated from Harvard a year ago with honors, admission to a prestigious graduate school, and multiple job offers on the table. Yet one year later I'm living at home with my parents... and I have been since I graduated. Why? Because I opted to defer graduate school and turn down the traditional job offers to instead run my own start-up on a shoestring budget, where every dollar counts and my salary well undercuts those of most of my peers. Could I scrape by on my own, living in a tiny apartment, putting zero money into savings? Sure. But I'd rather live back at home with mom and dad (and our cat, Sassy) and save up for the future, and - who am I kidding - stretch those years of free laundry service (aka my mom) and home-cooked meals out a little longer. And 85% of this year's college graduates feel the same way.
But that's not to say moving back home after college is a walk in the park (er, childhood bedroom). But after a year of calling home, "home", I think I've learned to navigate it pretty well. Whether you're boomeranging or on the receiving end of one, read on for my tips and tricks for how to survive the move back home.
A Boomerang's 5 Rules of Survival:
1. Don't snap at your parents. That's right - don't talk back to your parents, no matter what they say, because the truth is... you're choosing to live with them. And if you don't like how they act, why not move out? After all, shouldn't you be living on your own by now anyway? So given that you're not... shut it and put up with them. You're lucky they're putting a roof over your head even though they're no longer legally obligated to.
2. Don't complain if the laundry isn't done or there's no food for dinner. Because guess what? You should be doing those things for yourself anyway! And if your parents start to feel like the fact they still do them for you is going unappreciated, they'll stop. And then you would have to do your own laundry (and that would suck).
3. Share just enough so they'll stop bugging you. I'm sure there are certain parts of your life you'd rather keep private (last weekend's hookup?). But now that you're at home, your parents are bound to ask you what you're up to, what your plans are for the night, where you went out last night, etc. So any time you have info about your social or personal life that you don't mind sharing, share it! That way you might be able to get away with keeping some of the juicier stuff hidden. So if you went out to a fun dance club with your friends and then wound up back at some guy's apartment, just share the dance club part. Your parents will have no idea that the club closes way before 4:30am when you got home.
4. Ask your parents about their lives. Often while growing up, conversations with our parents are very one-sided. You're telling them about your own life and day-to-day activities, without asking them much about themselves. Now that you're technically an "adult" (regardless of how long you've had an ID that attests to this), make the conversation a two-way street and treat your parents as real people, not just "parents". Because really they're more like roommates (ok, maybe that's still a stretch). Ask them how their day was, what's new for them at work, or how other relatives of yours are doing. Speaking with them more maturely will make them inclined to treat you more maturely in turn.
5. Don't blow all your money on shopping and going out! You're lucky that right now, your expenses are super low, and you're (presumably) pulling some kind of salary. And no matter how low that salary is, when you're not paying for rent, utilities, wifi, some food, laundry, etc., you wind up with a fair amount of cash to blow each month. And while it's tempting to do a lot of shopping, going out to eat, and buying tables at clubs (ok, let's not get ridiculous), don't! Because then, you'll end up using your entire salary on these luxuries and not putting anything into savings, and not getting yourself any closer to being able to move out on your own.
So there you have it! Follow these tips and tricks and you'll be an expert boomerang in no time. But in all seriousness, treat living at home as an opportunity to appreciate the extra time you get to spend with your parents, because in no time at all, you'll be out on your own for good (or so we hope...).
Stephanie is a 2010 graduate of Harvard University with a degree in Psychology and Economics, and a 2006 graduate of Newton North High School. She is co-founder, CEO & Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus Media (HerCampus.com), a leading college media and marketing company named to Inc. magazine's 30 Under 30 Coolest Young Entrepreneurs. She currently lives at home with her parents in Newton, MA.