So, your children have finally left university, they’ve graduated, they’ve gotten jobs.
This is meant to be the general plan when they move out. How is it then, that so many young adults have missed a step and ended up back at mum and dads? This is a trend that is rising with young people nowadays moving back in with their parents due to financial reasons giving them the term “the boomerang generation”. Of course, this is not surprising considering how high housing prices and rent is. This is also due in part to the high unemployment rate among recent graduates.
My daughter is currently living at home with me while attending university. For her it just makes sense since her university is close by anyway and living in central London isn’t exactly affordable for the average student. I know this is also the case for many other students in London. So how do you deal with this as mum? Especially as a mum going through the menopause. I can barely cope with myself these days. There’s the anxieties, the foggy brain, the aching joints, not to mention also juggling a growing business on top of all this. My life is hectic enough without a teenager/newly turned adult living with me. It’s a dynamic that both of us have had to adjust to. There’s a fine line of where being a mum ends and seeing them as an adult begins.
As we both get older giving each other the space and privacy we deserve has become more important than ever.
Finding time for us both to have “Me” time has been essential in not driving each other mad. Especially during those times where the menopause is getting the better of me. When I have my bad days and my stints of anxiety, all I want is to be left alone. It’s different for everyone of course, but when I am in my anxious periods, the last thing I want is attention brought to it. In these times I crave comfort and security. Sometimes I need time to be alone and to have my own privacy. I’m sure my daughter feels the same way.
I’m quite lucky in my house as I’ve established my bedroom as my personal safe space. That’s my own private space I can go to when I need time to myself. Everyone in my house knows this and respects this. Just as I respect their own spaces too. I would suggest finding a space in your house for this as well. I’m currently single so I get my bedroom to myself. I know those of you who have partners might have to share a space with them, so you might have to find another place away from everyone else. For this, maybe find another room in the house to make your own or even a nice place in your garden now that the weather is so lovely. Talk to your family and your children and discuss boundaries so you all have a space to feel yourself.
Living with your young adult children is a certainly a different dynamic. At this point, we both have our own separate lives. We both have our own plans and our own way of doing things. So it’s weird now, not having to constantly worry about what they’re having for dinner, or when they’ll be home. Of course as a mum, you never really stop this. I’ve always been quite strict with my daughter growing up. I always made sure she was polite. I always made sure she was well-mannered and never spoilt. However, now I have to take a step back. You sometimes have to trust in your parenting skills. I trust my daughter not to make silly decisions. She doesn’t do drugs and she doesn’t abuse alcohol, which is very different to how I was at this age. At a certain point you have to trust them to do things for themselves and step back to let them just get on with it.
When your children live with you at home, it can sometimes de difficult not to ‘parent’. Let’s face it, you can never really turn “mum” mode off, can you?
It can be challenging watching your child make decisions that you may not understand or agree with. It’s an odd dynamic as they’re no longer at the age where you can simply ground them or tell them off, but they’re also living under your roof and therefore also have to live by your rules to a certain extent. One of the most effective ways I’ve found on how to deal with this is rather than telling my daughter what to do, I let her come to me and I give her advice and guidance. I have found this is a much healthier dynamic, as it establishes a good level of communication between us. I’m quite lucky with this as I’ve always had a good relationship with my daughter. This is maybe because I’ve always made sure we can talk to each other like equals. I give her all of my knowledge and own experience and she takes in what I have to say and applies it to her own life.
Overall, I think it’s important to establish rules. You may have to make it clear that your child is not simply living at Hotel Mum and Dad anymore. Whether you may need them to contribute with rent, chores, or even just to let you know what time they’ll be home for dinner. I realise my daughter is quite low maintenance when it comes to this (Although, she still could do with cleaning a dish or two every once in a while.) I think the key to living together in peace is mutual respect. It’s about treating one another as adults. After all, that’s what all of you are now. Maybe take a night to lay out all the responsibilities you expect from them living in your home and see where you can compromise. Lay out what boundaries each of you need and set up spaces (such as bedrooms) which are private.
Most importantly, try to cherish this time when you have your children living at home.
Take this as an opportunity to get an extra time to bond with them before they head back out into the world. As both of you get older and older, you might find that times like this get fewer and fewer. So I think it’s important to take time to appreciate your family as you have it now.
Meg Mathews Interviewed by Erica Fraser