This past August, my mother moved in with me when she developed issues that reduced her mobility significantly. I thought we had a couple more years before this would happen – she’s only 75 and otherwise healthy. My husband and I have been learning what it means to live with a parent again and it’s been tough.
But there are things you can do to make life easier for yourself and your parents, whether you’ve moved in with them or they’ve moved in with you.
Establish boundaries and set your space.
My mom is pretty chill and very much an introvert, so a lot of boundaries were pretty much naturally in place when she moved in with us. However, we still had to discuss them to help make sure there was no confusion or hurt feelings.
For instance, her cats are welcome in her room and the rest of the house, except our bedroom. That’s a no-no, since we also have a cat who needs a safe space all her own. Our bedroom is also off limits to my mom, keeping that space sacred for the hubby and me. It’s not rigid and it’s not mean, it’s just helpful to keep things healthy. She’s a roommate who happens to be my mother, not the other way around.
If you’ve had to move back in with your folks for any reason, having the same kind of boundaries is good to establish with them beforehand. You’re an adult and you need your privacy and space, just as they do. You won’t go to their bedroom – they won’t come into yours.
Create boundaries around your schedule.
My mom is a night owl and I’m a morning bird. This can cause some issues, as I’m up and already deep into my work hours about the time she wakes up and needs some breakfast. I have to hold my work hours carefully and my rest and personal time as sacred. It’s not just okay to state your needs in this area, it’s critical. Adulting is hard, but it’s even harder when you don’t make those boundaries clear and your priorities firm.
Talk about rent and cost-of-living expenses.
Before you move in (or your parent moves in with you), make sure you have “the talk.” You’ve got to know what expectations there are around rent, pitching in for food and electricity, if you’re going to share any other bills, etc. More than likely, someone’s moving to help defray living costs in one way or another, so it’s better to discuss ahead of time so no surprises arise.
Don’t be afraid to keep having the talk about living costs as they skyrocket, either. Just as you need a raise at work to pay for eggs that now seem to cost a $1000 a dozen, the cost of electricity, rent, internet, and other shared things go up over time and your contribution might need to increase.
Keep house rules, with respect.
There are already some house rules in existence in whatever home is being shifted. Whether you and the partner spend every Friday night at the movies as your special date time or your parents are uncomfortable with having your brand new romantic squeeze stay over for breakfast, it’s important to know what’s what. Have an open and honest discussion with each other before the move happens. Just because you’re an adult now doesn’t mean that your parents are going to be cool with you behaving like an adult, especially if there are some younger siblings around.
It’s important to respect the rules but it’s also important to expect reasonable rules. Consider each other’s health and mental health and find compromises that work for everybody, like smoking on the patio and never inside or staying over the partner’s place instead of having them come to your place.