How to Cope With Your Child's Return From University This Summer
When your kids flew the nest and headed off to a new town, a new home and a new parent-free life, to begin at least three years at University, you no doubt worried about them. You would have fretted about how they would cope on their own. Would they eat healthy balanced meals and not just get takeaway all the time? Would they enjoy themselves but stay safe? Would they work hard without your watchful eye? At this point one thing that probably wouldn't have been on your mind was whether they would move back into the family home again afterwards, and the impact that would have on everyone.
As hard as it was to let them go, over the first few weeks and months it is something you got used to, and after 18 years or so of looking after a child your home and your time was yours again. That mountain of washing you had was reduced, you were no longer an on-call 24/7 taxi service, your wallet actually had money in it again and the space in your home was yours to do as you wished with.
However, it is very likely they will temporarily move back every summer with all their belongings as they potentially move from campus accommodation to various houses during their time there. These seemingly never ending holidays will make you wonder why you were so worried when they moved out as they appear to spend more time back at home than they do away from it.
Then before you know it they are back again for good, or at least the foreseeable future, to the place they had been so desperate to leave a few years ago. But now instead of stroppy teenager you have an adult who wants to live like they have at university without any of the responsibility. Be prepared for the phrase, "This is not a student house!" to come out of your mouth at least several times a week.
Likewise prepare for the arguments that you thought were left behind in their teenage years to start to bubble up to the surface again as they want to spend their summer partying and lazing around the house, feeling as though they deserve a break after the years of hard work at University. While you, on the other hand, want them to get a job because you know what the real world is like. You know they won't walk straight into the perfect career as they believe they will and that finding one could take time and therefore they need to start looking as soon as they can.
Your food bill is about to go up, as is how quickly it is consumed. Remember those days you went to the biscuit tin for a treat and it was empty, even though you know you only filled it that morning? Those days are back! As are the days when you lie awake until 3am and beyond worrying about where they are, except now they can't understand why you are so angry that they didn't text to tell you they weren't coming home because they haven't had to do that the whole time they have been at University. Your explanation that they are back under your roof and therefore must live under your rules is faced with angry protests and further arguments.
Many return home because after three or so years of living on their own thanks to a student loan to support them, they can't afford to go into the real world with today's economic climate of high rent and low wages. So they come back, perhaps with the intention of saving to move out, but home becomes so comfortable it's easier to stay put. The washing is done for them, dinner is on the table and they don't have to worry about bills.
Perhaps this isn't what they planned and it is almost definitely not what you planned, but the fact is two million men and a million women aged 20 to 35 live with their parents. This has grown by more than 20% since 1997, according to the Office for National Statistics. That number of young people unable to afford to live on their own and therefore returning back home is expected to rise further by 2020, with half a million more living at home with parents. As demand for jobs and houses rise, and the price of renting is unachievable with a student loan to also pay back, it is likely that it will become the norm for kids to move back home.
Boomerang Kids, as they are becoming known when they return home after University, will be also bringing with them all their belongings and as a result a huge mess in your once organised home. They probably not only had some belongings that they had left at home, as well as a room full things that they took to University, they will have also collected more across the years. More than can fit in their bedrooms, so your whole house is now bursting at the seams with books, clothes and cooking utensils.
There is not much you can do about your offspring moving back home after University and it will most likely come with some issues. They will probably expect your taxi service to be back in business and the washing pile will increase significantly. However, there are solutions to ensure that it isn't something you need to dread. First of all those belongings filling your house can be cleared without being thrown away with storage solutions such as Ready Steady Store. Here, everything they own that they don't need at the moment can be stored somewhere safe, ready for them to get back when they finally do move out and into their home.
Aside from the challenge of organising three years' worth of contents from several houses, there are others ways to make sure you cope with their return. First of all agree rent as soon as possible so it doesn't come as a surprise then draw up a rota so they contribute to chores; it's only fair they chip in and contribute to the running of the household. Discuss meal and bedtimes as you will probably have very different lifestyles and encourage them to keep up their independence by occasionally cooking meals and doing their own laundry.
Remember, your children have now grown into adults and looked after themselves while at University so they can continue to do so afterwards even if they move back home. They have moved back for somewhere to live, not for someone to look after them. You both need to adjust to living under the same roof again and the most important thing is to set the rules before they move back so they know what the deal is and it doesn't come as a surprise after a few weeks of doing whatever they like. That way your kids moving back home can be something to look forward to rather than something that you dread.