Friday 23 August 2019

Ten things I've learned since moving back in with my parents

The rise of stay-at-home sons is down to a variety of factors, with the difficulty of buying a house surely primary among them. It now takes on average 49 weeks of earnings to be able to afford a deposit on a home in Dublin — 49 weeks during which you’ll be paying rent and bills...  unless you happen to live back home with your folks, writes Sam Carey

Matthew McConaughey plays a 30-something-year-old living with his parents in 'Failure to Launch'
Matthew McConaughey plays a 30-something-year-old living with his parents in 'Failure to Launch'

Given the difficulty in our property market, it is perhaps of little surprise that men are exchanging their freedom for the family home — which is exactly what I did last year, at the ripe old age of 33, when I moved back in with my mum and dad. Here’s what I learned since then about the peculiar life of the stay-at-home son...

1. Your parents will want to do it all — and it’ll really mess with your head

When you live alone or with housemates of a similar age, you fall into a rhythm: washing clothes on this day, changing the bedding on another, hoovering as little as possible. Trouble is, when you get back home, there is a parent who will want to do all that for you. Each time you put a dirty pair of pants in the laundry basket, it will be gone quicker than you can say ‘It’s alright, I’ll do that’.

On one hand, this is great — no more laundry or hoovering — but the other hand is full of guilt that will move up your arm and enrapture your body. What’s worse is when you try to take one of your parent’s tasks away and they look at you like you’ve just slapped them.

The only thing to do is to enjoy it. No matter how much it makes you feel like a burdensome hotel patron.

2. You can forget about walking around semi-naked

It’s not appropriate for mam and dad to see you wearing only underwear anymore. No, no, don’t protest, it really isn’t. You’re a fully grown adult with hairy bits and saggy bits.

For this reason, you can forget those lazy Sundays when you lounge about in your pants while watching the EastEnders omnibus. Instead, you’ll have to pull on that pair of tracksuit bottoms that have needed replacing for years and throw on a T-shirt. It really ruins the spirit of Sunday.

3. You won’t save money — not a penny

Here’s the rub: even though you’re living with your folks to save money, you’ll fail, utterly and miserably.

The reason is down time. You need it, but you can’t exactly get it at home, because, well, your parents are there. So you go out — you drive to places you’d otherwise never think of going, or ‘pop to the pub’ with mates and stumble home 10 pints later. Before you know it, you’ve spent the equivalent of what you’re trying to save each month on beer and petrol with naught to show for it but a load of receipts, a sore head and…

4. You’ll get fat

Home-cooked meals are wonderful. They’re even better when they are followed up by a big slice of home-made cake. Piled on top of those 10 pints you keep sinking down the pub, it’s a recipe for not maintaining optimal physical shape. In fact, you’ll likely find yourself resembling a beach ball with limbs hanging off it as you reach for the last slither of dessert.

5. You’ll be the subject of interrogation

‘What did you do last night?’ is a question you’re likely asked a few times a day. Usually, it’s small talk — words used to fill the air while you wait for the office kettle to boil. However, when your parents ask, it isn’t out politeness. No, they really want — no, need — to know what you did last night. Shrugging your shoulders and saying ‘just popped out for a bit’ won’t cut it. Prepare yourself to relay each event from the evening in minute detail.

And if there’s a pint involved, get ready for the ‘Oh really, on a work night?’ spiel. Or worse, a look of disappointment and a reminder about the 10 you had on the weekend.

6. There’s no end in sight

The aim is always to save enough money and get out at the first opportunity. It won’t work like that. You’ll become accustomed to and comfortable with the lack of responsibility, and you’ll learn to work with your parent’s routines. You won’t even kick up a fuss on the three occasions every day when mum comes into your room unannounced.

In a way, the routine will become comforting, much like the blanket your parents have kept for you from your childhood that you now need to fall asleep at night.

7. You’ll have to keep intimate moments quiet

Remember how, as a teenager, you had to run upstairs every three minutes to have some ‘alone time’? And how that then turned into full-blown sex and the nightmare of trying to keep it quiet? Well, that’s back.

You won’t be able to ‘move it onto the sofa’ while at home, or do it in every room. In fact, it’s probably best you don’t do it at all at home. After all, that single bed you sleep on is probably creakier than an old man’s hip. And you really don’t want mam or dad walking in to see what you’re up to, only to be confronted with two naked bodies in a position you saw on the internet while having some alone time earlier in the week.

8. You’ll regress to teenagedom

Being a teenager was awful; spots, puberty, school, hormones. Absolutely horrible, all of it.

After a week in the parents’ house, you’ll be reviving every one of your mood swings (usually consisting of a huff and a walk away), communicating in grunts and thinking ‘Why me?’ every 37 seconds. It’s brutal for you, but it’s even worse for your parents. It must be like having a sloth in the house.

9. Feeling shame

‘Where do you live?’ ‘Oh, um, I’m at home with my parents at the moment. Not for long, just trying to save some money for travelling/buying a house/because I’m lazy’ (delete as appropriate).

Prepare to have this squirm-inducing conversation a lot. Also be prepared that each time you do, a little bit more shame will infiltrate your mind. It’s not shame that you live with your parents, not at all, it’s because the expectation is that everyone should have moved on by now and be living in a sparkly ‘mansion’ the size of a small cupboard that costs ¤800 per month (plus bills).

The shame is all encompassing, but it’s only temporary as you’ll quickly realise…

10. You wouldn’t change it for the world

What’s better than living with the people who raised you and look out for you? How about the people who never judged you when you made all those mistakes? Or the folk who said they loved you when you felt like the world was falling apart around you? Who picked you up after your first heartbreak? Who allowed you to come and go as you pleased when you were a stupid teenager because they trusted you more than you trusted yourself?

Nothing. Sure, it may not be how you envisaged your life’s path going, but it’s not all bad being a part of the boomerang generation.

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