Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a wide array of trends come, go, and circle back again. Bread baking, various TikTok dance challenges, dalgona coffee, and tie dye have all had their moment in the Quarantine Trends spotlight. Another trend that has stayed steady is young adults moving back in with their parents. As the pandemic has continued, this trend has become an act of survival for many. According to Pew Research Center, as of July 2020, 52 percent of adults under 30 lived with one or both of their parents, the most since The Great Depression. While the reasoning to return to your high school bedroom might vary—job loss, care taking of parents or other family members, even a transition to virtual university—the feelings and setbacks this transition might bring are felt by so many.
Sure, if you’re saying “be right back” to solo life in the city, the job you loved, and the social life that felt straight out of a movie night, it seem like a major setback. I, for one, never imagined I’d be putting clothes back in the dresser that still holds my high school T-shirts while standing in what seems like an adolescence museum with all of my high school awards, medals, and photographs staring at me in pristine condition. But, life can take some wild turns, and this is an extremely difficult time that we are all pushing through together. This extra bonus chapter that you didn’t know would slip into your story might actually be the thing that sets you up for your next great adventure. While this isn’t an easy time for anyone, there are some ways to make the most of your time at home with your parents, helping you feel empowered rather than defeated.
Set goals and check in frequently
So maybe this time back at home was never in your five-year plan—that doesn’t mean that it can’t be beneficial for you down the road. Setting goals or intentions during this season will help you to stay grounded in your journey and remind you that this isn’t so much a setback as it is an opportunity to help you work toward your next achievement or adventure. Maybe this is the chance for you to finally pay off those student loans that have been haunting you or get your website up and running. This is a great time to focus on those short or long-term goals that have been put on the back burner for too long. Get really specific, write them out and check back in with yourself frequently to see your progress. To get started, try these four steps.
Maintain your routines
Whether it’s working remotely, online schooling, or your own hobbies that keep you going, maintain a schedule that resembles some normalcy for you. Maybe that means waking up at the same time to do an online yoga or fitness class before the rest of the house gets going. Or, maybe it means a weekly FaceTime call with your friend every Thursday night. While you might be sharing a weekly schedule with others in your household for the first time in a while, keeping some of your own routines and schedule will keep your stress levels down and help you feel more productive.
Catch up with hometown friends (safely, of course)
This is probably the longest time you’ve had at home for a while. Since you won’t be rushing off to catch a flight back to your apartment right after the holiday subsides like you usually do, use this extra time to safely catch up with those old friends you haven’t seen in a while. Chances are you aren’t the only one who has made it back to your hometown during this time. Mask up and meet for a hike, or do a parking lot catch-up in your respective cars. Get creative and cling onto the commonalities you might be sharing through all of this.
This is a trying time for everyone. Adding the stress of isolating in the house you (maybe) grew up in and having to adjust your daily adult habits might leave you feeling bottled up and a bit restless. Take some time for yourself and let your mind escape for a bit. Get outside and take a long walk or play ball with your family dog. I spent an hour on my parents’ back deck every day this summer to reset with a yoga session. A little time to yourself getting your heart rate up or stretching will be the perfect way to make your day better. The last thing you want is to bottle up your stress or anxiety and let it spill on your loved ones unintentionally. Get moving and let those worries disappear (even if it’s just for that 30 minutes).
Find your space
For most, this time at home doesn’t necessarily have an expiration date in sight. Be OK with organizing your own work space, relaxation room, or workout area. Know that it doesn’t mean you’re settling in, but making space for yourself. Giving yourself that space can reduce stress and provide a sense of comfort. Carve out an area that can be solely yours for working, meditating, Zoom calls, or even journaling. Discuss with your family that when you’re in this particular room or area, you are off limits. Make this space your own. Taking little steps like these might help you feel more grounded during a time that feels so uncertain.
Approach each day with gratitude
Though it may seem like a difficult feat most days, starting your day with gratitude can do wonders to your mood. Taking some time to jot down the things you’re grateful for in the midst of such a hard time has been proven to lower your risk for anxiety and depression, and help you to better manage stress, according to Advent Health. Remember that this bonus time with your family doesn’t come around too often and should be cherished.
Talk it out
Hate to say it, but this new normal might not be sunshine and roses all the time. If you are struggling with the unknowns of this time, or very possibly grieving what your “old life” was, be sure to talk it out. Turn to your parents, a trusted friend, or your therapist to release some of those feelings.
Remember this is a transition for them too
Of course, it will feel like your entire world has been flipped upside down some days. If tensions between you and your parents ever arise, remember that this is a transition for them too. As much as they probably adore having you back home, they’re adjusting their routines for a new roommate as well. Be patient and make an effort to help out when needed with laundry, cooking, or simply being there to listen. It will help you feel a sense of responsibility again and will keep your parents less stressed as well.
Savor this extra time for reflection
While you might be feeling more than ready to get back to your pre-pandemic life, you might also be scared and anxious, realizing you might not want to, nor be able to go back to that life. Use this time isolated from normalcy to decide what you want your life to look like when the pandemic subsides. Is there a career change, a location switch, or maybe a friendship adjustment that needs to happen? This might be the pause button you didn’t know that you needed to steer your life on a new track.
Set intentional habits now
So often we have been hearing that “we will never get this time back with our loved ones again.” While I do agree, I also believe that this is a great opportunity to set new standards and habits in your life for maintaining intentional connections to those you love. Savor the time spent sharing conversation, laughs, and tears in your parents’ living room and use that newfound base in your relationship to continue building and connecting, even after the pandemic ends.