It’s officially summer, graduation season has come to a close, and many families’ previously abandoned rooms are being filled once again by their recent college grads.
At Caring Hearts, we always stress to families the importance of communicating expectations with seniors before care needs escalate. Similarly, I think communication is key when you have young adults moving back home.
The Boomerang Generation
With the economy down and tuition at an all-time high, many college graduates are carrying more debt than they can pay off. Drowning in a sea of bills, compounding interest, stress and fear, 45% of them move back home to save money while searching for their next move.
The phenomenon of college grads moving back home after commencement is now so common that these young adults have acquired a label: the Boomerang Generation—another potential challenge for the busy family caregivers of the Sandwich Generation.
While this might seem like a workable solution to a graduate’s problem, it can be a huge (and maybe surprise) burden on you as a parent. Reorganizing your life to accommodate a returning adult child can be a huge source of stress, especially if you have an aging parent and/or younger children in your home already.
In order to keep a good balance in your life and household, it is important to set appropriate expectations. These are some of the best tips I’ve heard for families in this situation. My hope is that they will be especially helpful to the families we serve who are sandwiched between the needs of both children and senior parents.
How to Cope With Your College Grad Moving Back Home
1) Remember your graduate is now an adult.
It can seem natural at first to make him breakfast and do his laundry for old times’ sake. But after a few months, feelings of resentment and disdain may set in. Your graduate can handle the tasks of daily living. Your time with him might be better spent in conversation about his future, not about whether he would like his whites bleached.
2) Set a timeline.
This isn’t your graduate’s endgame. She has a lot of life to live, and it cannot be done from your family room couch. Once she asks you if she can move back in, set a time limit or give her a trial period. Consider allowing her space for three months and then set up a rent arrangement so she can help pay her way moving forward.
3) Get some help around the house.
Busy moms know that an extra set of hands at home can always help make life easier. Encourage your newly graduated son or daughter to make dinner three nights a week, to take Grandma to her doctor appointments, to do the weekly grocery shopping.
4) Embrace the extra family time.
Remember those great family game nights when your kids were young, or the trips to get ice cream cones on a hot summer day? You might have thought your parenting days were gone forever when you dropped your son or daughter off for their first day on campus. Now that your graduate is back home, you have the opportunity to make some more memories—a win-win for all.
5) Connect across generations.
Encourage your college grad to seize this chance to reconnect with their grandparents, to spend meaningful time with them and reap their wisdom. Think about questions you wish you had asked your elders when you were in your twenties, and encourage your kids to have those conversations with their senior family members now. If providing assistance to your aging mom or dad has become one of your responsibilities, think about how your kids could assist you with those tasks now that they’re back home.
Has your college grad returning to the nest caused big changes in your family? What has helped you cope? What are the positives of your new situation?
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