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We Asked Our Parents How They Really Felt About Us Moving Back Home After University

Life post-uni is hard.

Unless you’re one of the lucky few who has a grad job lined up straight away – or has a bank of savings to fall back on – you’re probably going to end up living back at home for a while. Which means learning to live with your parents again and saying goodbye to those freedoms you’ve become accustomed to. All of a sudden your sleep pattern, your lack of motivation and your reluctance to pay keep are all up for debate.

But your parents have to put up with you too.

Sure they may be happy to have you back at first, but does it last? What do they really think about your millennial-at-home status?

I asked around the office to see if anyone’s parents would be honest enough to tell them how they really felt when they made the migration home. Did they secretly wish they weren’t there, monopolising the living room watching daytime TV all day? Were they over the moon to have their child back? Or did they not really care as long as they got to keep the home gym?

Here’s what they said.

Sally, University of Birmingham.

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“I was happy to have you back, of course. I was proud of you and of everything you achieved and endured. It did upset me that you then brought twice as many things home with you and suddenly there was no room in the house at all. For such a small person you have an awful lot of stuff.

“I could tell that moving home wasn’t necessarily what you wanted to do and tried not to take that personally. I thought it was important to give you time to look for a job that you really wanted without worrying about finances and I’m glad it seemed to work.”

Nick, Bath Spa University. 

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“I felt elated knowing you were returning home from uni. In fact, I couldn’t wait. After your brother left home and you were still away at uni, I suffered badly from empty nest syndrome. Going food shopping became a chore that I hated, as I couldn’t fill the trolley with all the items the ‘boys’ loved. The house was too quiet and, you’ll be amazed to know, too tidy!

“Having you back meant I could fulfil my role as mum, like cooking meals for you, doing your washing and ironing and just spoiling you – and probably driving you mad of course! I guess the mothering instincts never go away, even when your kids become adults.”

Sean, Bangor University. 

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“After three years of driving my children up and down the motorway with the car rammed full picking them up then taking them back (and the tears whenever they went back), you find yourself on that very last pick up excited to finally have them home for good.

“As you unloaded your belongings and I saw my house resemble a car boot sale with everything you had accumulated over time – all the laundry, the bedding, boxes and boxes of kitchen utensils – I thought how the house was finally a home again. I realised what I’d missed while you were away. Don’t get me wrong, I got very comfortable with a tidy, quiet house – and being able to eat when I wanted to, not according to your skewed body clock!

“But when you moved back home I loved it and I loved looking after you again. I felt sorry for you because I could see you missed having your own independence, but with what you had achieved over the three years I thought it must only be a matter of time before you left again to start your own life. And when that finally happened it made it all worth it and we couldn’t be prouder. Now hopefully we won’t be put in a care home!”

Ollie, University of Manchester. 

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“A truly bittersweet moment for us. To have our best friend back living with us was indeed a real pleasure. Great company, excellent conversation and debate. As always. Like the last piece of the jigsaw had been discovered again having been missing for 3 years. And the picture was complete.
“Even the background sounds of [you working] into the night in the lounge seemed to simply ‘feel right’. And the village were grateful for the part you played in volunteering for the tug’o’war team… It simply seemed natural.

“As usual though there were down-sides which contributed to the ‘bitter’ part of the experience. Endless repeats of Blffy Clyro tracks which seemed to constantly crop up in the car, the garden, the kitchen, your bedroom, the bathroom etc. But, ‘you can’t win ’em all’ as they say!

“The process of job-hunting and career divining seemed to be interminable to all of us, but we got there in the end, together. Then you left again. And we started the grieving all over again.”

Helen, Durham University. 

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“You returned home from Durham in 2010 and proceeded to stay with us for the next six years, despite us giving you subtle hints (like downsizing so that you didn’t have your own bedroom)…

“But, really, we were delighted to have you at home; we felt our children grew up too fast and this kept our happy family unit together for longer. Also, we appreciate how difficult it is financially for young people today to live independently, so it was no real surprise.

“We really miss you now you’ve moved to Manchester.”

Lewis, University of York. 

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“You returning to me in my relatively new bachelor pad was an unexpected and pleasant surprise. You were a refugee, not only from Uni, but also Warrington where you had temporarily lived with you Mum and her partner.

“However, if you thought Warrington was limiting you soon found the life in a small Lancashire hill village even more restricting so we soon became the odd couple. We cut a distinctive profile and, as I was a relatively new resident, all sorts of theories abounded about our relationship. You desperately sought employment in the butchers and the local pub, eventually working in the almost inaccessible British Gas Customer Service Centre in Trafford, Manchester. Happy Days…

“I felt your pain at being in the post-university world, and the sheer drudgery of non-academic life excluding thespian high jinks and female company. We truly were the odd couple, tolerating each other’s presence in a friendly and affectionate way, but also similar to two guys clinging to a life raft and sharing the desperation.”

Nathan, University of Kent. 

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“Autumn 2012, following your incredible achievement at the University of Kent I got your room ready for your return home.  I was feeling so proud and in awe of what you had done.

“I was so looking forward to having you home, told everyone and anyone whether they were interested or not. The house was so quiet when you and [your twin] Luis left for university, I cried on and off for months. However, my excitement turned to anxiety as the weeks went on and you were getting quite depressed and despondent with no job offer, even though you were applying for everything and anything in the end. I felt completely helpless and was so concerned for you. There comes a time when a hug & a smile just don’t make things better, maybe at 2 but not 22. When you applied to teach in South Korea I had to pretend to be pleased but I was devastated.

“I’m happy when you are happy.”