I Moved Back In With My Parents. These Essentials Are Critical to Making It Work. (2024)

#2: Buy your own household basics

Building a stash of your own supplies ensures that you have the stuff you need when you need it.

I have my own stain removers to treat spots before doing my laundry, and I’ve bought an extra surface cleaner to store in the bathroom to make cleaning the counter more convenient.

When I’m meal prepping lunches to take to the office, I replace ingredients that I finish, make a few extra servings for my family to enjoy, and use old takeout containers to store the food so that my parents’ nice food storage containers are still there when they look for them.



#3: Declutter and reorganize your old stuff

After you move home from college, it’s time to let go of the duplicate pillows and alarm clock and figure out what to do with the twin XL bedsheets.

But it’s not just the dorm essentials that you need to deal with—you also need to make sure that your childhood bedroom is ready for your adult life.

Deep-clean your room. I junked trophies from rec sports leagues, posters from school projects, and crafts I hadn’t touched in years. I also rearranged my bedroom furniture from the way it had been since my senior year of high school.

I passed a few of my dorm essentials to some younger cousins, sold other items on Facebook Marketplace, and saved the rest for my family’s biennial garage sale.

For clothes I’d outgrown, I took Wirecutter’s advice on donating clothes and found a local organization to give to, and I timed my donations to be seasonally appropriate. And I gave clothes that were too worn out to a municipal textile-recycling program.

Other Wirecutter staffers have had similar experiences. “I moved home briefly and had nowhere to put everything from my apartment, and I didn’t want to pay for storage,” said associate copy editor Hailey Briggs, who named storage bins and space-saving vacuum storage bags among her must-haves.

#4: Cultivate your space

Investing in my space was a way of investing in myself. It made my childhood bedroom feel much more like my adult home.

I keep scented candles on my nightstand and dressers, and I stick instant-print photos on the wall alongside art I’ve drawn and painted. I have bookshelves full of my favorite reads, a tapestry hanging above my bed, and a Bluetooth speaker that nearly always has music humming through it.

In a spare corner, I added a fun chair (that sometimes also serves as my laundry-pile chair). I also started favoring the soft glow of my bedside lamps over the harsh glare of overhead lights. I bought the cheapest possible lamps from Target, which have white shades and a thin metal base—they’re nothing special, but they’ve converted me to the anti–overhead light camp. I added a weighted blanket to my sleep supplies, and I splurged on Wirecutter’s top-pick sunrise alarm clock.

Our pick

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light HF3520

The best sunrise alarm clock

This sleek alarm has the most soothing simulated sunrise and sunset, which may help you feel less groggy. It has a good range of alarm sounds and other useful features, but programming the clock is awkward.

Buying Options

$109 from Amazon



#5: Optimize your home office

Since my dad works in our family’s home office, my childhood bedroom turned adult home is also my designated work-from-home space.

So I upgraded my desk chair, started using a monitor and keyboard separate from my laptop, and got a new lamp. For easy note-taking, I bought notepads, sticky notes, and new pens.

I framed a few photos and left some tchotchkes on my desk to fidget with when I’m brainstorming.

My desk now mimics my ideal in-office setup as best as possible, even though it’s the same desk I’ve used since middle school.

#6: Explore hobbies that get you out of the house

Finding reasons to leave home on a regular basis is a great way to carve out some privacy and curate your own interests while maintaining the independence you grew accustomed to in college—all without appearing to ignore the people you live with.

For my first two years living at home, my “out-of-the-house hobby” was attending graduate-school classes after work and going to the library to do homework. Once I graduated, I realized that I spent my free time doing a lot of homebody hobbies like baking, drawing, and reading. So I started running and joined a gym to get out more.

Exercising more frequently improved both my physical and mental health—and I was able to connect with old and new friends alike as we trained together or tried (and failed) to complete viral fitness challenges.

You can also take a class to learn a new skill, like senior updates writer Sri Rain Stewart, who took guitar classes after college. Or you can join an interest-based group for something you already enjoy, such as a book club, knitting circle, or movie club.



#7: Carve out your calm

There will be days where you’re so glad to be in a home with people you love. And then there will be days where you get so frustrated with your family’s antics, you’ll actually start to miss your cramped college dorm.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed being around your family all the time, I suggest putting on noise-cancelling headphones for a little extra peace and quiet. I’ve always used budget earbuds, but when my family is loudly yapping away or the TV is blaring, I can clearly hear them over my music, podcasts, or work calls, and it makes me wish that I’d splurged a little to create the quiet I desire.

Budget pick

Soundcore Space One

The best budget noise-cancelling headphones

This pair of over-ear headphones cancels noise impressively, sounds great, is comfortable to wear, and offers a long battery life—all for less than $100.

Buying Options

$80 $60 from eBay (refurbished)


$99 from Amazon

$100 from Best Buy

Personalized routines help too. Whether it’s a skin-care ritual, morning stretching, nightly meditation (which is my favorite), or something else, carving out time for self-care can help soothe your mind, even when the environment around you is chaotic or loud.

Our pick


The best meditation app

This app has the largest variety of meditations, with guided sessions for beginners and less-structured programming for more-advanced practitioners. Its rich library of meditations is well organized and easy to navigate.

Buying Options

Buy from Headspace
Buy from Apple App Store
Buy from Google Play

#8: Prioritize your mental health

Variations of the joke “When you live with your parents, the rent is free, but you pay with your mental health” have been posted online tons of times. And, well, it’s true.

You might feel grateful for the roof over your head, while simultaneously feeling anxious, upset, frustrated, or sad. While I was starting my career working remotely in the same town I’d grown up in, I watched through my phone as my friends began their lives in their own apartments all across the country. Sometimes, it would all start to get to me.

I started journaling more frequently. I tried to make sure my entries included at least one thing I was grateful for that day. I vented to my friends about what I was feeling.

I used in-person therapy sessions to develop coping skills to navigate the feelings of stress, anxiety, and loneliness that living at home elicited in me. (Therapy, whether in-person or online, has a ringing endorsem*nt from a number of Wirecutter staffers who moved in and out of their childhood homes as adults. If you opt for remote therapy and have to do your sessions at home, I also recommend getting a white noise machine to dampen sounds so that your session stays private.)

Our pick

LectroFan EVO

Top-notch noise masking

With its electronically generated sounds, this small but mighty machine masks a wider variety of noises than the other options in its price range.

Buying Options

$57 from Amazon

I eventually and gradually began to appreciate that living at home isn’t something I had to do, but something I had the chance to do. That perspective shift changed everything. The sooner you can come to this realization for yourself, the easier it will be to navigate all the ups and downs of living at home.



#9: Reconnect with your parents as an adult

There’s a good chance that the last time you lived at home, you were 17 and on the verge of new adventures. And in your parents’ eyes, you were still their baby.

So when you come home later in life, your parents might have a hard time adjusting to the reality of your adulthood. Making time to reconnect with them in new ways can help them with your transition home, as much as it will help you.

Staff writer Dorie Chevlen moved home for a short time when she was 26 and got a Criterion Channel subscription, which allowed her to bond with her parents as they watched movies that everyone could (mostly) agree on.


The Criterion Channel

True film aficionados will appreciate this streaming site’s ever-changing assembly of the world’s top docs, foreign films, arthouse faves, and other hard-to-stream flicks.

Buying Options

Buy from The Criterion Channel

Production manager Nicki Koetting moved home at 25, and she would enjoy frequent “happy hours” with her mom and adult sister, an experience that made ordinary afternoons special. A nice beer glass or wine glass can help elevate a shared drink to an occasion.

If you’re a competitive crew, an adult board game or two can mature family game night past childhood favorites.

When supervising editor Marilyn Ong moved her family and new baby in with her parents and brother after living abroad, they bonded over their love of coffee. She and her brother got a new grinder and pour-over gear for the house, and they tried out a coffee subscription so that they could sample new blends and roasts as a family.

As for my parents and me, well, we watch every The Bachelor show, go on walks, and make an event out of the occasional Saturday-night drink.

Being intentional about spending time together has improved our relationship. We now have frank, mature conversations about everything under the sun, and they no longer give me a hard time about staying out late with my friends (as long as I’m not loud when I let myself back in.)

Thanks to my parents’ welcoming me home, I feel financially and mentally ready for my next adventure in a shoebox apartment of my own.

But I’d be lying if I said I won’t miss living with my parents. I mean, who am I going to watch The Bachelor with each week?

This article was edited by Alexander Aciman, Rose Maura Lorre, Catherine Kast, and Ben Frumin.

I Moved Back In With My Parents. These Essentials Are Critical to Making It Work. (2024)
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