I have just finished my job as a teaching assistant in France and there are a few weeks before I will start my new job in Brussels. In the meantime, I’m back living with my parents after 5 years of being away. While I’m in the UK I’m trying to make the most of visiting my British friends and family before I jet off again. On the whole, I am having a good time and am very grateful to my parents for letting me move back home rent-free for a few months. However, moving back in with my parents, albeit temporarily, has brought back some strange family patterns that I thought we’d all outgrown. In an interesting way, it has brought me back to some of my teenage struggles, and I have come up with some golden rules to ease this transition.
1. Always knock
Most people value some privacy in their lives, and if you expect your parents to knock before coming into your room, you should do them the same courtesy, if only to remind them that it is important to do so.
2. Be as clear as possible and follow the rules
Whether you have very set rules in your family or not, try to be clear about your intentions. If you go out, let them know when you think you’ll be back and who you’re with. Think of doing this as a courtesy to them and to stave off some parental worrying. It might even be a good idea to suggest a rule that seems fair to you. For example, if you are saving up for something, rather than ask for the money you could ask to earn more pocket money if you do certain chores each week and see if they agree with your terms. They will see this as a more responsible approach to the situation and feel pleased for having raised you so well.
3. Do your bit
Everyone knows that chores are not fun, including your parents! But if you chose to do chores without or before being asked to do so, you will feel in control of your own time. Also, this means that you can choose the chores that you prefer to do and may mean that you get to avoid some of the chores you dislike the most.
4. Be polite and try not to rise to it
There is an expression in English, “a little goes a long way” which in this case means that a small gesture can have a big effect. Most arguments can be avoided by speaking to each other nicely. We also say don’t rise to it, which means try not to let teasing affect you and put things into perspective. Remember, people tend to enjoy teasing because they get a reaction. Don’t give them the satisfaction.
5. Avoid criticism
They say that it’s easiest to criticize your family because you love them the most, and you know they will always love you no matter what you say. But that doesn’t mean you should abuse this. Nobody likes to be criticised, including your parents, so the next time you find yourself sighing at your mother for not knowing how to work the T.V, catch yourself before you do and explain calmly. Remember, she taught you how to walk, talk and hold a spoon. You can remind her of something she’s forgotten in a nice way.
6. Identify things that particularly annoy your parents and try to avoid doing them to the best of your ability
No two parents are the same. As frightening as this thought might be, your parents are individual people and certain things will push their buttons (an expression which means to annoy someone a lot) more than others. Sometimes these things might seem illogical or petty to you, but especially if it’s easy to do, why waste your energy getting irritated by it? Life will be much easier for you if you make efforts to prevent avoidable conflicts.
7. External venting
Find someone to talk to who is not living with you at home to vent to. Vent just means to help you deal with the stress of something by talking to someone about it. You will probably find that your friends are having similar problems, and it might even help you to laugh about some of your strange family rules (even though, from my experience, this is much easier to do once you have moved out!)
8. Find a stress reliever
Whether you start doing yoga in your room like me, going out for walks, or getting out to do sports or activities, it helps to do something that is just focused on yourself. If you make this a regular thing and make it known to your family that this time is important to you, they will probably leave you to it.
9. If it gets too much - pick your battles or retreat
In English we have an expression, pick your battles which means that you should try and put silly arguments into perspective and let things go if they don’t matter too much. Equally, it means to only speak up and argue your point if it is really important. Naturally, you’ll want to pick a good moment to bring something up (after dinner is usually better so no one is hungry!) But if you take a deep breath and realise that it’s not a really important issue but you still feel annoyed, retreat into your room and give yourself some time to calm down and gain perspective.
Sometimes arguments happen; we just can’t all get along all the time, but once everyone has calmed down, apologise as soon as possible to clear the air. Even if the apology is just “I’m sorry that we fought”, it will feel more resolved. Especially if arguments arise often in your household, you’ll want each conflict to be clear cut and not a tangle of all previous arguments.
Do you get on well with your parents? Which of Anne's golden rules do you think is the most important?