Since leaving university I have been living the life of the aggravating and often entertaining BBC Three show The Hotel of Mum and Dad. Although, my boyfriend and I aren't half as lazy and clueless as the couples often portrayed on that show are, but we are currently living for free under the roof of my boyfriend's parents and if you've ever experienced this I'm sure you can relate. If you're about to or planning to in the future move in with your partner and their family, this will probably help you know what to expect! Though, as everything, it's different for everyone. And keep a look out for the other side of the story, the experience from my boyfriend's eyes!
Living with my boyfriend's family - my side of the experience so far
At first, it constantly felt like a break away from uni or a stop off during the holidays, but I had to keep reminding myself it's now my home. Fortunately, I get on with his family well. But I also feel a little like I've digressed to my teenage years. Our meals are cooked for us, our laundry is done for us and we always have to let someone know where we're going when we pop out. As much as I appreciate all the things that are done for us, I can't help but find it a little frustrating.
Do I sound like a brat?
If you've been to university you'll experience one or two of these feelings: get so fed up of doing things for yourself that you feel blessed to have it all done for you again, get a little tired of doing things independently and appreciate all that's being done for you for a period of time or feel like a complete spare part when returning home or moving into someone else's home. Personally, I feel a little babied and always want to help out, but my boyfriend's mum is superwoman and doesn't often accept help when offered. I should bask in the freedom but when you've been independent for three years you get pretty used to it.
I think there's something easier about moving back into your own parental home. I feel like your parents can be a little more accepting of your desire to continue your independence, whereas when you move in with someone else's you're trying to be as polite as possible, especially if you've only met them a handful of times. Personally my parents are happy for me to make my own dinner whenever or cook dinner for everyone. But here, I get slight palpitations over the thought of cooking for a family that isn't my own. I just worry about any criticism, people wanting to take over, impatience or just constant eyes upon me.
I really appreciate my boyfriend's family opening their home to me, and once we're both working (my boyfriend has a job lined up and I'm applying) we have already said we'll pay rent and agreed on a price.
All I'd say to anyone in the situation or about to be is to remember that it will take time. It's also important to have an understanding partner/an understanding for your partner; my boyfriend said 'cheer up' a few times when I looked down during my first day here, but it wasn't that simple because it felt extraordinarily weird and I guess it was hard for him to know exactly how I was feeling. Now, my fairy lights have gone up, we've somehow managed to squeeze my clothes into his much too small wardrobe and I'm sure when the bed needs changing I'll sneak on my blue bird print duvet covers and bring my white fluffy blanket into the room.
So what can you do to make the transition easier?
- Talk to yours or your partners parents about it, don't just move your partner in (it's awkward for them if either parent asks how long you're staying for, and it's unfair to be dishonest)
- Agree on how to make you/your partner feel more at home
- Make some space for them in your room i.e wardrobe space, a drawer or two
- Consider minor redecorations - of course it's only a temporary living situation in many cases, but what was once your room/their room is now shared, so it's nice to consider updating the décor to reflect the new situation
- Keep busy if you're/they're feeling homesick
- Show them around the area if they haven't visited often - it's nice to know your bearings, and know that if you wanted/needed to you could easily get around on your own
- Offer to help out around the house - it helps his/her parents out and it let's you feel like you're still independent
Have you experienced living with your partners family? If so, what advice would you give to someone in the same situation?