You know you’re getting on when you find certain headlines a bit, you know, obvious.
‘Empty Your Nest Of Adult Children‘, said The Herald Sun this morning. Er, isn’t that how it’s always been?
As far as I knew, parents were obliged to feed you, change your nappy, teach you about the bird, bees, and STDs, shoot you through twelve-odd years of schooling, teach you how to drive, and then boot you out the door.
That was always the natural order of things.
That’s how the cavemen did it, and how it’s been done ever since. Yoo hoo, happy 21st, see you later.
According to The Herald Sun, “nearly 25% of people aged 20 to 34 continue to live in the parental home,” with most of them citing financial problems as their reason for being unable to leave.
(Financial problems? Wait, aren’t these the years we’re actually meant to be poor?)
The side effects of Failure To Launch are many and varied – you need to check the pockets for tissues before washing – but as the article points out, some could be more serious than we thought.
“A recent Household, Income, and Labour Dynamics survey of 17,000 found those who left home after the age of 25 earned $6,000 less that those who fled the nest earlier,” said life skills coach Michele Jones, adding that there is set to be a higher welfare dependence as a result by 2020.
Jones also pointed out that a reluctance on the parent’s behalf to move their children from home can result in feelings of worthlessness or anxiety.
“…Parents are sending the message to their child that they are not resourceful of capable to live out in the world on their own, and they won’t be successful enough to afford a house without their help.”
OK, HOLD UP.
This is all feeling very negative.
What happened to wanting to move out of home?
As far as I remember, we were chomping at the bit to get out from under our parent’s thumb by the age of 20. I was 18 when I moved out, as were most of my friends. We were young, poor, and ill-equipped to feed ourselves. It was GREAT.
And I wouldn’t take back those years of cold showers and baked-bean dinners back for anything, because I learnt lessons that will stick with me for life.
Here’s some of the best.
1. Tinned food will save your life.
Baked beans. Tinned tomatoes. Refried beans. Tinned spaghetti. Tuna. Peaches. Chickpeas. These are the things that will form the foundation of every semi-edible meal that you will exist on in those dark few days before pay day each month.
(Note: You will end up doing this for the rest of your life. Think of it as pantry post traumatic stress disorder.)
2. As will frozen loaves of bread.
While it's hard to imagine as functioning adults with fridges packed with pre-made veggie frittata and organic soy milk, once upon a time we were so broke that you would be searching under your bed for gold coins to get lunch.
A flatmate in my early 20s taught me to always keep a loaf of bread in the freezer. If nothing else (and often, there was nothing else) you could smash down vegemite toast for pre-payday sustenance.
3. Hiding money is a financial solution.
Finding $50 in your winter coat wasn't just a pleasant surprise. It meant you were making RENT, homie.
4. You do not own the shower.
The power of sharing is a hard lesson to learn when you first move out. Other people will use the shower when you're running late for work. Other people will eat the last of your fancy Persian fetta. Other people will leave their murky cereal bowl in the sink.
And yes, other people will hog the TV to watch South Park when it's clear you're all too old to be watching South Park.
This is called sharing.
5. Cleaning is the best thing for a hangover.
Before leaving home, the act of cleaning was performed only in exchange for say, later curfews, or control over Friday night takeaway selection.
But when you leave home, you will realise that cleaning is a magical task that transforms you from 'hungover and shame-spiralling', to 'I am an adult with a toilet that smells like bleach and frangipani'.
Magic, I tells ya.
6. Cereal is not OK for dinner. It will make you hate cereal.
You think it's cute, because it's what they do in the movies. But they aren't Cheerios, and you aren't Cameron Diaz, so just stop. You need actual food that is not dehydrated wheat.
Mamamia Confessions: The worst thing I ever ate. (Post continues after video)
7. Rental agents will teach you the power of negotiation.
You think you know business? You don't. Until you are haggling with a grey-faced rental agent over the cost of fixing the hole in your plaster wall from hanging that framed Ken Done art print like your life depends on it, YOU DON'T KNOW BUSINESS. I learnt everything I know about successful negotiation from my years trying to avoid being evicted.
8. Parents become friends.
The final and best lesson is this: your parents stop being your cruel overlords, and actually become humans. Living, breathing, occasionally humorous humans. You'll start to things like, go to dinner together. Or discuss the traffic. Or laugh about how much mangoes cost this time of year. It's really nice.
Move out, guys.
It's a rite of passage that you're going to have to go through eventually...so make sure you do it when you're still enough to be forgiven for not knowing how to use an iron.