If you have moved back home after being away at college for several years, you are not alone. This is an increasingly common occurrence, and it stems from a lack of post-graduate jobs, inability to make ends meet on your own or even a sudden breakup with your SO. Moving back home after living on your own can make you feel like you have failed in life.

Maybe you feel shameful because you didn’t live up to your own plans, but this will not be the only issue that you will have to deal with.

Just as you have changed over your years away from home, your family’s habits and lifestyle have also evolved. You may feel like a stranger in your own home. In fact, maybe your room doesn’t have your furniture and belongings in it, and it is used as an additional storage, stocked up with emergency food buckets, family heirlooms, or other items they have tossed in it while you were away.

Perhaps you’ve noticed more piles of clutter throughout the home that makes space feel unfamiliar and unwelcoming. If your parents are showing signs of hoarding, this might be your first issue to tackle as you fly back to the nest.

Set an Example

The good news is that your parents have agreed to let you come back home. They probably welcomed you with open arms, even if they don’t realize what this fully means. If your room has been used as their hidden storage area for years, your homecoming means having one less storage area.

You need to have a place to sleep, and this means that all the miscellaneous junk needs to be cleared out. Luckily, college has thought you how to organize your living space.

While you may be put off by the state of chaos, understand that your parents probably never planned on you living in that space again and you will probably need to step up and start organizing that room yourself. Select the things that you do not want in the room any longer and ask your parents if they want it stored elsewhere, donated or thrown away.

Your room should be a great example of what a minimalistic, organized space should look like. This may just motivate them to tackle the rest of clutter and let the house breathe again.

Address the Issue

When a home is too cluttered, it increases your stress level, and it can make it harder to find the things that you actually need. In many situations, a cluttered house becomes a health hazard. Pests and rodents hide in clutter and strive in messy areas. If you see any bugs crawling around, this is a sure sign that the house needs to be thoroughly cleaned and organized.

You may not necessarily consider your parents to be serious hoarders, such as what you might see on a TV show. Severe hoarding is a diagnosable mental disorder, and your parents likely have not reached this point. However, mild hoarding can lead to serious hoarding. It is best to deal with the problem now before it becomes serious.

Approach them in a calm and reasonable manner to minimize squabbles. You don’t want to complicate your post-collegiate life. Your parents might get defensive if you use the negative wording, such as garbage, junk or trash. When you talk about the mess, use words such as stuff and things. Point out how their things are causing safety and health concerns.

Make a Cleaning Plan

As challenging as college may have been, life with your parents can be even more challenging in many ways. Work with them to create a strategic plan to deal with the clutter. Plan to clean the home with the whole family working together over several weekends.

Think about starting with a very small area first. For example, spend time cleaning out the medicine cabinet or that junk drawer. Discard items that are no longer needed and put other items in their appropriate place. Once you move into larger areas of the home, negotiate with your parents about moving some things into a storage unit if they are not fond of entirely getting rid of them.

My Last Advice

The process of cleaning out your parents’ home with them may not be the experience you thought you would have after graduating, but there may be some positive aspects to it. After years spent away, this can be your quality time that strengthens your family bonds. In addition, once the home is clean and organized, everyone will enjoy it more and may get along better.

Michelle Laurey