son and mother

When your children leave the nest, be prepared: They may come back soon.

The proportion of young adults living in their parents’ home increased from 2005 to 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The percentage of men between ages 25 and 34 living in their parents’ home rose from 14 percent in 2005 to 19 percent in 2011. The percentage of women in that age group living at home grew from 8 percent to 10 percent during the same period.

“Kids move back for all kinds of reasons,” said Ruth Nemzoff, author of “Don’t Bite Your Tongue: How to Foster Rewarding Relationships with Your Adult Children.”

Your daughter may return home after college while searching for a job or move in after finding job to save money. In some cases, a child might stay under your roof while recovering from a health problem or divorce.

Regardless of the cause, a child’s move back home causes a shift in your household. Taking steps ahead of time to welcome your child—and his or her belongings—into your home can help make the transition a positive one. Here are five tips on how to get through the process.

empty nest

1. Take Inventory.
Before your child arrives, be prepared to change how your house is set up. “When my 30-year-old returned home, it was quite an adjustment for us both,” said Alara Kase, CEO of Welliant Whole Body Center Inc. and a mother of two in Lake Forest, CA. “I had acclimated to my empty nest.”

While your daughter was away, her old bedroom may have turned into a craft room or spare bedroom. If you’ve changed addresses since she left home, consider which area of your current home should be set aside for her.

To make room, you may decide to discard or sell certain items. You also might find a new place to store things you want to keep, perhaps even a self-storage unit.

2. Arrange Your Home.
To prepare for your child’s arrival, “set the geographic rules,” Nemzoff said.

Talk to your daughter about which room or area of the home will be hers. Also go over which parts of the house, such as the living room and kitchen, will be considered public space.

As you divide the house, evaluate your child’s belongings. You might find that some of your son’s possessions won’t fit into his room or be useful for others in the household. In these cases, “it could make sense for adult children to put their things in storage,” said Christina Newberry, founder of AdultChildrenLivingatHome.com and author of “The Hands-On Guide to Surviving Adult Children Living at Home.”

household budget

3. Talk About Finances.
To evaluate the financial effects of your child moving back home, create a budget that lists your current living expenses. Then estimate how those costs will change.

“Expenses like food, electricity, gas and insurance will likely all increase,” Newberry said.

To offset additional costs, your son might agree to pay a certain amount in rent each month. He also might contribute by taking on tasks you otherwise would pay for, such as washing the car or painting the garage.

4. Encourage Responsibility.
A move back home should not turn into a trip through a time machine, with both parties resuming their former child and parent roles, Kase said. When her son moved home, she told him she had a washer and dryer—but he was responsible for doing his own laundry.

In other areas of the home, “your adult child is quite capable of doing his or her part,” Kase said. That might include sharing the duties of cooking, shopping and household maintenance.

5. Think About Departure.
Before your child moves home, “you want to get a picture of what the end game might look like,” said Richard Horowitz, a parenting and family coach and author of “Family Centered Parenting–Your Guide For Growing Great Families.”

Perhaps your child wants to stay until he can find a job that pays a certain amount. You may not know the exact date he’ll leave, but you’ll have an idea of his goals and plans.

Communicate to your child that when he leaves, his possessions must go with him, Newberry said. If he moves items into self-storage before coming home, he might retrieve some of them when he leaves your home and settles into a new place.

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Rachel Hartman