Visiting your family after you’ve moved away isn’t always smooth sailing. Here are some tips for ensuring your time home is relaxing and stress-free for everyone.
Moving away from home is strange. On the one hand, it’s so exciting to finally escape the bubble you grew up in and experience new and exciting places as an adult (yes, we’re adults now!). But on the other hand, moving away from everything you’ve ever known is extremely bittersweet. Those weekend errands you always ran with your mom? Over. The spontaneous hikes your dad took you on when the weather was nice? A thing of the past.
Moving to NYC after college and then to Berlin this year has unquestionably shaped me into the woman I am today. Had I settled down in Indiana after college I don’t think I ever would’ve been truly happy. Establishing my adult life so close to my childhood home wasn’t a good fit for me, yet Indiana will always be my favorite place on earth because that’s where my family is.
But although actually moving away from home was strange, I’ve got to say that the first visit back home after my big move to NYC was even stranger. I no longer fit into the daily rhythms of my parents’ lives, and my being home was suddenly an event. It felt like we needed to commemorate the occasion, which put pressure on everyone and made it feel like I was on a trip rather than I was back home again.
I think the strangeness of that first visit home after you’ve moved away is something many people can relate to, but few people talk about. It takes time to reestablish your family rhythm, and I wish that someone had told me that before my first trip back home when I thought everything would be the same as it always was. Below are some of my tips for having a memorable, stress-free visit back home after you’ve moved away. Whether you live states away or are in a neighboring county, I hope this post helps you navigate life as a newly anointed adult a little more easily.
Make a Schedule
No, you don’t need to create an actual schedule (although my mom actually did create a spreadsheet for my upcoming visit over Thanksgiving. She’s quite the Type A personality). But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my visits home over the last few years, it’s that giving your parents even a vague heads up about where you’ll be when is much appreciated. I no longer have a car at home (for the record, my dad sold my car with my beloved Doctor Who license plate cover still attached — the horror!), so my parents need to know when I’ll want to borrow their cars or when I need to be chauffeured around like I’m five years old again.
Besides the car-lending logistics, having a loose schedule in place before going home also makes it easier for all of us to make plans together. Whether that means making a reservation at a restaurant we love or meeting up with our extended family, a visit home always goes more smoothly when you’re all on the same page about when you will be free to hang out.
Free Up Your Work Calendar
Before I began freelancing, I worked at an NYC startup that had flexible vacation days and was super chill about employees working remotely. So since moving away from home it’s always been a little tricky to completely free up my work schedule and take time off work. However, putting away your laptop and spending time with your family is key to having a relaxing visit back home.
I know it seems so obvious, but I really struggled with leaving Work Claire behind those first few trips home. It’s so easy to take your family for granted. I mean, you worked all the time on the weekends when you were in high school, so clocking in a few hours of work here and there isn’t such a big deal, right? Wrong. Clear your schedule and enjoy the few days you get to spend with your family. I pinky promise your work will be waiting for you right where you left it once you’re back in the office on Monday. Your family only gets to see you a finite number of days per year, and your visit home will go much more smoothly if you prioritize spending time with them rather than your laptop.
Plan for Lazy Days
When my Aunt Debbie came to visit me my first winter in NYC, she asked me to take her to my local grocery store and show her where I did my laundry. Needless to say, I was perplexed at her interest in the most mundane aspects of my life. In response to my confusion, she told me she liked seeing where I did my shopping and did my household chores — that it’s the everyday events you miss the most when your kids move away.
That really stuck with me because I feel like visits home tend to be a big hullabaloo, but Aunt Debbie was right: the best part of going home is when you get to just chill on the couch with your cats and talk to your mom or dad while they’re making dinner. Or when you go for a walk around your neighborhood and then watch a movie together. It’s “boring” little stuff like this that makes for the best visit home.
Yes, it’s fun to be a tourist in your hometown and hit up your old haunts with your family and friends, but don’t overbook yourself so you’re rarely at home. Be conscientious and carve out lazy time at home with your fam. It’ll make your visit home more relaxing for everybody.
Tell Your Parents What You’re Looking Forward To
Circling back to the whole “make a schedule, but not really” thing, I’ve found it useful to tell my parents what sorts of activities I’m looking forward to the most when I’m back home. Again, getting everyone on the same page makes planning outings easier and means you’ll be able to squeeze in all the fun stuff you want to do. Plus, if your parents are still working and have a limited amount of PTO they can take, giving them a high-level list of the kinds of things you want to do when you’re home will help them figure out when to take off work to spend time with their precious child (that’s you!). If there’s anything you want to do that requires a reservation or tickets, be sure to figure out those logistics well in advance to avoid any last-minute stress before your visit home.
I know this post isn’t like my usual travel content, but I wanted to share it in case any of you have had similar experiences. Even though I’ve lived away from home for a number of years now, I still feel like I have so much to learn about this whole “adult” thing. I hope you can appreciate where I’m coming from — surely I’m not the only one who finds navigating post-grad life equally strange and wonderful!
Tell me: What’s one aspect of adulthood that took you by surprise?
PS. Ironically, none of the photos above are from any of my visits home. I have so many pictures with friends, and none with my parents. I’ll remedy that on my next trip back!
More posts you’ll love:
- My Top Tips for Traveling With Your Parents as an Adult
- How to Be the Houseguest Friends Actually Want to Return
- The Best Gifts to Give a Friend Who’s Moving Away
- How to Make Friends in a New City
- 5 Apps for Keeping in Touch with Long-Distance Friends
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