What it's like to be a 'kidult', living back at home with parents

Three women explain why they decided to move back to their family homes during lockdown, and how the arrangement is panning out

Abi Butcher with mum Christine and dad Graham, as well as Abi’s dog Thala
Abi Butcher with mum Christine and dad Graham, as well as Abi’s dog Thala Credit: Andrew Crowley for The Telegraph

During the first lockdown, almost a year ago, there were reports of thousands of young people in cities ditching their small flats and going back home to stay with their parents. It was meant to be a temporary solution, maybe for just a month or two, while they waited for things to blow over.

And yet here we are, in the third lockdown where life has not just changed, but key milestones with it. As socialising and regular office work become altogether altered, so have the long-held markers of adulthood, with many people giving up their hard-won independence to return to the family nest for good. And it’s not just 20-somethings, either. Here’s how the boomerang Covid cohort have found the move:

‘I’m 45 – and snapping at Mum like a child’

By Abi Butcher

“They’re in the back of the larder but please don’t hold the glass jar by the lid.”

That sentence, uttered by my mother as I made Florentines, lit the touch paper.

I’m 45 and living with my parents. It’s been more than 20 years since we last cohabited and in that time everything, and nothing, has changed.

I’ve bought, renovated and sold houses (and moved here for the short-term as I’m renovating another), fallen in and out of love, forged a successful career and travelled the world.

Meanwhile, Mum first told me not to hold glass storage jars by their lids – in case they smash – when I was about 14. That episode finished with me in my room, fuming at being treated like a child while simultaneously acting like one. These spats have been a regular feature since I crashed their peace in March, arriving with a large dog and a bit more than a suitcase.

We’ve always had a really good relationship, which became a bit more grown-up after I left home at 20. But when the first lockdown hit, we instantly fell into a parent-child dynamic. When I’m told for the umpteenth time not to hold a jar by its lid, or how to load a washing machine or reverse a car and trailer – even though I’ve been doing them all for 20-odd years – I respond by snapping like a child.

Slowly, we’ve learnt how to live more harmoniously. I appreciate how much I’ve impacted their lives and try to pick my battles. I live with the guilt of not doing my own washing because it’s easier (and downright fantastic having Mum do it) and I insist on cooking a couple of times a week.

In turn, they keep quiet when I take my dog up to my room (highly prohibited 30 years ago) or make myself a gin and tonic (with my own personal gin).

We’re the same but different, and grateful to have this time together, even if we’ve had to adjust. I’m getting to know them as people, as well as my parents.

The tables have turned at times. I’ve helped with iPads, online food shops, deciphering lockdown rules and taking out Netflix subscriptions. I encourage them to go for a walk when they’re fed up, or to visit their grandchildren (when they were allowed).

But deep down, they will always be my parents: the people who call me Abigail (not Abi).

‘Moving down the road is the perfect balance’

By Caroline Millington

“I’m leaving London”, were the words that came as a shock to my city-loving friends.

After 19 years of an hour-long commute from my Zone 6 flat to Zone 1 office, I was ready to put my flat on the market. While I still loved what London has to offer, it was time to head back to the Midlands, where I grew up.

Despite being spritely for their age, my parents are not getting any younger, and a couple of recent health scares meant I’d done the two hours on the M1 to Rugby rather a lot. My sister’s family are in Northamptonshire and my godchildren are all north of the Watford Gap, too.

As a single 40-something, I could move wherever I fancied – as long as I kept an eye on the commute to London. Then Covid hit, as did another family health scare, and I realised how important it was to be near my parents.

So just before Christmas, I packed my flat up alone (as per Covid rules...). No regrets, only excitement for the future.

I’ve moved to Burton Latimer near Kettering, a small town with beautiful old cottages and muddy walks. I’ve swapped a two-bedroom flat for a three-bedroom, three-storey townhouse with room for visitors.

It’s 45 minutes from my parents and 10 minutes from my sister: a perfect balance of being nearby in case of emergencies, while still having my independence.

I can’t get Deliveroo, but the local takeaways are fantastic. The dating pool might be smaller, but I’m hoping Midlands men might be more my type.

I’ve ordered two pairs of walking boots after trashing New Look ones on a muddy walk. I take photos of robins. I wear fleeces. I like the quiet, and fresh air.

When we eventually go back to the office, my commute won’t be much longer, and after work, I’ll have dinner with friends before getting the train. I’ve finally found a work-life balance.

I didn’t leave London. I just came home.

Kindfulness and The Friendship Formula by Caroline Millington are both available from Telegraph Books

‘I’m in my childhood bedroom – and I quite like it’

By Miriam Carey

I never expected to be spending my late 20s in my childhood bedroom, with its single bed and pink flowery curtains. But here I am, at the age of 27. And I quite like it.

At the start of 2020, I was spending every penny I earned on a north London flatshare and post-work drinks several times a week. I had plenty of freedom, lots of fun, but nothing saved to buy a place of my own.

But then March hit and London felt cramped and scary, so I decided to weather the storm at my parents’ roomy Berkshire house. It has been much more comfortable than my rented place. For example, the bath in my flatshare was on its last legs, but the one at my parents’ is sparkling clean. Now, I often run myself a bath as soon as I clock off at 5.30pm.

I also like having my parents around to look after me. While I’m lying in my bubble bath, Mum is usually downstairs making dinner, and I don’t have to spend my weekends hoovering.

Of course, there was a bit of readjusting to do. If I’ve had a rubbish day, I would usually make something special for dinner. But at my parents’, dinner is whatever Mum is making. After a couple of tiffs, we’ve come to a compromise: I cook three nights a week, which gives me some freedom.

I’ll stay here for at least another year while I save up for a flat deposit. Since I’ll be here for a while, I’ve decided to make my bedroom more grown-up. We replaced the single bed with a double, and I might even take down the pink curtains. I’ve just got to remember that this doesn’t mean I’m staying forever.

Read more on the move back home for adults: