Moving students home? Make home life simple with a contract

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It is that time of year when your young adult moves back home or the summer.  You might think of them as your kid.  They might think of themselves as an adult now that they have been living on their own for a year.  Each of you has changed over the year and so has your relationship.  Here are some tips on avoiding the conflict that might happen.

Each party in this living situation has different expectations so make a contract with each other so it is clear what the expectations are. Share on X


It is a big change in lifestyle when students move home for the summer, for the students and the parents.  Sometimes students think

Share your ideas

What are your expectations?

  • It will be just like before I left
  • I will have the same responsibilities as I did living away from home
  • I am on vacation for 4 months
  • and so on…

Sometimes parents think

  • they have lived on their own so they should have no problem contributing around the home without being asked
  • now I have someone to help with all the work
  •  things have changed and we do things differently now
  • and so on…

Each party in this living situation has different expectations so make a contract with each other so it is clear what the expectations are.  My daughter presented me with some rules when she moved back home for a few months.  She asked me to look at them and see if they were suitable and to add any rules.  It made things very easy and simple because there were fewer misunderstandings.

Your contract/ agreement might cover the following ideas.

Sharing the car

May I have the car?


  1. Who pays for gas?
  2. When can they use it?
  3. Do they have to ask to use the car or can they just take it?

Food/ Groceries

  1. Who buys the groceries?
  2. Who pays for the groceries?
  3. Do you buy everything on the list?
  4. Do you buy only the things you need from the list when you go shopping?


  1. Who cooks?
  2. Who plans the meals?
  3. Do you cook for everyone or only yourself?

    Where do I start cleaning?

    What needs to be cleaned?


  1. Who cleans up the kitchen?
  2. What needs to be cleaned,  floors counters, stove, sink?
  3. Who does the dishes?
  4. Who empties the dishwasher?


  1. Do you record your activities in a specific place, electronic or paper?
  2. Do you need to tell where you are going and when you will be back?
  3. Are there any activities you are expected to attend?

Your young adult may feel like you are trying to “keep tabs” on their activities.  They have not had curfews and anyone to report to in a year.  Explain that you want to know when to expect them back for safety reasons.  If they don’t return when they are expected then it is time to start worrying and start looking for them.


  1. Who is responsible for laundry?
  2. May they use the supplies at home or do they purchase their own supplies?


  1. Who does the cleaning, is it a shared task?

This checklist of ideas makes it seem like working out an agreement will be a lot of work.  The agreement only needs to cover areas that cause conflict, tension or have changed since the student last lived with you.

Our agreement looked like this:


Family agreements about house rules

Make a contract/agreement with everyone in the family to reduce stress and misunderstandings

  • Buy groceries: give Mom the bill,  buy everything on the list
  • Weekday meals:  First one home cooks, Mom will try to plan the meals for the week


  •  Mom will pay for gas


  • Clean and wipe counter and island and stove
  • No dishes in the sink or on the counter, put them in the dishwasher before going to bed


  • Record your evening activities and times when you won’t be home for supper on the calendar
  • Politely and conversational let us know where you are going and when you plan on returning. This is for safety reasons, if you don’t return we need to know where and when to start looking for you

2 weeks ago I wrote about Moving a Student Back Home 

Tell me what items you put on your contract in the comments below.


A blue and white striped tunnel in the background with Julie Stobbe in the foreground wearing a white blouse.Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She has been working with clients since 2006 to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She uses her love of physical activity to reduce clutter, in your home and office. She guides and supports you to manage your time. If you’re in a difficult transition Julie can coach you to break-free of emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. Online courses are available to help instruct, coach and support your organizing projects. Get started by downloading Tips for Reorganizing 9 Rooms.

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  1. Janet Barclay on March 30, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Our kids lived at home while in college, so I never had to deal with this as a parent, but I did when I was younger and moved back home with my parents. They expected me to still be a kid and I expected to be treated like an independent adult. Working out details the way you outline here might have eliminated a lot of tension.

  2. Julie Stobbe on March 31, 2015 at 10:57 am

    It is always hard for all parties, parents and children, to make the transition from being perceived or acting as a child to being treated and acting like an adult. Once the transition has been accepted by everyone life is great again.

  3. Seana Turner on July 2, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    I’ve only had my kids home for the summer once they left for school, and even then only for part of the summer. I think drawing up some clear terms if a wonderful idea. I do remember that one issue we had to discuss was the coming and going “hours.” Kids do tend to stay up much later, and we had to be up and out to work!

  4. Seana Turner on July 2, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    I’ve only had my kids home for the summer once they left for school, and even then only for part of the summer. I think drawing up some clear terms if a wonderful idea. I do remember that one issue we had to discuss was the coming and going “hours.” Kids do tend to stay up much later, and we had to be up and out to work!

    • Julie Stobbe on July 2, 2018 at 2:43 pm

      My children were in their 20’s so we had a rule that they had to tell us what city they were going to and if they were coming home that evening. I told them that if they didn’t arrive home I want to know where and when to begin looking for them or call the police. I was very straight forwarded about my reason.

  5. Linda Samuels on July 2, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    Having a discussion, even if there isn’t a formal contract, is a great idea. The truth is that when kids return home after being way things ARE different. Everyone (even us parents) have changed. But for our kids, they have experienced more freedom and independence than ever. So coming back home can be tough. However, with some open, honest conversation and some flexibility, it can all work out very well…and be a learning/growing experience for everyone.

    It seems that cleaning up after cooking and establishings some consideration rules with communication and staying out late were the issues that we had to work on. But again, with a conversation or two, we were able to work things out in a mutually agreeable way.

    • Julie Stobbe on July 2, 2018 at 2:40 pm

      A friend who had her marriaged child with grandchildren move home and live with her for a couple of months commented that they should have had a conversation to set out guidelines when they first arrived. Now we have another friend in the same situation and their married child and family will be living with them for a year. We have suggested that they have a conversation to set up guidelines to help make things run smoothly.

  6. Sabrina Quairoli on July 2, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    Very useful list of agreement questions! I will have to do this next year when I have my son come home from college.

    • Julie Stobbe on July 2, 2018 at 6:55 pm

      My daughter was driving home from school. A 10 hour trip. She is the one who came up with this great idea. It has served me well. It has prevented many misunderstandings.

  7. Diane N. Quintana on May 13, 2019 at 8:26 am

    This is a great idea. I know when my son first moved home from college he thought he could come and go as he pleased. That drove me crazy! I wish I had thought to have a contract with him. Thanks for posting this.

    • Julie Stobbe on May 14, 2019 at 7:29 am

      It’s hard for them too to start doing things differently. I think that in itself is a good life lesson for when they have roommates, partners, are guests in people’s home to consider behaviors that are required in different settings.

  8. Nancy Haworth on May 13, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    Drawing up an agreement like this, or at least talking about these expectations at the start of the summer is a wonderful idea. Thank you for these tips!

    • Julie Stobbe on May 14, 2019 at 7:26 am

      You’re welcome, it really helped, at our home, to make the time together enjoyable.

  9. Janet Schiesl on May 14, 2019 at 7:10 am

    Wow! I love the list. Wish I’d had it when my kids were going through this stage. It’s always good to have “the conversation” with the whole family and get expectations out in the open. Communication is key. Thanks.

    • Julie Stobbe on May 14, 2019 at 7:25 am

      My daughter came up with this idea. She had been away for home for a number of years and we had a long drive home. So she asked me a number of questions about areas of concerns for her and I add a few of my concerns and with the list on the fridge the summer went very smoothly. I feel like since I am the parent I should have come up with idea but she is a very smart young lady.

  10. Julie Bestry on April 27, 2022 at 2:11 am

    You’re so right — by that first summer (if not by Thanksgiving break), there’s a vast chasm between the parent-child relationship of the pre-college summer and the not-financially-independent adults sharing a house with their parents. A contract may work for some people and might feel far too formal for others, but certainly all of the elements you’ve laid out need to be covered, and agreements arrived at, to preserve everyone’s sanity. Not coming home until morning might earn you a high-five from your dorm-mates; not so much from mom and dad! 😉

    • Julie Stobbe on April 27, 2022 at 4:52 am

      I like your comment about a contract being too formal for some families. It is a strong word and agreement, deal, and pact might work better. I like contract because it gives a sense of treating the child that left for school as an adult that is returning who will be held responsible for their word.

  11. Janet Schiesl on April 27, 2022 at 6:09 am

    Great ideas. I wish I had a contract with my parents when I moved back home after college. It was for just a few months, but it was a difficult situation. All of your questions should be gone over by all parties for a smoother transition.

    • Julie Stobbe on April 27, 2022 at 6:32 am

      I think suggesting a contract gives families a starting point for a discussion. Some young adults may not want to “talk” with their parents. Formalizing the discussion can keep it from becoming to emotional and keep it on a more practical tone.

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