She cooks more with Eric home, and spends more time -- and money -- at the grocery store.
"We go through a lot of milk now. Before, I was buying a quart of milk a week, which sometimes lasted two weeks. Now we're up to two gallons a week! It's so weird."
Her son "cuts the lawn, goes to the dump, does stuff around the house," she says.
"He doesn't do housework, believe me. But he does the outside stuff. I never have to ask him to do anything." Meanwhile, Eric is getting excellent grades in school. "Better than he ever got before. So it's working for him."
Not every trip back to the nest goes as well.
"This is a perfect time to do the last part of parenting," she advises. "You're not the boss, you're the coach." Act as a sounding board for your adult child; help him or her see different perspectives before they make their own decisions.
Have clear expectations from the beginning of the move. Will you charge rent? Will chores be shared? Not every parent collects rent, Gordon says. "Is your kid doing an unpaid internship? Where would that kid get the money for rent?"
Eric's parents don't charge for anything, he says. But he pays the cable bill because he needs broadband Internet for his job and for school. And he bought himself a big new bed, "because the twin size is not going to cut it."
Gordon advises parents: Don't fall back into your old habits when a child moves home. You don't have to be responsible anymore for making sure your offspring has a hot, nutritious meal every night.
It's OK if you're the parent to set boundaries -- it's your house. If you want a propertywide ban on hip-hop after 10 p.m., then make it so.
Um …: and what about sex?
"That's an easy one," Gordon says. "You have every right to have your child respect your value system. If you're uncomfortable or you have younger kids still at home, your adult child usually will understand. If you're comfortable because your child is in a committed relationship, then that's your business."
Eric Tracey has weighed the trade-off between money and his dating life. "I find myself leaning more toward the financial end of it," he says. "I like living here, but at the same time I do want to get more independent. Obviously, I can't have a girlfriend over, so that's hurting the relationship aspect of life."
"If I do meet anyone, as soon as they say they have a place of their own, I say, 'Whew -- crossed that hurdle.' "
There have been no intrafamily blowups since Eric moved home, but sometimes he longs for his own place. "Anytime I come home and I'm trying to get work done and the TV is blasting, I think, 'I have just one more year, and I can get out and do my own thing.' "
For his parents, a kid in the nest hasn't hurt their social life one bit. "Sometimes we're in later than him," Doreen says with a laugh. "We've already been empty nesters. Now we're going back the other way. I was ready for grandchildren, but instead I got my son back."