Back Home? Try 'The Parent Trap Escape Plan'

If your plans to get your own place didn't work out, moving home may leave you feeling a bit disappointed, even defeated. It can be tempting to let your parents baby you for awhile, but don't get too comfortable. "The Parent Trap Escape Plan" -- reprinted from "The Quarterlifer's Companion: How to Get on the Right Career Path, Control Your Finances, and Find the Support Network You Need to Thrive," by Abby Wilner and Cathy Stocker, with permission from McGraw-Hill -- is a six-point plan to get off the couch and get a life.

The Parent Trap Escape Plan

Think of this one as a contract with yourself.

It's 4 p.m. and you are sitting on your parents' couch watching "Oprah" or reruns of "MacGyver." You have just finished a bag of chips. A supersize bag. Your mom will be starting dinner in about an hour and you are wondering which high school friend to call tonight.

My friend, you are falling into a very dangerous place.

You are about to get caught in the "Parent House Trap." We understand that it is ever so much more comfortable to slip back into the comfy, warm familiarity of life at home, with mom and dad taking care of everything. Why keep knocking on corporate America's doors only to have them repeatedly shut in your face when you could just curl up with some book you loved as a kid and then eat a home-cooked meal?

It might sound dreamy. Couldn't you just let yourself slip into that place for a few days?

NO, you can't.

It's time to get off that couch and get a real life of your own!!

Here is our recommended "Parent House Escape Plan," a kind of boot camp for those made flabby by Parent House living.

1. Get up at a normal time, and the same time every morning, just as you would if you were going to work. Don't get used to sleeping in; you can sleep in on the weekends.

2. Schedule one job search outing each day. It must be something that gets you out of the house. It can be an interview, a trip to the library to do research, a trip to Kinkos to copy resumes, anything. It can be a lunch date with an acquaintance who has an interesting job you want to learn more about.

3. Complete one job search task each day. And it can't be "surfing the Web to research the industry." Yeah, nice try! No, you need to create a product: a cover letter sent in with your resume, a thank you and follow-up letter, or a letter or e-mail requesting an informational interview.

4. You may not have looked for a part-time job because you are interviewing for jobs, but you can still do some work. You'll feel better about yourself and you'll have some cash:

      a. Sign up with a temporary agency. You can opt to take work that fits around your job search schedule and temping is a great way to find a permanent job.

      b. Substitute teach.

      c. Have your parents put out the word that you are available for babysitting, house-sitting, or yard work.

5. Do some kind of exercise each day. (What is boot camp without a few push-ups?) You will feel physically and emotionally healthier if you take care of your health and stay fit. Besides, you have to work off all of those chips.

6. Try to connect with a friend each day, someone from school or someone from home. Don't withdraw just because you are not working or are in a crappy job. Stay connected with the important people in your life.

OK, have you checked off all six items on your list? Now you can watch "Oprah." If you have time. And at least you won't be in your pajamas.

For more helpful information aimed at twenty-somethings transitioning to life in the 'real world,' please check out