A Parent’s Summer Perspective
They have been away for a year, maybe two or three, but this summer they are planning to come home. Many of you may be thinking how nice it will be to have them home; perhaps it will be even better than before they left for college because now they are more mature having lived on their own for so long. Do you sense the cynicism coming? Relax; I too got excited when each of mine came home for those ten weeks. And, the truth is, it can be wonderful. I love having my kids around; the family dinners, someone else to walk the dog and just their presence alone make me smile. However, I also like sleeping.
College kids do not keep the same hours as we do. It is a fact. They also, in general, do not do laundry, wash dishes, or pick up their things. Well, mine didn’t. They have matured in other ways and it may be as tough for them to come home to house rules as it is for us to adjust to their new ways. They are no longer accustomed to having to deal with family dynamics that may come with restrictions. As a parent I always find it difficult to understand why they are still sleeping when I am preparing lunch; they, on the other hand, think it is the norm.
Start off from day one coming up with some rules and possibly some compromises. I’m not sure their old curfews will work, but if you are like me and can’t sleep well until you know they are home safely, then by all means; find a concession. Perhaps a call or text alerting you that they are safe and will be home eventually is all you need to rest easy. Compromise #1.
There are all kinds of things that may need a bit of conciliation. For instance, I, personally, don’t mind helping out with their laundry, but I will not sort it from piles on the floor. I also don’t really care if they choose to wade through their messes to find their bed, as long as the disarray stays confined to their bedroom behind a closed door. These may not be the issues you will have to deal with. Perhaps your kids are tidy; apparently, mine are not. Compromise #2
Hopefully, your student will arrive home to a job. If not, prepare as they try to find one along with all the other high school and college kids that are in the same boat. Encourage them to think ahead in this regard. It isn’t easy to find a summer job and seeing them lounging on the couch at two in the afternoon can be rather tough to swallow when they are still unemployed. What do you intend to pay for and what will be their responsibilities throughout the summer? Job, internship, classes? Compromise #3
Chores. Sure, you handled all the things you are about to ask them to do while they were away, but really, it is only fair that they chip in; after all, they will be living there. I prefer not to think of having my kids’ home like having a border. There is no reason they can’t pitch in; although the word chores may sound obsolete to them at first; in no time, they will undoubtedly re-learn which days the garbage gets put on the curb. Compromise #4
Surely, they are excited about home-cooked meals. Be prepared for your food bill to multiply again. Speaking of food; college kids tend to eat at odd hours. Perhaps you can make an agreement as to which meals they will be joining the family for. For those meals that they heat up when they come in just before the sun comes up; show them how to use the kitchen quietly. And, empty containers in the fridge? Make sure they throw them out and either go to the store to replace or put it on the grocery list. Compromise #5
Will you be sharing a car? Is their old bike still in the garage? More compromises. Plan accordingly to avoid a hasty decision. In the end, it is great to have them home. Undoubtedly, they have matured, but being home may cause them to regress back to some of their high school behaviors. Let’s face it; at college, there is no one to fall back on. Either way, when they return to school in the fall you will probably be sad to see them go….but not as sad as when they left for their freshman year before you knew what it was like to have quiet time and a clean house. By being honest and sharing our opinions, we too think you can come up with a compromise that works for you and your family. Want to know what they are thinking (not that it will be a surprise)? Read the students’ perspective.
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