And So the Story Goes…
Winter break, visions of sugar plums dancing in your head, family time and maybe a family vacation; and having your student home. But your vision and your student’s vision of winter break may just be polar opposites. Hanging out with you on vacation every day may not be what your student is planning on doing. And while we are all excited to have our kids home, there needs to be a mutual meeting of the minds, so to speak. Yes, some have had very stressful semesters and may need this downtime. If that is the case, definitely give them a few days to get used to being home. Expect that they have changed; just as you too have changed as you both adjusted to a new family dynamic. You may notice a new sense of independence and self-sufficiency. And that is something to be excited about. Of course, how they handle this newfound independence may differ from your ideas but they are moving toward being able to handle a lot more on their own.
Perhaps they can go back to jobs they had prior to leaving for college. Or maybe they can find a part-time job during the holiday season. Many cities belong to Nexdoor, a private social network where local residents post requests. Some may be looking for a babysitter, pet sitter or even help with small tasks. They need something to do other than lying in bed, watching Hulu or Netflix every day. Some families may have a vacation planned; however,
How you balance the “my house; therefore my rules” while they are home will require open dialogue and a lot of patience. Just like when they lived at home, I still have curfews and they must help with chores around the house. Family dinners and keeping the common areas clutter free are two of my biggest issues. I know we want them to love being home again, however, there have to be some rules that still are respected.
Curfews definitely become a tad more lenient as each college year passes, but basically, I can’t sleep well when I know they are into the very late hours. I ask that they are respectful of the fact that we (as opposed to they) do have to get up before noon the next day. I’ve gotten plenty of eye rolls over the years with the mere mention of a curfew, but I never worried about winning a popularity contest. As parents, we have to remember that our kids have been on their own for several months, if not more if they started over the summer. They now answer only to themselves. They are learning valuable lessons. They probably enjoy being able to sleep all day or stay up into the early mornings talking with friends or going out at 11 pm after they finish studying and eating whenever and whatever they like.
So as a mom that has been there, done that, I have learned to pick my battles. They can keep their own bedrooms however they want, but the family areas are “clutter-free zones.” Don’t expect them to unpack right away. For Thanksgiving, the excuse was they were only home for a short amount of time but a month of living out of a suitcase may make no sense to you or I. Trust me when I say that after the first week of them not being able to find anything, they will unpack. I’ve watched both my daughters do this. My niece, on the other hand, is a bit more organized and unpacked the first hour she was home. Everyone has their own method so unless you have a house full of guests coming, maybe just close their door. My kids, like most, are thirsting for home cooked meals and, since I love to cook, I actually enjoyed being able to prepare their favorite meals; I even had them go to the grocery store for me while I was working to pick up the ingredients I needed. Expect a lot more laundry. I must admit the first time each of my kids came home from school for Thanksgiving; I was so excited to have them home I actually did their laundry. Yes, that lasted one visit! I now keep them company while they do their own laundry, sometimes helping them fold it. Fine; I will do anything to spend a little extra time with them. Let them know ahead of time of any holiday commitments that are already scheduled whether this is Hanukkah, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. In between, let them have time to spend with their friends. Allow them to adjust like you are and appreciate the time you do get to spend together. It is a whole new way of life for our students and for us too.