It’s Thanksgiving and They’re Back…
Thanksgiving break is the first official long break when students come home I do not know about you but after two months of texts, phone calls, and face time there is nothing like being able to hug your student for the first time…. And then the tug a war begins (sometimes hours after they arrive). At school, they come and go as they please. They keep their rooms (dorms, apartments, houses) the way they want, do laundry when they run out of clothes, have their personal belongings thrown everywhere. I feel strongly that “my house, my rules.” Just like when they lived at home, I have curfews, rules for housework and helping with chores around the house (I am a full-time working single mom), family dinners and keeping the common areas clutter free. I know we want them to love being home again however, there have to be some ground rules that still are respected. Curfews were a tad more lenient as each college year passed. My kids are social butterflies and seeing their high school friends and new college friends were their priority so we agreed to a 2 a.m. curfew. I saw no reason to stay out until 3 or 4 am especially as I had to work every day. They argued they only had a few days to see their friends, but I held my ground as nothing ever good happens after 2 am was my mantra.
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 have had to only answer to themselves. If and when to do their laundry. Sleep all day or stay up into the early mornings talking with friends. Going out at 11 pm after finishing up their studying. Eating whenever and whatever they like. So as a mom that has been there, done that, I would recommend cutting them some slack. Maybe we should change our thinking a little. Talk about Thanksgiving ahead of time (although many of them may have exams leading up to that week). I found a way to compromise while still not having my house feel like her personal hotel. Keeping the house clean – I picked my battles. They could keep their own bedrooms how they wanted but common areas were still “clutter-free zones.” Don’t expect them to unpack. Just don’t. My daughter’s explanation for this was why should I unpack when I just have to pack it back up in 3 or 4 days. I laughed (to myself of course) and thought that makes sense. So I just closed their bedroom doors.
Food – they are thirsting for home cooked meals so I had their favorite meals prepared and some were frozen to take back to school with them. I have been making homemade chicken soup on a weekly basis since they were toddlers and both my kids truly appreciated taking some good old fashioned chicken soup back to school with them.
Last but not least, 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 after working all day. Yes, that lasted one visit! I now keep them company while they do their own laundry because let’s face it, they’ve been doing it for months on their own and I feel they need to know how to perfect the art of cleaning their clothes. Besides, it is a luxury to only have to walk into the laundry room in our house instead of having to drag it to a laundry room and wait for it to finish.
Thanksgiving traditions remained Thanksgiving traditions – watching the Macy’s day parade, the family day all day Thanksgiving and the ultimate Black Friday shopping which was something both my son and daughter looked forward to. There was one minor adjustment for Thanksgiving Break with my daughter – FSU versus UF – let them go as this is part of the UF college experience. Besides, Thanksgiving is a practice run for the three-week-long Christmas Break and we need to ease into the new way of life with our students.
Finally, as much as you want to savor every last minute of this short break; send them off early Sunday morning. The traffic that day is generally horrendous as many students make the exodus back to Gainesville. What is typically a four and a half hour trip back once took my daughter almost seven hours. It was probably the most nerve-wracking seven hours on my end until I got the text from her (I had her friend send it from her phone) “Back in the Ville.”
Should your student be unable to come home or you decide to switch things up this year and head up to Gainesville to spend it with your student, read our blog on Staying at UF for Thanksgiving. It’s stuffed with places to eat, events to see and ways to help others less fortunate.