Do you remember your first trip home from college? My mother picked me up from the airport and immediately took me to my favorite hometown restaurant. When we got home, we sat in the kitchen and talked for hours about my time away at school.
She was curious and asked about the new things I experienced and wanted to know all about my new friends. It was a special time I will never forget because she made me feel heard, loved, valued, and was genuinely interested in my life at school. With my son, I wanted to recreate what my mom did for me. Of course, it didn’t go as planned. Instead of downloading with me, he wanted to spend time with his friends. During winter break, I was determined to recreate this moment for us.
You may be feeling anxious and excited to see your college student. This may be their first time home since you took them to college. It would help everyone in the family to consider how things have changed in that time. Your college student has experienced some new independence while the family at home has created a new “normal.”
Here a few things to think about for your college student’s extended break at home:
Make Your Home A Haven.
Because your student has traveled some uncharted waters on a college campus during this pandemic, allow them time to decompress and de-stress. They have experienced stress and anxiety related to COVID restrictions and precautions. Have their favorite snacks at home. Cook or have their favorite meal. Host a socially-distanced gathering for them with their closest friends.
Spend Time With Your College Student.
Go to your favorite restaurant or coffee shop and have conversations with your college student about their time at school (friends, activities, etc.). It tells them you’re interested in their life and want to know what’s going on with them. Ask them about how COVID impacted campus life. You may also want to talk about your expectations for them while they’re home.
Remember, They’re Not In High School Anymore.
It will be very understandable to revert to treating your college student exactly the way you did while they were in high school. But they have lived “on their own” for the past few months. Respect is essential, and it goes both ways. They need to respect the rules and expectations you set for them while at home. As parents, respecting them as an emerging adult shows you recognize how they handled life at school and are maturing.
Set Clear Expectations.
It’s important to be clear about your expectations for when your student is at home.
Is curfew the same?
Use of the car?
How will they help around the house? Cook, clean, drive siblings?
Another key to communicate with your student is the example and impact they have on younger siblings while they’re home. Remind them to be a good big brother or sister.
Encourage Them To Find Constructive Things To Do.
Those first few days may be filled with lots of R & R for your student, which is normal. They need to recover from the stress they experienced at school. However, only sleeping, hanging out, or gaming the entire break is not an option. Many businesses are looking for workers during the holiday season. Finding places where they can volunteer during the holiday season can benefit a great organization and your student, too.
By creating a plan, you decrease the likelihood of misunderstanding, disappointment, and miscommunication. It allows everyone in the family to enjoy the extended break you have with your college student at home. Time isn’t a commodity simply to be spent; it is to be invested.
★ Do you have a tip to make the transition from college to home easier for the whole family? Leave it in the comments below!