What is your favorite time of year? For me, it’s the “ber” months, September through December. However, November and December are my absolute favorite months. Fall and Winter truly arrive. Boots, sweaters, and hoodies are in abundance. The air becomes crisp. Christmas lights and fireplaces give a warm comforting glow. Families gather together and since I am now a college parent this has a whole new meaning. One of the greatest highlights of the season is our daughter’s return home for the holidays. Last year was her first year at college. We’ve been down that road once now. When she returned home for the holidays it didn’t quite go as I had envisioned. This post shares tips for what to expect when your college kid returns home for the holidays.
What To Expect When Your College Kid Returns Home For The Holidays
It Will Not Be The Same
First, things don’t just fall back to the way they were before your child left for college. He/she has lived independently from you for a good three or four months now. She has matured and changed some of her ways during the process. Be prepared for change and be understanding.
You may not realize it but your household has changed too. Your family has progressed with new routines that will feel off while your child is home. He/she will feel the change. Life has changed. It will never be the same as it was when everyone lived their daily life under the same roof.
Be prepared to hear your child say things that might make you sad. One of the hardest is hearing your child call their dorm and new environment at college “home”. They might say, “back at home…” I usually respond with, “no, this is your home”. I can’t help it. I’m just not ready to let go yet. Our home is and always will be their home, but they have two homes now. It has to be very confusing for them. Our college kids live two lives at the moment.
Second, if you have other children that haven’t flown from the nest yet there will be some adjusting. Although the siblings will be thrilled with their reunion, they have lived apart with different routines now. Things are different and that can be hard to accept. Trust me though, the siblings will find their groove and all will be well with them.
Third, your college kid is going to feel confused and emotional. He/she was just getting adjusted to their life away from home. They were getting comfortable in their new location. Now they are in their hometown and old feelings resurface. They may feel some regression and confusion.
Initially, they may be too eager to return to school. Consequently, he/she may even express they would rather be back at school. Our daughter was miserable for the first week of Winter Break. She missed her college friends terribly. Their communication was constant. Her phone rarely left her hands be it Snapchat, text or social media. I believe she experienced withdrawals from the routine she was accustomed to. Good news though, it passed and she became more present with us. The phone was soon less of a distraction. My advice if this happens is to be patient and understanding.
Dr. Mom To The Rescue
Fourth, your child will likely be exhausted when they first return home. Finals are demanding and take a toll on them physically and mentally. Don’t feel neglected if they want to catch up on sleep. Let them sleep in. It’s not that they don’t want to be with you. They are in need of rest. After a few days of good sleep, they will feel much better.
Our daughter returned home worn out and sick. She placed a high demand on herself to achieve straight A’s. This demand meant hours and hours of study with poor nutrition and sleep deprivation. She was definitely in need of some TLC when she came home. As mom’s we love to nurture our kids. Enjoy this moment and embrace his/her need for your care and attention.
I have a great post about illness at college, Germs At College…It’s Like Your Child Is In Kindergarten Again!
Fifth, remember our kids have newfound freedoms at college. They are most likely accustomed to late, very late, nights out. We are talking hours our eyes don’t even see anymore. Decide how flexible you will be with their new freedoms while they are home. This is a personal matter and so I’ll just leave it at that.
Last, he may want to spend a lot of time with his friends. Be prepared to share your time. They have missed their buddies. There will be dates, reunions, and parties they want to go to. Find a balance with family, friends, and holiday festivities.
Speaking of time with friends, your child may discover those old relationships are not the same anymore. Breakups may happen. Friendships may dwindle. The realization that people change sets in. This is a huge lesson for them.
How To Prepare
Basically, prepare yourself with the knowledge that life will not be as it was before your child left for college. There will be struggles and emotions. There will be highs and great moments as well. Most of all, the simple comforts of home is all your child needs. He/she will genuinely appreciate their spacious living area, home cooked meals, and your attention.
Also, be prepared that your child may backpedal when the time comes to return to college. A visit that starts with them wishing they could be back at school may very well end with sadness to leave home and not want to return to school. Thus continues the cycle…learning to say goodbye again and again. This chapter of life is an emotional roller coaster for both parties. Time always heals and makes things more tolerable. It won’t take long after your child returns to school to settle back into their other life. As for you, the parent, you will feel a little more comfort and confidence for the next round.
These adjustments are initially very difficult. They are however the next chapter of life. Your relationships do not weaken by the change and distance, they only grow and mature into greater relationships. Savor them.
If you have any questions or would like to add your experience or suggestions, please do so in the comments section below. I would love to hear from you.
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