Home for the Holidays! Welcoming your college student home for Christmas break takes a little bit of planning and foresight. It is such a special time of year!
Your college student is coming HOME (!!!) for Christmas! What could be better? Honestly, having our daughter return home for a nice long Christmas break after a semester away is better than the biggest present under the tree. Sure, she’s home for Thanksgiving, but those breaks are super short and each hour is crammed with friends and family, as it should be! But, Christmas break provides us with several weeks to get to know one another again.
Of course, a family member’s reintroduction into the household can have its ups an downs. Siblings may have enjoyed more one on one time with you since big brother/sister has been away at school, and maybe even more living space! The dynamic shifts back once the college student returns…let’s make it as smooth as possible!
Prepare All Family Members BEFORE Christmas Break
Expectations: Cover these topics with the entire family before your college student returns home! Take a few moments and review your family’s December calendar. What activities involve the whole family?
Perhaps it is a neighbor’s Christmas Caroling Hot Cocoa Party or a Christmas Eve worship service. Have a master calendar for your family in the kitchen, and mark those special holiday events where whole family attendance is expected. Convey these expectations to EACH member of the family. These events are your non-negotiable activities regarding family participation. Your short list will provide the framework for your holiday obligations. And, more importantly, it will help siblings understand that big sis is not “getting away” with not attending a function with other members of the family. You have now managed expectations for everyone….this is the first step to Happier Holidays!
Rules: Will your college student have a curfew now that they are home? How does this look for a 21 year old? Are household chores redistributed with the addition of your college student? How will the chore schedule be managed with siblings, etc. if your college student has a part time job during Christmas break?
Think about expectations and rules, then have a conversation (not a texting marathon!) with your son or daughter. Ask them for THEIR input and make sure the conversation ends with everyone on the same page.
Be Mindful of Their Reentry Into the Household
December is hectic for us a parents. But remember, December is hectic for your college student, too! It’s the end of the semester; they are tired, exhausted and so over communal living in the dorms! They are counting the days to walk back through your front door, but they may not be ready to jump right back into family life the first 24 hours. Plan accordingly.
Give them some space to re-acclimate and to SLEEP! Now, your student may be attending classes right in your hometown and living on campus. Even though they are geographically close by, the pressures and experiences they are going through are the same as their out of town counter parts. They will still appreciate some time to re-acclimate, although it may be a shorter duration.
Respect Their Schedule
Your son or daughter has created a life of their own outside of your family. This is truly the hardest part of parenting…when you realize you are almost done. They will always need us, and we them. But parenting takes a different turn as they mature into young adults, and sometimes this become really clear really fast during Christmas break. (Why does EVERYTHING seem to happen in December?!?!)
When they are home for break, they may spend every single moment with high school friends or at their part time job. Yes, they still love you, but they are used to managing their own time and resources. This is a good thing! They are growing up. Sometimes, they may want to nest at home and spend every single moment marathoning shows on Netflix. Usually, this a result of their very busy life at college. They relish down time with loved ones. Managing hectic layers of academic and social calendars is exhausting……..time away from obligations is sorely needed. Maturity is a beautiful thing, isn’t it?
I literally spend the first two weeks of December nesting like a crazy woman to get everything “just right” before our daughter comes home. The warmth and cheer she brings with her are infectious. During Christmas break, her schedule has been a combination of catching up with high school friends while balancing serious Netflix marathoning with us! We love watching the bowl games and I make her favorite football snack, Buffalo Chicken Dip! (Last Christmas, I made a HUGE pan for her to take to the beach with friends!) And, there is something so wonderful about having her rejoin us in our pew at church. I just LOVE Christmastime!
If you have a younger daughter who will be going thru sorority rush next year, check out my 3 Rush Tips for December!
Christmas is magical, wonderful, and holy. May you have a truly blessed season!