By Guest Blogger Kristen Daukas
Ah, the holidays – a time for joy, laughter, and endless family gatherings. For parents of college students, the holiday season is particularly special because it means that their children will finally be back home. But let’s not sugarcoat it – having your college-aged kids back home for the holidays can be both a blessing and a curse. While you’re undoubtedly overjoyed to see them, their sudden presence in your home can be challenging. This is especially true if you’ve grown accustomed to the peaceful, quiet lifestyle that comes with being an empty nester (or “less nester” if you still have kids at home). Having gone through this a few times with my three, I’ve got a few tips up my sleeve to make sure that your home for the holidays is a place of peace and sanity.
Communication is Key
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s crucial to communicate with your college-aged children about what you expect during their stay. This includes things like how long they’ll be staying, if they’ll be bringing friends over, and what their schedule is like. Talking things out beforehand will prevent any misunderstandings or disagreements once they’re home. And remember, communication is a two-way street! Be sure to ask them what they’d like to do during their stay and try to compromise on any conflicting plans.
While it’s great to have your kids back home, it’s important to remember that they’re adults now. They’re used to living on their own, with their own schedules and habits. This can be particularly jarring when they return home and have to follow your rules again. Be sure to set boundaries early on – things like curfews, house rules, and privacy expectations. This doesn’t mean that you have to be strict, but it’s important to establish boundaries to prevent any awkward moments or tension in the house.
Participate in Activities Together
The holiday season is the perfect time to bond with your family. Take advantage of this time by planning activities that you can do together. This could be something as simple as watching a favorite holiday movie, baking cookies together, shopping, or even hiking. Not only will this allow you to reconnect with your children, but you’ll also create new memories that you’ll cherish for years to come.
Allow for Alone Time
As important as it is to participate in activities together, it’s equally important to allow for alone time. Your college-aged children might want to catch up with old friends or just have some time to themselves. Encourage them to pursue their own interests during their stay, whether that’s working on a project, exploring the city, or simply taking a nap. This way, they’ll feel like their independence is respected, and you’ll get a much-needed break. And believe me – you’re going to need some alone time yourself to recharge!
Embrace the Chaos
Let’s be real – no matter how much preparation you do, having your college-aged kids back home for the holidays will be chaotic. There will be messes, disagreements, and probably a lot of noise. And that’s okay – believe me, the quiet when they leave is just as deafening as the chaos! Embrace it and remember that it’s a sign that your family is together again. Take a deep breath, enjoy each other’s company, and remember that the holiday season is a time for love and happiness. College kids will be gone before you know it, and you’ll probably wish you were picking random things up again.
There are a lot of emotions involved when our kids start their journey into adulthood, and the holidays are a reminder that no matter how hard it is to watch them go, those moments when they are back in our house are worth every tear we may shed when they’re not looking. Even if the holiday season feels like it’s going to be a bit chaotic, remember that you are creating memories for your family to cherish – now and in the future.