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I’m one of the many excited mommas eagerly anticipating my child’s arrival for winter break. With one already in college and one on the verge of starting, I know that the moments of having all of my chicks in the nest at the same time are fleeting and I’m aware just how precious this time is.
I’m thinking about holiday meals, favorite foods, baking cookies, family games, fun outings, well, you know. But, at the same time I realize I’m only taking into consideration what I want for this time so I asked my daughter and she agreed to pose this question to her friends, “What do you want your parents to know before you go home for winter break?” This was the feedback I was given.
Let me sleep. This was the top response as many reported parents who were irritated by them sleeping till noon over Thanksgiving break. Realize that winter break is post finals and most likely your student has spent the last two weeks deep in study and preparation to finish their fall semester on top. They are physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted and need this time to decompress. They are looking forward to the luxury of sleeping in their own bed, having home-cooked meals prepared, and basically not having to ‘adult’ for at least a few weeks. The internal clock of a college student is likely very different from yours. They often stay up half the night and sleep half the day. There’s no reason to criticize them for this or to ask them to adjust. Let your home be their refuge not their battleground.
Don’t over-schedule me. This was second most common response. I guess like me, other mommas are excitedly planning activities, outings, and family gatherings. Your student might have a very different picture in mind for this time off including time with friends from home whom they haven’t gotten to see since the summer. Chances are, they are yearning for time to do nothing as well. At a minimum, ask before you plan and be accepting of their responses without inducing guilt.
Talk about things other than school. Think about it from their point of view; college is their ‘job.’ If you work outside of the home, you likely don’t want to spend your time off talking about work and they share this feeling too. Having just come out of exams, they might not want to talk about their spring schedule or be interrogated about changes to their major. There’s a time and a place for these conversations so tread lightly and give them plenty of time to decompress before alienating them with a barrage of pointed questions.
Respect the fact they are different than they were a few months ago. This was mostly said by freshman. Having just finished their first semester away from home, living independently and without parental oversight, they are concerned how and if you are going to reassert yourself in this role while they are home. Like toddlers asserting their independence, they may even try to test the boundaries with curfews and such to see your reaction. Be patient, pick your battles, and of course avoid battling at all if possible.