It’s the most wonderful time of the year. There are holiday parties, decorating, shopping, cooking, and lots of changes all around as we celebrate traditions and consume richer food than we may normally do otherwise. Even the music we listen to is out of the ordinary from our day-to-day lives.
One change you may not be thinking about is having your college student home for the holiday break. It has been awhile since you lived under the same roof. And there will be an adjustment period having your little chick back in your maybe otherwise empty nest.
Both of you have adapted to a new sense of normal. It is important to remember students change a lot during their college years, especially the first semester. While it may seem like an entirely new person has come to see you for the holiday break, there are things you can do together to bond and discover who your child has grown into while he/she has been away.
- Take them shopping for basic things they may be too proud to tell you they need (socks, underwear, shampoo, etc.).
- Do something nostalgic. Go somewhere you would take them when they were younger. Revisit family traditions.
- Family game night – younger siblings will love this too.
- Take them out for a nice dinner (or lunch). They may not get much of this while in college.
- Cook their favorite meal. There are some things the campus cafeteria simply cannot do, and it can never replace your home cooking.
- Don’t over-schedule their time the first few days back. Your child will be tired from finals and the end of the semester stress. Let them sleep in and rest up for the remaining fun-filled break with you.
- Allow them time to catch up with the friends they don’t get to see while away at college. They miss them too.
- Watch their favorite movie with them.
- Splurge on something extra that they cannot afford on their own budget (like getting their nails done or a massage).
- Take a day trip as a family. Go somewhere new or visit a favorite place.
- Take time to learn about who they are becoming. Talk to them about their emerging passions and beliefs. Do not use this time to try to convince them that they are wrong. College is a time to explore your views and figure out who you are. Those views may not be concrete.
- As something nice and not as an expectation, do their laundry for them once during break. I’ve engaged in many conversations with college students who say no one can do their laundry the way their mom does.
- Recreate a favorite childhood photo.
- Do a family photo shoot. Everybody is together – why not?
- Plan a get together with people your college students likes. This saves them from having to schedule individual visits with everyone, and allows them more free time to enjoy the break.
- Take them grocery shopping so they can help pick out the meals for the break. Also, take them shopping towards the end of the break and stock them up on snacks for the upcoming semester.
- Start a new break tradition for your student to look forward to next year.
- Limit questions that may cause your student stress. It is OK to ask them about their future, but constantly asking them about when they think they might find a boyfriend/girlfriend is unsettling.
- Volunteer together at a soup kitchen or some other place to give back. Families that serve together grow together. It can even be as simple as babysitting for a family friend for free.
- Enjoy your time together. You do not have to over-plan to have a fabulous time.