The agony and the ecstasy of parenthood: When college kids come home

Home sweet home photo by essie

Home sweet home photo by essie

The agony and the ecstasy of parenthood is reflected in the transition milestone of parenting a child who reaches the age of majority.  If you are a parent of a college student you are in the thick of it. If you are a parent of a college-bound child, this is your future. Either way, being a POCS (Parent Of a College or college-bound Student) is challenging.

By the middle of December, semesters are drawing to a close, students are taking finals and colleges are closing their doors for up to a month and a half. Parents across the nation are dealing with higher food bills, increased laundry, and general schedule disruption, as their college students return home for the holiday break.

Just when moms have finally gotten used to scaling meals down to the new normal number of plates at the table, the quantity of dinner guests rises. Then there is the last minute bolting because the college student receives a last-minute better offer from one of her peers.

I call it the college parent balancing act: family hierarchy vs. independent adult child. 

Readjusting to family life can be challenging. Here are 3 tips to ease the transition:

1. House rules Have a family meeting to make and commit to house rules. Use texts, emails or phone calls before the family gathers or do it in person at the beginning of the stay.

  • First, brainstorm a list of family resources, chores and facilities available for use (kitchen, bath, den, laundry, car, etc.).
  • Second, listen to everyone’s wish use list so all hear each other’s desires and needs.
  • Third, agree on house rules about family chores and use of facilities/resources.
  • Fourth, write them down for all to sign. 

2. Regular communication With everyone’s input, establish a schedule of routine meals together and expected courtesy check-ins by agreed upon method of communication (texts, emails, phone calls). Jointly establish flexibility parameters for changes in schedules so expectations and reality can meet without stress.

3. Plan some family fun Make the most out of the time together and create memories that will spark enthusiasm for future gatherings. Brainstorm activities, time, and place so all are invested in having a wonderful time. Get reacquainted and enjoy each other’s company.

Respecting each other’s personal space and enjoying family togetherness can become a habit that continues after the children leave the nest altogether.

Happy Holidays!

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