Whether it’s your first college break or you’re a senior, adjusting to a period of time at home can be as smooth or as rough as you choose to make it. It can be tough to switch gears from being surrounded by people your own age—and having the freedom to do virtually whatever you want—to hanging out with your middle-aged parents. They might be inclined to ask where you’re going, who you’ll be spending time with, and what you’ll be doing, which can be extremely frustrating now that you’ve already been living independently for some time.
Never fear: there are plenty of ways to cope with the stress of mom and dad breathing down your neck this holiday season.
Act like you want to be treated.
One of the most challenging conflicts of being home comes from within. Let’s face it—to your parents, you’re still a kid. But, because you’ve had some experience being on your own at school, you feel as though you should be treated as an adult. If you want them to see the new, “mature” you, simply show them through your actions. This can be as simple as devoting some of your attention to them and helping out when they need you.
Clear communication is key.
While it may not seem fair to be subject to the same rules that applied in high school, try to respect your parents’ values and viewpoints. Instead of breaking a rule, talk to them respectfully about possibly changing it. Compromise is much more effective than defiance.
Balance friendships with family.
If you’re home for break, your friends from high school are most likely home, too. This can lead to some time management issues. You won’t be able to fulfill everyone’s wants and needs, so you might as well do the things that are going to make you happiest. For some, this may mean spending as much time at home with family as possible; for others, this means catching up with old friends or flames. Just remember that, even though you feel like you haven’t seen your best pals in what seems like forever, your parents deserve some quality time with you. Giving them the attention they crave will make seeing your friends all the more gratifying.
Deal diplomatically with the third degree.
Holiday break is supposed to be a much-needed break from the books—but your parents may see it as an opportunity to interrogate you about your progress at college. Prepare yourself for questions about grades, study time, exams, and the like. Tell your parents about your accomplishments over the last semester, and this doesn’t have to be limited to grades. Maybe you had a story published in the school’s literary magazine, helped plant flowers as part of the beautification committee, or mentored an incoming freshman. Any details you provide will help satisfy your parents’ curiosity.
A break from the break….
Transitioning from life at school back to life at home can be confusing, fulfilling, awkward, and fun. Make the most of your time with friends and show your parents that you’re mature enough to be treated like an adult, and you’ll create holiday memories you can look back on fondly. When break is over, you’ll be refreshed and ready to tackle the new adventures awaiting you on campus, from dealing with your roommates to placing an online food order. Just don’t make the mistake of taking home for granted.
Written by Andy Lavelle, whose interests include dining and education.