My younger daughter is home for her first holiday break since going away to college. Like with most things in parenting, I am finding myself doing better with the second kid than the first. One thing I have learned well is to let my kids refill their cups when they come home for breaks. Not their Red Solo Cups… their emotional, physical, and spiritual cups.
“Fill your cup” is often another term for taking care of yourself before others. And for kids coming home on college breaks, it might be their best chance to actually fill the cup completely. I know we want to see them as much as we can and make the most of those precious few days, but we need to think about THEIR needs first.
This one starts as soon as they walk in the door. My “early riser” slept until 11am the first few days she was home and napped off and on. It’s not just a matter of needing the sleep because college is exhausting, but it’s the comfort that they feel in their own beds…on their own couch… or with their favorite blanket. Let them sleep and everyone will be happier!
Our first instinct is to want them to spend every minute with us, especially if they are only home for a few days. But many of them will be seeing their high school friends for the first time in months. These are the kids they spent many years with. Whether they are making new connections in college or not, it’s healthy for them to foster those high school relationships as well. We like to think of college as a heavy social time for kids, but the reality is that for most kids it starts off slowly before they really start making good friends.
Eating All the Food
College is a crapshoot when it comes to food. It may be so bad they hardly eat at all or so good they gain the dreaded “freshman 15,” but it is NOT like mom’s food. Let the kids call the shots on what you will be eating this week because it may be that something just TASTES like home to them and they need that nostalgic feeling.
Acting Like a “Kid” Again
College brings a lot of responsibility and sometimes kids just want to be kids. Heck, sometimes we ALL want to be kids again. I’m not saying mother them to the point of smothering them. However, they may want to watch old Disney movies or play board games or do things that give them a sense of nostalgia. They may even want the physical comfort of snuggling up under a blanket with you and binging Netflix. Allow them a little regression if they need it.
Whole books are written about dealing with college kids, including when they come home for breaks, so this is just the tip of the iceberg. But consider what YOU like to do when you get home after being gone for any amount of time and it will help you understand what they might be looking for as well.