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The holidays can be stressful enough, but college students returning for the holidays face a unique set of circumstances as they bridge into adulthood. Parents are excited to see their sons and daughters, but when they arrive home, they’re often fried and cranky from having just pulled a week of consecutive all-nighters. To find out just what this experience is like, and how you can help with a smooth re-entry, we interviewed a few college students to ask them what challenges they faced and what things they looked forward to the most.
Their brains have been in overdrive for the last few weeks consumed with exams, holiday activities and potentially the pressures of having to apply for internships the following year. One student we interviewed even had a lice scare in her dorm on top of all of that. So give them a breather to re-acclimate to home. Says, Bailey, “My ultimate goal I hope to achieve when coming home from the holidays is to decompress. Usually right when I get home, I’ve had just finished about 5 final exams and so the week before break is extremely stressful. That being said, my favorite thing to do is just relax and spend time with my family without any thought of exams or school.”
While your son or daughter may not hold you up on a pedestal when it comes to fashion and music anymore (if they ever did!), they probably still worship your cooking! So go with it. They’ve just probably emerged from a dietary “cave” –consuming more junk food, sugar, soda, fried food and caffeinated beverages than you’d think is humanly possible. So this is your chance to feed them something nutritious to get back on track to feeling good again.
“I look forward to eating healthy, fresh food at home- something I don’t get that often in my dorm,” says Lucy. “I really enjoy cooking, and I don’t have access to a kitchen so I definitely take advantage of the one at home. My dad’s fish and my mom’s banana bread are my favorites.
Gab says her Mom’s home-cooked meals are her favorites. “I look forward to my Mom’s homemade spaghetti and meatballs, chicken parm and lasagna,” she says. Bailey adds that she looks forward to Christmas dinner, from the green bean casserole, to the ham.
Many students idealize that after they graduate from high school, coming home from college will be a constant homecoming party. The reality is that sometimes it works out that way, and sometimes it doesn’t, as people grow apart. Your college student might be missing his or her new college buddies. Either way, just let it play out. For instance, Gab says, she’ll try to meet up with old pals, “but it’s hard to coordinate with everyone’s busy schedules (jobs, internships, family obligations, etc.) Bailey says she’ll probably get together with friends, and that “many of my friends from high school went to different colleges across the country so this is usually the only time were all back in the same place.”
After living on your own, coming home is difficult for people who’ve just established their independence.
“My privacy is gone and I’m back to doing chores,” says Gab.
College life is also an incredibly bonding experience and they’re probably going to be missing their new best friends, so don’t be surprised if they’re melancholy about it. “I don’t like how I can’t see my college friends for a while,” Lucy adds. “Some live states away and not seeing them for over a month when you live with them isn’t very fun. Also, I have to do chores.”
So the ultimate advice is to not overplan your holiday schedule with your kids. Once they’ve become human again (from catching up on lost exam sleep and fed REAL food) they probably will appreciate just spending time with you. For Bailey, it’s Christmas Candy (my parents always stock up on Reese’s Christmas trees, which are my favorite!) and cuddling with the dog and hanging out with the family. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
Happy Holidays from all of us at Smart LifeBites!