7 Ways to Deal With At-Home Weirdness Over Winter Break
If it’s your first year away from home, you’re probably looking forward to winter break. Be forewarned, many first-year students find returning home to be uncomfortable and difficult. Here are some tips to help you make the transition less awkward.
Why does it feel so strange to return home for the holidays? Probably the most glaring reason is that the family dynamic as you remember it has changed for good.
In the past, you were probably a lot more reliant on your parents. You abided (more or less) by the rules of the house. You always had a shoulder to lean on, a refrigerator full of food, and the gnawing realization that you had to be home by a certain hour.
Man, what a difference a few months makes.
Now you call the shots. You decide when to get up, when (and if) to go to class, and how late you stay out. You’ve become accustomed to managing your finances, deciding your weekend plans, and heading out of town with little or no involvement on your parent’s part.
But now you’re returning home, and lo and behold, things have changed.
The New Normal is a Two-Way Street
This may come as a shock to both of you, but you’re not the same kid you used to be. You’re going to find any infringements on your new freedom irritating, and your parents are most likely going to be unsure about how much “freedom” you should have under their roof (old habits die hard).
You’re probably going to want to see friends, go out, and re-establish the independence you were enjoying in college. And that can lead to some tension between you and your folks.
Likewise, your folks may have changed as well. Perhaps they’ve taken over your old room, redecorated the house, or are spending more time out with friends.
Here are some tips for making re-entry into the homestead a little less bumpy for both parties:
1. Communicate what’s different. In a nice blog post from Marjorie Savage, she advises you should give your parents a “heads-up.” “Tell your parents if there’s anything new and different about you. The worst time to announce that you’re now a vegetarian is when your mother is carving the Thanksgiving turkey.”
Conversely, she advises you to ask if anything has changed at home. Will you be sleeping in your old bedroom, or has Dad converted it into an office so you’ll be sleeping on the couch? You may feel a little hurt to see the scene of so many childhood memories replaced with a futon and a new workstation.
2. Before you rebel, remember it’s the holidays. Your newfound independence is going to prompt you to see things in a whole new light. You’re going to feel the urge to question many of the things your parents are doing, and perhaps rightfully so.
But ask yourself an important question: Is the time right to challenge your folks? Remember, they’re most likely feeling the tension that comes with holidays, and they may be a bit on edge. Consider swallowing some of your criticisms about the home front until after the holidays.
3. Find out if your brother (or sister) is now your bro. You may experience newfound tension with the folks, but you’ll also (hopefully) enjoy better relations with your siblings. When you’re not living under the same roof, you tend to shed the little petty differences that used to result in epic battles. Spend this time getting to know them again.
4. Share your problems (but not too many). Along with your newfound sense of independence, you may also want to exhibit a newfound sense of responsibility. You’ve likely dealt with some personal and academic issues on your own during your first few months at school. Continue to manage those issues on your own as best your can.
If there are some major problems, by all means, talk to your parents about them. But if you’re falling behind in a class because you don’t understand a teacher’s accent, or if you are struggling to discipline yourself to study, deal with those issues on your own.
Talking about them may trigger your parents’ instincts to step in and help, which could exacerbate the problem.
5. Vent. Struggling with parents isn’t a new issue by any means, and you probably have a lot of friends who are in the same boat. Meet a buddy out for coffee and get some of the issues off your chest. It helps to share the pain.
6. Remember you’re not at school anymore. These tips on Total Sorority Move are worth a laugh, but some of them are actually pretty spot-on. Stuff like “Your hometown likely doesn’t have a booming taxi business. Think ahead” and “Do chores without being asked. This will bode well for your bank account” are a few of the gems.
The point of the TSM list is that you’re not going to be at school. You’re going to be at home. Time to adjust your game accordingly.
7. Plan for time with the fam, too. You want to have a great time and hang with friends, which you should. But if you want to avoid confrontation on the home front, try and schedule some family events too. Your parents will be more receptive to your time out with friends if you spend some quality time with them, too.
These suggestions might come off as a little parent-centric, but don’t view them that way. View them as tips for effectively managing your parent-student relationship for the three weeks you’re at home. The goal is for everyone to have a great holiday. We’re all in it together, right?