07 Dec Prepping for the Literal Homecoming — How Parents Should Welcome Students Home for the Holidays
By now, you’re probably hearing a lot of holiday music these days if you’ve been shopping for gifts or watching commercials. Unfortunately, listening to songs like “White Christmas” or “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” weren’t directed at the college student audience, and don’t necessarily provide parents with much practical advice for welcoming their students back home.
While most students are excited to visit home, they often return with a new set of habits. If parents aren’t prepared, these new behaviors can add unexpected stress to family festivities. Thankfully, there are plenty of tips to keep in mind as you prepare for your returning student.
Welcoming Students Home for the Holidays — Tips Every Parent Should Keep In Mind
Same Student, New Routines — Be Flexible About Scheduling Events
Living at college will significantly impact a student’s lifestyle. If this is the first time you’re welcoming your student back from university, you shouldn’t expect things to magically go back to their high school days. Returning students will likely have new interests, eating schedules, and sleeping patterns—and these will inevitably spill over into their resumed home life.
While parents don’t need to revolve around their student’s schedule, they should consider their student’s independence. According to professional student advisors, the best way to balance a student’s new identity with family requirements is for everyone to communicate openly. Take some time to learn a student’s new preferences and see how you can work with them.
Don’t Smother Sleep-Deprived Students (At Least on the First Day!)
Parents are often tempted to cram dozens of memories into their student’s winter break. However, they have to remember most students just got through cramming for exams. According to Harvard, there’s a 50/50 chance college students aren’t getting the recommended seven-hours of sleep per night—especially before midterms and finals.
On top of all this stress, students have to go through the annoyances of packing and transportation. Depending on how far students live from home, this probably also includes an added COVID-19 testing requirement.
Most likely, returning students will want to chill on the couch for at least a couple of days upon their return. So you should keep your family’s schedule clear for at least two days to help your student readjust to the rhythm of home life.
Keep Students Safe as They Meet Up With Friends
Most parents like to believe students only want to spend quality time with the family. In reality, many students are more eager to meet with old friends than to spend time with Ma and Pa.
This is doubly true if students have COVID cabin fever. In fact, some students may feel they’re too familiar with home life!
Parents need to recognize that their students will want some time away from home, even when they’re technically at home. However, just because students are in a more familiar environment doesn’t mean campus safety standards fly out the window.
Please remember that the Umergency app works wherever students go, whenever they need it. Whether students are at home, on campus, or in-between, Umergency keeps both students and their parents prepared for any emergency situation.
Learn more about Umergency at this link.
Use the Power of Comfort Food!
Just as parents would like their students to remain the same, many returning students want to bask in the nostalgia of at-home life. UCLA data found that at least 66 percent of first-year college students experience a severe case of homesickness at one time or another. Parents may want to recognize and play up to this factor as they plan activities during winter break.
For instance, you can book a reservation at your student’s favorite local restaurant. Better yet, you could plan a day to cook your student’s requested meals or treats. Comfort food really can help students relax and connect—especially after they’ve grown accustomed to cafeteria meals.
Any way parents can add an element of nostalgia to their home should help students settle back into family life. Although not everything is the same, it will probably bring back all those warm and cozy feelings.
Have a Happy & Healthy Holiday Homecoming!
Every student has a different reaction to returning home for the holidays. Some may be excited to refresh after a busy semester, but others may feel weird returning home after adjusting to campus life. Although each situation is unique, open and honest conversation should help to minimize friction during the festivities.
Above all, being apart over the course of the fall semester should make the time families spend over the holidays that much more special.
We wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season!