By Lucy Ewing
“Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays…”*
It’s what we all hope for at Thanksgiving or winter vacation: a picture-perfect homecoming with our college students.
When our daughter Anna came home in December of her freshman year, she’d been away for three and a half months. Was that long enough for her to forget the usual state of the house where she’d grown up: piles on every table, the quickly-dwindling fridge, cold wrinkled clothes eternally forgotten in the dryer?
In the days leading up to her return, I cleaned, dusted and polished and stuffed fresh fluffy towels in the linen closet. My husband called from the airport to report that her plane had landed just as I finished scrubbing the cupboards with Murphy’s Oil Soap. I flicked on her bedroom light, turned down the covers, and adjusted the vase of flowers on her dresser. Brainwash scheme complete!
Anna arrived, took a few steps into the house, and turned in a circle. Her father and I stood behind the kitchen island, watching her every move. “Can I prepare you a snack?” I asked in a voice I didn’t recognize.
“No, thanks, Mom,” Anna said, “I can get it,” and we kicked off our shoes and relaxed into our regular ways. Of course — Anna wanted to come home, not to a B&B staffed by a stilted servant.
Sometimes, though, families feel that home has become merely a rest stop between many other command engagements for their first-year college students. Dave and I occasionally found ourselves sulking in front of late night TV, wondering when Anna would be back from gatherings down the block with her high school friends. We could practically hear the peals of laughter from their bigger deck (complete with hot tub). Would she want to hang out with us at all?
Parents aren’t the only ones worried about the limited time home. Students can find it stressful trying to balance time with friends and time with family, especially if holiday events with all the relatives crowd the calendar.
Encounters with aunts, uncles and cousins can complicate things for new college students who find themselves putting a happy face on their experiences when they are likely still adjusting. “My instinct was always to say that I was loving school,” one upperclassman recalled, “but the reality was I was still trying to get used to everything and to figure out who my friends were and who I was as a college student.”
Your freshman might need some time for herself to gain a perspective on college away from the din of the dorms. Anna’s bedroom was always her sanctuary, and that’s where she slept for hours and hours. It was just nice knowing she was resting and restoring. First-year students report being grateful to retreat to their bedrooms and dig out comfy old clothes from their drawers. “I felt like I still had a place at home,” a recent graduate said.
Before you know it, your time together is winding down. You track the trip back to campus and determine to wait a week before the next phone call. You start checking flights for the next trip home… Spring break? Summer? Your freshman might be doing the same, possibly understanding, more than before, that there is no place like home. Messy or not.
*Perry Como recorded the classic version of this song by Robert Allen and Al Stillman.
Secretly I am hoping my mom doesn’t read this article. But here’s the truth: I always am so nervous coming home for the holidays. Here’s why…
Other recent articles by Lucy Ewing:
Did you enjoy reading this article? Sign up for UniversityParent’s weekly eNewsletter and purchase the Guide to Supporting Your Student’s Freshman Year for additional tips, insight, and to help your college student succeed. You may also add to the discussion and get feedback from fellow college parents by joining our Community Forum and College Parents’ Facebook group.
306 S. Washington Ave
Royal Oak, MI 48067
Post your own housing listing on Uloop and have students reach out to you!
Flatscreen Rentals for Students. Roomate Packages Under $89. CampusTVs rents high-definition televisions to college students at a fraction of what it would cost to purchase from the local department store.
Display your business name, description, address, phone number, and a clickable link in a category that fits you best.
Parents choose our website first because we rank higher and solve more of their problems in comparison to the university pages.
Our Online Guide Listings get 5 times more click throughs than Google & Facebook Ads (average 10% vs. 1.5-2%).
“UniversityParent was one of the best resources when my son went to college. They have everything!”
“With my daughter going off to college, UniversityParent quickly became my #1 essential resource”