“Being home for only a month during Christmas break was really tough. It was like all of my freedom was gone and I was back in high school again. How am I supposed to survive all summer?”
This really can be one of the most painful parts of your college experience: Reentry into family life. Even if this is your second or third summer at home, it remains challenging.
During your 9-months of college life, you don’t really have to report to anyone. You come and go as you please. Some of you may communicate with your roommate on your whereabouts, but other than that, no one is really keeping track of where you are nor do you “owe” anyone else anything. Basically you get to live an extremely selfish lifestyle and then you move back in with mom, dad, and the rest of the fam. Needless to say, it’s painful. So, how can you not just survive but actually live well these next few months?
6 steps for reentry success.
1. Understand where your parents are coming from.
Your parents love you dearly and therefore, feel responsible for you and your safety. While they didn’t know where you were most of the time while off at college, things are different now. You are living at home again, under their roof. They feel responsible. This is not their attempt to take away your newly found independence. This is their natural reaction of taking care of you as you live in their home again. Remind yourself of this when they start drilling you with 20 questions on your plans for the evening or get upset because you didn’t come home for dinner.
2. Communicate with your parents.
Sit down over dinner when you first get home and ask your parents what their expectations are of you, now that you are back at home. Do they expect you to be home by your high school curfew? Do they expect you to text them your whereabouts throughout the day? Do they expect you to help out with chores, chauffeuring other siblings around, etc. Here’s the part your not going to like: You have to just say “yes” to their expectations. If they want you home by 1am every night, you have to do it. Why? Because they are your parents and you are living under their roof. If you don’t want to comply with their expectations–pay rent and live somewhere else for the summer. No, I’m not kidding. Respect them and serve them this summer.
3. Be kind to your parents.
My parents didn’t give me a curfew once I was home from college. However, my mom wouldn’t go to bed until I was home. No matter what time it was, I would find her (well okay she was asleep but…) on the couch in the living room. Out of guilt, I would always try and shoot to be home by 2am for her sake, but I wish I had come home sooner. Making your mom sleep on the couch until 2am, isn’t kind. I wish I had been kinder.
4. Consider your siblings.
If you aren’t the oldest child, you’ll understand this more easily. When you left for college, your younger sibling’s life changed. S/he become the oldest child and has operated that way in your home for the past year. You are completely ruffling his/her feathers by coming home. Now, that’s not your fault. But just keep this in mind and be considerate of them. You could even, gasp, have a conversation with your siblings about your reentry. What if you asked them, “Now that I’m home for the summer, what are things you’re worried about changing? How can I help? Are there things you wish I would do while I’m back home?”
5. Prioritize family time.
It’s really easy to get swept away in only hanging out with your high school friends when you’re home for the summer. And when your family gets the shaft, it hurts their feelings. They may never say that, but it will show up in greater tension between you and your parents/siblings. Believe me. So, prioritize spending time with mom, dad, and the sibs. Show them that they are important to you and you value time with them too! Similarly, pitch in all summer. You’re not around during the school year to help around the house, but that doesn’t mean you no longer should. Do the dishes. Drive little Johnny to practice. Take Sarah to the pool. Help with the family laundry. Want to do something crazy? Cook a meal for your family once a week. I dare you.
6. Get a summer job or volunteer.
Don’t you dare spend all summer just hanging out. If possible, make some money and save it for the school year! If not, get involved and volunteer somewhere on a regular basis. (At least 10 hours a week) Think of it as a resume builder. This will keep you from boredom, help you manage your time better, make you appreciate your time at home and with friends, and prevent your parents from viewing you like an entitled sloth. Win/Win.
What other pieces of being home for the summer are difficult for you?