As the end of the semester rapidly approaches, you may find yourself eagerly counting down the days until your student wraps up their final exams and travels back home for an extended winter break. Although you may be looking forward to busy days of family bonding activities and quality time with your student, you may be surprised to find that your student has other ideas for how they will spend their time away from campus.
With a little planning and intentional communication between you and your student, you can make the most of your student’s extended break at home. Here are a few tips provided by family members and current students to help you navigate an extended break.
1. Let them sleep and decompress.
For many students, the brief period between the Thanksgiving holiday and winter break is full of late night study sessions, exams, papers, and final presentations. Managing these academic pressures while also maintaining their social life and student involvement, often results in a dramatic shift in students’ sleeping habits.
Kristi Baker, current Aggie Parent and Family Advisory Council member, says, “Remember that this first long break of the semester is when your student will be looking to recharge their battery. That will not mean the same thing to every student. Some students want to huddle up in their room and sleep, watch movies, or just ‘be’ in the space that is comforting and familiar to them.”
This sentiment is echoed by Andy Arcero ’20, who says “I just want to be able to sit on my favorite couch, play my favorite games, and for the first time in a long time, not worry about all my assignments that are due. Nothing feels better than being able to go home, sleep on my bed, and be able to sleep for as long as I want since I haven’t been able to do that in months.”
2. Set some ground rules.
For the last few months your student has been the keeper of their own schedule, which means their newfound independence may be surprising to you as a family member. Although you may not expect your student to revert back to all of the rules and curfews that existed prior to college, it is important to discuss your expectations of their behavior while at home.
Aggie Parent and Family Advisory Council member Bruce Bradley suggests you “give them more freedom than they had in high school, but also set some ‘adult’ rules such as deadlines to be home by, use of family car(s), etc.”
Enrique Baqueiro ’20 describes how communication can ensure everyone is on the same page. “Because I could get up and hang out with my friends at any time while I’m at college, then I want to do that as well when I’m at home. If my family feels as if I’m ignoring them or being disrespectful, I hope they sit down with me to discuss that so it does not build up and then come up in the future.”
3. Plan ahead, communicate, and be flexible.
Winter Break can be an exciting time full of family gatherings and a variety of events which you expect your student to attend. While you may be excited to fill the days and weeks with things to do with your student, it is a good idea to communicate with your student ahead of time to allow them some say in their winter break activities.
Jonathan Thomas ’19 explains, “I’ve been following a rigid schedule with class and work and assignments to complete by a certain time and date. Parents often have a whole schedule planned out for winter vacation that they want their children to stick to, but all that most of us wants is to have a bit of freedom from that rigidity.”
Ellen Wallace, Aggie Parent and Family Advisory Council cember, agrees. “Let your student have some space; if there are mandatory family events, let your student know in advance.”
We hope these tips help you and your Aggie make the most of your winter break!