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Katrina Wells: Surviving the holiday break

Posted 12/18/12

Winter break comes with mixed emotions for many college students. After months of late nights with dorm mates, countless hours learning new things in the classroom, getting involved with various activities, and finding a new group of friends, the …

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Katrina Wells: Surviving the holiday break


The notions of home-cooked meals, sleeping in your own bed and catching up with old friends seem like a great way to spend winter break.

Going home from college for break is one of the hardest things that a college student will do. It involves a balance of your new personality with the one you had before college – and finding time for fitting into your family’s routine and getting together with friends and family.

The best way to ensure that this transition to living at home again goes smoothly is to keep the lines of communication open with your parents and siblings.

Remember, you’ll have your expectations and they’ll have theirs. Your daily winter break plan may consist of sleeping in and catching up with old friends; however, your parents may have a different idea of how you should spend your time. Be sure to communicate your goals and plans early while keeping in mind the potential plans your parents have.

If you want to be treated like an adult, act like one. Remember that your parents will most likely still enforce the same rules they had before you left for college. Talk to them early about curfew, chores around the house and other responsibilities. As a young adult living in their house again for four weeks, you should contribute to keeping things clean, pick up groceries and do your own laundry. Show your parents that you’re responsible. Chances are they’ll recognize it and become more lenient in their rules.

Be adaptable and open to change. Chances are both you and your family will have changed in some way since you left for school in August.

It is important before you head home to think about the ways that you have changed. Perhaps you are more well-read, or have developed your own political views, or are surrounded by a different group of friends – and maybe even like the cookies in the dining hall more than your mom’s. By thinking about how you have changed and the conflicts that could arise, you will be equipped to handle them when they do.

Balance your time at home. Many students focus on trying to do as much as they can in the limited amount of time they have over winter break. Try finding a good balance of family, friends and relaxation. After 15 intense weeks of classes and finals, it’s important to take the next couple weeks to relax and enjoy your free time before diving into the next semester.

Communicate early and often with your parents and family. It is important to share your plans for the week or weekend, and ask what family responsibilities you have waiting for you. The answers may not be pleasant or what you want to hear; however, they will provide you with information you can use to keep the peace. Talking about your expectations and how you plan to spend your time over break will allow your parents to understand your goals and plans and will also enable you to budget time for family and friends.

Realize that not everything is going to stay the same. You have spent the last few months growing and changing into your adult self. Your friends and family have probably changed just as much. This will not be the last time you notice these changes. Your time at home may not be everything you expect or hope it will be, but by being open to the inevitability of change you will certainly make the transitions easier.

Ultimately, going home for the break will put you back into a “their house, their rules” situation. Your parents will have their expectations for you and may have a difficult time understanding how or why you have changed while away at school. Opening the lines of communication and discussing rules and expectations will make it easier to work through your differences and disagreements as they arise. Remember to be patient and find a solution that works for both of you.

Katrina Wells is a student studying historical communications at Lebanon Valley College. She plans to pursue a career in education after graduation.