5 Ways to Adjust to Winter Break

From curfews to conduct, parents and students have to make concessions.

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When college students go home—especially for the first time—there can be some adjustments to be made. Here are some common issues you may encounter, along with tips on how to successfully navigate them.

JULIE:

There is nothing more exciting than having your college student home for the holidays—or any other time, for that matter. But having your child back in the nest can create some unexpected challenges as well.

1. Curfews: Giving college students a curfew can be tricky at best. They're used to being on their own and probably won't take to having restrictions placed on them.

There are two ways you can go with this: "My house, my rules," or "Just be respectful and let us know where you are and when to expect you."

The second is what worked best for us. The goals were to not have the house disrupted by late night hours and to have some peace of mind that Lindsey was safe.

2. Family time: Your student's time at home doesn't only mean time with the family; it probably means time with old high school friends as well. It can be a disappointment when he or she kisses you hello, drops the suitcases (and laundry) and heads out to see others.

Try to be understanding of your child's needs to see others and, if it becomes an issue, negotiate one or two days or events that are designated "family time."

[Find out why parents shouldn't hover over college-bound students.]

LINDSEY:

I was extremely excited to go home for winter break last year. Quality time with the family, no schoolwork, and holiday festivities were just a few of the things I was looking forward to.

What I didn't expect were the changes I would have to make to my lifestyle now that I was back living at home instead of in a dorm room.

1. Money: When you were in high school, your parents may have footed the bill for things like gas, shopping, or eating out. Now that you're in college, your parents may be expecting you to pay for more of your personal expenses or to limit what you spend on nonessentials.

[Give yourself an important mid-semester financial checkup.]

Being home for the holidays is great for a free meal or Target run here and there, but try not to take advantage of your parents—or their wallets.

2. Cars: Did your sibling inherit your car when you went away to school? This can create animosity when you're home for breaks, especially if both siblings have a fairly active social life.

Lay down some ground rules about who gets the car and when, and what will happen if both parties have a function at the same time.

3. Conduct: Certain habits that you may have picked up in college—such as messes, late night pizza orders, and use of profanity—simply won't fly now that you're home.

Keep in mind the company you're in now that you're home for break. Parents and younger siblings may not appreciate your inability to do laundry or stories about your college adventures. Keep this in mind before you pawn off your dirty clothes on Mom or dish to Dad about your craziest weekend of the semester.

[Get the facts on college binge drinking.]