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10 Tips on Surviving Your College Student's Visit

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Mixed emotions abound when college students return home for visits and school breaks. You are so happy to see him but your routine gets disrupted and your empty nest all of a sudden becomes overflowing. While it may seem impossible at first, you can survive your college student’s visit and still maintain a healthy relationship with him, use these tips to help.

  1. Expect your college student to be tired and in a frenzy when she gets home. This is especially true if it is the end of the term. She is just coming off of a very high stress level period of exams but will still want to see all of her high school friends. If it is a long break, take a step back and give her some space. If it is only a weekend, make it clear to your college student before she comes home when you expect her to spend time with the family. Offer options of what that will mean and allow her to give her opinion. Come to a compromise.

  2. Remember that his schedule is his own. While you can have house rules to respect all of the members of the house, curfews and bedtimes aren’t a good idea. On the flip side, if you prefer not to be awakened in the middle of the night, tell your college student the door locks at midnight and you would like to either have him at home or a call by this time so you know where he will be. Be sure that he knows that he is welcome back anytime after 7am should he decide to stay at a friends.

  3. Share the plans you are making that involve her. Ask if she can keep these times open for you and the family. Normally, the answer will be yes. If not, respect that she has to be independent from the family at times.

  4. Send clear messages when discussing rules that are not up for debate. Your college student may have been drinking while at college but that is no reason to allow your under 21-year-old to do so a home. Other areas you may need to be clear on are mealtimes and sibling respect.

  5. Call your college student two weeks before the visit and discuss any maintenance appointments he may need while he is home. Offer to schedule them or allow him to do so. These appointments include physicals, dental, haircuts or car check-ups. Send a clear message that these things need to be done and while independence is fun, it also comes with responsibilities.

  6. Anticipate some angst if you have made any changes to ‘his room’, ‘his home’ or ‘his family routine’. While your college student is away, he will feel like nothing should change at home and it is a big shock to find out that his younger brother is now in his bedroom. If there are any big changes you may want to warn your college student before he gets home.

  7. Don’t over-react if your college student has made big changes in his appearance. This is still the same child you sent off to school, he just testing the independence and identity waters. As long as he isn’t doing illegal activities or things that go against your family values, give him some space to find his way.

  8. Set aside some time during the visit to discuss face-to-face any current or future issues that will affect your college student. Discuss how you will work out any upcoming visits or family vacations, financial aid responsibilities, expectations on grades or health issues. Schedule anything that needs to be scheduled together. This fifteen minute conversation will help you and your college student feel more organized and better capable of handling future responsibilities and visits.

  9. Offer to help your college student with laundry, if he needs a ride somewhere or if he needs to restock his personal supplies. Although he may not always show it, he really does appreciate you and what you do for him.

  10. Allow your college student to invite her roommate and friends for a visit. This may mean an overnight or two. Keep in mind that college friends often end up being friends for life. You’ll want to get to know her friends and get a glimpse of who your child is when she is not with you. Enjoy this time by looking for the positives in these people.

While it may seem like a whirlwind has gone though your home, be thankful for your college student’s visits. If you find yourself uptight or stressed, take a time-out and a deep breath. Remember the big picture - this is all part of enjoying the journey!

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