Get Out Alive: Surviving Winter Break at Home With Family

By Elise Nelson on January 5, 2018

Finals are over, the holidays have come and gone — that can only mean it’s that time when you’re off school and home for a month. It’s the break you’ve been waiting for since midterms, but being back home after three months of independence at college can take some adjusting. Here’s your survival guide for spending winter break at home with your family.

Make compromises with your parents. During the school year, you have total freedom. You can order a pizza at one in the morning or stay out with friends until sunrise without anyone asking where you are (except maybe your roommate). You are responsible for your own well-being, so you decide when you eat dinner or when you study for a test.

Your newfound freedom will inevitably seem jeopardized once you move home for the holidays. Suddenly, you’re out late and you get a text from your mom telling you you’re out past curfew. That hasn’t happened to you in a few months so you might feel a little offended, right? Your parents aren’t treating you like an adult. But, think of it this way—your parents aren’t used to you being an adult just yet.

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Instead of arguing with your parents and trying to defend your adulthood, sit down and compromise with them. Explain to them that you’d like to go out with friends on your own terms, but be respectful of their wishes and keep them updated on your whereabouts.

Remember that they’re still your parents, and they can have expectations of you while you’re living under their roof. Ask them what rules they’d like to establish. If you think you’ll struggle to adjust to their expectations, figure out how to meet them halfway. If you’re willing to work with them, they’ll be willing to work with you.

Help out the household in your free time. Just like you, your family has a busy schedule while you’re away at school. As tempting as it is to lounge around after a hard semester, your plans to do nothing might cause some tension. Your family might have a routine down without you but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use the extra help.

Offer to drive your sibling to soccer practice a few times. Cook dinner when your parents have a packed schedule. By now you know how to do your own laundry, so don’t pass it off to your mom as soon as you get home. It’s certainly okay to relax while your parents are at work all day, but maybe you can surprise them by tidying up the house a bit while they’re gone.

Be sure to use your time wisely while you’re on break. The holiday season is a great time to pick up a part-time job. Instead of bingeing Netflix shows every day, you can make some money to spend during the semester. Now that you’re in college, your parents won’t always hand over cash.

Your parents will respect your efforts—in turn, you may gain a little more independence.

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Seek out support from your friends. Winter break might end up feeling a little too long after a few weeks. Christmas and New Years have flown by, you’ve had some time to relax, and you’ve seen your family, but now you’re getting a little bored. You just want to be back at school for the new semester, completely independent again and reunited with your college friends.

This feeling is totally normal. In fact, your friends are probably thinking the same thing. To combat the “school-sickness,” try organizing a Skype call with your friends living farther away. If anyone lives within a reasonable driving distance, you can even make a road trip out of it and go visit them.

Don’t forget about your hometown friends, either! They might have gone off to a different college than you, but winter break is the perfect time to reconnect. However, if college has made you grow at all, it’s likely that your friends had some personal growth while they were away as well, so be prepared. Your quiet friend from high school might not be so quiet anymore. The class clown may have matured a bit during college.

“Group dynamics may be greatly changed and can throw everyone into a bit of a funk. Fortunately, however, friendships grow and change, and seeing this ‘new’ part of your old friends can be an exciting part of your friendship, even if it’s a little unnerving at first,” according to Kelci Lynn Lucier of U.S. News.

Seriously, don’t spend the whole break in bed. Go out with friends and have a lot more fun.

Set aside some time for family. They aren’t your enemies. You and your parents or siblings may argue sometimes while you’re home for the holidays, but remember that, to them, you probably aren’t quite like the person who left for college. As crazy as it sounds, you should carve out some family time so they can get to know the “new you” a little better.

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Your parents will have questions. How were your grades this semester? Did you meet anyone special? What did you do for fun? What classes are you taking next semester? It will seem annoying, but you have to answer them. They’ve missed you and they want to catch up. On the flip side, ask them questions as well. Take an interest in their stories and listen carefully.

Spend a few nights at home for a movie night with your parents or play some video games with your brother. The friendlier you are with your family, the more enjoyable your winter break will be.

By Elise Nelson

Uloop Writer
Elise is a senior at Albright College in Reading, Pa, studying journalism. She hopes to pursue a career in feature writing and editing for a magazine. Much of Elise's time is dedicated to being Editor-in-Chief of Albright's student newspaper, The Albrightian. She is also a member of Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society, and co-hosts a radio show on WXAC 91.3 FM.

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