You might be returning to the Parental Home after your first term at uni around now – or you might be an old hand at re-entry. Either way, there are a few do’s and don’t’s that make it easier for both you and your folks to adjust to being back together again. Here’s how to make sure you’re welcomed back into the family home with open arms…
Pack Up Your Stuff BEFORE Your Parents Arrive
If you’re getting chauffeured home by your dad or mum, then make sure you’ve got all your stuff packed up before they arrive to collect you. Trust me, you don’t want to be stumbling around in the cruel early morning to find that lost library book, nor do you want to realise (just as your dad phones to say “I’ll be there in ten minutes”) that there’s no way all your clothes are going to fit into that case…
My tried-and-tested tips on packing up the contents of your room to fit easily into an average sized family car are:
- Use boxes. Strong boxes. (Not cardboard ones which will collapse as you carry them down the staircase.) Books, in particular, pack well in boxes. Invest in half-a-dozen large, sturdy plastic boxes now – you’ll be well glad of it by the end of your time at uni.
- Use bags. If you’ve got stuff that won’t go in boxes (or if you run out of boxes), get some strong, large, shopping bags and use those. They’re good for awkwardly shaped items like computer cables and kitchen utensils.
- Wrap anything breakable in bubble wrap or, failing that, kitchen paper, tissues or plastic bags. Things will get bounced around a lot.
- Start packing early. It’s surprising how long it can take. Allow at least twice as much time as your worst-case-scenario estimate suggests…
Take Flowers, Alcohol or Chocolate
A really nice way to re-enter the family home on a good note is to arrive bearing flowers, a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates. If this is the sort of thing you never do, you’ll get serious bonus brownie points. For the sake of a few quid, you could put yourself in your mum’s good books for the rest of 2008…
Be Prepared for Changes
Don’t expect everything at home to be exactly as you left it. You might find that your room has been tidied, redecorated, and/or given to a younger sibling. I arrived home one time to find that my bed was gone (my teenage bedroom had finally been taken over by the family’s computers, and I was relegated to the cupboard-sized “front room” and forced to sleep on a narrow kiddy bed. Sniff.)
Likewise, the larder may have been reorganised, the garden landscaped, walls repainted. Your proper response to changes is to admire them and praise your parents’ good taste. Saying nothing apart from “where the heck have you hidden the teabags?” in response to the redesigned kitchen is not likely to incur your mother’s goodwill.
Act Like an Adult
You probably want your parents to treat you like the independent adult you are, rather than a child – especially if you have siblings at home. If so, it does help to avoid regressing back to your childhood/teenage behaviour. That means doing your own laundry, making your bed without being told, not sulking, and so on. Yeah, this is all hard when surrounded by the comforts and irritations of home, but life does go more smoothly if you behave as a willing and helpful member of the adult population in the house – rather than dumping a term’s worth of laundry in the hall the minute you get home.
Over to you
- How to Be a Great Guest In Your Parent’s Home – an article I wrote for DLM, aimed at any adults (students or otherwise) in the situation of being a guest at their folk’s place.
- Happy Holiday Visits and Healthy Adult Relationships – advice from Suite101 on how parents and university-aged kids can help the holidays go smoothly on both sides. The key here in to communicate.
- Counselor says Christmas bells and bickering are common companions — news piece from Montana University, which explains that most students and parents struggle to readjust over the Christmas break.
Got any great survival tips on making the return home go smoothly? How do you plan to get through the Christmas break without strangling any siblings? Let us know in the comments…