Last newsletter, we invited parents to share tips and advice with other parents about Thanksgiving break. Here’s how other families manage this first break in the school year. Read on, and enjoy your time with your student this month!
Our daughter's first few weeks at school, she was really homesick -- thank goodness for cell phones and email. Thanksgiving was the first time she could return home. We set aside time to relax with her and talk about her classes and teachers and new friends. There was shopping and a movie, and enjoying a nice family holiday meal. While we wanted to see her as much as possible, we tried not to plan her time. She spent most evenings out visiting with her hometown friends, but it was her vacation from school and important for her to relax and reconnect with friends as well as family. The holiday went too fast, and we made sure she was well rested before she started her six-hour drive back to campus -- with a bag of fresh fruits, carrot and cheese snacks, and turkey leftovers to enjoy.
Every Thanksgiving we offer our house as a place for our kids to host, feed and entertain all their friends. We try to be inconspicuous, while it maximizes their time in the house during this short holiday. We also offer to schedule medical appointments on the Friday after the holiday. It's one less thing they have to worry about while they're away, plus we get to sit with them at the doctor's office and hear about their college experiences - a fun, sneaky way to get time carved out just to talk! We also like to entertain with other families at this time. It grounds our son and daughter, provides a glimpse back at the families (adults and kids) that they grew up with.
Know that your students do have a different appreciation for you as parents after those months away at school. They may not vocalize it, but you see it!
We try to thoughtfully demonstrate in some small symbolic way that we recognize their increased autonomy - either just ahead of their arrival or right after they get home; it may remove their need to assert it throughout the weekend! We have younger siblings in our family who really missed their brother too, we try to plan some special one on one time into the weekend for them too.
We try to keep in mind that the kids may need some time to just decompress (it will have been a busy couple of months) and that impending final exams lurking out there may also be on their minds.
I’d say don't be surprised if your student wants to focus on reconnecting with friends from high school who also may be home for the long weekend and/or want to see new UM friends they have met who live nearby. While this might pull them away from what you consider precious family time, these relationships are also an important part of their growth and maturity. Look for a quiet moment over the weekend to reflect back to your student how proud you are of what they have accomplished over the past three months. While it may not seem like it, they are still inspired and encouraged by your approval and recognition.
Think about squeezing in time to take a special nuclear or extended family photo this weekend while you may have everyone together-- it makes both for a special memory from Thanksgiving and could serve as your family holiday card next month!
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