Summertime tips for families and college students living together again

College students are returning home for summer and families are back together. Here are tips for students and parents adjusting to living under the same roof again.

Summer, here we come! Last fall, bright-eyed, eager and adventuresome high school graduates went off to a community college or university. How quickly did that first year of college flew by! Having been home for holidays, weekends or other events, they are now returning home for summer.

Tips for returning-home college students

Returning-home college students may have to adjust from being on their own and creating their own life schedule to living with family, siblings and pets again. As Eliana Thomas, a Michigan State University freshman returning home for the summer shared, “Home-cooked meals are one of the best parts of coming home, but I will miss the omelet bar.”

MSU Extension has some tips for the returning-home young adult:

  • Be realistic about your expectations. It isn’t uncommon for relationships to feel different. More than likely your friends also had new experiences and made new friends and connections, too. Your room or home space may have been repurposed.
  • Have a plan. Are you working or looking for summer employment? Consider volunteering at a sports camp, a community center or somewhere else that interests you. Volunteering will provide you a space to explore other interests and build your resume. Lots of Michigan 4-H members and alumni volunteer at camps and fairs, and mentor younger 4-H members when they are home for the summer.
  • Take care of yourself. Build in time to relax, laugh, meditate and find balance. If you are feeling overwhelmed, reach out to a trusted adult, mentor or family member. Remember that almost all communities have regional counseling services. The MSU Counseling Center offers counseling services and support for students, as do most community colleges and universities.
  • Additional suggestions for summer transitions can be found in the University of Oregon’s article, “Home for the summer.”

Tips for parents

Parents may be thinking about how hard it was last fall when their kids left, and now how great it will be to have them back again to help with chores and errands, and have that energy back in their home. Sharon Greenthal shares “6 Tips for Living With Your College Student During Summer Break.” Key tips to consider:

  • Schedule events in advance. Respect that your young adult might have work, social or volunteering plans, too. Start out with a “big calendar” so that dates are identified and work schedules can be posted.
  • Yes, it is going to get noisy. Celebrate that your college student is coming and going with friends. Be prepared for extra food, snacks and dishes galore. It is their responsibility, however, to pick up and take care of dishes, leftover food and clean up.
  • Kleenex time! Calmly support when they need mom, dad and favorite pet time. It might be maneuvering work, friendship frustrations, a broken heart or even the summer allergy sniffles. Let them know you are there to support them wherever they are—home, study abroad or away at college.

Put the pieces together!

Consider the following thoughts for families and students returning home from college:

  • Create “respect guidelines” together. It might be as simple as checking in with each other via text. This is a mutual consideration. Students: Let your parents know you are safe and what is happening. Parents: If you are running late or something has come up, alert your family members too.
  • Curfews can be a hot topic. What might have been fine as a high school junior or senior is a new world after the returning student has lived independently.
  • Consider and clarify expectations for household chores such as yard work, dishes, laundry and errands. Remember these are all the parts of being a contributing family member.
  • Gas it up! Family cars, trucks or other vehicles many times are shared. Please consider who is responsible for paying and refueling. As a parent of college students, our rule is if it’s at a quarter of a tank or less, please refill.
  • Reunions, birthdays and family events. Talk through upcoming events and summer vacation dates and expectations around them. Try to avoid the “guilt trap” and appreciate that many times the student would like to attend, too. It does become more complicated when extended family reside out-of-state. It can also be a challenge when students are juggling summer work schedules.

All in all, it is an exciting and memorable journey! Remember, both of your worlds have changed and will change again when returning to college in late August. Eliana Thomas shared, “Half of me always wants to be home surrounded by my family, surrounded in comfort with no pressure and only love. The other half wants to be here, in college, absorbing knowledge, growing and struggling. I always want them when I’m in the other places.”

That explains perfectly the connection between the love of a family and young adults becoming more and more independent.

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