My girls have now established a tradition of botched plane rides home from college. I won't bore you with the lengthy list of airline mishaps, but let me just say Maddie arrived home a full day later than her ticket indicated and THIS IS PAR FOR THE COURSE. But we gathered her up from the airport Sunday after church and brought her home for a full day of naps and lemon squares.
I can see that my interaction with my grown kids is becoming a series of arrivals and departures. I'm not so much a part of their everyday lives, but I do get to be there for the special stuff -- the holidays, the big occasions, and the vacations. More than anything, I want my kids to feel special when they are home -- to know that we value having them with us and that we are interested in what they are doing and who they are becoming.
I did a cursory search of the Interwebs to find out what the more experienced parent knows about welcoming adult children home, and there are a number of articles like this: "7 Great Tips For When Your College Kid Comes Home For The Holidays," which tells you to have lots of good food in the house and give them some space. There are also a number of articles that talk about how to navigate rules and expectations with kids who have had an entire year of relative independence -- like this one.
Admittedly, I don't have oodles of experience with this adult-kid-at-home phenomenon, but here's what has worked so far.
- Curfew: My college kids seem fairly nocturnal -- staying up into the wee hours of the morning and then either sleeping late or napping during the day. Unfortunately, our home is pretty much in bed by 10:30 on weeknights, and I'm way too uptight to sleep while they are roaming the streets. While home we pretty much keep our college girls to the midnight curfew initially instituted for our high schoolers. If they are planning to be out later, they arrange things ahead of time. They understand that it's as much for my sanity (and sleep) as anything else. (I'll also say here that our kids have been home for such short periods of time, that up to this point the curfew hasn't been much of an issue.)
- Chores: I'm not super proud of this, but we don't require too much in the way of chores on a regular basis. Everyone has a dish day. Everyone does their own laundry and keeps their own things picked up. We all chip in if there is a big job to do. The college kids are definitely scheduled back into the dish rotation. (There may even be some college-educated weed-pulling soon.)
- Lunch: When Jordan was home last summer, she and I had a great time going out to lunch together (just about every day). Often she visited with her friends in the evenings, so this arrangement made everyone happy. Madison asked me last week if we'd be going out to lunch while she was home. Here's the downside: I gained a full five pounds in the six weeks Jordan was home last summer!
- Preparation: I stocked Madison's bathroom with all new supplies -- shampoo, conditioner, lotion, hand soap, razors, tissues . . . and some fluffy towels. I made sure her bed had clean sheets and that her room was tidy. It wasn't a big deal, but I did want her to feel like her space was ready for her (instead of stale and crusty since it had last been used in December).
I'd love to add to this list. Any seasoned college parents out there? Or what do you remember from your own college days?