Got a College Kid Coming Home for the Holidays? 6 Tips for Re-Entry from a College Senior and Her Mom

Killer tips & advice to ditch the stress, avoid disappointment and make the visit memorable!

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: Got a College Kid Coming Home for the Holidays? 6 Tips for Re-Entry from a College Senior and Her Mom

Written by: Colin Morris

As a mom of two college kids (a daughter who’s a senior and a son who’s a freshman), I’m bursting with excitement at that the thought of my kids coming home for Christmas break! 

But as a seasoned college mom, I’m here to tell you that, quite often, when hopes are elevated and everyone’s expectations are high, disaster tends to follow.

That’s why, to make this Christmas break better for my kids AND me, (and help out other moms and college kids), I sat down with my daughter and asked her what tips she would offer up to moms to help smooth out re-entry when their kids come home for Christmas break. Then, (of course), I had my own tips (as a mom) that I suggest for college students to help their mama out.

Got a College Kid Coming Home for the Holidays? 6 Tips for Re-Entry from a College Senior and Her Mom


Here are My Daughter’s 3 Suggestions for Moms:

#1 Let Your College Kid Balance Family Time with Friend Time

I can attest to this truth firsthand. One of the biggest “gotcha” moments for me during previous Christmas breaks involved drastically altering my expectations when it came to how much time (or rather, how little time) my college kids would actually spend at home. Sure, they love being home. But they ALSO love seeing their friends who are home for the break.

Heads up, parents, as much as I know you want to be with your college student, save yourself the hurt feelings and a bruised heart by recognizing ahead of time that your college student will likely be out of the house and hanging with friends A LOT.

#2 Fix Your Kid’s Favorite Foods

I laughed when my daughter’s next sentence after suggesting this was, “Is that silly?”  Oh, honey, mamas LOVE to fix their kid’s favorite foods. We soak up our kid’s enjoyment like a sponge. (Especially for Southern mamas like me where food counts as a love language!) 

Whether we spend days in the kitchen whipping up our kid’s favorites, order take-out from our kid’s favorite restaurant, or hop in the car and head to the hometown pizza joint that brings back a few memories, moms love cooking for (ahem… spoiling) and just hanging out with our “always hungry” teenagers. (Even if it does mean making five trips to the grocery store.)

#3  Don’t Bombard Them with Chores (Or Pack Their Schedule)

Such wisdom here. And not easy! But here’s the truth. Their time in college has changed your son or daughter… A LOT.  They’re not the same person you dropped off in August. They’ve experienced a ton of growth and they’ve learned how to navigate life on their own without you catching them every time they fall OR telling them what to do. 

Don’t resort back to treating your college kid like a child. Ask yourself, “What can I do to show my college kid that I see and respect their grown-up (okay, maybe “growing up”) self? Maybe it’s giving them full rein over their schedule, letting them sleep in ’til their heart’s content, and avoiding dictating chores around the house. If you want your child to actually look forward to coming home over college breaks, you need to embrace the adult they’re becoming, not the child they’re leaving behind.

Now, it’s mom’s turn!

Here are My 3 Mom Suggestions for College Students:

#1 Give Your Mom a Heads-Up About Your Social Plans

Buckle up, mama. If you thought high school kids stunk at making plans, college students make them look like executives with day planners. As moms, we desperately need advance notice, and college students, in my experience, are literally incapable of providing it. You can get mad about it, or you can accept it and plan accordingly.

Here’s my pro tip: Give your college student plenty of advance warning about your few non-negotiable dates on the calendar. Post it on the fridge, send them a text, leave them a voicemail (they’ll probably never listen to it), and remind them often. Just make sure they know that those days are on the books no matter what. Then… try to savor the rest of the precious in-between moments you have with your college kid throughout the holiday break. 

#2 Hug Your Mama…OFTEN

Don’t you wish you could give your child a glimpse into how deeply you miss them when they’re away at college for months on end? I mean, I think they understand on some vague level. But honestly, I’m pretty sure they really are a little clueless.

Little do our kids know that when we kissed them on the cheek, hugged them tightly, and tearfully waved goodbye at college drop-off that we left a piece of our heart with them. And, now that they’re back home safe and sound, we want nothing more than to be in their physical presence, to hug them (Ummm, yeah… a lot), and just stare at them a while and marvel at how much they’ve changed. So, guess what college kids? If your mom’s a little clingy… please be patient with her. (One day you’ll understand.)

#3 Take Time to Thank Your Mom – Even for the Little Things

Moms in the “launching their kids into adulthood” phase of life often feel overlooked and frankly, somewhat disregarded. Since the day we held our babies in our arms, raising them to become independent young adults was always the goal. Actually achieving that goal leaves us feeling jobless. I mean, we’re technically not “out of job,” (nor will we ever be) but we’re being pushed into an entirely new role we’re not quite ready for.

It’s kind of like a battlefield promotion. We get promoted from manager to mentor. Responsibilities change and sometimes we feel unsure, unseen, and maybe even unneeded. That’s why when our college kid expresses appreciation for our efforts, we feel like a million bucks!

So, college kids, please know, we don’t want to smother you. And, we don’t want to do too much knowing you’re fully capable. Just give us a little of what we need… a few words of appreciation. Whether it’s a “Thanks, mom!” or a “Wow… you didn’t have to do that, mom,” when you’re home, it makes us feel needed and makes our heart do a little happy dance.  

As a mom, you have needs and expectations and your college student has needs and expectations. But it doesn’t have to be stressful for either one of you! You’re building a new, beautiful adult relationship with each other. Embrace the glory of this new phase in both your lives and enjoy your break!

About Colin Morris:

Colin Morris is a life coach and founder of Loved & Launched.  She helps moms who are in the season of launching their kids from high school seniors and beyond. Colin has 3 kids, all in the process of launching.  She enjoys hiking near waterfalls and watching British competition shows of all sorts.  You can find her on her website, Colin Morris Coaching, on Instagram or Facebook.

If you enjoyed reading, “Got a College Kid Coming Home for the Holidays? 6 Tips for Re-Entry from a College Senior and Her Mom,” you might enjoy reading these posts, too!

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