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What to Expect When Your College Freshman Comes Home for Thanksgiving Break

Has your child been away from home at college in their first semester of college? You may be incredibly excited to have them home over Thanksgiving Break. You have plans! Those plans may need to be modified a bit; I share why below.

The Vision in our Mind

Katy Oliveira, a guest on one of my podcast episodes shared with me: this time of year for our college student children is the final phase of the first semester, and it is all about getting serious. Our college student (our baby) has all of the first-semester stress, poor sleep, activities on campus, assignments coming due with limited time to impact grades, and more coming together in what might be a total overwhelm of emotions.

Emotions can be at an all-time high over Thanksgiving break.

hile they arrive home with their emotions, you also have no routine for the 4–8 days they are home. They’ll be out of their college routine, while you and the resident family members will be adjusting having them back in the house. These things have the opportunity to ruin your time together. I don’t want that for you.

I share this with you not to scare you but to prepare you.

First of all, if you are lucky enough to have your child close enough to come home for Thanksgiving without much of an ordeal with traveling — be thankful.

Our daughter is out of state, and NOTHING prepared me for my return drive from dropping her off at school. Travel anywhere during this time is shocking if you have never had to do it before. One of my most traffic-filled drives ever has been Thanksgiving break traffic.

One of my most traffic filled drives ever has been Thanksgiving break traffic.

he first Thanksgiving break for our family was not fun for our daughter, who found she had papers and exams due the first day or so that she returned from break — so while we all were “off,” she had work to do. She was honest enough to explain that to us, which has allowed us to adjust over the years. This year, we are picking her up and heading somewhere together, just the three of us, with no added family visit time: this suits our family of introverts well.

May this article serve as an early heads-up: I encourage you to be fully present in each moment and to know that your college student may have a lot going on (in actual assignments and their mind). Sure, you might also, but that doesn't mean you should behave like a child. Be the emotional adult and remember that while it may be a time of catching-up for you, it may be a time of catching-up on assignments and studying for your child.

Your job is to love your child, even if it means they aren’t spending as much time with you as you may want.


our thoughts about their time home will have everything to do with how you feel. So, choose your thoughts wisely as they will make the difference between a presence-filled break and a stress-filled break.

You’ve got this.

As always, please remember that you are amazing!

Want More?

To listen to the full episode with Katy Oliveira about what to expect the first semester, click here.

To subscribe to my podcast, created for mothers freaking out about the empty nest ahead, click here and choose where you listen to podcasts.

I help women freaking out about the empty nest to feel freaking awesome through a virtual membership group and podcast! 💚 Podcast:

I help women freaking out about the empty nest to feel freaking awesome through a virtual membership group and podcast! 💚 Podcast: