Family weekends are a common tradition among most college campuses. This gives parents the long-awaited chance to reunite with their child and get a better idea of how life looks on campus. The last time you were there, you were probably rushing around to get your student moved into their dorm. Luckily, family weekend is the time for you to really enjoy your time together and learn more about your child’s new life as a college student.
While family weekend is a great opportunity to reconnect with your child, attending it for the first time can come with some unfamiliar territory. On top of trying to fit a million activities into one weekend, this is an emotional event for the entire family. To avoid any potential fights and unnecessary stress, take some time to learn more about the dos and don’ts of family weekend.
Do Plan Ahead
You definitely won’t be the only family coming out to see your child during the weekend. For the best chance of getting a nearby hotel and a good flight, consider booking these reservations as soon as the semester begins. Most family weekends take place in the fall and last from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, so plan accordingly. Most colleges schedule this event in advance, so you will have access to this information before the school year starts.
When you get closer to the weekend, take some time to learn about restaurants nearby the campus. Making reservations at restaurants in advance will save you from having to wait 45 minutes for a table every night.
While most colleges will have free activities throughout the entire weekend, some of them will require RSVPs to attend. Review the itinerary closely and make sure you aren’t missing out on any important instructions. Some events, like football games or other sporting events, will still usually require payment for entry. Don’t allow your family to be stranded for the weekend—plan ahead!
Do Coordinate with Your Student
Now that your child is a full-time college student, they are not as available as they used to be. Even during family weekend, your child may have commitments that they can’t budge on. While you are planning your weekend, try to talk with your child and get a better understanding of when they’re available to spend time with you.
They may be your child, but they are an adult with full independence. You will need to respect that. Work around their schedule like you would with a peer or friend. A lot of family fights pop up during family weekend because of miscommunication, so save everyone the trouble and make sure your plan works for everyone.
The good thing about family weekend is that many of the activities will be open to everyone. Your student doesn’t necessarily have to come with you to every event, so if you see something that you want to do, don’t let your child’s absence stop you.
Do Have a Plan B
Even with all the planning in the world, something is bound to go wrong. Either way, don’t panic! College towns are full of cool places to explore, and they are usually a short walk away from campus. If you are visiting from out of state, don’t be afraid to explore and see what the city has to offer. When you are making your itinerary for the weekend, be mindful of some other close-by options just in case your plans fall through.
Depending on where your child is going to school, some areas will have more options than others, so make sure you have a good understanding of what is in close proximity. This will save you from having to scramble when you suddenly find yourself with a few extra hours to kill.
Do Bring Your Entire Family
Okay, maybe not everyone in your family, but at least bring your immediate family members along for the journey. Even though traveling in a pack can be a headache, having the family reunite is a special feeling. You won’t regret having those memories to look back on.
In addition, if you notice that your child’s roommate or friend is alone for family weekend, invite them along! This will mean a lot to your child and their friend; it can be easy to feel left out when your family can’t come to celebrate with you. Embrace your child’s new friends and make sure no one has to spend family weekend alone.
Don’t Put Pressure on Your Child
Family weekend is a big deal but try to keep it from becoming stressful for your child. Remember, as a college student, they won’t be available to answer your questions or respond to your texts right away. Be patient with them while you are planning for this trip and remind them that they don’t have to uproot their entire schedule to accommodate you. And do your best to avoid blowing up their phone with multiple messages at once.
Obviously, you want to spend time with them. They want to spend time with you too! Just remember that you need to work with them to make this happen. A good way to do this is by scheduling a call before family weekend and ironing out all the details in one conversation. If your child isn’t the type to plan ahead, do your best to give them a specific schedule that is a good balance between family time and free time. This can be frustrating while you are planning a trip, but taking a step back can help prevent any blow-ups from occurring.
Don’t Touch Anything!
Look, when you are touring your child’s dorm, it will be hard to refrain from touching anything. When the little voice in your head tells you to organize their desk, resist the urge! On top of respecting their schedule, you need to be respectful of your child’s belongings.
Even if you are trying to tidy up, keep your hands off their things. Since your child is an adult now, showing respect for their living space is crucial. You wouldn’t like your mother digging through your drawers, would you? Even if you feel like it won’t do any harm, the best way to avoid fights is by not messing with anything at all.
If you are looking for ways to offer some help, consider making them a thoughtful care package instead. This will always give you extra brownie points!
When you dropped your child off at school for the first time, you were also starting a whole new chapter in your relationship. Even though things are different now, your child still needs your love and support, it just might need to be shown in different ways.
Family weekend at college can be a challenge for many families that are still working through the shift in dynamics, so remember to be patient with each other. Focus on enjoying your time together, not checking everything off your itinerary. Just remember they’ll be home for winter break before you know it.
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