Returning home for the end of term break

A house at night with snow falling

Now that your exams are almost over you might be thinking about your trip home for the winter holidays. This might be your first extended amount of time back with your family and in your old family home. For many, this is both an exciting, but also confusing, time. We're here to help you navigate it. Here are some things to consider before going home:

Understand that things have changed

You’ve spent the last 4 months developing yourself as an independent adult. You might have found new interests, worldviews or habits while you’ve been away from home that your parents aren’t expecting. You might have new food tastes that your parents might not stock the fridge for, or you might stay up much later than your parents are accustomed to.

You might find your parents have changed their habits and interests too since you’ve left. Without you at home, your mom might have suddenly taken up quilting and devoted an entire room of the house to her new hobby in order to fill her newfound time. They might have redecorated a room or changed something in the house that throws you off because you expect it to be the way that it was.

The thing to remember is that both you and your parents might not realize that the other has changed and you haven't been able to watch each other change, so what seems like a small change to you, might seem like a monumental change to them and vice versa. You might have conflict around ideas like curfews for being home, drinking, or expectations about participating in holiday activities.

Communication is key

It is important to set expectations with your parents about how you want to spend your time while you are at home. Try to strike a balance between honouring family traditions, wanting to reconnect with friends at home, and trying to relax after a long exam season. It’s okay to not want to do everything your parents want you to, but try to compromise by participating in some activities your parents want and taking some time to yourself.

Reconnecting with old friends

The holidays are a time when you might want to connect with old friends from high school who have gone to different schools or taken different paths in life. While these connections can be great ways to foster long-distance friendships, it is important to realize that these friendships might be different now too. With some friends, you’ll get together and it will feel like you haven’t spent any time apart at all.

With other friends, you might find your interests have diverged and that your commonalities may have been limited to your shared high school experiences. While sometimes this can be upsetting, it is a normal part of life. As we move through life the people we are close to naturally change and adapt to the new realities of their lives. Sometimes that means we lose our connection with them, but that doesn’t mean your friendship is a failure. If you and a friend don’t click anymore, celebrate the friendship for what it was and recognize that you’ve grown as a person and are now seeking out new and different connections.

Take some time for you

The holidays can be a busy time for everyone. So make sure that you set some time aside to relax and practice some healthy self-care strategies that work for you. Meditation, exercise, sleep, and self-soothing activities like reading for pleasure, listening to your favourite music, taking a bath, or creative pursuits like drawing, knitting, or playing a musical instrument are just a few ideas. For more self-care activities, see our Big List of Self-Care activities (PDF).

For other resources on this topic, see:

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