How Parents Can Prepare for the Longest College Winter Break EVER

Did your kids recently return to college after the longest spring break ever? Were you relieved? Sad? Lost? A jumble of conflicting emotions? Or maybe your kids are doing college virtually this semester, and they are still with you. In which case, relief, sadness, and confusion still apply.

Whatever your situation, there’s a good chance that all the joys and frustrations you have experienced since March, will be revisiting your home in November. Due to the pandemic, many schools will not resume classes after Thanksgiving and won’t be reopening until mid to late January. Which means families across the country will be enjoying (or enduring) the longest winter break ever.

Many colleges will send students home at Thanksgiving this year. (Twenty20 @TonyTheTigersSon)

How to prepare for a long college winter break

  1. Buy a user-friendly cookbook.

One thing that nearly broke a lot of parents during the longest spring break ever was the constant care and feeding of their children. Interestingly, young adults who have managed for months, even years, to secure a food source while at college, returned home last spring completely helpless and clueless about meal preparation.

I suggest welcoming your young ones back into the nest with an early Christmas present in the form of their very own cookbook. I am a big fan of Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything cookbooks.

Unfortunately, Bittman does not have a book entitled How to Clean Up the Mess You Made Whilst Cooking Everything. But here’s a nifty tutorial from Apartment Therapy you can email your children in advance of their return. For the more hopeful and ambitious among us, it even includes a section on emptying the garbage can.

2. Create a watchlist.

No, not a list of potential securities that you monitor for investment opportunities (yes, I Googled watchlist), although that might come in handy to help with your inflated longest-winter-break-ever grocery bill. I’m talking about a binge watching watchlist. One of my great frustrations during the longest spring break ever was the amount of time my family spent scrolling through Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime debating and discussing and trying to decide what to watch.

I don’t plan to let that happen again. I am going to wisely use the time my girls are away for the shortest semester ever to compile a list of movies, TV shows, and documentaries to meet the varied tastes and moods of my family. I’m also considering instituting a nightly show-picker. Each family member will get one night to be in charge of deciding what we watch. Anyone who complains gets to use the new cookbook to make the next night’s supper.

3. Stock up.

Since we didn’t realize at the time that it would be the longest spring break ever, I was ill prepared for weeks and weeks and weeks of quality family time. As it began to dawn on me that we would be home indefinitely, I started ordering online–frantically and haphazardly and sometimes in the middle of the night in an attempt to stave off a sense of impending doom.

I admit that this made for a few regrettable purchases—a strange number of aprons, approximately 32 boxes of Wheat Thins, a monthly subscription to over priced trinkets, and a dozen baby chickens (which turned out to be a lot of work, but they are fun and save me $1.43 a week on eggs, so….). This time things will be different.

Before settling in for the longest winter break ever, I will be sure we have plenty of board games, lots of quality reading material, and an ample supply of calming essential oils–like vodka.

4. Create a “You Space.”

No matter how much we adore our children and love being with them, an extended period of time with young adults, who paradoxically enjoy total autonomy and being cared for like they are five years old, can be trying. That’s why it’s a good idea to set up a place for yourself to relax and have a few minutes of quiet. In preparation for the longest winter break ever, I am having a massage recliner and a wet bar installed in my chicken coop.

5. Revisit some of your favorite pandemic bandwagons.

There’s no question the longest spring break ever was a challenge, but it had its good times too. Did your family start baking sourdough bread? Did you enjoy Zoom parties with far flung friends and family? Did you play more games or take up a new hobby?

One pandemic habit I have continued since March and that I know will carry me through the longest winter break ever is a daily rage walk. It’s a great way to get exercise, blow off steam, and wear out the highly energetic pandemic puppy my daughter got in March and left with us in August.

In all honesty, I am looking forward to the longest winter break ever. It will be fun having my girls back home. Of course, I am sure that despite preparations there will be boredom and frustration, extra cooking and extra messes But there will also be late-night binge watching, family game nights, and cozy evening after cozy evening at home with my family. And I am definitely prepared for that.

You Might Also Want to Read:

Before Your Student Leaves Campus for Winter Break, Here’s What They Need to Do

About Laura Hanby Hudgens

Laura Hanby Hudgens is a part-time high school teacher and a freelance writer living with her husband and children in the Arkansas Ozarks. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Grown and Flown, and elsewhere. You can learn more about her at Charming Farming, where she occasionally blogs about faith, food, education, and family life.

Read more posts by Laura

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