Having your child return home after their freshman year at college can be both exciting and anxiety-provoking. You miss them, but the sudden shift in household dynamics can be jarring. Let’s face it, after months of an “empty nest,” adjusting to your young adult child’s newfound independence can be a challenge.

Let me tell you, the summer after my daughter came home from her freshman year,  I thought I was prepared. Empty nest? Been there, done that. Turns out, having your young adult child back under your roof is a whole new ball game.

Here’s the thing: I found myself constantly checking my phone, worrying about where she was, feeling a pang of anxiety every time she left the house. I realized – I’d gotten used to my new normal, and having her back threw my whole system off-kilter.

But guess what? I’m not alone. Many parents struggle with letting go of control when their kids return home with newfound independence. It’s a delicate dance – respecting their space while also wanting to keep them safe.

So, what did I learn? Here are some tips that helped me (and hopefully will help you too!) navigate this exciting, yet sometimes frustrating, time:

  • Boundaries over Rules: Forget the “because I said so” approach. Open communication is key. Talk to your child about expectations for things like chores, curfews (if any!), and guests.
  • Let Go, a Little: This is a tough one, but trust me, it’s important. Their independence is part of their growth. Step back and let them make their own decisions (even if you disagree sometimes).
  • Find Your Rhythm: Meal planning, grocery shopping – these can be battlegrounds. Instead, encourage your young adult to take ownership of their food needs. Maybe set a budget for groceries and let them plan their meals.
  • Embrace the Change: Their newfound independence might mean late nights and different routines. It’s okay! This is a temporary situation. Focus on enjoying this time together (even if it means a little less sleep!).

Now, for a laugh, let me tell you about my mother-in-law’s “creative” approach to boundaries. She used a checklist to track her kids’ whereabouts at night! Let’s just say it wasn’t the most subtle method.

My point? There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. The key is open communication, clear expectations, and a willingness to adjust as needed. Remember, a strong, trusting relationship is the foundation of a smooth summer.

So, breathe deep, parents! We can do this. Let’s create a summer filled with love, laughter, and maybe a few (hopefully minor) bumps along the road.