Kill time instead of a family member this summer
How to survive the holidays at home without damaging a parent...
There’s a reason why most murders are committed by family members. It’s close and prolonged exposure to them which makes December (aka Christmas) the main murder month of the year.
Let’s keep it that way. After a long, hard (cough) year of education (cough, cough) you might be looking forward to a little TLC, but after a week or two things can turn. Here're some crucial tips to make sure that the BBQ kebab skewer is only used for what it's intended..
Things have changed
Months of smacking the snooze button on your alarm, eating breakfast at three, tea at ten, kebab supper at 3.30am (and alcohol 24/7) have mucked up your bio-rhythms.
Coming back down to earth means compromise. Yes: you are going to have to tell your parents that you’re off out tonight. Yes: you may have to inform them you’re missing dinner.
You may have been King - or Queen - of your own student universe, but now your living under someone else’s roof (probably rent-free) and eating their food you have to do some accommodating yourself...
Just like spiders, there's a good chance your parents are more scared of you than you are of them. You're about to turn up and disrupt their quiet lives that, despite occasionally claiming they miss you, they've grown to quite like.
If you Google how to survive the summer holidays, it comes up with useful tips for parents not children. This probably isn't the ideal scenario for anyone, but tread carefully go along with the pretence that you're happy to be home and everything will be fine. Probably.
Some of us may have been blessed to avoid this the first time round, but now it’s up to you to instigate that talk (how sweet the role reversal). See the holiday as a clean slate. Tell the truth and allow your parents to get to know the new you. They may not like it, but at the end of the day you are now your own person. The sooner they acknowledge that, the better.
Sex life can be a particular stumbling point. One student from the University of Birmingham told me how, despite being pregnant, her parents made her sleep separately from her boyfriend when he visited!
Doubtless your own experience won’t be as drastic as that, but the idea of even having to worry about your kid sister walking in on you, keeping the sound down, or (heaven forbid) bypassing sex altogether because your parents are in the next room can seem pretty infantile after the antics of a student household.
Act your age
Act like an adult and you might get treated that way. Allowing your mum to wash your sheets, make you dinner and generally indulge you is probably the main perk of coming home. It’s also pretty much the worst thing you can do.
Being pampered like a helpless baby may be delightful, but don’t then expect to hold an impromptu 'gathering' at house or disappear till 4am without some serious objections. You are an adult staying in another adult’s house.
Do: Spontaneously do some washing or offer to help out, get a job, fill (or give the appearance of filling) your day with something useful.
Don’t: Lounge around in a pile of your own filth, tutting at people on Jeremy Kyle, moaning that you’re bored.
Now they’ve become humans and not just a source of authority, you might find you actually like your parents. Don't laugh - it can happen. It’s no longer embarrassing to be seen out with them. Relish this new relationship, it’s not a return to the old but a chance to start something new.
Flee the nest
OK, so maybe this talk of happy families makes you feel like you might vom. It’s not OK for your sister to be wearing the clothes you left behind whilst at uni, you don’t like your room being used as the new study, you actually rather liked your own cooking and sometimes you would like to do something (go out, have dinner, smoke, drink, go to the toilet) without having to tell somebody.
If that sounds more familiar, the solution is simple - spend as little time in the home as possible. Organise a holiday, visit uni friends, go travelling, maybe even get a job!
Better still, you could just decide not to go back! There’s no obligation to go home. You’re a free agent. You’re probably paying rent for a house in your uni town anyway, so why not get your money's worth and actually move in over the summer?!
Deal with it
At the end of the day you're living in a nice home (probably rent free), being fed free meals, and will be surrounded by people who only want the best for you. You'll be back in studentland before you know it, at which point you'll be gagging for mum's Sunday roast...