They’re Back!

by Diane Sweeney on November 18, 2014

They're Back - Learning to Live Together Again

They’re Back – Learning to Live Together Again



Many of you are still getting used to your kids being gone, navigating parent’s weekends, the mood swings of everyone adjusting (and never seeming to be on the phone, Facetime or SKYPE in the same mood, at the same time) and now preparing for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday homecomings and family reunions.

Who knew an empty nest could be so busy?

That is what I think is most surprising to most women, especially after the last child leaves.

Everyone asks… “So, how is the empty nest?” and you are not quite sure how to respond some days.

At moments it does seem empty. You have a few quiet evenings and you begin to long to see your son or daughter come busting through the door as they did in high school, rambling on about the teacher who is unfair, the friend who just broke up with their boyfriend, and why you absolutely have to let them stay over their friend’s house after Homecoming next weekend. Everyone is going to be there! And oh, they rescheduled the game and I have to have this uniform clean for the morning!


You do actually miss all of that insanity! It’s all part of the parenting life, the one you’ve been used to for many, many years.


But as the days go on, you realize a certain shift is beginning to take place. You are no longer making and coordinating lunches and dinners at record speed, rushing from work to a sporting activity and then back to work, or planning your weekend around party, music or sports schedules and making sure everyone has whatever it is they need for such activities

Nowyou can plan at your pace. You can take a little more time to prepare. There are days you can actually take a breath.


It doesn’t mean you don’t do things! In fact, it means you are doing a LOT of things.


Many things for your kids, of course, and then activities you haven’t had time for in years or that you’ve had to rush through because of the demands of a busy household.

It’s now a time for re-energizing and filling up your soul with the things that will provide not only for you, but for your entire family when you are all re-united.


So be prepared for next week…. They’re back!


The return of your family into the heart of your home will be wonderful and engaging, but likely at a pace different from the one to which you are becoming accustomed.

Your kids return home and expect everything to more or less be like it was before, but without rules. After all, they’ve made decisions on their own these last few months.

You’ve taken a liking to clean countertops, tidy rooms and a schedule that is not frenetic. And you think they should understand this since they now live on their own and have to live cooperatively with a roommate.

You’re both right – but need to establish an understanding for one another in your new roles.


  1. Dorm life is busy, noisy and full of expectation. When your son or daughter returns to a home that is safe and comfortable, they will want to sleep. Really sleep. Like catch up on 3 months of it. Don’t plan anything major for the first day or two, if possible. (A little tough with Thanksgiving, but give them space.)
  1. They have been doing things on their own, so let them know there are certain things you expect them to do. Tell them to ut things in their place, not leave clothes, shoes, and electronics scattered throughout the house; and to share in the clean up of family meals.
  1. Feed them. Good food. They’ve had poor meals or junk food for several months now. Eat it around a table at home with good conversation. Which leads to:
  1. Don’t ask 1000 questions; especially as they initially re-engage into the family. You’ll end up with a lot of cranky people. With a few hours of relaxation, they’ll begin to open up.
  1. Give yourself and everyone space. You do not all have to be together 24/7 the entire time they are home. They want to see their friends or even just be alone. If you all can honor your need for space, you’ll all enjoy the time you spend together that much more.


We all look forward to having the family gathered around the kitchen table or sharing banter in the family room. You probably have your family’s version of a Norman Rockwell painting in your mind… and it can happen as long as expectations and demands of both parties are kept reasonable.

And in a blink of an eye, the weekend will be over, and you’ll be missing them and anticipating their return in a few short weeks!






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