Monday, 12 December 2016

Hurrah! Your student's home! How to avoid a row

You've been longing to have your son or daughter  home for months, but now they're finally back you might be feeling a bit...disappointed?  Sad that you don't feel as close as you used to be?
You're full of questions about their new friends and the course.  They just want to sleep and catch up with their old friends.
The chances are you've already had a row.
It's easy to see why things get tense at times.  They've changed - even after a term.  And so have you.  They've got used to coming and going as they please and making as much mess as they like.  At the same time you're just beginning to see the benefits of not doing so much washing and having a tidier house.
A wise student counsellor gives this advice:
'When kids go home in the holidays they're often treated as they were when they left, and  arguments about tidying their  room or coming back by midnight are back with a vengeance.
'In fact they've changed, they've grown up, and it's not the same: they're coming back partly as kids of the home and partly as visitors. To some extent parent and child have got to get to know each other again.' 
It's true that your relationship will never be the same again. But you will be just as close - perhaps even closer, as you get to know your child as an adult, and deal with each other on a more equal footing.  The university years can be a big challenge, but used wisely they're a great opportunity to lay the foundations for a lasting relationship.

How to avoid a row

  • Approach each homecoming with a fresh eye: accept they're changing, and that's good
  • Don't bombard them with questions - relax, give them time. It may take time to open up about their new lives.
  • See things from their point of view - and encourage them to see yours 
  • Discuss new ground rules
  • Choose your battles - try not to blow a gasket about trivial matters.
  • Don't expect to stick to rigid meal times.
  • Cook meals that are flexible -  slow stews that are easy to heat up, for example. And stock up on pasta sauces, salads and nutritious snacks they can grab out of  the fridge. 
  • Don't forget that younger siblings may feel discombobulated too.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Perfect Christmas presents for Empty Nesters

Empty nesters have spent years thinking about other people.  Now it's time to focus on themselves.   Look for something they'll really like,  not something for the kitchen or garden.  The more self-indulgent the better! 


  • Anything luxurious and totally indulgent is perfect - a big bunch of beautiful flowers,  a bottle of champagne.
  • Her favourite perfume.
  • A gift voucher for a massage or manicure. 
  •  Nail polish.
  •  Silk underwear. 
  •  Music to dance to
  •  A great empty nester novel like Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (also on DVDor Joanna Trollope's Second Honeymoon.


  • A gift voucher to try something new - a riding lesson?  a writing course?  Dancing lessons?  An activity to do together?    Empty nesters are keen to try new activities  - but they often  appreciate a nudge in the right direction. So a book or voucher are great ideas.  Organisations like Creative Breaks have Christmas vouchers for a variety of courses.
  •  An inspiring travel guide, like Lonely Planet's Ultimate Travelist  
  •  'Mamma Mia' on DVD - OK it's a cheesy old chestnut but it's very cathartic.  Grown men weep when Meryl sings 'Slipping through my fingers' to her departing daughter.  
  •  Two photograph albums - one for nostalgic family pics, the other for the adventures ahead.  Shepherds near Victoria station in London has many beautiful ones

  • DON'T BUY......

  •  Anything too worthy or too useful 
  •  Shapeless fleecy PJs or slippers shaped like bunnies. 
  •  Oven gloves.   A cookery book is acceptable - just about.  
  •  Socks,  soap or hand cream. Unless they are seriously posh.