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(Left to right) Mary, Jillian ’19, Maddie ’22 and Bill Reynolds share what life is like at the Reynolds’ home when Jillian and Maddie return.

Be Prepared for Some Changes – and Fun! – When Your Students Come Home

It’s exciting to welcome your students back home after their time away at college. But they likely will return transformed and maturing people. And while that’s an important – and necessary – part of life, it can bring some challenges. Will you still enforce a curfew? Will your students be expected to resume the same household chores they once held? Here, the Reynolds family riffs on life when Jillian Reynolds ’19 and Maddie Reynolds ’22 return home to parents Mary and Bill Reynolds.

Q: What are those first days like when Jillian and Maddie come home?
Mary: We go from just the two of us back to a whirlwind coming in and out. And there is a lot of laundry and stuff. It isn’t always very orderly.

Bill: We know Maddie is home because her bedroom door is closed.

Q: Jillian and Maddie, what is it like being home for summer?
Jillian: I loved coming home. Maddie and I are really close, and we’re a close family. We enjoy spending time together. Although Maddie is infamous for having plans at home before she’s even home.

Maddie: Yeah, like, I already have spring break plans! I like home, but when we do the family things, I want to know when we’re gonna be done because I’ll have something to do at 7. I have a very close-knit friend group from high school.

Mary: And she has a little bit of FOMO (fear of missing out).

Maddie: I do – big FOMO.

Bill: You get that from me. Sorry!

Q: Thinking back to when you were in high school, what’s the same at home? What’s different?
Jillian: Now we are treated a little bit more like adults. Not that our parents ever talked down to us, but they talk to us like we are adults, and say, “These are things we expect of you, and this is how it’s gonna happen.” The first summer I was home, I nannied for a family I’d nannied for in high school, so I was typically home before everyone else. I would go grocery shopping, get dinner started, whatever the case may be. There was that little bit of a switch of, “You’re kinda an adult now, let’s change what we’re talking about and how we talk about things.”

Maddie: I like the different conversations we can have now – grown-up conversations about real, grown-up topics.

Mary: I’ve worked at a college for 25 years in residence life, student activities and orientation, so I understand as students go off and then come home, what that means and how that relationship changes. When the girls were in high school, they definitely had rules and curfews and more boundaries. Now, they still need to be respectful because they’re living in our house, and you don’t just get to come and go as you please. And we’re still Mom and Dad, and you’re using our stuff, driving our cars, etc.

Bill: They get a little bit more of the reins, if you will. You can’t be regimented and say, “You need to be home at this time, you have to do this at this time.” You’re hoping that by the time you’ve sent them off to college, you’ve instilled things in them and now it’s time for them to fly.

Q: When they’re home, are they guests or is it still a family home?
Bill: Oh no, it’s still their house. And there are things they still need to do.

Jillian: You can tell where Maddie has been because there’s usually a trail.

Mary: When she was little, she would come in and there’d be her shoes, her coat, her backpack, her lunchbox. You just knew, OK, Maddie’s here. Although your room is much, much cleaner now.

Maddie: When you live in a dorm, you gotta keep things clean.

Q: When are they still the “kids”?
Bill: They’re always my kids.

Mary: We still get to have fun when they come home. It’s just different activities now. We watch “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette” and we do mother-daughter dates more often. I love having them home.

March 12, 2020