Vacationing with Your Parents
When you’re with your parents, it takes a lot of effort to get some vacation on your vacation.
By Amy Garcia, Johns Hopkins University
In high school, your relationship with your parents was rocky at best.
Fights over curfews, the car, your grades and your general attitude occurred on a daily basis. You didn’t want to have dinner at home, you didn’t want to stay home to watch a movie with them, you didn’t want your mom to take you to the mall. Distance was the best medicine.
Of course, when you’re in college, this relationship mends itself. You actively miss your parents and everything they do for you. Going home is exciting now; you get free meals, you don’t have to do your own laundry, and you don’t have to share a bathroom with another ten people on your floor.
Going home though, of course, is different than going on a vacation with your family. Very different.
At first you are extremely excited. Whether you’re headed off to Europe, to the Caribbean, to South America, or just to somewhere else in the US, it’s a much-needed break from the daily stress of schoolwork. You are looking forward to either sight-seeing or laying on the beach, with great food and a lot of rest.
Everyone needs a vacation, and you are no different.
Of course, you probably were not thinking about the hotel room.
Depending on how many siblings you have, you most likely are sharing the one room with them and your parents. So that’s one room with about two double beds, for maybe three to six people.
Maybe you’re lucky; maybe the bedroom also has a little living room with a pullout couch. Maybe you also have a balcony. That gives you two escape routes, other than the bathroom.
But they’re not real escape routes.
No one wants to share a room with more than one person. There’s a reason why it’s horrid news when an incoming freshman learns they’ll be living in a triple. We are meant to share a room with one person at the most, and even that can be tough.
You grew up in the time you were in college. You woke yourself up, you have your own routine, you have your own space. You are no longer the 10-year old sleeping in your mom’s bed on vacation.
But here you are, between the ages of 18 and 22, sharing a room with your family, possibly even sharing a bed.
You aren’t meant for this anymore.
It gradually gets worse as the days go on. Your relationship with your parents is great while you’re home from school, but trapped in the same little room every night it starts to deteriorate again. The heat in the air of three people sharing a room keeps you from sleeping well. You wake up unnecessarily early due to your mom’s routine of waking up at 6am to watch TV. You can’t go back to sleep after that, because in an hour or so your parents will want to get breakfast at an ungodly hour. Then after spending the entire day together, you can’t go out on your own at night, since whatever time you stumble in you would wake them up.
The little 13×25 foot room suddenly becomes a prison cell. You are required to stay there for about 10 hours straight, suffocating on the same air with people you have spent the last 96 hours with. This is too much for anyone, and at some point you are going to explode.
Then after you do explode at your parents—probably for no reason other than being asked not to take your regular two-hour shower—you have no where to go. The fighting match escalates from still not unpacking your suitcase to that time in fifth grade you had a slight attitude to your dad. It’s inevitable, these battles. If you have ever had more than one roommate, these explosions become somewhat expected. No one should be forced to share a room with more than one person, especially not the same people with whom you will be spending all day for the next seven days. And especially when you can’t storm out of your room in a dramatic exit, since your parents are not your annoying college roommates.
The only real solution to these situations is to try to combat the problem early. When you arrive home for the night, sit on the balcony with your laptop or a book until you have to go to sleep. The nights are often when you become so exhausted that you are easily triggered by anything that could possibly annoy you, so the best way to prevent it is to stay away.
Alone time is very rare on family vacations, and its absence is what usually causes those rifts.
Any chance you have to grab some time by yourself is the way to go.
Depending on what the trip is—whether you’re traveling to Hawaii or going sight-seeing in London or just driving to the beach near your home—you probably can catch some alone time during the day. Sure, a family trip is spent with family, but your parents would probably appreciate some time without you too (because, let’s face it, as annoying as you find them, you’re probably being twice as annoying). Disguise your desire for getting away for desire for your parents to have some alone time. They’ll appreciate the gesture, and you’ll both be excited for your plans together later in the day.
As frustrating as it is to share a room with your family, it always ends up being a good trip. You were able to get away from your college bubble, and you were able to spend time with them, which you haven’t been able to do for a long time. You won’t remember the fights over bathroom time in a week or so, just the trip itself.
That’s what’s different about your family and your roommates. If you scream at your roommates, you won’t speak to them for a week or so. If you scream at your parents, you both will forget about it in an hour.