stressful summer home life

3 Tips for Enjoying Summer When Your Home Life Is Less Than Ideal

Summer break can still be enjoyable, even if your family's not.

The end of the school year is a time to rejoice for a lot of students. There is a break from the workload, the stress and the expectations for classes.

For some students, however, living at home can be more stressful for a variety of reasons. It could be having to share a car with a sibling, conflict with parents over their identity or simply the lack of privacy and freedom that comes with living at school. Or it could be something else entirely.

Whatever the situation is, here are three tips for how to feel more comfortable at home so your summer can be more enjoyable.

If You’re Stuck at Home

If you find yourself stuck at home for a good portion of the summer, it is easy to forget to make a routine. It is important that you have something to wake up for each day, or your boredom could manifest into a stressful situation or loneliness. This could be something as simple as making sure you eat by a certain time each day, or it could be setting a goal of reading 10 books over the course of your break.

Once you have something that will get you out of bed, you’ll need to find things to do that will continue to fill your time. Otherwise, you might get sucked into a social media vortex, or you might binge-watch Netflix all day. (To be clear, binge watching in-and-of-itself isn’t bad, but it can be a problem when it becomes your daily activity for four months straight.) Instead, try to find activities you can enjoy outside. You can go on walks, sunbathe, plant a small garden and tend to it, jump rope or anything else that is feasible within your own backyard.

Though spending time outdoors each day is important, it’s still okay to spend most of your day inside. If shade and air conditioning are more your vibe, try some new recipes, clean out those drawers that you’ve been using as a dumping ground, try some new makeup looks or simply get cracking on those books you told yourself you would read once the semester ended.

2. If Your Relationship with Your Family Is Tense

The first few years of adulthood can be a difficult time to navigate for parents and their kids, and a child leaving the house for college can hit hard. Whether this scenario or others create conflict, returning to a house that holds tension is never easy; it can start to feel like you’re surviving rather than living. This situation is stressful for everyone involved, so the best way to handle the tension is to try and dissolve some of it.

If the conflict can be resolved or bettered by having a sit-down with your family, do it. Difficult conversations might need to be had in order for you to feel more comfortable at home. These conversations are awkward, and they probably won’t fix everything, but if both parties can contribute their side of the story and put their feelings out in the open, it will hopefully foster an understanding, creating more ease around the house.

Though talking can help many situations, there are some where you may never see eye to eye with your family — and that’s okay. Part of becoming an adult is figuring out where you stand on issues and what you believe without the influence of others.

If you’re in a situation where you and your family are still in direct conflict, even after trying to work through an issue, the best thing to do is to is separate the situation from your everyday relationship with them. Find and focus on the parts of your relationship that remain strong and unblemished. Try to set up a system where you ask each other if it’s okay to express your concerns or opinions on matters where you conflict so that both parties have a chance to decline if necessary.

3. If You’re Lacking Privacy

Coming home from school probably means losing the privacy and freedom of not having to tell anyone where you’re going, when you’re coming back or why you’re going in the first place. To regain some of that independence, make sure you have some sort of space that is truly yours, whether it is your room, your car or a coffee shop you visit regularly.

You need to have a space that feels safe and separate from anything negative going on in your life. Without a space for yourself, you might start to feel trapped; summer break can become increasingly stressful, and you can have a lot of conflict that would otherwise be avoided if you have space to breathe.

In addition to a safe space, getting out of the house will also help you feel like you have more freedom and control. Find a summer job, visit your college friends, get a gym membership or pick up some volunteer hours nearby. Food banks and animal shelters are almost always looking for more hands, but there are dozens of opportunities elsewhere too. Getting a gym membership can also be beneficial, but if the gym isn’t your speed, try looking for kickboxing, pure barre, yoga classes or try going for a run or a hike as regularly as you can. Exercise has proven to be a great source of stress relief.

Hopefully these tips help you navigate living at home over break; if not, keep searching for ways to handle these stressful situations instead of just trying to survive. You deserve to feel safe and comfortable in your home and your relationships, and you also deserve to enjoy your break just as much as the next college student. Above all, summer is a time for you to actually take a break. Remember to breathe, and that four months isn’t forever.

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