Going home for Christmas from Uni can lead to an interesting couple of weeks.

Often a toxic mix of December exams and end of term parties will have left you exhausted and yearning for your bed at home and some home cooked food. For the first few days all is well. Talking to my friend Becky this morning, she says hers is a three-day threshold (mine personally is a two-day) wherein being home is the most relaxing and enjoyable time, mostly spent catching up on sleep and eating. But after the honeymoon, oftentimes home can become the last place you want to be, as you are faced with the struggles of fitting back into family life, your place in the sibling pecking order, and being ordered to do household chores (when you were definitely JUST ABOUT to get up and do it without needing to be told).

Christmas, with it’s maniacal hustle and bustle amplifies stress and limits patience.

Christmas, with it’s maniacal hustle and bustle, amplifies stress and limits patience, so it can be particularly tough time to readjust to being back at home after a term of chilling with your friends at Uni. I’m your ‘typical’ third child and still haven’t learnt that the easier I am to tease, the more fun my siblings will have. My sister, the eldest, can’t handle the fact that year on year her bossy dominion over her siblings is wavering evermore. My big brother, a secluded introvert when we were growing up, now tries to engage the family in far reaching, impassioned political discussions which are so far removed from the brother we knew growing up that his attempts to create space in the ranks for his new identity cause friction, despite our best efforts. My younger brother has always been the best of us and succeeds in maintaining his cool. However it’s the relationship with the parents which can be most tested at this time, squabbling sibling rivalries aside. The questions, so well-meaning and without a doubt well within the acceptable boundaries of a parent’s curiosity about your life away from home, feel like an affront. It’s hard to calmly respond to a grilling about exam grades, money, who your friends are, how much you’ve been drinking, “what have you done with your face - why did you stick that thing through it, it looks like a zit” (lip piercing). One year my mum snapped and said: “You know it’s not bloody easy us having you home either”. That was a real lightbulb moment for me. I’ve always been fairly independent from my family so it’s not that I expected my parents to remain defined by their role as parents for my whole life by any means, but still that was an enlightening moment. However frustrated, short-tempered and smothered you might feel, and however much you feel you have to bite your tongue, your parents might well be feeling exactly the same, even though they will be very happy to see you too. As much as you’ve adapted to and embraced your new life away from home, they will certainly have adapted (and maybe enjoyed) their new life without the kids at home - whether that idea makes you uneasy or not. So it’s probably best to just go easy on each other.