What to Do With the Sloth Inhabiting Your Home

Elementary and secondary students have returned to classes, but what do you do with the college students who have a five or six week long break?

It’s prickly, tends to roll into a tight ball when agitated, sleeps all day, runs around all night, and is living in my house. Yes, my son is home from college. 

It’s been a couple of weeks now and his schedule consists of rising somewhere between 1 and 3 p.m., working out, eating, going out with friends, and slinking back in sometime before sunrise. Every day at about 2:30 p.m. for the past week I have said, “Please put on pants, my first student will be here soon.” There are 19 days left until he goes back to school.

Most college winter breaks last about five or six weeks, which is too long to be lying around the house like a lox but too short to get a job. I was trying to remember back when I was in school if the break was this long and, since I have no memory I couldn’t, so I looked it up. I found out that winter break wasn’t always this long. Back in the ‘70s, when many colleges were having financial problems, they found if classes began in late August and had a longer winter break they could reduce spending and save on heating costs. Good for the school but not so good for the students.

In an effort to utilize the weeks between semesters, most schools offer one-credit winter intercession classes. This sounds like a great idea but there is one small problem; all campus housing is closed. I asked my son about it and he said he didn’t know of anyone doing intercession classes at his school or among his friends at home. I know it’s a little late and I truly wish that I and/or my son had planned ahead, but there are some alternatives to having your kid turn into a sloth during winter break:

  • Seasonal Jobs (for next year) – There are some out there with retailers (I used to work at a sporting goods store over winter break), restaurants (one of my students was parking cars during holiday parties), babysitting, and shoveling snow (if the weather cooperates), to name a few.
  • Volunteer Work – Aside from the many volunteer opportunities at home, there are tons of “volunteer vacations” where students can go abroad and do some good. I googled “Winter Break Volunteer Opportunities” and got pages of information.
  • Look for a Summer Job – This is prime time to begin looking for a summer job. 

As for my own kid, when he isn’t foraging for food in his boxers, he is doing some administrative work for me, filling out summer camp applications, and trying (in vain) to motivate his brother to weight lift with him. Today he honed his life skills by having me teach him how to make tuna fish, and he even allows me to take him out for lunch once or twice a week to fill me in on his life (see first paragraph).

So, it hasn’t been a complete waste of time, but you can bet next year will be a whole different story.  

Sue Schaefer is a student advocate, academic coach, and certified teacher. We encourage you to visit her website: Academic Coaching Associates. You may email Sue at susan.schaefer@academiccoachingct.com.

You can also follow Sue on twitter: @sueschaefer1

About this column: West Hartford's Susan Schaefer, director and founder of Academic Coaching Associates, answers your questions about education.

Sandy Erasmus January 10, 2012 at 11:38 AM
Can't wait until you cover your husband's doings. That's kept comedienne's going for years.
helen January 13, 2012 at 08:49 PM
K Joseph January 14, 2012 at 09:42 PM
I enjoyed and absolutely identfied with your piece. I do love my son as well...although I don't love everything he does :-). Thanks for sharing - glad I'm not alone.
Heidi Zaksewicz January 28, 2012 at 05:32 PM
I'm suprised by all the negative comments. A person can love their child unconditionally, enjoy spending time with them yet still find humor in the stage that is "sloth". Thanks for making me smile Susan!
Susan Schaefer January 28, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Thanks Heidi, my son actually left to go back to school this morning and I was feeling a bit down (which may surprise some readers!). You made me smile as well:-) Sue


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »