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College Family Weekend: One Mom’s Perspective

Are you getting ready to visit your son or daughter for college family weekend? Then you won’t want to miss reading this…One Mom’s Perspective of College Family Weekend!

If you are a parent of a college student you know how bittersweet it was to take your child to their new home away from home.

All the preparations for move in day were complete and that baby of yours is now out on their own.  

You were probably a mix of emotions…proud and excited for them but a little sad too.

Things at home wouldn’t be the same. 

After moving them into their dorm, you had to go home and adjust to life without them around every day. 

While trying to go about your day like normal, you may have checked your phone more often then you did before.

Waiting patiently (or maybe, impatiently) for a text or phone call from your kiddo.

Wondering what they’re doing between classes. 

Or even checking your tracking apps to be sure they are safe and sound in their dorm room at night.

Yup…totally guilty of that one!

I had to remove my son from the app by the end of September. LOL!

What to Expect at a College Parents or Family Weekend

mom and son in sunglasses arms over eachothers shoulders smiling at college family weekend

Then, before you know it the weekend you’ve been waiting for is finally here…College Family Weekend! 

Or Parents Weekend!

Whatever the college chooses to call it…it’s finally here!

family weekend brochure

Your travel plans and hotel reservations were made months ago. 

Homemade treats (chocolate chip cookies for our son) and other forgotten essentials are packed in the car. 

Younger siblings are super excited too and can’t wait to see their big brother. 

The entire family is ready to go!   

You can’t wait to be all together again. 

Christiano Party of 5!!

What Do College Students Want to Do for a Family Visit

2 boys hugging dad who is sitting from behind

Every university is different so be sure to check out the schedule of events and sign up for anything you’d like to participate in ahead of time.

Most school usually have activities and events throughout the weekend for families.

We arrived on Friday evening and met Jake at his dorm.

We had decided not to join in for any of the planned activities at his university. 

Our family was just excited to see him and spend some quality time together. 

The first night we took him out to dinner because you know…food!  

College boys can eat…well, he could eat even before college. 

But there’s nothing better for a broke student then heading out to a restaurant for a great meal that you don’t have to pay for.

After we had a fun time at dinner, Jake wanted to go back to his dorm so he could go out with friends for the evening. 

Say what!?!

I was sad, or maybe disappointment would be a better word.

But I tried to remember what I felt like when I was a college freshman and just smiled, gave him a quick hug good night and off he went.

Honestly, the rest of us were all a little tired, so we just went back to our hotel to get some sleep.

College Football Game Day during Parents Weekend

front view of william brice stadium

If your child’s school has a football team then there may be a home game during the weekend. 

Jake attends the University of South Carolina. 

Go Gamecocks! 

It’s funny how we weren’t big college football fans until now. 

My husband & I didn’t go to a large university with a division one football team. 

But now that our money son goes to U of SC we’ve become big fans!

We had bought tickets to the Saturday afternoon football game.

Our family tailgated before the game with Jake’s friends from high school who also go to South Carolina and their families. 

We didn’t get much of a chance to talk to Jake and catch up on his life during the day because we were with so many other people.

He was having fun with his friends and it was awesome to see him so happy. 

Really it was…but it was different…things had changed. 

Again…those bittersweet feelings crept in. 

Sure, I was really grateful and relieved that he was happy, but I was feeling a little bit melancholy at the same time.  

Change is good, right?! 

This is what we wanted for him…to be independent and settle into his new college life. 

I just wasn’t expecting to feel this way during the weekend that I had waited for since dropping him off.

family of five smiling under tent
Our 1st College Family Weekend

After the game, we stopped for a bite to eat and brought along two of his suitemates with us. 

Because remember…college boys + free meal!

After dinner we dropped all of them back at their dorm they could go out again with friends for the night. 

Ahh, the life of college students.

But as we pulled away from the building, that feeling of disappoint crept back in.

I didn’t want to feel this way. 

Maybe, I envisioned our family spending more time together. 

Or maybe, I thought it was going to feel like it did before he left for college. 

Although, he wasn’t home all that much during his senior year of high school between school, sports and work but he was home every night. 

So, why did I feel like this now? 

Well….because it was different and change is mostly good but sometimes it’s honestly just really hard.

william brice stadium at sunset during game

How to Spend Say Goodbye After a College Parent Visit

On Sunday Jake slept in…because…ya know…he’s a college kid now and he was out way past curfew. 

Oh, that’s right he’s a college kid now…he doesn’t have a curfew. 

The rest of our family was hungry so we decided to stop waiting around and go out to breakfast without him. 

Later, we picked Jake up and took him to the grocery store for some stuff for his dorm room. 

Because you know…food! 

He had homework to do that afternoon and we were all feeling a bit bummed that we had to leave soon…so we said our goodbyes.

Should You Go To Parent’s Weekend Every Year?

family of 5 with arms around eachother taking picture tailgaiting at college family weekend
Our 2nd College Family Weekend

Now that we are about to go to our fourth and final college family weekend in a couple of weeks, I have to be honest looking back at that first one through the eyes of a kind of experienced mom of a college kid, it really wasn’t so bad. 

Was I disappointed?

Well, yeah I was.

Were my expectations to high?

Well, maybe!

Now years later, I look back and I’m so grateful for all the memories we have of the times our family can all be together. 

If you’re headed to your first college family weekend this year, I hope that you take the time to just sit back and enjoy the moment.

Appreciate the time you have with your young adult rather than feeling disappointed it wasn’t exactly as you had imagined it would be. 

I tried to remember this the second year…and even the third year…because real life is what happens between the social media posts.

My husband likes to remind me that life isn’t a Hallmark movie.


family of four posing for picture in university of south carolina gear at college family weekend
Our 3rd College Family Weekend

As our children grow up it’s an adjustment for everyone. 

It may be just as hard for them as it is for us. 

They’re adjusting to their new independence, pressures of college classes, making new friends, and navigating their life. 

And maybe just maybe that first visit wasn’t everything they hoped it would be either.

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!

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