Ask Deanie: Setting Your Watch on Hawaii Time

ask-deanie-sm.jpg“Hawaii time” is a phenomenon experienced by parents when their students come home from college for holiday breaks. Parents find themselves getting ready for bed at the same time their student is preparing to go out for the evening.

On “Hawaii time,” parents awaken at the normal time, straighten the house and go to the office long before their students even wake up (usually around noon). Students prefer to participate in family activities later in the day, about the time parents are returning home and beginning to wind down. Your dinner may be their lunch. Students may expect to be fed at all hours of the day or night; i.e., whenever they get hungry, and don’t be surprised if they make plans to see friends without ever thinking to consult those at home first.


Amid the crazy new schedule many college students adopt, find time to go to a movie with them; go out to dinner, or lunch or breakfast (O.K., try brunch!) and just talk; and try to fix every one of their favorite foods sometime while they are home.

Encourage your son or daughter to invite both their old high school friends and their new SMU friends over to the house for a movie or just to catch up – chips and dips, warm cookies and a free meal still go a long way. Pizza, popcorn and a new DVD work well late at night.

Chances are your student has grown up some since they were last at home. High school curfews may be too early now that they’re in college, but it is O.K. to set boundaries. You are not running a hotel – remind your son or daughter that your house is a “home” and others are living there. They will still want to play with the dog and tease the cat, play their music too loud and talk on the telephone too long.

Do a wellness check – how does your student look, how do they seem? Watch for warning signs of depression, alcohol or drug use and abuse, bulimia, etc. Don’t get your feelings hurt if they seem to miss their SMU friends and the life they have established here on the Hilltop – it’s a good sign.

“Hawaii time” will pass – you should be back on your regular sleep schedule by mid-January! Oh, and you might want to buy a can of pineapple juice at the store; at least it will remind you that when your clock reads 3 A.M., depending on your time zone, it’s really two, three, four or five hours earlier in Hawaii …

Have a safe and joyous holiday!

Question for Deanie? Ask Deanie at gkepler@smu.edu or 214-768-4797.

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