Friday, December 2, 2011

Avoid fussing and get down to fun with blended family holiday management tips!

Blended family holiday management is essential well before the holidays arrive in order to set up clear expectations and avoid frustration with what should be special family time. Talking with ex-spouses and extended family about the details of each holiday event, including who the children are spending time with and whether or not to exchange gifts, is essential planning that will avoid hurt feelings and unexpected surprises. These blended family holiday management tips will help make these holidays memorable and peaceful for every family member.

Who goes where over holidays should be worked out in advance for blended family
Blended family holiday management requires sharing of children’s holiday time with ex-spouses. Get together with your ex-spouse and discuss the children’s schedule from now until January 3, and then make sure there are no changes to the plans unless there is an emergency. Working out a holiday schedule that exchanges the children on special holidays every year will help ensure that each spouse spends this special time with the children, and avoids hurt feelings. For example, one year mom will get the children at Thanksgiving, and the next year dad gets them. Make sure you reinforce to children how lucky they are to have a mom and dad and stepparents who love them very much, and then sit down with them and show them the calendar schedule. Make sure to talk to the kids about how they will get to their holiday location, whether on plane, train, car, etc. Blended family holiday management done positively, with expressions of happiness at the time your children will get to spend with extended family at mom’s house or dad’s house, will ease any fears or anxiety children have about splitting time between mom and dad.

Remember to manage extended family expectations at holiday time
Blended family holiday management does not restrict itself to immediate family members; extended family members should also know what you expect. Remind bio-relatives that you would like all children, stepkids and bio kids, treated fairly. Grandma can purchase smaller gifts, but she must remember that all the children should be treated the same. If relatives are uncooperative, then there are two options to consider. The first option is to tell them that you will not exchange gifts this year because they are unwilling to be fair. The second choice, and it is not my favorite, is to plan a separate celebration of bio relatives at another time, when stepkids are not home, and exchange gifts with bio-relatives. The second choice is not a personal preference because it allows bio-relatives to avoid the new stepfamily. If there is no cooperation, though, this may be the only way to avoid a battle and keep the family peace. Ask your kids to not discuss the gift exchange with step-siblings when they return, as it may hurt their feelings. Blended family holiday management is sometimes tricky when bio-relatives are difficult, but advance preparation can avoid uncomfortable surprises.

Break with holiday tradition and make new traditions with your blended family!
Blended family holiday management may mean breaking with tradition and celebrating Thanksgiving on a Saturday or Christmas on December 26.That is okay! Dates are just days of the week, they can be moved to accommodate schedules, and besides, the most important thing to your child is time with both mom and dad. The same can be said for holiday meals. Eating turkey twice in one day is not anyone’s idea of a good time, so why not serve appetizers and mini-desserts when the children return from Thanksgiving at your ex-spouse’s house? Plan a seafood buffet or pasta meal for Christmas instead of ham. Breaking with holiday traditions as a part of blended family holiday management means stepfamilies can begin their own traditions, form new bonds, and make new memories!

Blended family holiday management should begin now, before the holidays arrive and there is no time to negotiate schedules and prepare children. Sharing children’s holiday time with an ex-spouse does not have to be stressful if you agree to share time equally, exchanging holidays every year and arranging events well in advance. Breaking with holiday traditions and scheduling holiday events on different days then they fall on is fine! What is important to children is that they know they will see both mom and dad during this special time. Blended family holiday management is the smart way to avoid holiday upset.

The Blended and Step Family Resource Center was established to assist blended families with its counseling and coaching services, as well as other resources aimed at promoting strong and successful blended and stepfamilies. Get in touch with a licensed professional counselor today and let us help to provide you with answers.

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