Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Planning ahead for holiday travel means less stress and more fun for the blended family!

Blended family holiday planning makes good sense. Think about it. If you are in a remarriage and your spouse is in a remarriage, and all of you have children, you are attempting to organize five different families! In stepfamilies, it is best to start this process early, well in advance of the holiday, or confusion and hurt feelings may take the place of opportunities for family bonding. In a blended family, working out details of where children will stay, how they will arrive, and when they will return to the custodial parent helps more than just the parents. Children crave stability, and when they know where they are staying and how they are getting there, it makes them feel more secure and comfortable with the blended family situation. Blended family holiday planning takes a little advance work, but the payoff is huge!

Advanced blended family holiday planning saves money and tension
Blended family holiday planning is best done early for a lot of reasons, and hopefully has been worked out as part of the custody agreement. If it has not been discussed yet, now is the time to do it before the holidays arrive and you are working it out a few days before the event. Stepfamilies often work out agreements that allow one parent to have children on even numbered years, and the other parent to have them on odd-numbered years. For instance, one parent can have the children on Christmas Eve and then they can return to the other parent on Christmas day, or later in the evening, or even the next day. What is important to children is that they get to see both mom and dad! Holiday travel is stressful and expensive, but when planned in advance it can save you money and anxiety. How are the children getting to the other parent’s house, by plane or train or car? Early reservations are less expensive, and they allow parents to make arrangements for unaccompanied children. Both Amtrak and the airlines provide an adult escort to see children through connections but you have to tell the transportation provider that children are traveling alone or you could have an uncomfortable situation on your hands at the gate. Blended family holiday planning means no surprises for you, your spouse, and most importantly, no surprises for the children!

Organize for smooth blended family travel!
Blended family holiday planning should always include lists and labels to help you stay organized. Posting a calendar for children marked with visitation dates and holiday plans will help ease transitions and keep them updated on schedules. There is no need for them to wonder when the next visit to Mom or Dad is coming up when they can look at the calendar and see the schedule well in advance. Advance planning also allows parents to avoid last minute schedule changes and thereby avoiding unnecessary conflicts. Color coordinating calendars by children is helpful in a stepfamily with more than one child in the house. If you have ever had a 16 year old come home with size 3 Batman underwear, then you already know the benefit of labeling clothing! When blended families have more than one child it is helpful to know who owns what or else you could be mailing back packages to the ex-spouse. A list of what your child is sent with, packed into the luggage helps parents know what should be packed for home. Children outgrow clothing faster than you buy it sometimes, so it is a good idea to make sure clothing still fits before labeling and packing. If packing for a week, let your ex-spouse know it may not be necessary to do laundry during their visitation. Blended family holiday planning means less headaches for parents and stepparents during busy holiday events!

Last minute checks before departure is an ounce of prevention!
Blended family holiday planning should include a luggage check before packing. Nothing is worse than losing valuables while traveling, and if luggage has holes it could happen to your child! Purchasing luggage can be costly, but checking the papers for luggage sales or looking at garage sales can help you buy new luggage for your child for much less money. Luggage tags marked with your child’s name and address are essential and will help the noncustodial parent and child identify luggage at the airport or on the train. Have medicine in appropriate containers, and make sure to write down the dosage schedule for your ex-spouse. Blended family holiday planning is well worth the effort, but could fall apart without these last minute checks!

Blended family holiday planning not only makes you and your spouse more comfortable, it offers children continuity and stability. Stepfamily organization is a preventative measure that involves open discussion well in advance of the event. Early holiday planning will help the blended family save money on travel, and allows parents to make arrangements for unescorted children with the airlines or Amtrak. Be sure you do not send your child off with clothes two sizes too small, and make sure to label their clothing for easy packing when it is time to come home. Remarriage can involve up to five families in holiday plans, so keep a calendar to help your children know where they are going and when! Last minute checks will avoid lost valuables and keep medication organized. Blended family holiday planning is an ounce of prevention that goes a long way toward smoothing the path to a happy holiday!

For more articles and advice on how to make the most out of your blended family holidays, get in touch with The Blended and Step Family Resource Center today. Professional counselors are ready to assist with coaching and counseling to help blended and step families become strong and successful.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, great article, I really appreciate your thought process and having it explained properly, thank you!
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