Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Your guide to the holidays with a blended family

Everyone has extra needs when the holiday season rolls around, but none more so than those who are part of a blended family. Set aside some time to talk to all the members of your immediate stepfamily. Laying out a plan for holiday events before they happen can save everyone in your blended family from stress and irritation. With Christmas coming up, we can use it as an example.

Work out a schedule with your ex that carries you up to January 3rd. Once you have that schedule hammered out, make it known that no changes will be allowed unless there is an emergency. Figure out who will get the kids each year, and try to alternate each holiday. If you had the kids for Thanksgiving this year and your ex has them for Christmas, then make note that next year, your ex should have them for Thanksgiving and they join you at Christmas.

The holidays are a crazy time for everyone, including the children, so make sure you don’t overbook yourself. Allow the kids some special time with mom or dad, or even step mom or step dad, if they like. You also want to leave some time slots open for some special time just for you and your spouse. Couple time is very important to your marriage, and even during the very busy times of the holidays, you still need to set aside time to be together, without the kids.

Make sure the kids are prepared
Talk with your kids about how they have two homes now and should feel blessed to have a dad, mom, step dad and a step mom who love them very much. You can make out a calendar just for them, so they know exactly how the holidays will work with your new step family. Make sure they have all the information they need, including when they will be going where, how they will get there and back, etc. Speak of your ex in a positive light to them, and let them know that you are happy they will be spending a holiday with their other parent.

Extended family
Your extended family may need some rules to be laid out, and this includes aunts, uncles and grandparents. Everyone should be treated fairly as far as gifts, and if that has to mean that everyone receives less, then so be it. All the children in the blended family, including all biological kids and step kids, should be treated equally.

Celebration times and meals
Thanksgiving is on a Thursday every year, but that doesn’t mean you have to celebrate it on that day. Make a different plan. For many people, celebrating Christmas on an alternate day with the non-custodial parent on the following weekend, or even the weekend prior, works. The kids will not care about the actual day; they just want to enjoy a celebration with their mom and dad.

Be different
So, everyone serves turkey for Thanksgiving, right? That may be true, but there is no law saying that you have to serve it. This is especially true if you are celebrating your turkey day on the following weekend. Kids are picky eaters, and they love variety. They will love something different if they just had a turkey dinner two or three days earlier.  Start creating your own traditions by making holidays a little different.  Following these guidelines will help make the holidays peaceful and joyous in your blended family.

If you want to know more about managing holiday events with your blended family, and make these special time memorable and worthwhile, check out articles and advice in The Blended and Step Family Resource Center website, or talk to a licensed professional counselor by calling today.

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