Now that school is back in session, your kids are back on a regular routine. There is no longer a need to worry about that winter schedule of visitation and those extended stays with the other parent. You can relax and enjoy your blended family, as you settle into your regular routine. Wrong!
There is no time to relax; you have to get your plans together for the upcoming holidays. We have all had it happen, especially in a step family. You sit down as Easter is approaching and realize that you have no clue what is going on. Who is staying where? Are your step kids coming for spring break? Not planning ahead leads to a disaster.
Working out the schedules
Planning a calendar will make everything easier on all members of your blended family. If remarriage has occurred for both you and your ex, then your schedule may very well impact multiple families. Your children also should know well ahead of time where they will be during which times. This will allow them to maintain a sense of stability.
Hopefully, your visitation schedule for the holidays was worked out in your divorce agreement. However, if it wasn’t, then a typical arrangement would call for one parent to have the children on the holidays during even numbered years and the other parent during odd numbered years.
Depending on how far away your ex lives, make sure you have transportation plans in place. Will they need to travel by plane, train or car? Many airlines, as well as Amtrak, offer special accommodations for unaccompanied children, as long as they know in advance. Make sure you communicate your plans with your ex-spouse before finalizing anything.
Getting your children ready
It makes sense to set your kids up with their own visitation calendar. A centrally located calendar with each child color-coded is recommended as well. Allowing a child to know what is going on ahead of time gives them a feeling of control and stability.
If your children will be visiting a home where there is a blended family with kids or step kids who are their size and gender, it is a good idea to mark their clothing with their name or initials. It is also a good idea to make a list of exactly what you are sending them with, so they can check it off as they repack their clothing to come home. You also want to make sure they are taking clothing that actually still fits.
Vitamins and medicines
You may need specialized containers to transport prescription medication or vitamins, so check that out beforehand. Furthermore, make sure to send instructions to the other parent on how and when to administer the medicine.
If you start planning far in advance, you can be sure that the holidays go off without a hitch for everyone in your blended family. For more ideas and information on how to better manage your blended family, The Blended and Step Family Resource Center is ready to provide useful resources including coaching and counseling services aimed at helping blended families work.