Saturday, January 21, 2012

How to plan for spring break in your blended family

It is time to look past winter and start planning for your spring break with your blended family. This is the best time of all, as our younger kids and step kids are off from school, and our college kids come home for spring break. There is no better time for everyone to take a much needed break from their hectic schedules and enjoy being with their step family. Here are some great tips on how to enjoy your time with your blended family.

Be fair
If the kids and step kids in your step family do not have breaks at the same time, then you may not find a way for everyone to be together at once. That is okay, as long as each child is treated equally and fairly. For example, if you take the younger kids in your blended family on a hiking trip, then you have to make time to do the same with the older kids.

Maintain balance
If you are blessed and everyone in your step family has a similar schedule, then by all means take a trip together, but just keep a balance. There is no need to spend every second with one another. Plan a few couples activities for you and your spouse, some family activities, child and parent activities, and maybe a few that are all boys and all girls.

A great idea for a blended family getaway is a cruise, which can allow everyone enough space to roam around and choose the activities that interest him or her. You can spend breakfast together and plan out the rest of your day. Try to meet back up for each meal so no one feels like they are on their own separate vacations.

The children should have a copy of each parent’s schedule, including their step mom or step dad. Most days, the kids will gravitate to the areas with games, a swimming pool, or places for them to exercise. You too can have a great spring break, and return home with some wonderful blended family memories.

Make it short
Within the first five years of creating your blended family, you probably want to avoid any cross-country expeditions. A spring break is normally a week or more, but that is not to say you need to stay away from home for that long. Allow your kids and step kids some time relaxing at home before they have to head back to school. Being in close confines with the same people for a week at a time can lead to strained relationships, especially in a step or blended family.

Stay on budget
Prepare your vacation budget before leaving, and do not deviate from it. The love in your step family is not measured by how much money you spend. Saying NO occasionally qualifies as good parenting. Giving your children every little thing they want now will lead to adults who expect the same out of life. Make sure they know in advance which activities you can afford, and which will have to wait for the next blended family vacation.

For more ideas and advice on how to manage your blended family, The Blended and Step Family Resource Center has resources, including licensed professional counselors who can assist with coaching and counseling services. The book Blended Family Advice, authored by the center’s founder, Shirley Cress Dudley, provides a wealth of information and advice aimed at helping blended families develop and become strong.

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