Thursday, February 2, 2012

How to plan your summer blended family visitation schedule

The days are getting longer, and spring is fast approaching. For your blended family, it's time to start planning your summer visitation schedule. To make summer visitations more enjoyable for everyone, here are pieces of useful advice to remember:

Be fair to everyone involved
Don’t force the kids into any decisions. They need to love and spend time with each parent. Visitation schedules should allow the children to spend as much time with the non-custodial parent as they desire.

Don’t make it a competition
Your kids and step kids will never turn down an expensive gift or vacation, but giving them these things isn’t a demonstration of love. The important part is that they desire to spend time with each parent and that feel like an important member of the step family. Check your local newspaper for inexpensive area events. Your children may have just as much (or more) fun during activities like this than they would at an expensive beach resort. It is all about true “quality” time.

Keep yourself organized
Only change your scheduled agreement in the event of an emergency. When a potential schedule change does arise, it’s important that your blended family respect any other family or step family that may be affected. Vacations and such will require planning, and hence can’t be decided at the last minute. You have gone through divorce and entered remarriage, and if your spouse has remarried as well, and their new spouse has children with their ex; well, you can see what I mean about affecting multiple families.

Make sure your children are prepared
This is especially important if your children haven’t visited their non-custodial parent much during the year. They are bound to have concerns and fears, and you should talk to them until they feel comfortable. Let them know that their other parent is extremely excited to be spending some time with them. If the child is a bit younger, send them with a favorite book or stuffed animal, for comfort purposes. Once they are there, maintain contact to see how they are doing, but don’t be overly intrusive.

Make sure they have the essentials
Be sure they have any necessary prescriptions with them, along with instructions for the other parent. You also want to make sure they try on any summer clothes you are sending with them; especially if it’s things they haven’t worn in awhile. Finding out their clothes no longer fit is something you want to discover before they leave!

Remain positive
Don’t make it hard on the kids. Tell them you will miss them, but let them know that you will be busy while they are away. Make sure they know that it’s alright to have fun with their other parent. These visit times are put in place for a reason; to make sure kids retain a healthy relationship with both parents even of they part of a 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. The book Blended Family Advice, written by the center’s founder Shirley Cress Dudley, is an extremely useful resource material guaranteed to help blended families improve their relationship in a blended family setting.

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