The winter season is a time for spending time with loved ones. It’s a great time to get together, catch up with distant relatives and enjoy the end of the year together with the most important people in your life. However, even the tightest families will occasionally get into small disagreements and arguments, especially when there’s a little alcohol involved.
This this is easier said than done, especially with large families. Dividing hours between parents can be a headache. Keeping life on track with a traditional family is hard enough, so how do you cope when step children are in the picture?
The Holidays are a happy occasion to spend with family.
However, for step families, the holidays can carry a lot of emotional weight. Whether kids are dealing with shifts in the houselhold or relocating entirely, there are a lot of variables that need to be considered. How can you evade any pitfalls an ensure that your family time is spent with cheer?
Make a plan for the holiday season as quickly as possible. If you plan on separating the amount of time you and your ex-partner are able to spend with the kids, then you’ll want to establish a schedule together so that you can agree on who takes the kids where and when it happens. Sit down with your ex-partner in person if possible, or invite a mutual friend to help mediate.
Figure out when you need to be taking holidays off work, when you’ll be spending time with the kids, when you’ll be meeting up with your ex-partner to see the kids off, and also what activities you’ll both individually be doing. This should also extend to the types of presents that you’re both buying for the kids. Overlapping and getting the same present is going to be a little awkward for your child, so make sure this isn’t left out in the plan.
Make a point to communicate with all family members and set expectations for the holidays. Everyone's opinions should be considered and treated as important. This lets everyone know what to expect and reinforces positive feelings of self-esteem and acknowlegement. Already this creates a great foundation for your vacation time spent together, and prevents chaos from erupting.
It's important to treat the kids as a priority and not to play favorites. Everyone should feel that their voice is heard and not neglected. Read this article for a focus on keeping your marriage strong over the holiday season.
It can be unique and important to set new family traditions during the holiday season. This not only keeps things interesting for your children, but it can add a bit more sparkle and magic to Christmas if your kids get to experience two different kinds of celebrations. One household could offer a traditional Turkey dinner, while another household could do something unique such as fried chicken or dumplings instead. This can also extend to activities. Your partner could be in charge of movie night when they have kids, and you could be responsible for board games and story books.
Coordinating with your ex-partner isn’t always necessary, but shaking things up and giving your kids the joy of two unique Christmas celebrations can help ensure they have a magical holiday season!
Each family's annual traditions come with their own flare and activites. It's essential to keep in mind that no one can be in two places at once, including your children. Parents of a given child might split Christmas Day, or the whole week, depending on the circumstances .
It's important to do what feels natural in your role as a parent (or step-parent) while also encouraging members of your household to try new things. Be optimistic and take action! One of the best parts about being in a blended family is the chance to create new traditions.
Unfortunately, things can change even if they’ve been planned thoroughly. This could happen due to emergencies at work or even a child getting sick.
It's best to pay attention to your spouse and kids keep a positive dynamic going. Even if things deviate from what you imagined, put on a brave face and go with the rhythm of things.
While it's important to communicate a plan and have an agenda, it is equally important to be flexible. As human beings, countless variables are in play when we interact with each other. In a step-family there's no guarantee of smooth sailing - be prepared to stray from the plan and stay present. Even when there is turbulence and things stray from being ideal, it's important to stay positive and embrace the moment.
If you find yourself in a position where this seems unlikely or even impossible, a wise measure would be therapy for your step family, in order to get to a place where happiness seems possible again.
It's always surprising how powerful a shift in mindset can be. Letting go of anxiety and enjoying the moment, even amidst chaos, can be rewarding. It's all too often easy to forget how lucky we are. What have you been thankful for recently?
When you start listing off what those elements in your life are, it becomes natural to embrace the moment and have a positive outlook. Being present & positive will also have the effect of enhancing your relationships. When you let go of inner turmoil and embrace the life you have, it becomes contagious. Finally, teaching your children and step children this outlook will make them more content and thus more manageable.
It is truly impossible to put yourself in someone's shoes. However, endless benefit can be gained from trying! Whether it is your spouse, children, step-children, or in-laws, remember that everyone is coming from a different place.
Try to find the upside in every situation and don't take mundane mishaps personally. To practice empathy is to take a high road on many levels, and is never the wrong choice to make.
It's no easy task to tame all the elements that go in to establishing a successful blended family. When dealing with something so delicate, it's important to not immediately dismiss the idea of professional help. There are counselors and psychologists who spend decades learning how to provide the best care to blended families such as yours.
If things are particularly difficult in your household or if you’re having trouble staying positive, don’t be afraid to consider counseling. Don’t dismiss it as a waste of time, instead take it as a serious consideration before the holiday starts. A quick trip to a local family counseling service such as REID Counseling Group could be the deciding factor between a magical holiday vacation with your blended family and a disaster waiting to happen.
Dan Johnson at REID Counseling has been working with individuals in the Katy, Texas area for over 30 years. He even specializes in marriage counseling and step family dynamics. For anyone in the Katy area who wants to ensure both their marriage and household stay rock solid, scheduling a session with Dan is like clicking in the final piece of a puzzle.