The holidays are joyous and… a little inconvenient if you are a stepparent. There are so many activities, parties and gatherings to attend and it’s hard to pack it all into your custody arrangement. Celebrating the Holidays with a Blended Family can be difficult to coordinate and many times, feelings get hurt.
However, there can be compromise, and everyone can learn to make the most of the time they have together.
The most important thing to remember is the kids. They are the most important and often the most overlooked in this tangled web. Unfortunately, kids are often used as pawns so parents can hurt or manipulate the other parent.
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If you are a parent or stepparent faced with splitting time with your kids this holiday season, take a note or two from these tips to make life easier for everyone.
Celebrating the Holidays with a Blended Family
Ask the Kids
Here’s a thought: What does the kid want to do?
If your child or stepchild is old enough to make these kind of decisions, I encourage you to give the power to the child. Allowing them to make big decisions makes them feel more in control.
Let them know that feelings will not be hurt, and the decision is completely up to them. Both parents should be on the same page with this idea to provide the proper encouragement. It will be a little scary for the kids at first, but I believe this builds great confidence for future decision making.
Working together is the best solution one could hope for, but it’s also one of the most challenging, especially if you are dealing with a high-conflict parent.
Here’s the thing: No one can have the kids the entire holiday season. It’s not fair to anyone, especially the kids!
For our situation, we switch one year on and one year off for both Christmas and Thanksgiving. When there is something more exciting happening at the other’s home, we allow him to make the decision on where to spend his time.
It’s important to acknowledge that each parent (and their respective families) want to see the kids, too. Go by The Golden Rule. Would you want to be excluded from spending the holidays with your kids?!
I’ve heard a lot of people say, “Christmas can be celebrated any day.” And that’s true! If one parent has the children on Christmas Eve, the other parent may have them for Christmas Day. That’s OK! Don’t get hung up on the actual date. You could really teach kids a lesson by showing them no matter the day, you can keep Christmas all year round.
You could even make it Christmas morning all over again with a special breakfast, stockings, movies and pajamas all day.
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Go to Important Events Together
No one wants to miss the school Christmas Concert or Pageant. Make arrangements on your schedule to be at each and every activity you can make. If you can help the other parent by gathering incidentals for the costumes, etcetera, do so. It’s hard to be hateful to a kind heart.
No, it’s not the most comfortable thing to be elbow-to-elbow with the ex, but do it for the kids. When kids see their parents coming together (even with other spouses), they feel supported and “seen” which is so important for their esteem levels.
Include the Extended Family
Remember that it’s not only you and the other set of parents that want to spend time with the kids. Grandparents and extended family play vital roles in children’s lives – divorced or not.
Include aunts, uncles and cousins whenever possible. So many family members are left out when custody arrangements are made between parents. Don’t do this to your step kids. Make it a point to involve the grandparents and extended family in the holiday festivities.
Embrace the Time You’re Away from the Kids
It’s harder than it sounds, but just because the kids are away doesn’t mean you can enjoy the holidays, too. Take this time to curl up with your spouse and watch a movie or go out to dinner. This is also a great time to take care of wrapping their gifts or going Christmas shopping for them.
Sharing step kids during the holidays can be rough, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Do you have any other tips that work for your family?