Holidays are a special time for families. They are extra special for blended families. During the holidays, these non-traditional families who are united by marriage and bonded through mutual experience, join in fellowship and celebration.
I grew up in a blended family. Now I have one of my own. I have learned from experience, the bigger the family, the more people to love and the more effort required to bring loved ones together. This is especially true around the holidays when successful coordination is likely to involve two, three, or more households.
In blended families like ours, where children live out of state, time is precious and every second counts. For this reason, we do our best to Maximize the Moment. If you are a blended family, here are ways to make the most of your holiday time.
Communicate with your spouse. Your relationship with your spouse is an essential part of the family unit. It’s important for you to communicate effectively with him or her to ensure that you are on the same page with holiday plans.
Set plans and stick to them. Naturally, blended families have a lot of moving parts. Planning across households can be a challenge. It is best to set dates of visits, travel, and other arrangements in advance to be considerate of schedules; and to hold to plans (especially if they have been shared with children).
Maintain positive relationships with ex-partners, ex-spouses, and other primary caregivers. It’s easier to work with someone you genuinely like and get along with. In reality, that is not always the case. But, no matter what the dynamics, the children should always be the priority. Negative feelings among caregivers should not get in the way of their happiness.
Consistency matters. Whether your non-custodial child(ren) visits every weekend or only on holidays, be consistent in your behavior. Being part of a blended family provides a unique opportunity to develop family rituals. Resist the temptation to deviate from established traditions for the sake of convenience.
Last but not least, be flexible! The key to success during the holidays (and throughout the year) is to remain open to change. Unexpected things will happen regardless of how much planning you do. Blended families are hard work (cue Alicia Keys’ Blended Family What You Do For Love), but it’s SO worth it!