(Yep, that’s my family)
It’s been too long since I’ve shared some step-parenting thoughts, but with the holidays upon us, I thought it would be a good time to do so this week.
If you are a step-parent, you know that the holidays can be anything but easy when it comes to parenting and kids’ schedules.
Some households take turns with the kids, so one year Dad gets the kids for Christmas Eve and Mom gets them on Christmas Day. Some have specific traditions on either side of the parenting equation that require consistency. Maybe every year Christmas morning is at Mom’s house, but Thanksgiving is with Dad.
Every situation is different but there is one thing that true throughout, it can be difficult for everyone involved.
Kids usually love Christmas, and who can blame them, new stuff and junk food tend to dominate. They not only get to celebrate a great holiday at one home, but with step-families, they get to double up! And sometimes, depending on the family, they might get to triple up!
Sadly, this can sometimes turn children into super brats. In our home there was a Christmas where one of our boys asked for something that was outside of our price range, when we gently got the message across that a gift like that was unlikely, he just said he would ask his Dad for it instead.
It doesn’t feel great to be on the receiving end of that statement. As a parent, you want to give the kids the things they want (within reason), while at the same time not make them into consumeristic nutcases.
We have had some Christmas Eve celebrations with my step-sons, and some when they were with their Dad, it’s a difficult change that is tough to get used to and even tougher to explain to our third son, who is always part of the equation. Not to mention the added planning, driving, and effort required to make sure each parent gets the kids for the time that has been agreed on, it’s just another element that you probably don’t consider when you dive into a blended family.
And finally, as step-parents, we already struggle with the difficulty that comes with rebuilding the sandcastle. I talked about that at length in this post but it’s worth revisiting because the amount of rebuilding that can be required during the holidays might require even more effort than you are used to.
So before you start to plan everything this year, take some time to remember that all of these things are what you signed up for, all of these things are things you have done before (probably) and that you will all get through them. The stress level in your home will likely be higher, but the more you can anticipate that, the better chance you have of handling it.
And don’t forget that this isn’t the easiest thing for your kids either, as I mentioned, they probably love Christmas, but being shuffled around can be taxing. Take some time to sit down with your kids in advance of the holidays and address any concerns they might have as well. After all, we all want our children to look back on the holidays growing up with good memories, not stressful ones, and it starts with us, the parents.
How do the holidays work in your blended family?