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Blended Families, Split Traditions (Holiday Help for the Divorced)

I'm divorced, remarried, and have three children from my previous marriage. My current husband does not have his own children but all of my kids (ages 8, 11 and 15) live with us here in Ohio. Each year my angels leave, and go south, for both Thanksgiving and Easter, every other Christmas, and for six weeks in the summer.

If you think about all of the preparations during these busy seasons, you can imagine what my life is like splitting it up and driving across a few states to our 'midway meeting spot' and back again- (sometimes twice in a week).

More than once we've had to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas early, Easter late, skip my birthday and made other adjustments during the year like missing time out of school per our custody agreement. There's been plenty of instances we have given up visits with friends to snuggle down for our last weekend together before the kids go away for the holidays... and we are preparing to do it again.

If you are part of a blended family, you understand my struggles completely. Although, you might have the added stress of your spouses children's schedule and several relatives who live nearby who want to be with the kids too before they go away too.

I've been divorced from my children's father for over six years and I've learned a few things which might help you if you are part of a blended family:

  • Get holiday photos done at the end of October or the very first week of November-Do go for perfect, just be happy you were all there and hopefully facing the camera.

  • Get holiday cards ready to mail early-I like to have my kids pictures inserted and let them sign the card (Do them early if you want to get them out in time- Have them ready before Thanksgiving).

  • Plan holiday dinners/get togethers before the kids leave that way they don't feel like they are leaving and missing something (they get to celebrate before they leave). If Santa visits your house, you will basically have a small gift exchange and then when kids arrive back after the holiday their gifts are waiting for them. (Trust me, the Easter Bunny and Santa have strictly scheduled hours and it brings about too many questions if you try to adjust this system, if you know what I mean.)

  • Don't stress it. (What is it? ANYTHING.) If you forgot to do something while they were here, do it when they get back or forget about it. They will survive this year if you didn't get a chance to make sugar cookies or sit on Santa's lap. Honestly, we (the parent) suffer more than they do. We can get too attached to the moment, the special day and have such an expectation (a picture of perfect) in our minds which we must learn to LET GO OF.

  • Focus on what matters most and what matters to your child; that you're happy when they are with you, you are happy they are spending time with their parent and that you support them doing so, and you will be there when they return.

Being divorced (or separated) from our child's other parent is stressful and emotional enough for kids. Don't make it worse by focusing on what you and the kids didn't do when they were here. Just stay aware of what is most important to them, 'right here, right now, and the right love'.

Being a part of a blended family takes patience, planning and a positive attitude.

What helps you handle the extra chaos and planning necessary for your blended family?

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