Forget the most wonderful time of the year; in a blended family, the holiday season can be the most challenging time of the year! Whatever holiday you celebrate, if you have to negotiate shared custody these events can be full of emotion. There are some commonly faced issues, and we’ve got tips on how to navigate them.
Blended Family Holiday Tips:
- Which parent are the kids spending the holiday with?
If you share custody with your ex-partner, you’ll want to have this conversation early! Open with your suggestion, but make it clear you understand that your ex also wants to spend time with the children. Some families opt for alternating who gets the kids each year; this is probably the most practical solution if you don’t live close to each other. If you do live in the same area, you may be able to split their time over the day/s.
- You can’t please everyone, so don’t try
It can be tricky to organize holiday logistics at the best of times, but with a blended family, you may have twice as many stakeholders! Your parents may put pressure on you to bring the kids to family celebrations, even though it’s your ex’s turn to have them. Maybe you have bio kids and stepkids and they have to separate for the holidays even though they’d rather be together. If you try to please everyone, you’ll likely spend your time caught up in logistics (and still everyone won’t be happy). Prioritize what you need to, and try to ignore everything else.
- Don’t communicate through your children
Telling your ex your plans for Christmas day might be the last thing you want to do, but relying on or forcing your kids to pass information to your ex isn’t fair on them. Keep it as brief as you need to, but make sure you and your ex communicate directly about any logistics.
- Acknowledge the stress of blended family holiday celebrations
Your kids might be more anxious than they’re letting on, so it’s important to let them know you understand that holiday time can be stressful. They might be worried about missing the parent they’re not spending time with or stressed about having to move around to different houses and families during holiday celebrations. Letting them know that it’s ok to feel stressed and that they can talk to you will help.
- Respect everyone’s traditions
Not everyone celebrates in the same way; perhaps you and your kids had a certain holiday routine, but your partner and their kids did things differently. Try to incorporate both traditions, or have a family chat to talk about how you can merge your traditions.
- Compare notes on gifts
For holidays like Christmas where gift-giving is involved, it’s a good idea for you and your ex to go over your kids’ wishlists together. This way you can make sure you’re not doubling up and can discuss spending limits if necessary.
- Remember why you celebrate
It can be easy to get caught up in trying to make things perfect, trying to make sure everyone is happy, and the sheer logistics of it all. Christmas, Hannukah, Thanksgiving, Deepavali, Hari Raya… these holidays are harder to navigate as a blended family. But focus on why you celebrate, and what you want to pass on to your kids. Help your kids celebrate, even if it’s over FaceTime because it’s not your turn to have them.
Your blended family holiday season might be challenging, but there will be moments of joy in amongst the chaos. Don’t let the petty disagreements and tricky logistics weigh you down, find the happiness and lean into it!
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