Stepfamilies often experience unique challenges during the Christmas period, such as blending new family members and in-laws into the mix.
Stepfamilies often experience unique challenges during the Christmas period, such as blending new family members and in-laws into the mix. It can be hard to take the high road when dealing with expectations, commitments, time constraints and mixed emotions.
First and foremost, expect storms -- it can take years for the "norm" to take hold. Let's face it, it's a challenge for stepfamilies to create new traditions and memories.
For new stepfamilies, Christmas time can be an emotional, stressful and chaotic time of year -- especially if they don't have new traditions and support systems in place.
Introducing new family members to each other for the first time can also be stressful.
If you are part of a newly blended family immediate or otherwise, here are some helpful tips for having an enjoyable and less stressful Christmas.
Adopt a positive mindset and expect storms
Remember that spending time with your kids doing enjoyable activities is the best part of this busy time, but prepare for ups and downs.
Don’t put yourself under unnecessary pressure. Your little ones or partner won't care if you have store-bought cake for dessert. Sleeping in will give you the stamina needed for the rest of the day, rather being sleep-deprived. Don't overdo it, and live within your abilities and financial means.
Always plan ahead
Have a secure schedule in place for your children, especially if they are young. However, being flexible will model cooperation to your children and stepchildren.
Keep your emotions in check
When dealing with dashed expectations, changes in schedules and feelings of disappointment or frustration try to stay calm and matter-of-fact.
Don't express anger toward your ex in front of your children
Be business-like and civil with your ex and/or their relatives -- this will set a positive tone for the years to come.
Validate your children's and stepchildren's feelings
Let them know that it's okay to feel sad or disappointed, and you are there for them. Don't make them feel guilty about their time away from you -- they don't need to know you feel lonely without them.
Start new traditions that will create positive memories for you and your family
Try everything! See what works! Movie night, Hot chocolate while going around looking at the lights, cook a special meal altogether. Hold onto traditions and activities from the past that worked for you and your kids.
Most people understand the importance of being kind and nurturing to others. However, treating yourself with the same kindness and compassion as you would a friend will help you to bounce back from setbacks or mistakes you make.
Christmas time doesn't have to be a time of stress overload for stepfamilies. Make sure to follow routines and take short breaks to reduce stress. Remember to find time to relax and take on a positive attitude. Creating new family memories isn't easy, but it's worth the effort.
Laura Doyle, Mum of 4. Kyle 9, Noa Belle 4, Briar 2 and Milla 12 months. Breastfeeder, co-sleeper, coffee drinker. Staying positive and inspired by the chaos of it all. Writer and blogger at www.lovelifeandlittleones.com.