Guiding the Sleigh for Blended Families

The holiday season is in full gear and staying present can be a challenge. For most families, this time of year typically means extra time with family and friends, extra sugar intake, extra money spent, and extra items on the to do list… the result? Extra stress. This is especially true for blended families – specifically the children who are sharing time between two households. Here are some tips for guiding the sleigh during this holiday season:
  1. Make sure your children know what to expect. Take time to have the conversation of when they will be with each family and create an environment where your children can express all of their emotions. It can be helpful to teach children how to identify different parts of their emotional experienceFor example, “Part of me is excited to have two Christmas trees and open gifts two times. The other part of me is sad that we can’t all be together like we used to be.”
  2. Keep an open dialogue. Family traditions often don’t stay the same when families divorce, separate, and or bring in new step siblings and parents. This can create confusion and even feelings of grief for what no longer exists, parents and children alike. It can be helpful to have an open conversation about your child’s favorite holiday traditions so you know what is most meaningful to them. Communication is key. Consider creating a three-part solution. Do an old tradition, do something new, and do something borrowed. Or in other words, keep some tradition that your children find meaningful, create a new tradition together to honor the change, and do something ‘borrowed’ or a tradition meaningful to new members of the step family.
  3. Work to find a time to get present, whatever this means for you. Some of us like to meditate, maybe you choose sometime of mindful fitness like walking, yoga, or Tai-Chi. It could be a hot shower focusing on the water hitting your skin, cooking, or crafting. Be intentional about what you are doing and why. Give yourself permission to let all the to-do’s out of your mind even if it’s just for a few moments.
“The best way to care for the future is to care for the present moment.” -Thich Nhat Hanh