For my amazing daughter. Hearing you sing in the shower brings a smile to my face and happiness to my heart! Also, to two fabulous step-daughters. This quote is for the three of you!
Modern, blended families are not always easy to manage – if I told you it was always easy I would be lying!!
I’m always trying to think of ways to make sure we stay connected – connections for the kids, connections between step-parents and step-children, connections for the couple…
Making sure my step-children know I care about them is important to the success of our blended family. What are ways that I try to show this?
- ask about their activities (basketball, piano recital, Boy Scouts)
- make THEIR favorite foods when we are together (and make sure they know you know it is their favorite!)
- talking to only them; on their level, about what they care about in that moment
- special birthday celebrations – even if it is a month after their birthday if that is what is required by our crazy schedules together!
- sharing important moments – either in person, if possible or by social media, if necessary
Cherish your human connections- your relationships with friends and family —Barbara Bush
How do you keep connected with your step-children? Share your ideas!!
Guilt is a tough emotion with which to deal. I struggle with guilt a lot! Feeling guilty that I am not spending enough time with my children, feeling guilty that I’m not giving more of myself to work, to my Girl Scout troop, guilty that the house is a mess, guilty that I didn’t get just one more project (at home, at work, anywhere!) accomplished. Guilty that I’m not giving enough of myself to my wonderful husband and our blended family.
At some point, one has to decide what to do with this guilt… let it eat at you and stress you out or let it go!!
Recently I’ve been feeling an intense need to get away. To spend some time alone thinking about me; who I am, what I want to be. I’ve decided to go away to a retreat center for a weekend of yoga and meditation. Making this really selfish weekend a priority came with many guilty feelings! The decision to do it meant that I had to miss seeing Russell and his kids off for their winter break trip; disrupting our plan to see them the evening before they leave and not taking them to the airport for their flight. I felt guilty just breaking the news of my decision to spend a weekend alone instead of seeing him before his trip.
Enough already with the guilt! I cannot be my very best for our blended family unless I’m at my best. Realizing what YOU need and what will make you better is an important step. Realizing that you cannot give, and give, and give without burning out at some point is important. My guilt was my own creation, my own problem! Russell was very supportive of my decision; disappointed that we won’t get to spend an evening together (our evenings together are limited given our modern way of living in two states) but understanding. No guilt created from him – only from myself.
I’m working on accepting me — accepting that what I give is important, not always how much I give! So, enough with the guilt that I create for myself. I’m working to let it go and not create more! It doesn’t serve me or my modern, blended family well!
As our LuckySevenFamily kids have gotten older, spanning between 8 -14 years old, the things we can do with all of them together has changed. We experienced this during the past weekend when we decided to go to a movie (given we are experiencing frigid cold weather in New England this year we needed to find something indoors!). It used to be that all the kids were young enough we could see a “kids” movie and everyone would be satisfied. Well, no longer! Now, the older three kids (12-14 years old) aren’t into the type of subjects that the younger two girls can watch.
In this type of circumstance, we’ve learned that it pays to separate; each parent spending time with one set of kids gives us time to bond and also gives the kids some more individualized time with each of us as well.
Connections between modern, blended families can be difficult to maintain; step-siblings living together only part-time leads to potential for disconnect. How can their parents make sure that there are consistent connections for the children?
For LuckySevenFamily, one of our consistent connections is our dog, Shredder. Shredder is an adopted chocolate lab (or at least almost chocolate lab!). We got Shredder about 18 months into our relationship. The first bonding moment for all of the kids regarding Shredder was naming him. His “real” name is “Cocoa Shredder” because the kids couldn’t decide between a “chocolate” name and something more “cool”. So we agreed to both!
Shredder spends part of his time in Vermont and part in Massachusetts. If I’m traveling for work he typically stays in Vermont. If Russell has to be away, Shredder is in Massachusetts. When Shredder is in VT, my kids ask when he will be coming to our MA home and vice versa with Russell’s kids! When we are all together on the weekend, Shredder gets attention from all 5 kids!
Let me be clear that I don’t suggest a dog or any pet for all families – please, please be considerate of whether your family really has the time to devote to an animal – this is not a decision to take without significant consideration! However, if you can devote the love and attention that an animal requires, this is one way to add a bond between your blended family.
“When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap.”
— Cynthia Heimel