Lucky Seven Family

Category Archives: Tuesday Tips

Traveling with Teens and Tweens

Five energetic and opinionated kids, two highly motivated parents, seven suitcases stuffed full with two weeks worth of clothes and shoes and backpacks for all on a two week trip to France and Italy.  This summer, Lucky Seven Family spent the longest consecutive time together in all of our seven years!! We traveled on planes, trains and in automobiles to Paris, Nice, Tuscany and Rome.  And… it was AMAZING!!

What are Lucky Seven Family’s travel tips for making a blended family vacation with five teens and tweens a success?

  1.  Give kids ownership of the trip — involve them in the planning.  Have them identify places they would like to visit, learn and share historical tidbits, and find typical foods of the region to sample
  2.  Strike a balance between activities and downtime — tired teens and parents are not a good mix! Sleep in, allow for changes in the itinerary, and individual re-fueling time (books, electronic games)
  3.  Be prepared to split up — everyone has different interests… take advantage of this and separate occasionally.  This allows for the kids to have a break from one another and an added benefit is growth in parent/step-parent relationships with the kids
  4.   Stay fueled up — hotels in Europe often have free breakfast included; take advantage of an early morning meal to energize the day and the other bonus is it is one meal you don’t have to walk to or pay for!
  5.   Pack water bottles —  Italy is HOT! in July — each day we filled reusable water bottles and carried them in a shared backpack and re-filled throughout the day
  6.   Relax! Smile, laugh, and enjoy — be silly, dance, do cartwheels, make jokes — release the expectations and adopt some of the kids’ silly sayings and behaviors.  Appreciate every moment of the trip as a learning experience for all!

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Traveling!

We have a great trip for LuckySevenFamily planned this summer!  Getting so excited for the trip!

To engage our kids in the planning, we’ve given each of them a destination city to investigate and make a list of places they’d like to go in that city.  For example, a cafe, a chocolatier, a museum, or some other tourist attraction.  Recently, I worked on this with our youngest.  We used YouTube and found lots of cool videos about her city!  She enjoyed watching the videos more than reading websites and it definitely kept her engaged longer!

Can’t wait for a great trip!!

Splitting Up

Didn’t mean to alarm you with the title of today’s Tuesday Tip!

I certainly don’t mean splitting up for forever; what I’m referring to is splitting up for the good of the blended family children and also for the sanity of blended family parents.  Spending time together as a blended family is important and helps build ever-lasting bonds; however, there are times that kids need a break from one another.  When we travel together or when we spend our weekends together, Russell and I will often split up and each take 2 or 3 of the kids to do different activities depending on their interests.  Sometimes we split up by biological kids, sometimes by girls or boys, sometimes by older and younger.   We also try to mix up the grouping of which parent with which group of kids so we both get experiences with all of them.  I might take the younger girls to the pool while Russell and the older kids play basketball.  Russell might take the boys to play golf and I make take the girls on a shopping spree.  By doing this, we give our family increased exposure to activities they enjoy and everyone gains by having more, focused time with one another.

All together time is important too; kids have to learn to compromise and make trade-offs.  By using the technique of splitting up you are helping to balance their need for individuality and attention while still building your family’s ever-growing love and respect for one another.

Stress…

Always remember:

“Stress has the same root as strength”

— George Chrousos, MD

Sweet 16 – Celebrate!

It’s time for us to celebrate the oldest child’s Sweet 16!

Having a teenage daughter is not always easy; having a teenage step-daughter can also be tough.

Despite the rocky times, there are a lot of positives about seeing a daughter mature and grow into a young woman.

So in honor of this important upcoming birthday, today’s Tuesday Tip is CELEBRATE!!

bday cake

Fostering Self-esteem

Recently, on a Lucky Seven Family ski trip, I found myself pondering how much independence was enough for all 5 kids.  How can I foster their self-esteem and build their ability to make informed, confident decisions?  What is the balance of providing direction versus being too controlling?

On this ski trip, we allowed all of the kids to go out on the slopes without us.  In the past, we have let the two boys (13 and 14 years old) ski alone while the rest of us were slowing waking up and donning our layers, gloves and hats.  This year, the younger girls (the oldest daughter is unfortunately injured and can’t ski this year — another post… what to do with her on a family ski trip!) were allowed to go out with the boys to ski without parents as well.  Granted, they have all been skiing since the young age of 3 so we have no concern about ability.  It’s really more about trust and putting my anxiety aside.  Trusting that they will make good decisions, watch out for one another and stick together.

Letting them ski alone is just one example of an opportunity for independence that provides our children with an understanding that their parents trust them to make decisions and believe in their abilities.  Often as parents we may think that being with them all the time protects our children, and it may in some ways, but it also may inhibit their ability to grow their own self-confidence.  Although it may be difficult to provide these opportunities to your children because of your own fears, give it a try and let your kids bomb the mountain!

Competitiveness

I’ve been away for a while!

A little healthy competition between kids is never a bad thing – but how do you keep the competition “healthy”? How do you keep it in check?  Tonight my kids were discussing an email that one of their lacrosse coaches sent.  The email was recognizing my daughter for playing goalie by suggesting that she was following in her big brother’s footsteps.  Of course, it was a compliment to both kids.  How do I make sure they both see the positive related to not only themselves, but also each other?

I hope that we are teaching all of our children to be happy for one another, to celebrate the successes they each have – small or large. We toast to happy occasions and we congratulate for accomplishments.  I hope that they keep these lessons top of mind as they mature!

Tuesday Tips: Birth Order

I asked my 14yo son what I should write about for today’s Tuesday Tip… he said he didn’t know.  Then he said “I wish I was the youngest”… “then I could hit people when we play basketball together and get away with it instead of you guys getting mad at me”.

I’ve written about birth order before – how it affects the dynamics in a family.  I believe in birth order dynamics.

I don’t believe they tell you how a kid will grow into an adult, but I do believe the dynamics mold children if we, as parents, aren’t aware of what is happening with our children’s relationships.

In any family, and especially in a blended family, be aware of birth order dynamics.  The children live with them every day!

Family Recipe Favorites

I am always looking for ways to create memories for our blended family.  How do we keep five kids with busy schedules, different interests, and limited time together connected to one another?

One way is our favorite family recipes… things we’ve been baking or creating together for years.  We make these foods on vacations together or for our special celebrations.

The first creation we ever made was “K-B Mud Pie”.  This yummy summer treat is an ice cream pie we created on our first Lucky Seven Family trip to Cape Cod.

K-B Mud Pie:

oreo cookie pie crust (make your own for more fun! let the kids crush the oreos with a ziploc bag and mallet!)

your family’s favorite ice cream

chocolate syrup

whipped cream (one of our kids is a pro at making homemade whipped cream – much better than the canned stuff!)

Fill your pie crust with ice cream, decorate with chocolate syrup and freeze.  Cover with whipped cream when ready to serve.

Enjoy your family’s creation and savor the memories you are making!!

Tuesday Tip: Choose Your Battles

Getting hung up on frustrating issues in a blended family is often easy.  There are lots of difficult issues that you can focus on. If you live your life allowing every little thing to be problematic you are wasting precious moments.  Take the time to decide what is worth your focus.  What are the one or two key issues that are eating away at you?  Hone in on the most important item… the one that puts your relationship at risk.  Spend time with your partner on that issue and try to let the smaller ones fall away.  It will be good for you and good for your blended family.