Lucky Seven Family

Tuesday Tip #9

BIRTHDAYS!  Today is the youngest child’s birthday – how appropriate then, to discuss birthday celebrations!  Given our geographic distance, we cannot always celebrate birthdays together on the actual birth date.  However, we make it an important point to celebrate when we are together.  By doing so, we provide an opportunity for the children to grow closer together by recognizing each child’s important day.  Celebrations don’t have to be over the top — a special dinner that the birthday child gets to choose, a “champagne” (sparkling grape juice!) toast to the birthday child, a special outing or a small gift provides the birthday child special recognition within our blended family.

HELPING EVERYONE TO BE HEARD

Family BreakfastWith five kids, different personalities certainly affect the conversations we have when we are all together.  We have the older two (one girl, one boy) that are very strong characters – they make themselves heard.  We have the younger ones (one boy and two girls) that are strong in their own ways but certainly have their big sister and brother to try to be louder than when a conversation is on-going.  It is interesting to observe the behaviors and how one child will interrupt and the response it gets from another child.   Sometimes they just all keep talking, none hearing the other! Sometimes, one bows to the interrupter, other times they stand strong and call each other out for the interruption!  As parents and step-parents, it is important for us to help make sure each child feels that their voice is heard; at the same time, we also have to let the children form their own social rules just as would happen at school or some other group event.  Finding a balance of stepping in occasionally but not always policing the conversation is critical to the children growing together as siblings and step-siblings.

Our family dinners have played a critical role in the successful blending of our family.  We started a tradition early on of “Where do you see  yourself in XX years?  Sometimes it is 5 years, other times 10 years, etc.  Each child (and parent!) takes their turn at saying where they will, what they will be doing, etc.   This allows each child the opportunity to speak without interruption.  It is also great fun to hear where they aspire to be – college plans, career plans, silly plans!  We have been doing this for more than 5 years – hearing how these aspirations change over time is also fun for us as parents.  You see your children maturing in their thoughts and maturing in their ability to communicate and respect others.

Try “Where do you see yourself…” with your blended family today!

Issues we have faced…

I’d love to hear from other families regarding issues they would like to see discussed here.  Some of the issues we have faced and topics we have enjoyed include:

building family traditions
growing together
Halloween parties!
being step-parents
children being step-children
interacting with ex-wife/ex-husband
birth order and how it affects our relationships
scheduling our weekends
scheduling our holidays/vacations
discipline

Tuesday Tip #8

Sharing a pet is a great way to bring your entire family together – we share a sweet chocolate lab that we adopted!  “Shredder” spends time at both homes bringing shared joy to us all!

Tuesday Tip #7

Recognize and appreciate the opportunities that your new blended family can bring into your life.  Your spouse/partner and their children will bring new hobbies, new places to visit, & new extended family to get to know and enjoy into the mix – embrace these opportunities!

Tuesday Tip #6

Board games are a great way for your blended family to bond.  No matter how old or young the children are, bonding over a game of Scrabble or Monopoly is not only a way for the brood to grow closer, it’s educational too!

Tuesday Tip #5

With 2014 upon us, I thought a tip on ORGANIZATION would be appropriate! With all the chargers, earphones and other cords that we accumulate as a family, it is difficult to identify whose cords belong to whom.  Colored duct tape is the perfect solution! Let each child (and parent!) choose a color or pattern and wrap a small piece on charger blocks, cords, earphones, etc.  This also for works for other items that are easily confused  — last year, ski boots were identified this way!  Happy New Year!!

Tuesday Tip #4

Holidays for blended families can pose many scheduling difficulties – conflicting schedules with parents & step-parents make FLEXIBILITY a key element of success.  Make the most of every minute you have together; whether it is with your spouse, your children, or the entire crowd!  These times together build the memories of the blended family that you are – focus on making the memories that will last a lifetime for the whole bunch!

Tuesday Tip #3

Contributing to the family has been an important part of our growth together.  Over the years, we have set the expectation that the children all contribute to the family meal.  Children of all ages can help with jobs such as:  setting the table, pouring milk, getting out the ketchup, cleaning the table, loading the dishwasher, etc.  Make sure everyone has a job and contributes as an important part of the blended family!

Tuesday Tip #2

Plan ways to spend dedicated time with each child in the family.  In a group of 5, our less extroverted children can easily get lost in the shuffle.  Even a quick trip to the local coffee shop with one of the children gives us a few minutes alone to really focus on one child at a time.