If you are in a blended family, the holidays may seem like the most difficult time of the year rather than the most wonderful. Splitting time between more than one household is can be stressful. Time always seems too short. You can’t please everyone or feel like you always draw the short straw.
Here are a few tips for helping you and your blended family survive the holiday shuffle.
- Communicate your plans clearly with family members with the understanding that you are just passing along information. For several reasons, blended families are more prone to miscommunicate their holiday plans. Fears of starting an argument, pressuring family members, and waiting to hear the plans of others, are just a few of the reasons miscommunications occur. Information helps us make better decisions. You’ll be doing your family a favor if you can clearly convey your information.
- Be aware of what you can and cannot control. Blended families have a lot of cast members…and the only person you can control is you. Let go of those things that are not within your control. Focus on doing the best with the things that are in your control.
- Manage expectations. Be careful not to overcommit. If you combine the individual commitments of all of the family members in a blended family (including the ex), it often adds up to dizzying number of commitments! Prioritize the things that are important to you and let go of those things that are less important.
- Let your children know that you understand that it can be difficult for them to balance multiple households. Use the holidays an opportunity to connect and empathize with your child. Acknowledging your child’s holiday stress does not make the holiday more stressful for them. Instead, it gives them someone to turn to.
- Avoid using the children to communicate with your ex. This is a tough one for most blended families. Communicating with your ex through your children puts an unhealthy burden on them. As a parent, communicating directly with your ex is your responsibility.
Jackie Dunagan, LAMFT