If you are in a blended family situation similar to my own, then you have experienced the pure joy that is the blended family birthday party [read: where you, your partner, and your partner’s ex – and possibly their partner, their parents, etc… – congregate in one household or the other for your (step)child’s birthday]. Here, for your reading pleasure, is my 10-step plan for surviving (and maybe even enjoying!) the BFB (blended family birthday!):
1. Focus on your (step)child. It’s his or her day, after all! Allow yourself to enjoy party prep – especially if the party is in your home. Have fun getting creative with a theme, baking cupcakes, making invitations, etc…with your child. Enjoy this opportunity to make memories together!
2. Take some time out the day-of the party to do some self care. Whether that is working out, getting a mani/pedi, meditating, reading a favorite blog, having a solo dance party in the shower – do what it is that lowers your stress level and makes you feel GREAT about being YOU!
3. Wear something (theme / kid appropriate!) that you feel FABULOUS in! It will boost your confidence and your comfort level.
4. Try power posing before show time – I have found it to be a great centering technique and it will help you to be diplomatic / friendly with the (bio)mom (and others) while maintaining boundaries. (Seriously! It works!)
5. If the party is in your home: your home, your party, your rules (step)mom! The (bio)mom is your guest, and she should act accordingly. You and your partner have control over the flow of the party, when, how, and where you need help, boundaries, etc… And the same applies in the reverse as well – if you’re a guest in (bio)mom’s home, act as you would if you were a guest at a family member’s or friend’s home. Good manners are good manners.
6. Decide on a reasonable “pumpkin time” with your partner – that is, set a time when you will either leave (bio)mom’s home or when you will (politely!) ask (bio)mom to leave yours. Having a start time and an end time for the BFB is a must for maintaining boundaries (and your sanity!).
7. If the party is in your home, invite a close friend over. No need for you and your partner to go this one alone, (step)mom! Having a buddy or two creates a buffer between you and the (bio)mom (if you need one!) and allows you to be better able to focus on your (step)child and on having FUN!
8. Small talk is not necessary. Do not feel like you need to make constant conversation with the (bio)mom, especially if making conversation is uncomfortable. Again, keep your focus on your (step)child, your partner, and the party that is going on around you!
9. Have an SOS strategy. It is SUPER important that you and your partner discuss what your plan is AHEAD OF TIME should a situation arise where the (bio)mom (or any guest for that matter) is inappropriate, crosses a boundary, etc… You and your partner need to be able to act as a team in those moments, and it is much easier to do this if you have a predetermined game plan.
10. Just add a cocktail! Don’t be afraid to mix yourself a drink before, during, and after the party (step)mom – you deserve it! And don’t forget to celebrate once you’ve made it through another BFB. Cheers to you, lady! You’re one bad ass mother!
P.S. If you are in a situation where you and the (bio)mom are truly friends, act accordingly! You may not need a “pumpkin time” or need to keep small talk to a minimum at all. My ultimate rule is do what is right for YOU, your situation, and your family – no apologies!
Disclaimer: All opinions are my own.