Often, the holidays are responsible for some of our fondest memories. They give us moments to look forward to, traditions to relive and to create, favorite meals to prepare, and opportunities to see loved ones near and far. Yet, as so many (step)moms have shared with us, the holiday season can be difficult for blended families (heck, they can be difficult for biological families too!). Every situation and custody agreement is different – some holidays you’ll have the kids, some holidays you won’t. There’s not always consistency in blended family holidays; consistency that both parents and kids crave. Some (step)moms have revealed that they feel the holidays are not their own – that they are subject to the traditions and practices of holidays past – holidays that they were not a part of.
However, we believe that blended family holidays can be incredibly rewarding, and can provide some of the best opportunities to create new traditions, build family bonds, and encourage continuity for you, your partner, your (step)kids, and maybe even your extended families alike [dream big, (step)moms!]. We want you to THRIVE the holidays, not just survive them. And here are three tips to help you get there:
1. Verbal Visualization
If you’re anything like us, (step)moms, you have a lot of clear ideas about what your ideal holiday season looks like. But these ideas will remain simply that – ideas – until you tell your partner about them. It’s a mistake that a lot of couples make – silent expectations are set in our heads that are never communicated, and then one or both partners ends up disappointed when something doesn’t go the way they imagined it. To avoid this, sit down with your partner and intentionally tell each other what kind of holiday season you are each envisioning. You have to get honest about your own expectations, hopes, and desires here. What does your ideal holiday season look like? Do you want to ensure you spend time with your family? Is there a special meal you want to make? Are there traditions that are particularly meaningful to you to expose your (step)kids to? Tell your partner!He won’t know what you have in mind unless you tell him (wait, so he’s not a mind reader???). This is true of many blended family scenarios, but particularly critical to thriving the holidays. As a woman stepping into an established family’s traditions, you could end up feeling swept away with the tide by no fault of your own or your partner’s. Collaboratively working with your partner will (almost) guarantee the holidays are everything that you both want, instead of everything that has simply just come before.
2. Carve Out Couples Time
This goes not just for (step)parents and their partners, but couples of all kinds. The holidays, im all their celebratory glory, are also downright busy. Amidst all the chaos of the season, make sure you schedule time for you and your partner to have your own special moments for just the two of you (after all, as many studies suggest: if the couple isn’t happy, ain’t nobody happy – or some version of that!). It doesn’t have to be much – maybe it’s cuddling up on the couch with your favorite movie after the kids go to bed on Christmas… maybe it’s getting a happy hour drink at your neighborhood wine bar… or doing some shopping for your in-laws together…or running a Turkey Trot, just you two. Having dedicated time with your partner during blended family holidays will help you to better take on the season with a smile (and a little extra pep in your step!).
3. Radical Self Care
Always make time for you, (step)moms, holidays or not – but especially during the holidays.That Tuesday night yoga class you keep wanting to make it to? Make it there! That movie you wanted to see with your girlfriends? Set a date! We’ve said this before, and we’ll keep saying it: Sometimes a mani-pedi changes everything.
As for a cocktail, ladies, we selected a twist on a holiday classic: Scotcn N’ Nog
What are your tips for blended family holidays? Tell us below! Or, attend our first (step)mom meetup – Thriving the Holidays in Providence, Rhode Island on December 8, 2016. Here are all the details.
All opinions are our own.