A family can be a delicate thing. Kids and parents get into their own routines, align expectations, establish traditions, and grow together as a group. But what happens when you begin to blend your family with another? What happens to your holidays?
The holidays can be stressful enough, but adding new members can be enough to push you over the edge. When introducing holidays and traditions into your blended family, keep the following tips in mind that will help you not just get through the holidays, but actually enjoy them.
1. Go with the flow
We have a saying in my house. I say, “Go,” and my kids say “With the flow.” It’s our own chill-out version of Marco Polo. When the kids are getting worked up about what we’re doing, what’s happening after that, how long we’re going to be there, and pretty much every other agenda item on our schedule for the next 60 days, I remind them to just go with the flow. This is helpful when you’re blending family traditions with another too. Just go with it. If it doesn’t work, so what? You’ll know better for next time. If the kids just aren’t into the activity that you’re pushing, let it go. It’s not worth the stress and aggravation. Turn your attention to something else that is energizing rather than draining.
2. Remember what’s really important
The holidays are about being together and enjoying your family. It’s not about the perfect Christmas dinner, having an impeccably decorated Christmas tree or forcing the kids to go caroling with you in full costume (if that’s your thing). The point is that you all are doing things together that everyone enjoys. So when you’re stressing out about traditions and activities, take a second and just bask in the fact that your family is together. If your kids are small, remember that they will grow up and they won’t always be there. If your kids are older, you’ll cherish that time together even more.
3. Ask for input
You probably have this magnificent holiday plan in your head of all the things that you can do with your blended family and the stunning scene that you can create in your living room. I have no doubt it’s gorgeous. But before you invest all your time, money, and energy into building that scene, ask your family what they want to do. Are there old traditions that need to fall by the wayside? You might be surprised what you hear. They might even suggest changing an existing one in a creative way to help include everyone. Give your family the chance to express themselves before you carry out any master plans.
4. Make one new tradition
When you blend your traditions, there’s a tendency to think of activities as “theirs” and “ours.” It’s completely normal and, to be honest, expected. Don’t force the issue that everything is blended. Instead, put some energy into one new tradition for both sides that gets everyone excited. This will begin the process of allowing everyone to embrace the tradition blend. Remember, this doesn’t need to be a completely new tradition. It can be a twist on an existing one, too. Let the kids take the lead on this and show them that they have the power to implement traditions and create memories for the entire family.
Blended families can be tricky to navigate regardless of size, background, and age. Remember to breathe, take things a day at a time, and focus on the activity at hand to really enjoy the time you’re spending with your family.