The views expressed in this post are those of a Spoke contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Red Tricycle.
Let’s face it—the days of June and Ward Cleaver are long gone, assuming of course you even know who those folks were. Families back then were as black-and-white as televisions on which they appeared, but now it’s not hard at all to find families even more complicated than The Brady Bunch. Today’s families are so much more dynamic.
My kids are from a blended family and would likely tell you it’s not easy, but that the holidays can be a peaceful and blessed time, with lots of patience, a few extra hands and a good sense of humor. Well, hopefully… ‘lll let you know after my attempt at a gender-reveal Christmas Eve Day brunch (wish me luck!).
Here are some good ideas I am trying to keep in mind, and think you could help you too while you’re trying to make all of the people happy at least part of the time this holiday season.
You can’t be in two places at once. Neither can the kids or the in-laws. Consider celebrating in shifts or plan around the other half’s family. Maybe do a meal with one set of relatives and dessert with another group. Just be willing to mix it up a little, especially if others are traveling or not able to be as flexible.
As hard as it can be with a bunch of kids (like my six), try to plan as far ahead as possible and follow through—unless you need to remain flexible. I usually plan events months in advance. People can mark their calendars or put your event in their phones or planners, but be sure to remind everyone when the time is getting close.
When you’re trying to get together with a blended family, that means more sets of moms and dads, grandparents and just more people to consider and coordinate. Be sure to communicate what you’re thinking and get feedback. Yeah, listen. Be willing to change plans or rearrange expectations sometimes. It can’t always be at your place or at your convenience, either. Don’t be afraid to call back or text to double confirm plans when many people are involved.
Consider a Neutral Home or Venue
If there are members within your blended family who tend to muddy the water, don’t leave them out of your holiday plans. Consider having a holiday celebration at the home of a family or friend who is a neutral party to any two or three “sides.” Think about celebrating with your blended family at a restaurant or other public venue, where everyone is more likely to be on his or her best behavior.
If You Have Nothing Nice to Say, Say Nothing
Your mother’s advice still applies (to me, too). People are different and not everyone will agree all of the time. When it’s not a dangerous or harmful situation, sometimes it is easier to just keep quiet. Uninvited opinions may help the day be less joyous for more than just your intended audience. There is a reason it’s called “peace and quiet.”
Hopefully, those words of advice will help you navigate the holiday season with your own blended families. Seriously, try to be joyous and thankful for each moment together, cherish the good and even the not-so-great. It’s true when I tell you life is too short to hold grudges and use angry words. Embrace the reason for the season: LOVE!
Go Au Pair representative, cultural childcare advocate, Mom to six great kids, I earned my BS at RI College and MEd at Providence College. My hats: educator, tutor and writer of local blog for Go Au Pair families and Au Pairs. Baking, gardening, reading and relaxing on the porch are hobbies.