Surviving the Holidays As a Blended Family

Holidays can be tricky. Blended families are tricky.

Holiday with blended families? Super tricky.

Whether you are divorced and having to face part of this holiday season without your precious elves, or you are a stepmom with extra elves at home, know that this time of year doesn’t have to be stressful or awful. Here are my best tips to make them work, make them enjoyable, and find your holiday cheer!

1. Chill out. If you are a Type A planner and want every minute of your Christmas break scheduled three months in advance, stop it. Just stop it. Now, you likely already know your holiday possession schedule, and maybe it is set in stone for years to come. However, to keep everyone merry, don’t try to schedule a gingerbread decorating sesh two months ahead of time and expect everyone to bend to your plans. You must be willing to account for schedule changes, schedule requests, and children who are likely feeling the stress of a blended family at the holidays. Drink some eggnog and chill out.

2. Make new traditions. Figure out some new fa-la-la-la-la if what you are used to doing (or when you are used to doing it) is not going to work with your holiday schedule with your kiddos or stepkids. This is the perfect opportunity to create new memories. Christmas movies, gingerbread house decorating, and cookie baking are all great options that can be done at any point (even after the actual date has passed).  

3. Extend your cheer to your extended family. Make sure all of your family understands they, too, are going to have to be flexible to make the holidays work. It’s unrealistic to attend every family gathering or make everyone happy, so stop trying. Drink more eggnog and work on accepting this aspect of your blended family life. Focus on making sure your children are happy and enjoying these precious years. If carting the elves around to many places in a short period of time is stressing out you or them, stay home and invite extended family over for a short period of time. This is all about expectations and boundaries. Over time, the new normal will settle in for everyone. 

4. Get in the Christmas Spirit and COOPERATE. If there is ever a time to turn the other cheek or let things go, the holidays are it. If you are local to your elves’ other parent, please work on sprinkling that holiday glitter all around you and give your children the best gift ever of seeing both parents on the special day. For us, this means foregoing travel to see extended family elsewhere or taking that magical trip to New York City over Christmas. If your response here is that it’s not you who’s the problem, please keep trying. Even the Grinch’s heart softened at some point, right?

5. Be the light and show them the way. Holidays in blended families are big teaching moments. Don’t miss them. Take your kids shopping for their other parent (and possibly stepparent’s) Christmas gifts. Even if it’s small and thoughtful (think photo ornament), this is a gift to your child that will last a lifetime. Have stress or conflict in your life due to divorce? I promise you this is a huge step in the right direction to finding holiday joy…that will last far beyond the holidays. 

I am a stepmom who has been navigating the blended family situation, holidays included, for six years now. We aren’t perfect, but I have to say our holidays are pretty darn pleasant for all involved now that we’ve learned how to make them work. Do you also have some tips and suggestions for surviving the holidays with blended families? I’d love to hear how you maintain your cheer!

Bridget was born and raised in San Antonio and moved back here after college and law school. She is a wife, full-time attorney, wrangler of four kids ages 15, 13, 3 and almost 2. As both a stepmom and mom, her life and house is always full and she loves to share about blended family life. Bridget is also passionate about infertility advocacy after having suffered multiple miscarriages and multiple rounds of IVF. Now with her stepkids, rainbow baby, and surprise baby, her family is complete and she is soaking up every minute of motherhood!