Darren and I's first Christmas together was both amazing and tough.
First of all, going from a bachelorette living life on your own to having a family to celebrate with was so exciting! Christmas really is better when you have kids running around - it's just so much more magical. I had an absolute blast with all the new traditions!
However, it was also really tough because it was my husband's first Christmas not having the kids with him for the entire holiday. As I said in "How We Do Our Blended Family Christmas" we split Christmas down the middle with their mom.
One parent gets the kids on Christmas even until Christmas Day at 3:00pm and then the other parents gets 3pm on Christmas Day until Boxing Day when the regular schedule resumes. (Then we switch every other year)
On our first Christmas, my husband didn't get the kids until 3:00pm on Christmas Day so naturally on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning he felt a major void.
To be honest, it was heartbreaking for me to watch.
The good thing was, he told me ahead of time that he knew it was going to be tough so I was proactive and planned some things to help support him through it.
Since I know many of you are going to experience the same thing this Christmas, I thought I'd share them with you too!
1. PLAN SOMETHING FUN IN LIEU
Every year my family gets together on Christmas Eve, so I shared that tradition with him. It was a nice distraction for him - we weren't just sitting home on the couch missing the kids, we were busy celebrating in a new way.
2. I SHARED MY DAD'S MENTALITY THAT "CHRISTMAS IS WHEN I'M WITH MY KIDS"
I've said this in previous blog posts, but growing up I always had an issue leaving my Dad on Christmas. It made me so sad that he was there alone while we were off celebrating with my Mom.
However, he always reassured us that he was complexly fine and said that "Christmas is when I am with my kids - I don't care if we do it in July". This is something that I shared with my husband and he's really taken it on. Before we had our daughter, the day on the calendar didn't matter, it was all about when we were together doing our thing!
3. WE TALKED ABOUT IT AHEAD OF TIME
I knew Christmas was going to be tough for my husband because he told me it was going to be tough. This is a conversation that I encouraged well before Christmas so that I could straight up ask him what he needed from me. It's all about being open and honest about your struggles!
The feelings he experiences when he misses the kids on Christmas are something that I just can't understand. Even though I miss them too, I know that it just isn't the same.
Not because I don't care, but because I have never experienced a full Christmas with them. I don't have those memories. I don't know anything different. So I really try and empathize with what he's going through, and provide him with the support he needs.
That first Christmas, when I asked him how I could best support him, he told me he needed to keep busy so I planned new traditions to fill the void!
It actually became a great part of our own Christmas Celebration because we adopted new Traditions that we do together when the kids were with their Mom.
Now that we have our daughter, he admits that its a bit easier - as I'm sure you've seen on my Instagram Stories she's always on the go, so there is little time to think about anything else.
However, even though we keep busy, all three of us definitely feel more complete when everyone is here!
4. THE SHOW DOES GO ON...
Even when we don't have my stepchildren with us, we wake up and exchange gifts and make breakfast together. We always have a nice relaxing Christmas morning together before the hustle bustle begins!
As I said in "How We Do Our Blended Family Christmas" - we don't believe Reese should have to put Christmas morning on pause just because the kid's are with their Mom. We carry on with our Christmas Morning tradition, and then do it all over again when the kid's come in the afternoon.
5. I'M JUST THERE FOR HIM - IT'S ABOUT SUPPORTING HIM
I once heard a stepmom say that she resents her husband on Christmas, because he misses his kids so much that it ruins her Christmas Morning.
Straight up, I think that's kind of brutal. When you're in a relationship, your priority is to support your partner when they are in need - Christmas morning or not.
If it's your first or second Christmas with your partner and they are upset about not being with the kids, don't take it personally. It's not that they aren't happy to be spending the holidays with you, it's that they have to mourn the loss of the family and traditions that they once had during the holidays.
Be there, support them, be empathetic, kind and patient - and remember that time will heal this. As time passes and you create your own traditions, it will become easier for your husband to be without his kids on Christmas morning (or whenever he is without them this year)
5 Years ago we thought A LOT about how to navigate our way through the holidays.
Then when our daughter was born we had to re-evaluate it again...
Now... over the past couple of years, it has just come naturally.
Let time do it's thing... and in the meantime, be there for your man! Those first few Christmas' can be tough!