Photo Cred:  Photography by Nataal  Photo Design & Holiday Decor:  Abby Campbell Design

Photo Cred: Photography by Nataal
Photo Design & Holiday Decor: Abby Campbell Design

Over the past month I've received a FLOOD of emails from fellow stepmoms asking how our family does Christmas as a blended family. So I thought I would pop on here today and give you the low down on how we handle access schedules, Santa, presents, extended family and all that fun stuff

It's like I've said over and over! When it comes to Blended Families, even the simplest things aren't simple! The holidays are no exception! 

But as always, with flexibility, a positive attitude and preparation Stepmoms and Blended Families can help mitigate the extra stressors that come with co-parenting this time of year. 

And when all else fails, wine does the trick! 

OUR CHRISTMAS ACCESS SCHEDULE

First, here's the low down on the access schedule. 
The kids are with us every other year on Christmas Eve until 3pm on Christmas Day. At 3:00pm the switch happens and they go to their moms. 
It's the opposite every other year. 

Clear as mud? Great! I thought so! 

Basically we either have them for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Evening. 

Even though I love waking up as a family on Christmas Morning, I personally prefer the schedule when we get them on Christmas Day at 3pm. It seems less rushed and I feel like we end up getting more quality time to celebrate! 
 

CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS WTIH OUR "OURS BABY"

Since having Reese, my husband and I have spent A LOT of time talking about how we will do Christmas morning, especially on the years we don't have "the kids". The big decision was whether we wait to do presents until the kids come at 3:00pm or whether we continue on with our regular Christmas traditions. . 

Ultimately we decided to go on with Christmas morning as usual.. When the kids are with us, we do all the presents when we wake up. When they aren't, we do Santa in the morning with Reese and then the rest of the presents when the kids arrive at 3:00pm.  

The reason we decided to carry on as usual, is because we don't think it's fair for Reese to have to wait around until 3:00pm, especially now that she is at the age where she understands Santa. 

The kids wake up and have a regular Christmas morning with their Mom, Reese should get to experience the same. We don't want her holiday experience to be dictated by an Access Schedule. 

It's important for us to start annual traditions with her as well. Some years we will fulfil these traditions all a family of 6, and other years it will be just the three of us.

(You'll notice I alway refer to my stepchildren as "the kids")

Last Christmas the three of us woke up, made a nice breakfast and went to see what Santa brought. We opened presents, played and hung out until the kids came at 3:00pm...

This year, we will all wake up together, and celebrate until the kids go to their Moms at 3:00pm

The burning question is:

DID REESE DID GET MORE PRESENTS AT 3:00pm.

The answer is, you bet she did. 

The next burning question is:

WILL REESE END UP WITH MORE PRESENTS THAN THE OTHER THREE?

You're darn tootin' she will.

{Insert "GASP" here!} 

Now before everyone gets their panties in a bunch over this, let me explain why. Her brothers and sister are spend the morning opening up presents with their Mom and her family. They have no shortage of gifts.

In blended families, there is always this HUGE focus on making sure that stepchildren don't feel like they are getting the short end of the stick in comparison to biological children ... but many times, its the biological children who get ripped off. 

Imagine how Reese would feel at 3:00pm on Christmas day when her brothers and a sisters come in all excited about their presents and celebrations that morning,  if all she got to do was sit around and wait for them to come. 

That's just not going to happen in this house. 

We've explained this to the older kids and they totally get it!!

There may be more gifts for her under our tree, but when you look at the big picture, it all evens out!

It's all about having open conversations with your kids about your blended family dynamic and why things pan out the way they do. 

It's about making it as fair as possible for EVERYONE!

So, the next burning question I've received is:

DOES SANTA COME TO BOTH HOUSES?

No way! Santa makes one stop and one stop only for the Scrimgeour kids. 

HERE'S WHY:

I'm a pretty big advocate for keeping it realistic when it comes to Santa. We always try and have him give the gifts that aren't too expensive.

Why? Well think of it this way. If one kid goes to school in January and says, "Santa gave me an iPad and a new bike for Christmas", how is the kid who got a new hat and mitts from Santa going to feel?

Along the same lines, if a child of divorce goes to school and says "Santa came to both my Moms & Dads"... how fair is that for the kids who's parents are together, and only had one stop. 

EXTENDED FAMILY GATHERINGS

The other tricky part of blended family holiday celebrations is coordinating celebrations with extended family.  With the boy's hockey schedule, our access schedule and the schedule of our extended family, it can be tricky (and almost impossible) to coordinate a celebration on Christmas Day.

To accommodate we've started celebrating mid December with my husband's family. 
It helps to minimize the hustle bustle on Christmas Day, and allows us to relax and spend as much time with the kids as possible. 

MY family is a bit more complicated because I too have divorced parents and am the oldest of four kids. With my family we take a "if the kids can come, the kids can come" approach - because it was becoming a HUGE stress trying to schedule something in that worked for everyone. 

We are obviously bummed when the kids can't make it, but sometimes something has to give, and it typically is my family events. 

This year we are celebrating with my Mom's side of the Family on Christmas Eve and my Dad's side on Christmas Day. The kids will be able to make it on Christmas Eve but will unfortunately miss the celebration on Christmas Day. 




Obviously every family has their own traditions and does what works for them... but that's the rationale behind our decision! 

So stepmamas! That's how we do it! 

If you're struggling about your own Christmas traditions, here's my advice.

  • Don't over think it
  • Be flexible
  • And don't sweat the small stuff
  • Do what feels right for you and your people! 

At the end of the day, It's all about making memories and spending time with the people you love!

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