Earlier this month I wrote a post titled - How We Do Our Blended Family Christmas - you can read it HERE
From our Christmas schedule with my stepchildren, to how we handle presents and extended family I gave you the low down on how we navigate our way through the holidays as a blended family.
Today I am going to share, and answer, some of the follow-up questions you sent my way.
How did you get over or adjust to the idea that "sometimes something has to give, and it typically is my family events." .. I too am a child of divorce and the eldest of four, and my dad and stepmom have always made it clear that holidays are more about the day we are all able to be together rather than the specific day on the calendar, and I have LOVED them for that.
But this year (and years past) it has meant either I can't bring the kids (or even my partner due to the split-down-the-middle access schedule) to MY family event, or I stay with my partner, his kids, and his family (local, one sibling, parents together) and miss out on what my family does. It feels as though there might never be a way for me to have "both" my families together for a singular event.
To be honest, I don't think I have ever gotten over the fact that the kids aren't always able to come to my family events - it's just something that I have just accepted. We all wish that they could be there every time, but unfortunately, the reality is, it doesn't always work out that way.
I think that your situation is definitely a little more complex. I have never had to go to an event without my partner - the two of us are always together on the holidays, it's just whether the kids are with us or not. I definitely wouldn't be thrilled about not being able to spend Christmas with him due to a conflict in schedules.
Here are some tips for coordinating so that everyone can be together. It's obviously too late for this year, but here are some ideas on how to coordinate next.
Talk to your family ahead of time and tell them that you'd love to be able to accommodate all gatherings so you can attend as a family. Right now the current schedule isn't working for your family - don't feel guilty about that. As families evolve and children come into the picture, it can be difficult to balance all the family events, especially when you're trying to accommodate an access schedule - maybe you alternate Christmas Day and Boxing Day with your families? I don't think it's a crazy request to ask them to be flexible.
Openly talk to your husband about this too - see if he has any ideas on how to move forward.
This may be a long shot - but consider talking to your husband's ex about the Holiday Schedule. If it's not working for you guys, there is a chance that it's not working for her either. There have been times where we have altered the schedule on both ends to accommodate family events by either offering her the kids early or bringing them a little later.
Its not about what you say here, it's about how you say it and how you frame it. I find when you approach these topics by explaining how it will benefit her as well, the outcome is more positive (NOTE: this isn't always feasible)
Celebrate a few weekends early so that you can all be together on Christmas. We celebrate my husband's with family two weeks early, so that everyone can come and the kids never miss out.
I have a question about Santa - I see you say he only makes one stop, meaning your stepkids only receive presents from Santa at either Dad’s or Mom’s, do you alternate years doing that? And doesn’t Santa come every year for Reese? Does that mean the kids biomom never can do Santa?
We alternate Christmas Eve (every other year we have my stepchildren from Christmas Even until Christmas Day at 3pm) - so Santa brings my step kids gifts to our place on odd numbered years, and their Mom's place on even numbered years.
Santa comes every single year for Reese, regardless of our schedule with the kids. Odd and even numbered years, her Christmas morning remains the same.
How do you handle different Christmas traditions? My husband and I just got married this year, and found that we have very different ways of celebrating. There are things that they used to do as a family, that I have a hard time participating in, and I have struggled with showing them some of my favourite traditions.
It's funny you asked this, I was JUST talking to my husband about how our Christmas traditions have evolved a few days ago. When my husband and I first got married, he and the kids obviously had traditions that they wanted to continue. Some of them made me cringe, but I just accepted them and let them do their thing. I also suggested a few other traditions that I thought the kids would love.
Their traditions included some pretty hideous decorations that the kids absolutely LOVED. But hey Christmas decorations are only out for only a short time right? Its all about compromise.
I wanted a very classy, well decorated tree while they wanted to decorate a traditional one. So we did two trees. I decorated the one upstairs and together we decorated the tacky traditional one in the basement. Win/Win.
Some of the traditions they had, I participated in, while others I took a step back and let them do their thing. For example, they are HUGE Christmas Movie buffs and I personally can't watch a Christmas movie every night from November 1st until Christmas Day. It would make me wonky!
So, at night, they would go to the basement with a huge cup of egg nog and watch their films and I would go have some "me time" upstairs.
I didn't love that the kids were up past their bedtime and drinking so much egg nog, but hey, like I said, the Christmas season is short, I just did my thing and let them do theirs - always joining in when my favourite movie (Home Alone) was on!
I'm very big on the idea the we don't have to do EVERYTHING together - they need alone time with their Dad too!
One of my favourite Christmas traditions is to decorate a Chocolate House (similar to a gingerbread house) - I introduced the kids to this tradition and two of them loved it while the other wanted to keep doing a gingerbread house. So we did both!
Now as the kids have grown older, only my youngest stepson is excited about the Christmas traditions so it's a bit easier. 5 years in we have gotten into our groove and I no longer feel like the traditions are "theirs" and "mine".
How do you handle presents and gift giving? Does your husband tell you how much you're going to spend or what you should get? Do you coordinate with his ex-wife?
I usually take care of most of the gifts for Christmas and Birthdays. Each year my husband and I usually talk about the budget for Christmas and what we are going to spend on each kid and then go from there. He picks up a few of the gifts for the boys that are a bit over my head, but for the most part I take care of it.
I usually go back and forth via text with the kid's mom to see if she has any ideas, and to make sure that we didn't duplicate gifts.
Fortunately, we are all on the same page with Christmas so it makes coordinating a lot easier.
When I first became a stepmom, I reached out to her to see how they has done Christmas in the past so that I could continue that tradition. (e.g does Santa wrap gifts or leave them unwrapped & how many gifts does he bring?). The kids had experienced enough change in their life, I wanted to keep Christmas as similar as possible!
My husband really struggles when the kids aren't with us on Christmas Eve - I am not sure how to support him. Honestly I hate to say this but I sometimes resent him for being so upset. I just want to enjoy Christmas together.
Sam I've got you covered here! Check out this blog post with 5 strategies to help you out!