How to Thrive as a Blended Family: Lesson 1

We Are Family

We are a blended family. We have three kids and our crazy dog, Baby. My husband or “Coach,” has two daughters from a previous marriage.  Elli is in college.  She is studying business.  Kora is still in high school and plays a lot of soccer.

I have a son, Joe, from a previous marriage and he’s in high school, too.  He plays football and basketball; off-season is weight training.

School and sports is a major part of our lives. There’s never a time when we’re not talking about sports.  We are a little immersed in it since Coach also coaches Joe.  So when I say we talk about it, we really talk about it.  When we’re not talking about the next game, we talk about grades … our favorite topic – not!

We do pause and one of our favorite things we do together is to cook. Coach is quite the grill master and I do the rest.  Okay, I do the rest because Coach is more than a little territorial with his grill, smoker, flat grill, charcoal grill – you get the idea, right?

A blended family isn’t unique, but it does have a different dynamic than families with only one set of parents.  In our family, there are four sets of parents.  So yeah, that makes us slightly different.  It can get sticky at times.  Divorce is rarely easy, especially when there are kids. BUT, you can grow into a wonderful family unit.

Hands holding sapling in soil surface

We Make Mistakes

We make mistakes even with our training in child development – did I mention we’re teachers? Even though we work with children every day and my husband has coached hundreds of kids, our life is still a work in progress.

However, we must be doing something right because our kids are pretty great and we all love each other. It may get a little crazy while we juggle our daily lives, but ultimately, we find balance through hard work and a lot of play!

Finding Balance

How do you find balance in your crazy family?  Do you think you’ll lose your mind sometimes finding that balance?  Are you are afraid to admit that your blended family isn’t always blending?

If your answer is “yes,” then you’re in the majority.  It’s hard when you bring two families together.  You may need to reprogram yourself to take a step back.  I know I did.  I had a new husband and two new daughters, blending with a toddler son.  My family of two all of the sudden became a family of five and it wasn’t easy.  There were times I wanted to chime in, but that wasn’t really working for me.

I realized it wasn’t my voice my step-daughters needed to hear.  It was my new husbands.  My step-daughters were young.  They wanted to spend time with their father and, let’s face it, initially didn’t want to spend time with me.  Oh, I believe they liked me, but I wasn’t their number one priority.  Their father was and still is – AND he should be!

Reprogram

I reprogrammed myself.  I learned to give my husband and his daughters the time and space to adjust to me and my kiddo being in their lives.  Whenever they were deep into conversation, I took a step back and let them have their time together.  I would find something else to do with Joe for a little while.

Something as little as that helped tremendously.  It was also greatly appreciated by my husband.  Keep in mind, he was trying his hardest to blend, too.  He didn’t want to hurt my feelings or Joe’s.  My “stepping back” gave him the opportunity to spend quality time with his girls.

Gradually, Joe and I were accepted by the girls.  Now, we’re a solid family unit.

So I’m going to give new blended parents a lesson today.  Can you tell I’m a teacher? Lol

Lessons in Blending

Lesson One – Give them time.

Objective:  Allow your spouse the opportunity to bond with his/her kids.  Give them time to adjust to this new blended life.

  1. Itinerary – create a schedule with your spouse. Have tentative times for them to have “bonding time” with his/her kids – at least once a day. This sounds a little crazy, but it works.  There are no surprises and you’re less likely to get your feelings hurt if they want to do something without you.
  2. Plan something to do during that time. You have time to do your “thing” without any guilt. Go shopping, visit friends – I think you get the idea.  The main thing is – STICK TO THE PLAN.
  3. Plan something to do with your blended family later. Come back together and do something FUN.  Show them how cool you are.  If you haven’t guessed yet, we like to cook or bake together.  Our kids now expect to have one night a week grilling out.  It’s our thing and now its tradition.
  4. ADJUST! Be prepared for your itinerary to not be followed exactly.  They may want more time, so give them that time. Things come up, so adjust!

Okay, so you have your first lesson.  I want you to get started.  You’d be amazed how well it works!

Warmest,

Anna