Friday, October 30, 2015

Holidays

Blended Family Holidays, Stepmom, Happy Holidays Not, Step Mothers, Blended Families
Warning the holidays are quickly approaching.  Are they really Happy Holidays for your family or are they difficult? As for me, it’s even harder because not only do I have my own blended family with stepchildren.  I am from a blended family myself.  So the holidays are very hard on me trying to make sure I go to everyone’s houses so my own parents don’t have hurt feelings.  Since my own parents are divorced since I was 7 years old.  My Father remarried to when I was young and so I had my own Step Mother to and then she had three children with my Father. Just a few years ago my Father and Step Mother got divorced too.  It does make the holidays very interesting, stressful and exhausting.  My mother never remarried, even though part of me wishes she has someone to share her life with. 
So let me slow down and explain my family dynamics.  My mother has been married twice, the first marriage, she had seven children (YES 7), then got divorced and married my Father and had two children, one of which is me. Then they got divorced and my Father married my Step Mother and had three children together and now they are divorced.  So on the holidays, not only do we have to figure out how we can handle sharing the holidays with my ex-husbands and my husband’s ex-wife but we have to try to go to my Mother in-law’s house, My Mother’s house and then my Dad’s house.  It’s very hard to try to accommodate everyone and make everyone happy. 
For Easter, I host dinner for my husband’s side of the family. For Thanksgiving, I host dinner at my house for my Dad’s side of the family.  So for Christmas Eve we go to my mother in law’s house with all of our children, then the stepchildren go back to their Mother’s house later that night and my two girls go to their Father’s house that night too.  Then Christmas morning my girls come back early that morning to open up their gifts from Santa and us.  Then we rush off to my Father’s house to have Christmas breakfast with him and exchange gifts. Then from there we go to my Mother’s house for Christmas dinner and to exchange gifts.  Then my ex-husband comes and gets my two girls to go back to his house.  It really bums me out when we don’t have my stepchildren on Christmas day, but I do realize their mother should have time with them too.  What an ordeal and every year I just want to stay home because it’s too crazy.

So the holidays can be very stressful trying to split up time evenly with the ex-spouses.  It makes it much harder when you don’t get along with one or both of them either.  Luckily for us we only have one ex-spouse that is difficult to deal with.  My two ex-husbands are great; we have no issues with them. I just look forward to the day where we can have our own Christmas holiday celebration where we don’t have to go over anyone else’s or split up the holiday.
Holidays can be a great time to start new family traditions or continue with old family traditions. On my Mother’s side of the family, we always play this game called, “the white elephant” game where everyone who wants to play brings a gift with them. The gifts all go in a big pile and you count how many people are playing the game and write up little slips of paper with a number on them.  Then hand out a piece of paper to each person who is playing.  They open it to see what number they are. The person with the #1 on their paper goes first and picks a gift from the pile.  These gifts can be gag gifts or his/her gift under $20.00 or whatever spending limit you give. Unfortunately, my family likes to do the gag gifts which are funny but no one ever wants to keep their gift because it’s usually junk.  Okay now, getting back to the directions on how to play the game. After #1 person opens up the gift, number 2 person can either steal number 1’s gift or pick a new gift from the pile. The gift can only be stolen twice usually, then it stays with whoever stole the gift the second time. Then you play the game until all of the people who are playing played.  It’s more fun when you play with gifts that are actually good, meaning more people steal gifts from one another.

If you struggle with the holidays and trying to get the stepchildren and the ex-spouses to work with you on making sure, you get visitation with the children.  You can try alternating the holiday meaning every other year you get them on Christmas Eve and the ex-spouse gets them on Christmas Day and then the following year your ex-spouse gets them on Christmas Eve and you get them on Christmas Day.  If there are a lot of disagreements with the holidays, you might want to consider going to court and getting it agreed on paper that way you have a legal document as a backup.  I feel bad for the children, sometimes it feels like they a bag of luggage getting moved from one house to the other house.
Another suggestion is to celebrate the holidays a week before the actual holiday that way it’s not that stressful and you can still have your day with all of your children.  I have personally done that before and it made things go a lot better and we did not care too much about when the ex-spouses had them because we already celebrated it with our family the week before.

Here are some overall tips to help with the blended holiday:
  • Do what you can do and accept what you cannot change
  • Be flexible and make sacrifices – Try to find a way where you can spilt up the time between your house and ex-spouses
  • Plan in Advanced – Start working on it now
  • Be creative – Maybe celebrate Christmas a week before and say Santa made a special early trip
  • Live and Learn – Try not to make the same mistakes or arguments you had last year with ex-spouses
  • Be Consistent – Follow through with the planned holiday and don’t change it at the last minute.
  • Maintain patience - To Learn new Traditions to incorporate.
  • Be Compassionate – As far as what children’s preferences are for the holiday.


The biggest lesson I have learned is when dealing with a difficult ex-spouse is to be supportive and don’t add any more stress.  Plan your holiday in advanced, which in turn will help more with the impact of possible rejection or neglect by step family members.  Also have consistency with your family planning, meaning make sure you follow through on what you to decide to do with the kids.  The tension your husband might be feeling about the holidays with dealing with custody arrangements is already a lot on him, try to be supportive and listen and more importantly be there and try to make it less stressful for him.  Try saying this to him “Honey, I know talking to your ex-wife about this Holidays schedule is very stressful on you.  I am aware that asking you what the plans are puts a lot of pressure on you; I do not want you to feel pressured. How can I best support you with this?” Saying that may help make him feel more understood and less pressure and defensive about it. No matter how bad the battle is about the holidays, make sure to keep the children out of it. If the ex-spouse gets the children involved, you cannot control their choices. Try to do everything you can do to keep them out of the middle of the conflict. Try to make your holidays less stressful for everyone by doing a lot of compromising with your husband and ex-spouses in order for everyone to be happy.  But sometimes, not everyone will be happy and there’s nothing you can really do about that. It’s near impossible to please everyone all of the time. Just think Christmas is only one day out of the year and it’s really all about the real reason for the season and not about who gets what kids and for how long. 

Do you struggle with the holidays or do you have an agreement that works well with your parents and ex-spouses?

14 comments:

  1. my family is a LOT more dysfunctional when it comes to doing holidays...

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    1. I am sorry your family is much worse than my family arrangements during the holidays. Just wish I didn't have to go anywhere. Sometimes I think about faking that I am sick so we don't have to go to all of those places and have a stress free holiday. Lol

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  2. I'm tired just reading all that! Once we had kids, I told all of our adult family members they are welcome to visit, but I don't want to pressure the kids on a visiting spree to our three sets of parents ;) Good luck and enjoy your holidays!

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  3. Holidays are stressful enough without all the family dynamics. I hope your holiday is peaceful and stressless!

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  4. I like your final thoughts that Christmas is just one day and sometimes we make such a big deal of that one day and make ourselves stressed. Although it is a special day for everyone and being sensitive to everyones feelings is important ... as long as our own feelings are respected.

    You offer some good tips for people to consider. I hope that your holiday season is filled with love :)

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  5. Wow, I got confused along the way, I admire you for being able to manage them all, I don't think I can do that. Anyway, it's nice that you're letting the kids spend time with all of their parents. And it's nice that you're also spending time with your parents, even your step mom.

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  6. blended families or not trying to please everyone and do everything will burn anyone out. our family started the tradition of "NOTE" Nothing Other Than Enough. We ask ourselves this often when all the invites come and the obligations begin to stack. we ask is this NOTE? Meaning are we doing to much have we done enough...have we missed the point of celebrating the season?

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  7. Wow...I don't even know what to say, that is a lot of people to keep straight. I like the idea of celebrating early.

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  8. I feel your pain. As someone that is now a part of a split up family I know the feeling of having to balance time everywhere. It is hard, but with planning like you said it is manageable. Thanks for voicing what many of us deal with!

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  9. It's great that you are so organized and have it down to a science. Since we are a small family the holidays are pretty quiet. Enjoy!

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  10. Whew, I'm glad I don't have these issues with my family. I admire you for being able to manage all these.

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  11. Your situation when the Holidays come is a bit complicated. Like what you said, no matter how hard it is, the kids should be out of it. Yes, sometimes we have to deal with difficulties. But if you are the only one who is understanding what the other people feel or think, how about yours? Anyway, may everything be well this Holidays for you.

    Mhar Sefcik

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    1. Yeah its not easy at all, that is why I sometimes dread the holidays. Just to many places to go in order to make everyone happy.

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  12. Wow your organized. Being the youngest I just bring a dish lol.

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