Friday, March 4, 2016

First Steps

first steps to a blended family, first steps, blended family, stepmom, step family
You’re now a new Blended Family.  What do we need to do first to make this blended family a successful and loving one? Here are some important key steps to help you get started in the right direction. I am not going to number them because every new blended family can start at any one of these steps to help be a successful one.

Kid Weekends. When you first come together, make sure to schedule your kid weekends on the same weekends, if you have to switch things around with an ex-spouse, do it. That way you can have some kidless weekends where you can have time for one another without the children.  Having the children on the same weekends helps the children bond more and also helps with becoming a better-blended family.

Money Matters. Money is a difficult topic no matter what, but even harder in a blended family.  In a blended family commitment, trust, and the guarantee of permanence can be underlying issues when dealing with money.  It can be difficult to put together the best way to manage money in a blended family.  It’s very important when combining incomes that you discuss where the money goes and how it is spent and on what. Learn the different ways on how to manage the finances and whether you want to have separate or joint bank accounts.  To learn about the many ways to manage money, click here.
Establish Boundaries. Setting boundaries is important, it teaches everyone to honor one another, to respect privacy and values each family member. Setting boundaries are not just for your stepchildren but also for the ex-spouses as well.  Boundaries for the ex-spouses can be only contacting when it is related to the children. For example: Not having the ex-spouse call you when they need to talk about a recent breakup or when they need someone to fix the garage door.  The ex-spouse needs to rely on someone else to do those things; it isn’t your spouse’s job anymore. As for the children, an example of establishing boundaries could be about them sleeping in their own bedrooms and not sharing a bed with you.  For more on boundaries, click here.

Discipline with Children.  Before you move in together, you need to talk about discipline and how you will handle it with the children.  In the first few years of marriage, I strongly suggest that each parent is responsible for disciplining their biological children. To find out why it’s important to handle discipline this way, click here.
Family Meetings.  Now that you are a blended family or living together under one roof and brought each other’s children into the marriage, you need to hold family meetings. You need to have family meetings to go over things such as house rules, chores, conflicts, or talk about upcoming vacations and events.  In the beginning, you want to have these family meetings at least once a month. To learn more about family meetings and how to facilitate them, click here.

House Rules & Consequences. Establishing house rules help provide children with structure and teach them how to have & show respect and responsibility. Both parents should establish these together and agree on them before presenting it to the children. To learn more about house rules and for an example of them, click here.
Chore Chart. Every family should have chores whether the family is a biological family or a blended one. Establishing age appropriate chore chart helps children learn life skills that they will need when they become adults and move out on their own.  To learn more about it and see examples of age appropriate chores, click here.

Blended Family Therapy. Find out the benefits to seeking therapy early on in your marriage and how it would really help prepare you for the challenging situations and conflicts that will happen.  It’s not a matter of “if they will happen”, it’s a matter of “when they will happen” and how both of you can better prepare yourselves for when they do happen. To learn more about therapy and why it’s important to go, click here.
Schedule Family Fun Nights/Days.  Depending on when you have all of the children together you need to establish family fun activities to help bring you close as a family. It’s good to always set a day to do it and always try to keep it scheduled for that day so they can expect it every time they are with you.  Like, for example, set it on a Saturday, where every Saturday or every other Saturday you do something as a family. To learn more ideas on how to do this, please see The Fun Box and the Fun with Children posts.

Schedule 1:1 Time with Children.  It’s very important that you encourage your husbands to spend 1:1 time with their children during their weekend visits. It doesn’t have to be an all-day thing either; I recommend it, at least, being two hours. This way the children feel like they still have their Dads undivided attention and don’t feel like their Stepmom took their Dad away from them.  While your husbands are having that time with their children, you can also do the same with your children too.
Optional – Even doing 1:1 things between the Stepparent and Stepchild could also help strengthen relationships too. To learn more about the benefits of 1:1 time, click here.
Date Night Out.  It’s so important that you put your spouse first in your marriage. It is important that you don't loose touch with yourselves as a couple.  You need to go on dates with just the two of you without the children once a week or at least twice a month if possible. It will help strengthen your marriage and keep you both feeling connected with one another as a couple.  To learn more about date nights, click here.

Family Traditions. Make sure you discuss what traditions you have as a family and combine them.  Don't stop the traditions you currently do with your children, find a way to incorporate each others traditions into the family. Create new traditions as a blended family.  For example, each year around Christmas time, going to a soup kitchen place and serving out meals to the homeless as a family. Another good example is each year on Thanksgiving Day, that everyone go around the dinner table naming, at least, one thing they are thankful for.
Church & Religion. Talk and discuss attending church and how often you want to attend church as a family. Also, talk about whether you want to have family bible studies and family devotions together and how you want to teach your children about God. "Do all that you can to take your kids by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master." Ephesians 6:4.

Document Everything. If you have a difficult ex-spouse learn to document everything you do for them, changes in visitation, any requests made such as picking up the children from school when they are sick because an ex-spouse cannot do it. When an ex-spouse is difficult to communicate with only communicate with them through email or text messages that way there is a paper trail just in case; you go to court. To learn more about why it's good to document things, click here.

Educate Yourself. Pick up, at least, five books on blended family topics and read the books. The books will help get you ready for any challenging situations you may face whether it may be a toxic ex-spouse, being a stepmom, dealing with difficult teenagers or learning how to co-parent. There are books out there that will help your blended family become more successful. Here are some books that I have read that will help you, click here.
Find and Join a Support Group.  Look for a group for Stepmoms and one for Stepdads where you can go ask questions, get advice, and encouragement when you need it.  And believe me; you will need it from time to time.  Don’t do this journey alone. Talking with other Stepparents will really help you become a successful blended family. There is a closed group on Facebook just for Stepmoms called: Stepmoms Are Us, come check it out and request to become a member, you will be glad you did.

I hope these steps help you become a successful blended family.  There is, even more, to learn on what to expect when expecting to become a blended family, click here.

Is there any other First Steps you recommend to add to this list that may help new blended families out?

13 comments:

  1. Sounds like some good rules. Makes me think of Brady Bunch a bit, too :).

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  2. Family nights and chore charts can save a ton of headaches. If kids know what's expected and you have some quality bonding time, you're well on your way.

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  3. Great post! I'm apart of a blended family. This information is really good.

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  4. i would think that these things would be established right at the start, no? :)

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  5. This is great advice! It's not easy to have a blended family, but steps like these help!

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  6. Great advice! I'll share with my friends who are stepmoms.

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  7. I need to be better with scheduling 1:1 time with my kids. I also think it's a great idea to schedule the weekends with both sets of kids.

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  8. I think it's so important to schedule time with kids one on one. Today I spend the morning with my son going to Home Depot and doing a craft together. He loves hands on stuff and his love language is quality time. He ate it up. My wife and daughter spent some time together as well doing girl stuff. Weekends really should be a time to schedule family fun too. Thanks for another great post!

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  9. I know many people in this situation. I think this will provide a lot of great insight

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  10. Great advice and insight! I have a blended family, so I know how important each of these steps are!

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  11. Hey girl! I hadn't seen your site since you got a facelift! Looks great!

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  12. I grew up in a blended family. I loved having two Mom's and my day.

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  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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