If you are part of a blended family, then you understand how complicated of a dynamic that it can be. Which means that you have to constantly work on it, and make changes as things evolve. Most of us in blended families have an idea of how we would like our family to function/operate. Although it doesn’t always work out the way you planned, I think that it is important to set goals. That way, you don’t end up straying too far from those expectations. And what better time to set goals, than the start of a new year?! So today, I’d like to share our blended family goals for the year.
More One-on-One Time
As one of four kids, you can start to feel lost in the shuffle, especially if you are one of the older two who only spend half of their time here. So we wanted each kiddo to get to spend some one-on-one time with both Charley and myself. Last year, we instituted date nights to make this happen. However, we did not follow through, and these date nights only occurred twice. Fail. So this is going to become a priority for this year! One-on-one time is so key in the blended family dynamic. It makes the kids that jump back and forth between houses feel like they are missing out on less when they get this quality time with their parent/step-parent. And for the kiddos that are here all of the time, it’s just nice to give them some undivided attention once in awhile.
Since the day that we became a blended family, it was clear that organization was key to keeping our sanity. I have always had a big calendar hanging in our home, where I circle all of the dates that my step kids are with us. I also write in everyone’s appointments, activities, lessons, etc. Even the ones that occur on days that they are not with us. I think that it is important to create a feeling that they have ONE life – not one life here and a separate one at their mom’s house. We take part in activities on the days that they are with their mom, and she takes part in activities on the days that they are with us. So like I said, I put EVERYTHING on the calendar! Now that we have four kids, I need to up my organizational game. So this year, I purchased a planner that I can take with me everywhere. I have all of the info that is on the big calendar in the planner, plus all of my meal planning, grocery lists, to-do lists, and even my blogging stuff! I ordered my planner from Plum Paper if you’re interested in getting one for yourself :)
This kind of goes along with staying more organized. Since we know the custody schedule well in advance, we are able to plan activities, trips, vacations, etc. However, we don’t always take advantage of this. So our goal for this year is to make a bucket list of sorts. Things that we all want to do this year. For example, we know we want to take two camping trips (at least). We want to make a trip to Presque Isle in Erie. Weekend trips to visit my family. Plus all of the festivals and holiday activities that we want to take part in. In the past, we have been guilty of not scheduling all that we want to do, and then time just passes us by. Plus, having the two older kiddos only half of the time presents a challenge with scheduling. We have to try and plan the big events and the things they are most excited about, during the time they are with us. This year, we are going to stay on top of the planning to make that happen.
Foster Sibling Relationships
I talked about strengthening the relationships between parents and children, but what about between siblings? To us, these are just as important, if not more important! Years from now, when Charley and I are gone, they will all have each other. I hope with all my heart that they are best friends as adults. Which is why we need to foster their bond now. I do not suggest trying to force anything, of course. Just making it easier for them to enjoy each other and spend more time together. For instance, when the older kids arrive here after being at their mom’s house for a few days, we don’t immediately shove them into the evening routine of homework, chores, etc. We let all four kids spend some quality time together playing, laughing, and catching up. We recently started this ritual and it seems to be working well so far, so we plan to continue it into the new year! And lastly, we also plan to institute more game nights on the weekends, instead of just vegging out in front of the TV or iPads.
These can be important in any family, not just a blended one. But as you know, there are so many aspects to a blended family. So many thoughts/feelings to consider, and in a big blended family like we have, those can sometimes get overlooked. This year, we want to take the time to address those feelings in an open, understanding manner. The hope is to have a casual meeting with all of us together. No pressure. Just a time for us to all sit down and discuss anything we want to. We have had instances in the past, where the older kids will go to their mom’s house and talk about an issue that they have here, or they will come here and talk about an issue they have at their mom’s house. We really want the kids to be able to talk to us about anything. If they have an issue with something here, they can talk to US about it. This just makes life easier at both houses. The whole idea of a family meeting is to keep the lines of communication open.
Please let me know your thoughts! I would love to hear your blended family goals for the new year!