“It’s the most wonderful of the year…”
Oh, the holidays. The time of year when your stress meter spikes into “I’m going to lose my shit at any minute” level. It doesn’t have to be like that. There are actual ways to enjoy the holiday season – yes, even as a blended family. In fact, this post is specifically talking to you my fellow step-families!
Listen, I am no therapist or life coach. I am a Mum and Stepmum who has tried a ton of shit. Lots has failed, but some of that shit has been a success.
Here’s how we make the holidays work for us.
1. Plan ahead
The holidays for kids are like the Super Bowl. They start thinking about it months in advance, like the moment they start school. They may not be all up in your grill about it at first, but it’s there in the back of their mind. As soon as Halloween is over then BOOM, it’s full-throttle holiday time.
You need to get your plans sorted in, like, July so that you can give your kids some stability by telling them the game plan well in advance. When you know what’s happening, they know what’s happening. There’s less stress, less anxiety and you’re never going to put your kid in the awkward “deer in a headlights” position when someone asks them if they are at “mommy’s house or daddy’s house” for Christmas. Get your shit together, talk to your family, talk to your ex and get that sorted. And if you haven’t done it yet then DO IT!!!
2. Be flexible
I realize that I just wrote a whole paragraph about the importance of planning, but hear me out. You can’t control outside forces. You can’t control that their Aunt Susan is in town for Christmas and she called you two days before the jolly man visits to tell you she will be in town for six hours and would like to see the kids because she hasn’t seen them in three years. People don’t get it, there will always be last minute jerk-offs (no offence Aunt Susan), so be flexible when it comes to your time – these things happen, make a little wiggle room and make it work.
You also need to be flexible when it comes to the actual date of Christmas. Let’s be honest, friends, trying to get the schedules of a blended family to mesh so that everyone can open presents on Christmas day is as difficult as herding cats. It’s not going to happen.
Case in point: this year my stepkids have Christmas at their Mom’s house. So rather than rushing around to pick up the kids and whisk them away from their newly-open presents at their Mom’s house, we just decided to move Christmas.
Yes. Move Christmas.
This year our Christmas Eve is the 23rd and Christmas is the 24th. For us, it’s not about the actual day but about our family, and this way we get to enjoy it together.
3. Do your traditions
One of the best things about the Holidays is the sense of tradition that my husband and I have instilled in our family. The kids know they are going to get Christmas PJs from their dad on Christmas Eve. They know we are going to bake cookies for Santa and they know that on Christmas day there will be a massive breakfast spread. These are the traditions we have carried on from our childhood and it doesn’t matter if they do them with their Mom or their grandparents too. Kids love this stuff so make sure you take the time to do it and continue to create the memories they love.
4. Get those expectations in check.
Rein those bad boys in, my friends. Listen, we’ve all been there before. Those holidays when we either end up in one of two ways…
a) Cursing at everyone calling them a bunch of ungrateful assholes
b) Crying in the corner of our closet with a bottle of vino wishing our family truly loved us.
Here’s the thing, kids aren’t going to give a shit that you stayed up until 3 am beautifully wrapping the presents in a unique and fun way you found on Pinterest. They aren’t going to notice that snowflake banner that you spent four hours on. So drop those unrealistic expectations and be present in the day.
5. Take time to enjoy the moments
This sounds cheesy but hear me out. Take mental photographs of the good moments. Not just because you’re actually enjoying them but because when that sugar high comes crashing down or they are angry snappy assholes because they’ve been up since 5 am, you need to rely on those moments to get you through.
6. When all else fails…
Have a drink! Hell, have three. ‘Tis the season for Bailey’s, Brandy and bubbles! No one will judge you for seeking a little bit of happiness in a cup of Christmas cheer.
BUT WAIT?!? What if you don’t drink or can’t right now because you’re pregnant. Then this is what you do…
You find any excuse you can to remove yourself from the situation. For example, my plan this year is to totally use my pregnancy to my advantage.
“Ohhhhh you know what guys my back hurts. Oh, the baby is kicking a lot. I need to rest”
And I will take my wide-ass pregnant feet upstairs and I will lay down and put on the trashiest tv show I can find. Because nothing makes you feel better about your own life than watching a reality show where their lives are more of a hot mess.
That’s it for me, friends! If you have any tips on how your blended family enjoys the holidays, please leave them in the comments below. I’d love to read them!
Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!