The summer holidays can bring an array of changes to routines and schedules, and this can cause additional challenges for blended families.
However, there are some strategies that we can put into place to combat these challenges and allow us to enjoy the summer!
- Have a family meeting before the summer holidays begin where the family can discuss everyone’s plans. Consider any changes that will take place such as childcare arrangements, changing work schedules and children being with their other parent more/less.
- Have realistic expectations and stay flexible. Things may not always go as smoothly as we would like. Stay flexible when things don’t go to plan. Remember to keep the children top of mind and focus on their needs.
- Be organised! Create a calendar that every member of the family has access to, whether it be a printed one on the fridge or an online one like google and remember to sync schedules with your co-parent too.
- Communicate effectively and clearly. Communication is key to avoiding conflict. All family members, including co-parents need to be in the loop and on the same page. To avoid any confusion, make plans known well in advance and discuss and agree upon these plans, schedules, responsibilities, finances and pick ups/drop offs for the children with your co-parent.
- Keep expectations similar between both households whenever possible. It may take a bit of compromise and flexibility to meet in the middle, but it is well worth it for the children’s sake.
- Stay connected. Life can get busy, especially in a blended family. You may find that you are all ships passing in the night at times, especially during the summer when children have extra clubs, activities or are spending longer periods of time with their other parent. When times are hectic, make an effort to stay connected. Find out your child’s love language and take time to love them in the way they receive love. For example, spending time helping them to pack, giving them a hug or saying something encouraging to them before they leave the house. Some children feel they will miss out on something when they go to the other parent’s house. To combat this, let them know you will be saving plenty of fun things to do with them when they return.
- Create space for quality one to one time. It’s important to have time for Bio Mum/bio children, Bio Dad/bio children and step-Mum/Dad and stepchildren to have time alone together. This helps to maintain bonds and create new ones.
- Have fun! Use the summer to spend more time together as a family. Continue with old traditions and create new ones. Be open to new ideas and trying new things.
- Take time to look after yourself and re-charge. Make sure to have some time for yourself and as a couple. Go on that date night or have that soak in the bath to unwind. Self-care is essential to looking after your family. Remember the air hostess always asks the parents to put on the oxygen mask on themselves first before putting it on their children and there is very good reason for that.
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