School summer break is coming soon, and you may be wondering how it will go when your blended
free image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net family is all together; the kids who live with you have settled into a fairly good routine with visits from step siblings, and you have been able to establish reasonably good relationships with your step kids. Now is a good time to step it up a notch!
Blended family summer schedules
Scheduling summer vacation visitations can be complicated, but all it takes is a calendar and email or a telephone, and tons of patience and flexibility. Hopefully, you have been able to schedule times when everyone can be together as a blended family, and others when your kids and step kids are all with their other parents, giving you and your spouse some well-earned time alone. If this kind of schedule will not work this year, try for next year!
Use school vacations to blend more completely as a step family unit
The everyday routine is established, and you are reasonably pleased with how well it is working with school and homework, visitations and activities. During summer vacation, when you get more time with each other as a step-family, take advantage of the time! Make your home a welcome place for bio and step kids to bring their friends. Adolescent members of your step family need time with their friends, especially, but be sure to encourage them to make an effort to join step siblings and you for blended family time, also. Helping them to set limits on their own activities and time teaches important life lessons and reinforces their important place in your blended family.
What shall we do?
Family time, blended or otherwise, is all about building and maintaining relationships, and about enjoying each other. Blended family summer vacations can be a perfect time for step siblings to bond and for step parents and step kids to deepen their relationships, too. Talk with your spouse about possible outings or trips, and before you approach the kids to ask for their input, come up with a few options that could work with your schedules and your budget.
Be up front with your step family about time or budget constraints, and do not feel you must complete with fantastic vacation plans made by your ex-spouse. Mostly, both step kids and bio kids just want to spend time with their parents.
So long as everyone is comfortable, happy and reasonably occupied with things to do, summertime at home can be fun and rewarding for the entire step family. Introduce the idea of a stay-cation, where you stay at home and take day trips to interesting and fun destinations within driving distance. This can work well with a step family who has obligations with sports teams or family reunions, or with summer school.
Schedule barbeque nights, picnic lunches, dessert making contests, backyard camping, ghost story bonfires, and reading circles. Believe it or not, even older kids like being read to now and then. Board game marathons are a good way for older step-siblings to stay engaged with each other, and littler kids just want your undivided attention, doing anything, for extended periods of time.
If your blended family decides to travel, discuss behavioral expectations, including what to wear, what to pack and whether cell phones and computer games will be allowed during group times. In the best of times, communicating with a teenager can be difficult, and downright impossible if they are tuned out from you and from their step siblings!
Step family time spent together can be fun and rewarding no matter what the activity, so long as everyone feels included, loved and appreciated. Take advantage of school breaks to strengthen blended family ties. Now is the time to create meaningful memories with step parents and step siblings all your kids can keep with them, long after the summer holiday.