Before you get entirely focused on returning to a school year schedule for your blended family, take some time to look back on how well the summer visitations went, the growing relationships between step siblings, your progress as a step parent in bonding with your step kids, and on the overall strength of your blended family unit.

Celebrate summer holiday

Let your visiting step kids know that their visit was valued and important to the blended family. If you made videos or took photos of their time with you, schedule a video or photo show of your summer vacation fun. Make it a blended family evening or afternoon party, and be sure all step siblings attend. You might also prepare photo albums or scrapbooks of step family activities over the summer holiday for the kids who do not live at your house. Put photos on the walls.

Be grateful

Let your kids, both bio kids and step kids, know that your time together was valuable to you personally, to their step siblings, and to the entire blended family unit, and that you enjoyed being with them over the summer. Privately, recount an incident you especially enjoyed with each child, and without pressing for one, let them share a similar thought with you. Learning to say goodbye is an important life skill. Help your kids say goodbye and leave with pleasant thoughts, glad they have been there, and happy to be going home.

Get organized

Getting ready for the upcoming school year means shopping trips for clothes and school supplies and preparing visitation schedules. Having one master schedule showing school vacations, visitations, blended family birthdays and other special dates, and social or sporting events for the kids is very helpful in avoiding potential conflicts. Also, giving children portable calendars showing their own schedules as they travel back and forth between parental homes is often helpful and comforting to them. As soon as you receive a calendar of events from school, share it with the other parents in your extended step family, and be sure to keep everyone in the loop throughout the year.

Where is my book bag?

Your own relationship with the other parent of your children is an important indicator of how well your kids will manage their shift between houses under a visitation schedule. Helping kids and step kids keep track of their things as they travel back and forth between parental homes is easier if you and the other parents maintain a cooperative and collaborative relationship. If practical, agree which parent will take care of getting clothing and supplies, who will arrange medical visits, who will be the primary signer of school permission slips. If you can, establish duplicate homework and free time schedules to make sure your kids know both sets of parents have similar expectations, and to ensure that a weekend with the other parent does not mean a Monday morning panic because homework assignments have not been completed.

Looking forward

Summer vacation behind you at last, take a look at how well you and your spouse did over the summer in the management of your step family, and in the management of your own relationship. Remember, the strength and stability of your relationship is vital to the success of your blended family unit. Why not plan a special night out, just the two of you, to celebrate? Visit The Blended and Step Family Resource Center for more information.