School vacations can be a good time to re-visit the house rules you and your spouse have established. With new schedules and perhaps additional visitors to your home during the summer holidays, you may want to review some of the day-to-day expectations.

Time schedules for your step family

With school out, step moms and step dads will almost certainly see step kids more often, and step siblings will likely have more time together, too. Consider revising bedtimes during school holidays, so long as each member of the entire blended family still gets enough sleep. Sleep is extremely important for growing children, especially for adolescents, but staying up a little later with a focus on blended family activities can carry benefits, too. If your step family daily plan can accommodate it, let your adolescents sleep in later. They will love you for it, and studies have shown that adolescents get most of their beneficial sleep in the morning! Going to bed earlier does not do the trick, the experts say, and as long as they do not sleep away the day, where’s the harm?

Blended family focus

The beginning of summer vacation may be a good time to hold a blended family meeting to review home ground rules. Step family members may suggest revisions for the short term, but be sure that your basics stay intact. Mom and step dad, or dad and step mom, remain in charge of the entire step family unit. While bio parents should always take the lead on issues of obedience, and with any consequences for their kids, a step parent at the scene of misbehavior must always confront the offender and take whatever action is appropriate.

Assigned chores and permissions may need revising to accommodate summer sports schedules, other-parent visitation schedules, or time spent with friends, and to be sure everyone is treated fairly. Step siblings watch to see that everyone is treated equally, and it is good to note that “fair” does not always mean “equal.” A teenager’s permission to go to the movies with friends does not mean that every child in the family has to see a movie, for instance. Young children need more sleep and earlier bedtimes, but may cheerfully enjoy early morning activities without their older step siblings!

Take time

Summer activities often keep us busier than we’d like, but try to be conscious of how well you are listening to your spouse and the other step family members when they talk to you. Practice active listening; stop what you are doing, look at the person talking to you, and make a thoughtful and caring response to what has been said. If you simply cannot stop what you are doing at the moment, say when you will be able to listen, and then keep to that promise. Communication is always improved when people talk with each other, rather than talk to each other.

Blended family summer fun

Spouses, summertime fun applies to you, too. Be sure to continue your regular date nights, and seek out time to be alone. It is good to remind yourselves on a regular basis why you fell in love and why you chose to create this blended family. You deserve time to yourselves, and may even need to recharge your step parenting batteries from time to time!

Step children and step siblings need to recharge their batteries too, so give everyone a break now and then and allow for individualized time with bio parents and kids. A simple trip to the hardware store or garden shop can be a fruitful opportunity for talking and checking in to see how things are going. Be sure to check in on a regular basis; your views may differ from that of your child.

This summer vacation, spend as much time as a blended family as you can, building relationships and memories; and be sure to balance blended family time with those times between bio parents and kids, and between you and your spouse, which are so valuable.