During school vacation, blended family time together takes on a new look. Summer visitations with non-custodial kids mean step parents look toward bonding with the step kids, and step siblings spend more time together. When your step family seems to be all over town during the summer months, make time for quality time together. Even with teenagers in your step family, insist on set times at home with the entire blended family.

Family meals nourish your blended family

As your step family grows, family mealtimes can become problematic. Eating every meal together is a lofty goal in this day and age of lessons, meetings, practices, socializing, not to mention your job, and summer work for older step kids.  Despite outside interests and obligations, why not make it a step family obligation to sit down together at least three times a week for a family meal? Blended family mealtimes together do more than simply nourish our bodies. They nourish the blended family unit. For anything to grow, it needs to be fed.

Blended family communication

You might make it a mealtime ritual to discuss what happened during the day. For example, “a good part of my day was when I held the door open for an old lady at the grocery store. A not-so-good part of my day was when I lost my baseball glove after practice.”

Mealtimes are not appropriate times to chastise a child for losing his glove, however. Keep blended family time, like mealtimes, a safe place for anyone to talk about whatever they wish to share. Make it easy for the step kids to feel comfortable sharing something – anything – about themselves with the entire step family.

Having fun at blended family mealtimes

Weather permitting, eating outside can be a fun summertime ritual. Try making the extra work setting and clearing the table outside into a team effort. Play music stepsiblings can sing along with together while they work cooperatively. Silly work songs like, “this is the way we lay the forks,” “the plates go marching one by one,” can help make it more fun for young step siblings.

Extend your blended family time by playing a family game at the table. Word games are a good way to get even your quietest step kid talking. If you need help with suggestions for family table games, search the many sites available online. The important thing is to play together as a blended family, to laugh and to enjoy each other. If the members of your blended family tend to be competitive, try to stay away from keeping-score games or winner-loser games for the sake of family harmony.

Laugh it up

Ha. Ha-ha. Ha-ha-ha. Ha-ha-ha-ha. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! What is that? It is the sound of five people sitting around a table playing the Ha-ha Game.  You begin the string of Ha’s with the first person saying it once. The next person around the table increases the number of Ha’s by one, and so on with each person, going around the table increasing the number of Ha’s by one. Anyone can reverse direction with a hand signal like a finger snap or tap on the table, and with the change of direction around the table, the number of Ha’s decreases by one, until someone reverses direction again. Even the glummest of adolescents have been known to laugh out loud in this game!

Blended family mealtimes are an excellent way to grow together as a family, and bond, learn social skills, and laugh with each other, as well. Congenial and caring mealtime conversations can take on the nurturing aspects that nutritious foods provide, making blended family goals easier to reach. Bon appetit!