Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Five Ways To Add Christmas Cheer With Blended Families...

 Allow the kids to be part of the process.
 Christmas 2015 was a new kind of Christmas for me. It included new people in our family. I can not say that I have mastered the art of a blended family, but I do believe we are off to a great start. Last Christmas was so much fun. Including new people you love and want to share such a special time of year with is important. Do what you can to include everyone, and make them feel special by the memories your are creating for them.
You can even throw up some cute socks with unexpected guests.
My home has always been one of adding a few more place settings at the last minute, and having extra stockings stashed away in the pantry and ready to hang in a moments notice for unexpected guests on Christmas Eve. I imagine that is why having new family dynamics seems a bit easy and natural for me.
Bring kids into your story, even let them sing their favorite songs.
It is very hard on our children to have their families divided. Do not think for one moment that while your kids are opening gifts, laughing, and eating their weight in Christmas cookies that those smiles are also masking a lot of sad. Kids want to be with both parents. No matter what the grown-up issues may be kids feel drawn, especially during the holidays, to both parents.  There are some things you can start doing now with those blended in family members.

Today I was in an online chat with @Cinnabon. Chatting about gifts, traditions, and holiday favorites. You can go to this hashtag to read the entire conversation here: #SweetTalk The  question was asked about how to do Christmas with blended families.  I found myself firing off tweet after tweet to answer this question.  Seeing the response others had I decided to turn this into a blog.

Five Ways To Add Christmas Cheer With Blended Families...

1. Ask the new family members what are some special traditions for them.  Ask the kids, the grown-ups and then implement some of their favorites into your traditions. Ask why this tradition is special to them. Include that child into making this part of your new traditions together.

2.  Ask each family member what is one thing that they would like to do, that is brand new.  Create new traditions for your new family dynamic. Make your story joined with theirs creating a new story. Include everyone. Maybe it's a walk that ends at a coffee shop and hot cocoa. Maybe visiting a nursing home and delivering treats. Then do this every year.

3.  Include the new family. Both immediate and extended family. Create events around their family so that they feel accepted and part of the new family dynamic. This one may not be so easy. Maybe you are not fond of the extended family. Make this season a time to bring good cheer. Have an appetizer evening, potluck style and exchange cards. Put a two hour limit on it so you only have to show up and be lovely for two hours. You might actually find this time to learn more about the new family and like them. Serve this extended family with your best good cheer.

4. Plan a menu during the Christmas break. Ask the new blended family what they might like to eat and to help prepare for dinner. Make it a special dinner that follows each year. It does not have to be Christmas dinner. However you can teach a child to have that one dish they contribute every year.

5.  Embrace their stories. Do not, I repeat, do not cringe when they share stories they love when their daddy or mommy were once with their daddy or mommy together.  Kids want to hold onto those memories.  Ask questions from their past. "What are some memories you have from the past?"  Allow that child to maintain that identity of being the son or daughter to two people who once loved each other.

 6.  Create a photo album of your new family.  Including each of the new family into the story of pictures. This is an important way in making everyone feel welcome, valued and part of the family. Believe me when I tell you that even the teenagers will be caught months later looking at this album.

7. Honor their mother or father.  I happen to be dating the father so thus I shall honor her mother. We made ornaments last year. I asked that sweet five year old who we should make ornaments for and of course she said her mama.So guess what, we did.   I chatted away with this sweet five year old girl. The daughter of a man I am dating. She sat on the counter eating cookies and I asked her what her favorite thing to do with her mommy is. She chatted about the things she loves doing. Unedited, she had the joy of sharing her favorite person and their experiences. I loved hearing it. 

8.  Post their Christmas wish-list along with all the other children in your house. Hang it up and talk about it in the same way you would your own children.

9.   DO NOT EVER short "his' or "her" gifts. The best way to make a child feel left out is to actually leave them out. If you have five gifts for your children to be opened on Christmas morning, then you better have five for the new  kids. I was one of those kids left out and perhaps that is why I go out of my way to make sure every kid is valued the same way.

10. Include the family in all aspects of Christmas. There will be special ways to value your own children. Extend your love, your resources, and your Christmas Cheer.  Be an example of love and service to those in your sphere of influence.

You are building life long memories. You will make a difference for a lifetime in how you nurture your blended family. Embrace this time and take joy in the new traditions and new memories being made.

Embracing Christmas and it's traditions are important to your family. Even more important when Christmas is redefined with a blended family.

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