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melissa@blendedfamilypodcast.com

 

There are a lot of factors to think about when determining your visitation schedule for your blended family.

 

You and your partner will already have a divorce agreement set in place that determines your basic schedule or agreement on visitation.  Once you blend families, you will need to decide how to make that work for everyone.

 

The big question is, should you have all of the kids from both sides share visitation or keep them separate.

 

First you want to look at how all of the kids get along together.  If they fight excessively and cannot resolve their differences, you may want to keep them separated.  However, you must keep in mind that in order for them to get over their differences, they need an opportunity to get to know each other better.  If step siblings do argue, you must remember that this is just as normal as biological siblings fighting.  The main thing is that you don’t let that come between you and your partner.

 

Also consider the quality time you have with your children.  If having all of the kids together is hard because the kids feel slighted, you could separate them in order to have more on on one time with them.  Though this isn’t the best option because they may never learn the importance of equality in the home.  A better way around this is to sneak quality time in when you can, even if it is short.  Take a child with you when running an errand or plan an alone meal with them.  This is usually all kids need to get that connection they crave.

 

Most important of all, think about your time with your partner, and insuring that you both get a chance to connect as a couple. If you never have the kids together, chances are you will never get a break, unless you have a great babysitter lined up.  It’s nice when you have a weekend to yourself, and you can plan your visitation that way.

 

No matter what you decide, you can adjust your schedule as needed.  Try different options until you figure out what works best for your family.

 

Comment on the show notes if you have any helpful advice to share on this topic.

 

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When you move in together, It is really important to have a guideline of rules for the home.  This will insure that everyone knows what is expected of them.  There are rules for parents, rules for children, and general house rules.

 

Everything starts with the parents.  You and your partner need to first figure out your own rules, as a couple, in the home.  There are a few standards which should be a given.  This would include keeping an honest and open communication between the two of you.  Also, you should stand united when it comes to issues with the children.  If you do disagree, take it away from the kids.  When you are in front of the children, you must present yourselves as being on the same team, or they will drive a wedge between you both.  Other things you should discuss, is each of your responsibilities in the home, such as who will handle certain tasks, like cooking, cleaning, lawn care, bills, etc.  Last for you as parents, is to decide your own rules for disciplining the children.  You need to figure out how much you will each be involved in the step childrens discipline.  Talk about what you are each comfortable with, before getting into a situation that makes either of you uncomfortable.

 

For the children, it is hard to establish rules, since in a blended family, children are splitting time between two households.  They often have two sets of rules for each home.  Instead of worrying about the other home, which is not in your control,  instead concentrate on setting rules for your home.  Please look at the attached chore chart for age appropriate chores for the kids.  You can print up a chart for each kid so they can keep track of what is expected of them.  Try to keep things fair, although the kids living with you full time will most likely have some more expectations than the children that only visit on weekends.

 

Hose rules include things that everyone can agree what is expected from them while they are there.  For instance, respecting one another, no yelling or hitting, and also what happens if someone breaks a rule. You can also set up family rituals such as dinners, or meetings.  Work together to determine a standard of rules for your blended family.  This can and will be adjusted as everyone gets older and more comfortable with each other.

 

Please comment if you have any tips on rules that you would like to share with the audience.

 

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Moving in together and forming a blended family is a big decision.  There are some key factors to look at to determine if you are ready, and what steps to take.

  1. How do you know if the time is right?
  2. Deciding which home to move into, or where to move.
  3. How to tell your children.
  4. How to tell your ex partners.

 

When deciding if the time is right for your family to move in together, you must take everone’s feelings into consideration.  If any of the children are mourning from the divorce, that is something that may need to be worked through first.

 

Think of your current relationship with your partner, and their relationship with your children.  If there are any problems, they will be magnified when you all actually live together.  Jumping in too quickly can cause permanent damage to your relationship.

 

The question of where you will choose to live depends on many factors.  This is a big decision, but you will want to take certain factors into consideration here.  Such as, where your exes live, where you both work, the childrens ages and what schools they attend, etc.  Make the decision that will be least disruptive for all those involved.

 

Telling your children that you have decided to move in with your partner is a big step.  They may have seen this coming, or it may come as a surprise.  Depending on the ages and circumstances, the children may or may not be pleased with this decision.  Be sure to talk things out, and listen to their feelings and concerns.

 

Telling the ex partners is something that needs to be done, though not in the sense of asking permission.  The children involved are both of yours, therefore, your ex is entitled to know about decisions that will affect their life.  This can be done by telephone or email.

 

Please comment on the show notes if you have a story or tip about your experience.

 

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Blended families face many struggles during the holiday season. There are things you can do make this time less stressful and more peaceful for your family.

The four topics are

  1. Religion
  2. Traditions
  3. Keeping things fair
  4. Holiday time sharing

 

Religion

When the family is divided into two religions, the best practice is to allow celebrating both holidays.  Parents and children can learn from one another and expand their culture.  If this is against your religious beliefs, there needs to be an open honest discussion about this.  All parties must respect one anothers beliefs and come to a place of compromise.

 

Traditions

When two families come together, even if both the same religion, many times have an entirely different set of traditions and rituals they follow.  Sit down with your partner and make a list of each of your traditions and decide which are important to each of you.  You can most likely find a way to incorporate them all together.  This is all about compromising.  You can also sit down with the children and vote on it, or allow each family member to pick a tradition they like the most.  Don’t forget, this is the perfect time to discover new traditions that you can start with this new blended family.  If there are believers and non believers amongst the kids, make sure the non believers do not spill the beans to the other kids.

 

Keeping things fair

It is relatively easy to keep things fair in your own home regarding gift giving.  When it comes to what goes on in an ex partners home, we have no control.  Fighting with a partner over this will not help.  If one set of kids receives much more than another set of kids, try as best you can to minimize the extra gifts coming home.  As the children get older and more mature, this will be less of an issue.

 

Time Sharing

Navigating holiday time sharing is extremely challenging, as you each have a drawn up plan with your ex regarding custody and time sharing.  Usually each of your plans will be different.

You can choose to celebrate your holidays with a split family.  This is easier if the kids are older.  When the kids are young, and if it is important to you to celebrate all as one unit, you can choose a day to celebrate when you will all be together.  This is a day that falls before or after the holiday.  You can get creative with this.

 

It is important to not allow these issues to cause stress and arguments during the holidays.  This should be a time of peace and joy and connectedness.

 

If you have any tips on how to keep sane during the holidays or how you manage your family schedule? Please comment on the show notes

 

Next Week’s topic is Moving in together, and how to make that a smooth transition.

 

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This shows topics

  • How long should you wait to date after a divorce
  • How to figure out what type of partner you are looking for
  • How to navigate this terrain with your children

 

How long you should wait to date depends on specific circumstances and your mental state.  Before moving on, you should be in a place where you are stable, and not actively grieving over your divorce.

 

Before you date, you need to work on breaking old patterns.  Determine what patterns existed in your marriage that were detrimental.  In some instances, such as abuse or addiction, a good therapist can help you with this.

 

When you are ready, work on your self esteem. A good diet and exercise program can help you feel healthier.  Do something for yourself to make you feel good.  Positive affirmations and self encouragement are essential.

 

Make a realistic list of character traits you are looking for in a new partner.  Also make a list of deal breakers, or traits that you absolutely cannot tolerate.

 

Decide how you are going to meet people.  Determine if you will be open to blind dates or a dating site/service.  Join clubs and/or social groups to find like minded people.  Some good meeting places are parks, the gym, church, and school functions.

 

Accept plenty of dates, even if you know it isn’t a perfect match.  Enjoy yourself, and get practice at conversing with another adult without being nervous.  Keep initial conversations light, and minimize speak of your divorce and what went wrong.

 

When you are ready to introduce kids to a new partner, determine if it is the right time.

 

Elementary age children may need extra time, as they are maybe also healing from the divorce.  Take it very slow, and look for clues from your child to see how they are coping with it.  Keep talking to your child and answering their questions openly and honestly.

 

Middle school children can be introduced quicker, but may be reluctant to cooperate.  If your middle schooler is full of angst and acting out behaviorally, take things slowly.  Again, keep communicating with your child.

 

High schoolers are less invested in the love life of their parents.  Though, in some case, feel it is their job to manage a parents life. If this sounds like your child, remind them that you are an adult, but appreciate their concern.

 

Remember that only you can make the choices that are best for you and your family, regardless of everyone giving you their unsolicited opinions.  Only do what you think is best for yourself and your family.

 

If you have any tips on Dating after divorce, please comment on the show notes at blendedfamilypodcast.com/3

 

If you want to know more about me and my journey, read my blog called Yes, we met at McDonalds

 

Next Week’s topic is Holidays and Traditions

To donate to the Hardman family, please click here. This blended family can really use our help after their tragic accident, which took both parents and three children from their family, leaving only three sons.

 

 

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Having a healthy divorce is essential, as it is the building block of a new relationship and important to the well being of your children.

 

Four steps to a healthy divorce are

 

  1. Evaluate
  2. Stop the Hate
  3. Communicate
  4. Appreciate

 

Evaluate means to take inventory of your relationship with your ex, to determine what went wrong.  You want to also figure out what is wrong with the relationship at this current time.  A good way to sort this out is to write down the following questions and answer them

 

* What led to the divorce?

* How do you get along now, on a scale of 1-10. Has this number been improving or not?

* If you had to choose one word to describe your feelings towards your ex, what would it be?

* What do you think needs to change in order to move forward to a more positive place?

 

Occasionally revisit, and rewrite this list.  You are looking for a steady improvement over time.

 

Stop the Hate.  An example of the emotional ladder you will climb after divorce is

 

* Hurt and sadness

* Anger

* Bitterness

* Resentment

* Hatred

* Neutrality or indifference

* Like

 

Many people get stuck at hate, and cannot move up.  Holding hatred is a poison to your own system, and must be eliminated.  You will experience it in most cases, but it is so important to move past it as quickly as you can.

 

Communicate. This step can take years to accomplish, but certainly can be done.  In regards to your children, you want to get to a place with your ex where you can have a conversation.  This can be a slow process.  You may need to begin with corresponding by email such as a business type of relationship.  Eventually you should be able to have face to face conversations about important issues, such as medical, behavioral, and educational needs of your children.

 

Appreciate. It is important to come to a place where you respect and appreciate your ex as a co parent of your children.  At one time, there was love or admiration between you.  Instead of focusing on all of the negative traits of your ex, and what they are doing wrong, try to focus on the positive.  Always honor the relationship between the parent and your child.

 

If it is your ex having the difficulty moving on, or having the hateful feelings, there are some things you can do to help.  First, apologize if you have done anything to hurt or upset them.  Understand there is nothing that you can do to control someone else’s feelings and emotions.  Stay calm, and do not let them get you escalated.  Never speak poorly of your ex to your children, as this is very painful for them to hear.

 

If you have entered into a new relationship, you want to be sure your new partner gets along with your ex.   Likewise if your ex has a new partner, you will want to get along with them.  This is important for all children involved.  They love to see all of their parents/step parents getting along.

 

A big key in moving forward is accepting that your marriage didn’t make it.  This is not a failure if you can take positive experiences from that relationship.  Whatever was not positive, you can learn from it and move forward.

 

The journey of a healthy divorce can take many years to achieve, but it can be done with patience and love.

 

If you want to know more about me and my journey, read my blog on the website called How I made my divorce healthy.

 

If you have any tips on how to make a divorce a healthy one, please share them by commenting on the show notes at blendedfamilypodcast.com

 

Next Week’s topic is Dating after Divorce

 

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