In blended families we get to practice sharing our children every single day of the year, so we often approach the holiday season with a sense of ease and confidence. Unfortunately, once the weight of gifts and meals, and families begins to become a reality, it feels a bit heavier than we expected, making these occasions sources of stress and dread instead of joy. So, how do you master sharing your child during holidays?
This might be news to department stores and Hallmark cards, but Christmas isn’t the only major holiday that occurs during the last thirty days of the calendar year. Each family is unique, with traditions, religions, and spiritual beliefs that are special to just that unit. For the sake of consistency, I’ll stick with Christmas throughout this post, but keep in mind that that variety of ways families celebrate and what they celebrate is just another reason for you to make each holiday your own, no matter the structure of your family!
How To Master Sharing Your Child During Holidays
The first thing to remember when sharing the amazing children you’re lucky enough to be a bonus mom to is that flexibility is vital. My wife and I want to spend every waking minute with our girl, especially during holidays, but it’s not about us, it’s about Mia. We aren’t her only parents, and Mia’s other mother wants to share these moments with her just as much as we do! The more flexible you are, the more seamless the transitions will be for your bonus children (and your together children if you have them!).
If you have the rapport with the parents in your child’s other household to work together when it comes to the holiday schedule, ditch the rigidity of the official custody agreement. If your family has a big Christmas brunch and the other house has a formal sit down dinner, exchange at 2 PM instead of the 5 PM time in the agreement. Everyone involved has chosen to be a parent, so make it a priority to ensure your little one gets to be at every event that matters (without absolutely running him or her ragged, of course).
Let Go Of Your Gifts
Let me clarify, let your gifts go with the person they’re given to. Possessions going back and forth between houses can be a frustrating aspect of blended family life. We buy the perfect sweater or the best new Barbie for our little loves to wear or play with while at our homes, never to see it again. Sure, we go out and buy the Christmas gifts we know they want so that we can see them enjoy those things.
But the reality is, once we wrap those presents and hand them over, they aren’t ours anymore. We buy these gifts for our children to love, regardless of which house they’re in. So that American Girl doll you’re incredibly proud for snagging this Christmas? Let it go when she doesn’t want leave it behind. Our kids should get to have their things exactly where they want them.
Manage Old And New Traditions
Depending on when your little one(s) went from one household to two, some holiday traditions might have already been established before you came along. Be mindful and respectful of the rituals the kids bring with them from when they’re parents were still together. Maybe they always open one gift on Christmas Eve, or maybe they do stockings before presents when you’re to doing them last.
Either way, try to blend what they’re used to with the new traditions you and your partner create for your holidays together! Allow them to open one gift on Christmas Eve, but make it a new storybook or movie that you can all read or watch together before getting tucked in that night. Enjoy making the holidays special and unique to you while helping your kids maintain routines and have seamless transitions.
Support Your Partner On The Off Days
The major holidays usually trade back and forth every year when a child has two homes. Maybe you have the kids on Thanksgiving and New Years Eve and your co-parent has Christmas, and the next year is the opposite. When you’re celebrating a holiday with kids, it doesn’t matter what day you actually do it, but the off holidays can still feel a bit hollow without them. Christmas morning will happen for us this year on the 26th, because that’s when we have our girl, but my wife will still wake up on Christmas Day feeling like something is missing. And that’s okay. Be supportive of your partner if he or she has moments of struggles on the holidays where celebrations are delayed. It doesn’t mean they’re not grateful to be spending that special day with just you.
Build Excitement For Both Houses
When our house is the one that Mia gets to wake up in on Christmas morning, it’s a wonderful feeling to get to see that excitement in her eyes when she realizes Santa has come. Experiencing those moments is truly special. Keep in mind though, that even when the holiday celebrations are over in your house, they’re only just preparing to begin in your child’s other home. When the excitement is over on our end, it’s our responsibility to continue to build the momentum if round two for our co-parent, so that the other house gets to experience those highs all over again when it’s time to exchange. They deserve it just as much as we do, and it’s what we would hope to have next year when the roles are reversed. Make sure the sequel is just as good as the original. 😉
To all of my blended families out there, what’s your best advice for sharing your child during holidays? Give all of us your insight in the comments section below!
As always, thanks so much for reading!