Do you dread your stepkids coming to visit?
Don’t judge me. If you have read any previous post, you already know I love my stepchildren and have a heart full of love. Really I do.
That does not mean I ENJOY every aspect of when my stepkids come. The reality is, there are moments I do not embrace when ANY of our kids walk in the door.
You might wonder why a mom of many would DREAD her three innocent kids coming for a visit. Why the thought of her own sweet blessings returning home after a week at their dads brought about the need to pray for patience and grace in welcoming them back. In their time away all I had done was miss them after all.
One Simple reason for this Dread-
TRANSISITION TIMES ARE CHALLENGING IN A BLENDED FAMILY HOME!
When my step kids would come, everything was different. For them and us. Sometimes even awkward. We were trying to please and entertain, and they felt like they were walking into a place they did not belong. When my kids came home from their dads, it was a bit easier as they come a week on week off, but still, there was that time of adjustment.
Transition times in a blended family are hard. Hard for the kids and the adults.
Each time our kiddos arrive, whether gone for months or even a just a week they can bring with them some undesirable behaviors and routines.
Over time and some painful mistakes, we have learned a few tricks that help ease the AWKWARD for the kids and SANITY for the adults during transition times in our house.
1. Be warm and welcoming but Don’t overdo it-
When our kids arrive, I wait for them to get past the door. THEN, I warmly hug them and greet them with a smile. I move on to doing something normal. I am available and approachable but not hyper-focused on them as they get in the door and get settled. In the past, my greetings may have been a bit overwhelming. I would squeal with delight at seeing them, and blurt out a million questions. “What do you want for dinner? How is School? What do you want to do this weekend”? All of this without taking a breath. I was OVERWHELMING THEM with my enthusiasm.
2. Time to adjust is a must-
The first years we were together my Mr, and I would find ourselves waiting in anticipation for his kid’s arrival. In our excitement we would have the night planned out, dinner at their favorite restaurant, a fun activity if not too late. One day my then 11-year-old stepson said: “can we just stay in?” It seems that all along that is what they wanted. They yearned to just relax. Wanting to arrive and play with their toys and just settle in. The same holds true when my kids show up for my scheduled week. They prefer to unpack the few things that travel back and forth with and set things up for the week ahead. They do not want entertainment, they want normalcy.
3. Quizzes and questions-
Avoid quizzing the kids on where they have been and whom they have spent time. Asking too many questions leaves our kids feeling guarded. We have one question we ask “how have you been”? We leave it at that. In time our littles open up. That is when we extend the conversation with another simple question, “tell me more about it”? In a blended family, kids are often protective of the house or parent they have just come. On occasion, a parent may even have warned them to keep things to themselves. We have found it best to be at ease with not hounding them with questions. When the conversation does open up in their time frame, we find it to be way more productive and enjoyable than if we would have questioned away from the beginning.
4. Stepparent stepdown –
When my kids arrive home after a week at their dad’s they are LOUD, my word they are so Loud! It is a family trait from their father’s side. I won’t mention the traits from my side just yet… Music is louder, voices higher and it feels obnoxious in comparison to the quiet week my husband and I have had. The Mr. and I look forward to the kids coming home, but their arrival brings kid chaos and LOUDNESS. Sometimes there are habits from their dad’s they bring. Eating in the living room for one and sometimes cutting each other down. When the Mr.’s kids arrive they too pack a few things we are not accustomed to. A different set of manners and habits, TV shows, phrases and sometimes even attitudes.
We find there is less conflict if the step parent “steps down” in our house during times of transition. When the loudness is too much on that first day, my Mr. gives them grace and walks away. I too have to step down when my step kids arrive and let them work on our ways. I hold my tongue on eating habits and don’t correct what they say. When overwhelmed with the changes my hubby and I give each other time to take a break from the chaos. Grace and patience have led to smoother transitions. Depending on the length of stay we may have to remind the kids of our house rules, for the most part, we try to avoid that on the first day.
5. Anticipate feeling left out-
You may find when the kids come to visit they need the special time with their birth parent. I encourage my Mr. to watch a movie alone with his children, he, in turn, gives me space to sit with my girls and hash teenage things out. There have been plenty of times I wanted time alone with my husband but waited patiently until the kids were in bed. I know this is the case for my MR as well. Weeknights filled with plenty to do when my people are here. My Mr. silently waits until things quiet down for the night to share time with me.
It may seem like we are left out, but the truth is we are focusing on our kid’s needs at the moment so we can have quality time when the kid stuff settles down. Patience and anticipation eliminate the tug of war that sometimes accompanies blended families. We know from the start that there will be times we are left out. Knowing this makes the transition easier for all when there is no envy involved. When the kids are all here for extended stays, we make sure we plan date nights to spend time as husband and wife. In the chaos of every day, we encourage and lift one another up each other in front of our kids.
6. Stick with a routine-
Children need to know what to expect, even our teens. We try to keep things the same. We are a busy family, so there is normal family life going on. However, the Mr and I work diligently at giving the kids all a time to process our plans or changes. I have heard over and over again how my kids hate to find things out at the last minute. For us, that is sending a text or a call to our teens to let them know well ahead of House changes or weeke6.nd plans. For the younger ones, we may share things via a call or Skype. We make sure that we do not spring crazy things on them before they arrive. Working hard a normalcy is key to transactions at our house.
I could not end this post without mentioning the most important Tip of all.
I pray for grace when I am feeling like a not so perfect stepmom; I pray our kids will find peace and joy in our home.
I ask for forgiveness for my mistakes. I GIVE THANKS FOR ALL I HAVE.
It is not easy blending a family. It is hard to watch your kids struggle when they come and go. Even with all of the challenges, I am so very grateful the gift of our family and happy to say in the moment, no dread involved.
Do you ever have a feeling of DREAD when thinking of transition times? Comment below -What works in your house when it comes to Transition times?
Be blessed in your weekend –