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How to minimize holiday stress with a blended family

If you’re a divorced parent, it’s likely that eventually you’ll become part of a blended family. Your new spouse may have children. Your co-parent may have a new spouse and stepchildren. There could be a host of grandparents, aunts and uncles and other relatives in your children’s lives.

If this is your first holiday season dealing with a blended family, you’re probably feeling more stress than usual. You may have to navigate not only your own custody schedule, but your current spouse’s schedule with their children. Even if you’re a single parent, you may be impacted by the fact that your co-parent is trying to make time for their stepkids along with your own kids.

Before the holidays arrive, blended families should have a plan for how they’ll navigate this season and make it as enjoyable as possible for everyone. Consider these three tips for celebrating holidays as a blended family.

All of this calls for some early planning. If you didn’t get around to doing that, you can still lessen the stress on everyone by being flexible. Things may not go exactly as you’d like. However, don’t let your expectations for a “perfect” holiday ruin the time you have with your kids and other loved ones.

This is a good time to create new traditions. Maybe you won’t see your kids on Christmas Day. Perhaps your new spouse is spending the day with their kids. Learn to embrace the joy that can come by having more than one celebration before or after Christmas.

If your kids enjoy doing something they learned at their new stepgrandparents’ home, be willing to give it a try rather than resenting the fact that they did something fun without you. When they’re adults, you want them to look back on this time fondly — not remember that you sulked because they weren’t together on the first night of Hanukkah or Christmas Eve.

That doesn’t mean you should throw away what you and your co-parent worked out in your custody agreement. You have a right to expect your co-parent to respect it. It also helps your kids know where they’ll be on any given day during their vacation. However, sometimes it’s in their best interests if their parents can be flexible. After the holidays are over, if you believe you need to make changes before next year rolls around, talk with your family law attorney.

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