Let’s face it, life is crazy these days whether you’re in a blended family or not! I recently got a “mom’s calendar” which has columns for each family member so I know who needs to go where, and when. Even with all the chaos, making time to connect as a family is must. All those lessons and sports will never replace the time you give your children.
So what are some steps you can take to protect that all important “family time?” Let’s look at a few with a special eye on the intricacies of blended family life…
1. Make it a priority – Let everyone know that family is important and don’t allow other things to get in the way. Your family time is just as important as the Karate class and piano lessons. I bet you have those activities written on your calendar. Shouldn’t your family time get just as much attention and planning?
Schedule your time together and MAKE it happen no matter what. Now, as a blended family, you need to understand that “family time” can mean a lot of things. This can be everyone together, or breaking up into your sub-families (you with your kids and your spouse with his/her kids). Your kids still need time with just you. Trying to force everyone together all the time doesn’t work.
2. Involve everyone’s input – Give everybody the opportunity to say what they would like to do. It’s not your responsibility to be the blended family entertainment director. One option that works really well, is assigning each family member to be in charge of planning a different activity. The kids must get approval from you, but let them come up with the ideas, make phone calls to get more info, etc. You may have to help younger kids. The rule with this is that no one is allowed to complain. They just have to suck it up, do the activity and remember they get to make the decision eventually.
3. Model the importance of it – You need to show your entire blended family that time together is important. That means being available. Don’t stay that extra hour late at work. Tuck your kids in at night. Sit down to a meal with everyone. If you aren’t showing them that family time is important, there’s no way they will buy into the idea of making it a regularly scheduled event.
4. Have fun with your blended family! Things may feel awkward the first few times if your family isn’t used to spending a lot of time together. Recognize this ahead of time. New things are always a little uncomfortable. Keep at it though! Relax and just enjoy each other. After a few times, you’ll find it fun. Again, just make sure you’re not being too rigid in your definition of “family.” As parents you have a lot of control over how close your blended family is or isn’t. The simple fact is that TIME is required. Make the time. All the stuff in the world will never make up for the lack of time given to your children.