Life under the same roof can be very complex when step families are young,. Most families find during the work week they can manage fairly well due to having some type of routine in place. Parents go to work, kids to go school or to the sitter. The evenings are usually rushed with homework, activities, fitting dinner in there somewhere and getting everyone to bed on time.
But what about the weekends?
The weekends are usually makers or breakers for new step families. If you’re lucky, occasionally all of the children will go to their other parents’ homes and you and your new spouse will have a great opportunity for couple time.
Even if you’re blessed with this arrangement, there are going to be weekends when all of you are under the same roof and the schedule won’t be quite so rigid.
So what do you do with everybody?
First and foremost, let me suggest not to get too caught up in the “doing.” It’s OK to plan things and try to make them fun for everybody. But I’m sure you’ve discovered by now that you won’t be able to make everyone happy, so let that expectation go now.
Not every minute of every day needs to be scheduled. If you and your family members are rushing here, there and everywhere, when are you supposed to get to know one another and begin to feel more like a family?
Feeling as if you’re a family doesn’t just suddenly happen during the wedding ceremony once the “I Do’s” are shared. It takes time; time to be together and experience life with one another.
Let me suggest another option…
Try to focus instead on “being.” This includes: being invested, being present, and being another adult.
Being Invested – You should have a desire to really get to know each person as a unique individual. What are their likes and dislikes and why? How are they likely to respond in different situations? They shouldn’t just be your partner’s kids anymore. They are children in your family now.
Being Present – This isn’t referring to being physically around the kids. It means being there emotionally. Caring about their concerns and fears – even if those have to do with this new family.
Being Another Adult – While you are a family now, you are not another parent. Your focus should be on being an important adult figure in their life, not another disciplinarian. You have the freedom to do the fun stuff with them without the ugly discipline. Let your spouse (the kids’ actual parent) be the parent.
So kick back this weekend and don’t despair. So what if you don’t have a ton of ideas for things to do? “Being” is free. I challenge you to pick 1 of the options from today’s list and focus on it this weekend.
You may be asking, “How can I learn other ways to help my family grow closer?” There are two answers: education and support.