Hellooo, mommas of blended families! I want to give y’all a ton of credit for keeping your homes together amidst a whole bunch of personality traits, emotional needs and wants, maturity levels, and new surroundings. Falling in love was the easy part; putting your two families together AIN’T! What do you do after you’ve jumped the broom with your 2nd, 3rd, 4th spouse (no judgment, no side eye) and have slid under one roof – especially if it is yours? You’ve got to ensure that your kids still feel special when you bring new folks into the home. Here are five tips:
- Allow your child the opportunity to willingly share. Your kid has her own iPad and is glued to it, and the new kid doesn’t have one. Allow your kid the opportunity to make it her idea to share. Try super hard not to force her to share what is rightfully hers. This forcing would surely cause resentment all around, and would take time to unravel the damage. Prior to the big move in, discuss sharing, and practice with one another so that your kid doesn’t melt down when it is time to share.
- Do for one. Do for another. My husband and I each have our own children – boys who are both grown. We’ve had our moments when we needed to be super cognizant of what we were doing for one child versus what we were doin’ or not doin’ for another. Facebook tells all your business. (Okay, when I post, I’m tellin’ my business. Facebook ain’t sittin’ in my living room and taking notes like a court room stenographer.) Anyway, when you do for one, you must do for another. Fair is fair.
- Make individual special time. No matter the age, kids want to feel like they are still special and are singled out in your eye. They want their time to have your ear, your attention, your undying love. Give it to them! You’ll find that this special time will yield special moments. Remember, you don’t have to take your kid on a solo graduation trip to Tahiti (unless you did it for one other kid, see #3)! A walk around the block would actually suffice. It’s the time that matters.
- A rule is a rule. Don’t bend it: This throws back to #3 also. With different aged kids plus an assortment of personalities combined with your patience and nearness to blowing your top, you’ve gotta stick to your rules. If there is no eating in the living room for the eight-year-old, then the thirteen-year-old should follow the same rule even though you hope this older kid has enough sense not to spill red Kool-Aid all over the new beige couch.
- Give them space: Everyone needs time to adjust, including you and your new spouse. If you literally need to set a cute little alarm or an egg timer to 30 minutes of personal time, like Don’t look at me, don’t ask me to do nothin’, don’t come in my room, then DO IT! This time alone will create buffers and will be that literal “time out” that allows everyone a personal breather.