According to blended families research, one in three children live in a blended home. A blended home is defined as a household that includes a stepparent, step sibling or half sibling within the household.
I guess you can say my family exceeds that definition. We are blended on both sides; my spouse and I both had children prior to our marriage. I must say, I never envisioned having a blended family or marrying a military spouse. You talk about destiny. Five years later and this beautiful portrait that we have painted is pretty chaotic most days, but it is the perfect blend of love.
Born in a family with the same parents and siblings, I could have never imagined what life was like for families who had to integrate multiple schedules, have visitation parameters, and streamline cohesiveness of messages in two separate households. It was hard enough managing this without being blended.
I have learned that the key to a successful blended family is to always keep the child in the forefront of decisions.
When a child feels loved and included no matter where they are, they feel a sense of belonging. Often times, we have to be flexible and understanding despite our personal feelings as adults. In the end, the children are always the ones who are impacted the most.
Over the years, we have learned that the holidays have their own unique perspective, as each unit has its own traditions and celebrations during this time of the year. One thing that has kept our family strong is being intentional about creating our own traditions in our home. We understand that each year looks different as our two boys schedules change year to year.
As we look forward to the holiday season, I want to share some traditions that we incorporate into our blended family. Often times they don’t look like the “norm”, but they are our special blend that keeps our family strong.
Here are a few things we love to do each season.
1. Pajama Themed Photos
Each year we order our Christmas pajamas early to ensure we can capture a picture together. It normally depends on the visitation schedule we have for our two boys; we could end up doing these on Christmas Eve or wear them after noon on Christmas Day. We usually buy our pj’s at either Target or JCPenney, where you can always find a variety of sizes for each family member.
2. Baking Cookies
What kids don’t enjoy getting messy in the kitchen? We find the coolest cookie cutters and make the best cookies for Santa the night before Christmas. And we never forget the sprinkles and milk!
3. Picking Out Our Holiday Tree
When I said, “I do,” the one ultimatum that was required was that we would pick out a live Christmas tree each year. Each season we visit some of the coolest local tree farms to pick out our tree for the holidays. It’s been a fun tradition that will live on forever in our family.
4. Elf on The Shelf
Coco Bell, our family elf, has been one tradition that brings out so many laughs and screams to our family. It is the one thing that our children jump out of bed for during the school week. From December 1 to Christmas Night, Coco Bell does a series of things to grab the attention of our children. She leaves messages of encouragement and reminders throughout her time with us.
5. Decorating Our Own Gingerbread House
Our crafty kids love to create their own gingerbread houses. We usually schedule this the weekend we have all the kids together leading up to Christmas. Eating candy and making a mess is indeed a favorite in our home!
Family looks different for all of us, but the glue that keeps us together is love. We love the time we get to spend making memories in our blended family. We ensure our household is filled with love and laughter, sometimes some fussing when the kids are in need of naps, but our traditions are our connections.
We pray that these traditions will live on beyond our children and pour into our family for generations to come. We may not all come from the same lineage, but no one can deny that we are family.