Gayla Grace sharing ways to get through the bumpy holidays as a stepfamily

The Holidays – 3 Ways to Make Them Better

3 ways to make the holidays better by Gayla Grace
This is my first holiday season without Mom. After a long hard road with Alzheimer’s, she passed away in August. Although I’m thankful she’s no longer suffering, I think about her every day. I’d love to go back and have just one more conversation with her, even if she doesn’t complete a full sentence or know my name. I want to see her beautiful smile and hear her laugh.
But that can’t happen.
My heart aches.

Challenges and loss at the holidays create heightened emotions.

We want to experience the happiness and light-heartedness of the season, but sometimes our circumstances don’t allow it.

What holiday difficulties are you facing? Yours will look different than mine, but I’m sure you have some. In stepfamily situations, grief often creeps into our homes.

Maybe you’re grieving the loss of what you’d like your holiday to look like but know it won’t. Or maybe you’re unhappy with the schedule that’s been arranged with your kids or your stepkids.

Many stepparents grieve because of the outsider feeling they sense during the holiday season.

If you’re struggling with grief for any reason, seek to fill up your love tank. Look for ways to offer love to those around you or ask for love from others, such as your spouse. Let your spouse know when you’re having a difficult day. Ask for what you need—don’t expect others to read your mind.

  1. Take another stepparent to lunch or connect with someone who needs a friend. Don’t ruminate over your problems. “Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys,” says author Rita Schiano.
  2. Accept the situation and make the best of it. This too will pass. The sun always shines again after the rain.
  3. Count your blessings. Look for things to be thankful for. Although Mom is gone, I’m thankful to have more time with Dad and will enjoy having him in our home this Christmas.

Maybe you won’t be with your stepkids over Christmas, but you can send a note or a special text to let them know your heart is still with them.

You can expect bumps as part of your holiday journey. It probably won’t go exactly as you hope or plan. But holidays can still be meaningful, even when they’re not perfect.

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24

How do you trudge through the bumps? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For more stepmom encouragement, check out our devotional book written just for you!

Ask a family member to give it to you as a gift this Christmas!

Click the image to order from Amazon.

quiet-moments

A fresh holiday resource for stepfamilies

Affordable, Helpful Resource to Reduce Stepfamily Holiday Stress

At Stepparenting With Grace, we share the stress that goes along with life in a stepfamily.

In recent weeks, we’ve talked about co-parenting stress and  reducing tension when kids live in two homes.

Stress is not unusual for stepfamily relationships. We must learn to navigate the occasional (or not so occasional) rough waters.

Add the upcoming holidays and we could be moving into a very stressful season.

But help is on the way.

Laura Petherbridge, The Smart Stepmom, has a new holiday resource available that is both helpful AND affordable. This downloadable pdf is full of insights, inspiration, and humor designed to help navigate the holidays. From “Juggling the two-home schedule” to “Traditions” and “The Ghost of Christmas Past” you will find helpful ideas.

Ideas designed to relieve the stress of the holidays.

Providing 30 days of inspiration, it might be just what you need to make it through the season!

And at an affordable $4.29, you can’t go wrong. This useful resource is available only on

Laura’s website.

Check it out today and start preparing for your stress-less holiday season.

 

 

 

 

Gayla Grace with Three Reasons Stepfamilies Need Traditions

Traditions – Three Reasons a Stepfamily Needs Them

 

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“Family traditions are a great way for stepfamilies to connect with one another. Family members come together and work toward a common goal in a non-threatening environment. Traditions can be as simple as making paper chains to count down the days toward Christmas (one of my kids’ favorites) or more involved such as helping serve a meal at the homeless shelter. The goal is to find activities that the family enjoys and will look forward to doing together.”

It’s been seven years since I originally penned those words. Little has changed except now the kids are older and we don’t make a paper chain. Some of the kids are now married, so we’ve adjusted our traditions to include spouses and to accommodate the schedules of these new families. Well, now that I think about it, maybe more has changed than I realized. But I still believe family traditions are one of the keys to successfully navigating the holiday season as a stepfamily.

With traditions, everyone knows what to expect and works at accommodating their schedule to allow time to participate.

There are three benefits to creating traditions.

  1. Traditions create bonds. Bonds are strengthened as the family does something together. Think of the strands of a rope. One strand by itself is weak, but when woven together with more strands, the rope becomes stronger. Creating bonds makes your stepfamily stronger.
  2. Traditions provide a means of expressing love and laughter. These emotions help protect a family from brokenness and conflict. Working for a common purpose creates a sense of loyalty to each other and the family.
  3. Traditions create special memories. Memories that will be cherished long after family members pass on. Reminiscing of times’ past with loved ones can help ease the loneliness that creeps in when celebrating the holiday without that special someone.

Traditions are important and flexibility is key to making them work in stepfamilies.

Continuing traditions already in place also helps to provide routine and predictability.  Routine during the hectic holiday time just might offer some stability to otherwise unstable emotions that seem to surface this time of year.

It’s never too late to start family traditions. They offer a sense of belonging that can help cement relationships. Bring your family together and enjoy some new traditions this year!

What are some of your family traditions?

Experiencing Peace in Your Stepfamily Holiday

The countdown to Christmas is upon us. How are you doing? Are you surviving the hustle bustle or  looking for ways to flee from the chaos?

ID-100216742Blended families have unique challenges that make holidays complicated and often stressful.

But we don’t have to give into the chaos.

We can savor the moments of joy and remember the Reason for the season.

We can make an intentional choice to focus on the positive when negative happenings occur or conflict erupts.

After 20 years of blended family holidays, I could give a list of 20 tips to help you find peace amidst the chaos. But I’m going to give only one.

Manage your expectations.

I know—it seems too simple.

But… it’s often the root of conflict and disappointment through the holidays.

Are you struggling with expectations? Cleveland Clinic suggests you write down your expectations to help determine whether they’re realistic and what feelings are hidden behind them. Look for potential stressors tied to each one and what you can do to alleviate uncomfortable feelings surrounding the expectation.

Here’s an example:

Spend meaningful time with my stepchildren during the holiday break.

Is this realistic? Are your stepchildren teenagers who focus more on themselves than others? What constitutes meaningful?

A more realistic expectation might be: Look for ways to have conversations with my stepchildren in a relaxed setting.

This expectation can be achieved in most every home and builds relationships in the process. Instead of an elaborate expectation, you strive for an attainable goal.

And the end result is peace and contentment.

Now it’s your turn. What expectation is creating angst for you? How will you redefine it to lessen the stress you feel surrounding it?

Will you share it with us? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

For a dose of encouragement every day, pick up a copy of our stepmom devotional, Quiet Moments for the Stepmom Soul. 

Pic by vectorolie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Tips for a Merry Christmas with Your Stepfamily

Christmas is just a few days away. Here are a few ideas on how to make the most of that special day.

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M – Mind your expectations. Lower them when necessary.

E – Expect bumps along the way.

R –  Refuse to take everything personally – it’s probably not about you.

R – Relax when you’re about to go over the cliff.

Y – Yield toward kindness as often as possible.

 

C – Choose to stay calm in the heat of conflict.

H – Have a Plan B for your schedule.

R – Remember the Reason for the season.

I – Include grace every day.

S – Settle for good enough instead of insisting on perfection.

T – Tell your spouse you love him/her every day.

M – Make memories with your stepchildren.

A – Admit when you fail and ask for forgiveness.

S – Seek to do your part toward loving relationships in your stepfamily.

Merry Christmas!

For more holiday tips, check out our holiday e-book, Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace.  It’s a great tool to help you and all stepparents find peace during the holidays and beyond. It’s packed with proven tools and tips, personal stories and a list of recipes and new holiday traditions you can start with your stepfamily.   Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace

 

 

 

 

Pic by David Castillo Dominici