With the end of school upon us, many stepfamilies face a new schedule for the summer. Stepkids may come visit for an extended period and our biological kids may leave for several weeks. So, how do we cope with the challenges summer brings?
For the next few posts, I want to offer some specific thoughts on how to manage the changes that go along with a different summer routine.
First, we must learn to embrace flexibility.
That is not easy for me because I like order and schedules and want to know exactly what to expect every day. But I can’t expect that to happen at our house with a blended family of five children. So I’ve learned to make an intentional effort toward flexibility with our schedule and the expectations of our children.
During the summer months, every week is different at our house. During the early years of our marriage there was alot of back and forth with my stepchildren and my biological children. As the children have gotten older and circumstances changed, the schedule has become more constant. But the kids still float in and out of the house regularly due to mission trips, sports camps, and various other activities.
When kids are going back and forth between homes, there is usually more interaction with ex-spouses. So, our flexibility needs to include an open attitude toward more communication with our ex or our spouse’s ex. If that relationship is strained, it is harder to negotiate the summer schedule. But it helps to be proactive. Get the summer calendar out and look at what dates you want to negotiate having the children with you. Or find a week you would like to spend with your spouse and negotiate time with the kids at the other home. Summer is a great time to enjoy some time alone with your mate if you can work the schedule accordingly.
We also need to be flexible toward the behavior of our stepchildren. There may be anger outbursts or periods of withdrawal as they adjust to a new routine in a different home. We need to recognize the changes they go through also when they move from home to home. Leaving friends behind or adjusting to different rules creates additional stress for them. We don’t have to allow disrespect or unkindness, but we can be sympathetic toward their feelings.
Summer brings on new challenges for stepfamilies. I’ll give additional thoughts on how to adjust to the changes next post. What suggestions do you have?