I’m sure anyone who is a stepmom has at one point heard the awful stigmas and stereotypes of The Evil Stepmother. I mean, who hasn’t watched Cinderella? The stepmom comes in and changes everything. Or more accurately, ruins everything.
To be that stigma was not an option for me. We were going to create consistency and love for the kids. Since I was the newcomer to the scene, I needed to add to their tradition and not take anything away.
All of this sounded great, until I realized I would lose myself in the process.
Our first holiday as a family was hard for me to swallow. We centered all of our plans for when the kids were with us. Once they were gone, my husband and I were almost lost. We had put so much stress on ourselves to make sure they had a great holiday, but in the process we realized that we didn’t really get to enjoy the whole holiday experience.
Not only did we stress so much to make the holiday perfect for the kids, but we also had to wait to participate in other holiday traditions until they came back. We couldn’t pick out a Christmas tree without them. And once we did choose one, we had to wait to decorate until the next time the kids were with us.
I knew that by marrying a man with kids from a previous marriage I would have to make some adjustments, but I was not quite ready to give up all our holidays. We had to figure out a way to make them special while making them work for all of us.
Here were my takeaways that year:
Have a set schedule and tradition for a holiday and stick with that every year. For example, have a set time for Thanksgiving dinner every year, and know that you will not have all the kids every year. Once you have your own children it’s important for them to have that consistency and tradition.
If the kids are not with you on a significant part of the holiday, plan something fun to do together to celebrate when they come home.
If the kids are old enough, have discussions with them about what is important to them each holiday and what they would like to spend the time doing together. Giving them them input helps with transitions and change.
Don’t feel guilty about not being with the kids every holiday. It’s ok to travel to see other family. Try to do this by not giving up any of your parental time.
Most importantly, set realistic expectations for everyone to reduce disappointment.
When entering the scene as a stepparent, it’s important to proceed with caution. Remember that in most cases, the children are hesitant to fully welcome a newcomer. The best thing to do is working together to find a way to make the holiday work for everyone. Find a way to make it enjoyable and memorable for everyone and create new traditions together!