Whether moving long distance or locally, moving in with your significant other – especially when kids are involved – is always a pretty big deal and there are many things you should consider when deciding to blend your family with your partner’s. It requires an extensive amount of work before, during, and after the fact in order to have the best chance of a bright future as a family. Read on to find out about the best tips that you can exercise in order to have your own personal Brady Bunch.
Keep Communication Open With Your Children
It’s important to make sure that your children are informed throughout the entire process of moving in and there are many different ways to prepare your kids to move. Ask your children about how they would feel to live with other children and listen to their responses. If they have any concerns, hear them out. Be sure to let them know that you’re always open to speaking with them about any concerns that they have in the future. It’s important that your children know that they’re being heard because they might feel very “out-of-control” throughout this process.
Discuss Your Parenting Styles
Talk with your partner about both of your parenting styles in order to find out about each other’s weaknesses and strengths. It’s important to chat about what’ll happen when it comes to disciplining the children. Work through how you both will discipline when a child breaks the rules in order to keep a consensus with you and your partner. Discussing this way beforehand gives you both the chance to support each other when a situation comes along. This will also make for a smooth transition once both of your families move in together.
Talk to Others About Their Step-Experiences
If you know anyone who’s a part of a blending family, chat with them about their experiences. If you have any outlying questions, don’t be afraid to ask. You’ll get invaluable information from those who have already been through it, but be sure to remember that everyone’s family is different.
Keep Your Expectations Realistic
Even the Brady Bunch didn’t get along at times. It’s best to keep your expectations realistic and know that everyone gets adjusted to it at their own pace. It’s natural to have ups and downs. Even if you’re constantly giving love and affection to your new stepchildren, you may not get it back immediately. Younger children are often more susceptible to the blending of a family then older children are. Often, it takes anywhere from two to four years for a family to get used to their daily routines and begin to grow comfortable with one another. So, throughout the process, just be patient, be consistent, and know that these things take time.
Don’t Push Your Children To Use Labels
This is all going to be new territory for your children. Don’t push them into using labels to refer to their new stepparent. Sit down and have a discussion with them, in order to get them to figure out what works best for them. Whether they want to call them by their first name or use the “stepmom” or “stepdad” label, they’ll figure out what’s most comfortable to them on their own terms.
As you grow accustomed to living with a blended family, allow things to grow and change within your household. Even when you establish ground rules and expectation from the start, don’t be afraid when things start to bend and move off in a different direction. You are all family, and this is the first time that you all are living together. It’s going to take a long time before things start to become comfortable, and then things will move like clockwork. It’s only a matter of time.
In order to maintain stability with your children, keep some traditions from before you blend your family. But, be sure to come up with new traditions as well with the entire family. Traditions make up a big part of who we are as people, and it’s best to keep some of them even as we grow and change. This can also help to unite the family together. For example, incorporate a family movie night or a family game night into your week.
Keep Your Ex-Partner in the Loop
As your family’s bond grows and develops, it’s best to let your ex-partner know about the change so they can keep the best relationship that they can with your shared children. They might need some time to get used to the situation themselves. It’s okay, they’ll grow to accept the change with time. If you can, give your children a maintained schedule between your home and your ex-partner’s home. Also, be sure to keep a clear line of communication with your spouse’s ex as well. The well-being of the children is the most important thing, and it’s important to have a line of communication in case of an emergency.
Even as changes happen throughout your family, it’s best to keep some stability with your children outside of the home as well. If you’re still in the same town, stay involved with the activities that you were involved in like a church or a community center. This will give your child another tradition to look forward to throughout their week. Keep your old connections strong through this period of your life.
Experience Real Life Together
The only way to gain experience with your blended family is to live life together. Taking your new stepchildren to school or eating breakfast with them will teach you little tidbits of knowledge that you’ll value in the future. It’ll take time to learn more about your brand new family, but it’s surely worth it for the laughter and good times that you all are bound to experience in the future.
Moving in with your partner’s family can be tough at first, but it’s important to know that you’re not alone in this. It takes time to get used to living in a blended family. Planning accordingly and keeping your expectations open with your brand new step-children will help keep yourself open to brand new experiences. You’re walking into a new stage of life; take every day as a new beginning with your brand new family.