We have a blended family.
At Disneyland this past summer
This makes the upcoming holidays a bit of a challenge. Sometimes we have all the kids with us but often we are minus one or more.
Halloween 2011, the matching pirates
Halloween 2012, plus one kid and minus one kid
On a regular week, Baby D is with us all the time, of course. The Girl is with us every other week and The Boy is most often with us, but he spends the night frequently at Grandma & Grandpa's house.
A Summer weekend, minus one
We arrange special event weekends around the times that we have The Girl with us. We try and schedule any kind of date nights (which are few and far in between!) on nights when The Girl is not with us so we only have to arrange babysitting for the boys. Or The Boy will spend the night with the grandparents & we take the baby with us. Not terribly romantic but we do what we have to do!
Yesterday before church, minus one
So if having three kids wasn't challenging enough, arranging the different custody schedules and the two separate school calenders is tricky. And now that Baby D is a little older and we can't just carry him around in his car seat while he sleeps, we actually have to try and arrange a regular nap time in between all the weekend action!
Easter 2012, minus one
This past weekend The Boy spent it at the grandparent's house. We had The Girl and the baby and we all went to church in the morning. It was mighty quiet in the house without The Boy's excited voice!
Baby D, minus two
The Girl will leave tonight and then we'll just have the boys again for the rest of the week. Wish I could say it's quiet around the house without her, but with two high-energy boys, there is rarely a dull moment!
With the upcoming holidays, the schedule was kept the same as the year before so we'll have The Girl for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.
Thanksgiving 2011, the day before Baby D entered the world
There are lots of exchanges during that time, lots of back and forth for her, working out the pick up/drop off times, and arranging who will watch the kids during the school breaks (because my husband & I are usually still working).
It does tend to put a damper on the holiday spirit because we can't just relax and "be present" in the moment. We are constantly rushing to get our holiday moments done and clock watching to make sure we get her to her next destination on time. Frankly, it's a bit of a pain. My husband also tends to get a bit moody when he's anticipating her leaving and knows that she's going to miss out on good family times. But then we know it's the other way around too and her other family is missing out too.
Christmas Eve 2011, all together
It would make things easier if everyone was able to get along and share the holidays together in some way but that's just not happening this year. Fortunately there has been some flexibility in the schedule in the past and last year we were able to keep The Girl overnight on Christmas Eve so she could wake up and open gifts in the morning. We get up pretty early and her mom sleeps in later, so it worked for everyone. Hopefully we can work out something like that again this year.
Christmas morning, 2011
I looked online about blended families during the holidays and came across a few helpful articles, here and here. Creating new traditions seems to be an important theme. One of the traditions I've had since The Boy was small was to take the kids to the Hallmark store and let them pick their own ornament. When they are grown, the idea will be to hand those ornaments down to them for their own tree. This is certainly one of the highlights of their holiday season.
I will have to talk to my husband about creating our own blended family traditions, together. What holiday traditions do you have and try to keep year after year?