About 1.2 million people in the United States get divorced each year. Of those individuals, about 75% of them eventually get remarried, and many of them have kids. As a result, these couples who remarry are creating instant blended families.
There are many benefits to establishing a blended family, including the fact that not only are you introducing new children to love, but you’re giving your own children an even bigger family to be a part of, including step-grandparents, aunts, uncles, and more. You can get a lot of satisfaction in watching your children and step-children develop lasting relationships with their new extended family. Plus, you have built-in babysitters!
Of course, there are also some headaches that can come when you bring two families together. Things might not go smoothly right away.They may not even be “ideal” for a few years. You’ll have to decide on how to parent with your new spouse, how to encourage relationships between your children and your stepchildren, and how to build a brand new life together from two different perspectives.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some tips you can use as you blend your families together.
Figure Out Your Finances
Worrying about your budget might not seem like something that should be on the top of your list when you’re blending a family, but look at it this way: Money is one of the most common issues married couples fight about. You’ll disagree and have arguments about different things —it’s unavoidable. But why not do what you can to avoid one of the biggest sources of contention before it becomes a problem? That way, you can focus on other things like strengthening your family.
Hashing out a budget probably doesn’t sound fun, but it’s important. So, turn it into a “date night.” Take a long night with your new spouse to create a dual budget. It should be similar to your own single budget, while taking each other’s incomes and expenses into account. From there, you can create a better financial planning strategy for your family.
It’s also a good idea to track your expenses for a while. This will give you a good idea of where your money is going, spending habits you might need to change, and where you can invest more. It will also make you aware of anything you may have missed when you created a budget.
Establish New Family Traditions
One of the most important things you can do when blending a family with children is to encourage sibling bonding. If you’re bringing together kids who are around the same age, they might bond naturally over similar interests. But there’s a chance they might have a difficult time getting along, too, or feel as though they’re being “forced” into these relationships.
You can encourage better bonding in a variety of ways, but one of the best is to establish new traditions. If you have young children who both like to go on the swings at the park, have a “swing day” once a week. If your kids like to play video games, set up a room for them to keep their consoles and have a little gaming time each day.
You can establish larger family traditions as well, including on special days of the year and holidays. Maybe you’ll volunteer at a homeless shelter on Thanksgiving, or run a 5K together on Christmas! Establishing these situations where everyone is involved and feels as though they’re doing something they can enjoy will help to bring your children together quickly and easily.
Remember, just because you establish new traditions, it doesn’t mean the old ones have to completely fall away. It’s okay to bring some of the kids’ familiar traditions into your blended family to make everyone more comfortable, just be sure to discuss your plan and decide which ones to keep with your spouse.
How easily your blended family comes together will have a lot to do with everyone’s perspective. If everyone is willing to start fresh with a clean slate, things are likely to go much smoother.
As a partner and a parent, that means keeping your past relationship/marriage out of this one as much as possible. Your current spouse isn’t your ex. It also means treating your new spouse’s children just as you would treat your own, and expecting the same from them. Establish yourself as a family. Have dinners together, go to school events, plan a family vacation somewhere new.
The more effort you’re willing to put into your blended family, the easier it will be for your children, and your stepchildren, to do the same.
Magnolia Potter is a muggle from the Pacific Northwest who writes from time to time and covers a variety of topics. When Magnolia’s not writing, you can find her curled up with a good book.
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