The Ultimate Cheat Sheet To Bring Your Blended Family Together

Ever wish there was a checklist for blending new families after divorce? Great news, we’ve got one for you! With a few simple tips and tricks, you’ll be able to help your kids form a close relationship with their step-parents and step- and half-siblings. Here’s what you need to do.

Keep a Family Calendar

This one simple tool can help you stay organized across homes and families. Nikki DeBartolo and Ben Heldfond, authors of Our Happy Divorce, actually maintain a shared calendar for all their entire blended family. You may choose to do this, or you may choose to share just dates for the kids you share with your ex. It depends on your overall parenting relationship.

This family calendar can be as simple as a shared Google calendar that you can both access from your phones. There are also several popular co-parenting apps available that include a very clear, color-coded calendar. These apps also have other helpful tools that can help bring your blended family together. 

Use a Group Chat

Another great way to stay in sync across households is a group text message conversation. Many co-parenting apps also include this feature, or you can start a standard group message from your phone. Being able to quickly reach out makes it easy to confirm or update plans. 

“…we’ve got a constant “Asher’s weekend plans” text thread, and Asher lets Ben, Nadia, Chad, and me know what his plans are all in one fell swoop.” ~ Nikki DeBartolo

Group chats are also a great way to discuss discipline and behavior or double-check your kids’ stories. Kids can sometimes take advantage of the lack of communication between their parents. Staying in touch throughout the week can help avoid this.

Consider a Family Dinner

Depending on how close you are with your ex’s new family, it may make sense to host a family dinner meeting every so often. These meetings are a great way to double-check upcoming calendar dates and address any major concerns that are too much for a simple text message. 

Set Realistic Expectations

When you’re ready to integrate your and your ex’s families together a bit more, take it slow. Set realistic expectations for just how intertwined you will be. 

Depending on where you both live, in-person meetings may not even be an option. If you do live further apart and still want to build a relationship between your kids and their step- or half-siblings, consider either joint family trips or sending your kids to stay with your ex for an extended time over the summer.  

Set Overarching Rules

But be flexible! The main rules in each household should be consistent. This makes it easier for kids to go back and forth between parents. And, it makes it easier to enforce discipline across homes. 

Collaborate with your co-parent to set some high-level expectations, and then feel free to improvise a bit how you enforce them. For example, bedtime might be 8 pm at both houses, but the bedtime routine is slightly different. Or, one parent may allow TV time before homework is done, but both parents agree that homework is done before bedtime.

Try to Celebrate Big Moments Together

As much as possible, try to show up for big moments in your kids’ lives and do it together. You don’t need to sit by each other or carpool to the event, but having both parents present is important. One day, you may even be able to celebrate birthdays as one blended family. 

Make New Traditions

Creating new traditions with your new partner and all the kids can help blend your family faster. These special moments, like Saturday afternoon ice cream or birthday bike rides, can be something that kids look forward to when they’re in your custody.

Stay Connected

As much as possible, stay connected with your kids when they aren’t in your custody. Use video chats, Skype or FaceTime to talk with them each day. Share updates about what the family is up to, but be cautious of making kids feel like they’re missing out when they aren’t with you. 

Build a Relationship with the “New” Spouse

As difficult as it may be, it’s important to communicate with your ex’s new partner. As a step-parent to your children, he or she will be spending a lot of time with your children. Building a positive relationship, even if it’s just business-like and not overly person, is what’s best for the kids.

A modern-day Brady Bunch family won’t happen overnight, but it’s also not impossible. Blending families takes time, patience and communication. There may be bumps along the way, but if you keep focusing on what’s best for the kids, you’ll get the hang of it.

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