5 Tips for Navigating the Stepfamily Vacation
You and your partner work hard all year long, and you may “X” off the calendar days until those precious few days of vacation get here.
As a blended family, there may be more than just you and your spouse attending the summertime festivities.
So, while you may be excited to take a break and enjoy your favorite activities, or simply plan to kick up your feet and do absolutely nothing for a string of days, you may be feeling a little nervous that things won’t go, well… exactly as planned.
This doesn’t mean that just because you’re a blended family, you’re going to have a struggle. Any family can follow these tips, because it takes into consideration everyone’s ideas and feelings.
Here are some tips for navigating your stepfamily vacation—while still banking some relaxation points.
Tip 1: Lower your expectations
When it comes to vacations, it’s easy to let our imaginations—and expectations—get away from us.
For example, it’s going to be a challenge to erase 51 weeks of stress in just one week.
Also, it may be expecting too much to think that all of your blended-family issues are going to disappear for a week. Wherever you and your blended family go, your issues won’t be far behind you.
When you accept this, it won’t come as quite a surprise when a conflict pops up.
Tip 2: Set Guidelines
Everyone has their hot buttons, pet peeves and annoyances, whether they’re adult, teenager or child. Have everyone agree to leave those behind.
Also, be specific. When you say, “Let’s all just try to have a nice time,” what does that mean?
One idea is to have each family member state what he or she hopes to get out of this vacation, and how he or she defines a “nice time.” The answers may be quite interesting—and not what you would expect!
Tip 3: Involve Everyone in the Planning
To foster good feelings, get some input from each person who is going on the vacation. For example, if they could choose one thing, what would they most like to see or do?
This will help each person personalize the experience to his or her own likes, which can lead to excitement about the vacation rather than a sense of dread.
Also, it sets the stage for thinking positively rather than gearing up for away-from-home disgruntlement.
Tip 4: Let Kids Spend Time Alone with their Biological Parent if Possible
Though you are on a family vacation, it doesn’t mean you can’t split up for part of the time and have some one-on-one activities that give kids, who may or may not normally live with their parent, time alone with that parent.
Or, if you happen to be at a place such as an amusement park, make sure to partner up with your child for a ride. If you are at a beach, consider taking a short bike ride with your child. Maybe your spouse can take his or her children out for an ice cream during this time.
This can give the stepparent some much needed time alone to relax or go do an activity on his or her own that no one else is interested in. And, it fosters good feelings in kids to get a “special” treat of not having to share their parent for a chunk of time or fun activity.
Tip 5: Follow up: Reinforce the Positive Aspects of the Vacation
Your blended family will no doubt have a good time together. One way to end the vacation on a high note is to ask everyone what his or her favorite part of the whole vacation was.
This prompts each person to sift through just his or her positive memories, reinforcing the good that exists in your blended family dynamic. You carry back with you more than just luggage: you have some good memories to share and build from.