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Stepkids + Ours Baby: How We Handle Christmas In Our Blended Family

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I’m a wife, stepmom x3 and mom x 1. When I couldn’t find the stepmom support I was looking for, decided to create it myself. I love mac + cheese, distressed denim, sauvignon blanc and all things Dateline. 

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Christmas when you’re co-parenting or in a blended family can come with complications. Many stepmoms report feeling overwhelmed and like they have no control over their holiday traditions.

I get it. I felt the same.

Whether it be navigating Christmas morning, managing extended family gatherings, or deciding how to do Santa and presents, finding your stepfamily holiday groove can take some time.

Every family dynamic is different. What works for one co-parenting relationship may not work for another. However today I thought I’d share how we handle Christmas, in hopes that it may give you some inspiration on how to manage yours.

Here’s the low-down on how we handle access schedules, Santa, presents, extended family and all that fun stuff.


OUR CHRISTMAS ACCESS SCHEDULE

First, here’s the low down on the custody schedule.

We have a set schedule that switches every other year.

The kids are with us every other year on Christmas Eve until 3pm on Christmas Day. At 3:00pm the switch happens, and they go to their mom’s.
The following year it’s the opposite.

We either have them for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Evening. 

Even though I love waking up as a family on Christmas morning, I prefer the schedule when we get them on Christmas Day at 3pm. It seems less rushed and I feel like we get more quality time to celebrate!


CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS WITH OUR “OURS BABY”

I have three stepkids and one daughter with my husband. In the stepfamily space she’s called the “ours baby”.

Since having our daughter, my husband and I have spent A LOT of time talking about how to handle Christmas morning, especially on the years we don’t have “the kids”.

The big decision was whether we wait to do presents until the kids come at 3:00 pm or whether we continue on with our regular Christmas traditions.  

Ultimately, we decided to go on with Christmas morning as usual. When the kids are with us, we do all the presents when we wake up. When they aren’t, we do Santa in the morning with Reese and the rest of the presents when the kids arrive at 3:00pm.  

I’ve always been very passionate that it’s not fair for Reese to have to live her life according to the custody schedule with my stepkids.

Their life doesn’t stop when they are with their Mom. Her’s shouldn’t either.  

The kids wake up and have a regular Christmas morning with their Mom, Reese should get to experience the same. 

It was important for us to start annual traditions with her as well. Some years, we will fulfil these traditions as a family of 6, and other years it’s just the three of us. 

(You’ll notice I alway refer to my stepchildren as “the kids.”)

For example: Last Christmas the three of us woke up, made a nice breakfast and went to see what Santa brought. We opened presents, played and hung out until the kids came at 3:00pm.

This year, we will all wake up together and celebrate until the kids go to their moms.

The burning question is:

DOES SHE GET MORE PRESENTS AT 3:00 pm?
Yes, she does. 

DOES SHE END UP WITH MORE PRESENTS THAN THE OTHER KIDS?
Yes, she does. 

{Insert “GASP” here!}

Now before the internet goes wild over a stepmom favouring her child over her stepchildren, hear me out.

Her brothers and sister spend the morning opening up presents with their Mom and her family. They have no shortage of gifts.

In blended families, there is always this HUGE focus on making sure that stepchildren don’t feel like they are getting the short end of the stick in comparison to biological children, but many times, it’s the biological children who get ripped off. 

Imagine how she would feel at 3:00pm on Christmas day when her brothers and sister come in all excited about their presents and celebrations that morning, and all she got to do was sit around and wait for them to come. 

That’s just not going to happen in this house. 

We’ve explained this to the older kids, and they totally get it!

There may be more gifts for her under our tree, but it all evens out when you look at the big picture!

It’s all about having open conversations with your kids about your blended family dynamic and why things pan out the way they do. 

It’s about making it as fair as possible for EVERYONE!


SANTA

Santa does not come to both houses. He goes to wherever the kids are on Christmas morning. 

HERE’S WHY:

I’m a pretty big advocate for keeping it realistic when it comes to Santa. We always try and have him give gifts that aren’t too expensive.

Why? Well, think of it this way… If one kid goes to school in January and says, “Santa gave me an iPad and a new bike for Christmas,” how is the kid who got a new hat and mitts from Santa going to feel?

Along the same lines, if a child of divorce goes to school and says “Santa came to both my Moms & Dads“… how fair is that for the kids whose parents are together and only had one stop? 



EXTENDED FAMILY GATHERINGS

The other tricky part of blended family holiday celebrations is co-ordinating celebrations with extended family. With the boys’ hockey schedule, our access schedule and the schedule of our extended family, it can be tricky (and almost impossible) to coordinate a celebration on Christmas Day.

To accommodate, we’ve started celebrating mid-December with my husband’s family.
It helps to minimize the hustle and bustle on Christmas Day, and allows us to relax and spend as much time with the kids as possible. 

My family is a bit more complicated because I, too, have divorced parents and am the oldest of four kids. With my family, we take an “if the kids can come, the kids can come” approach – because it was becoming a HUGE stress trying to schedule something in that worked for everyone. 

We are obviously bummed when the kids can’t make it, but sometimes something must give, and it typically is my family events. 


Obviously, every family has their own traditions and does what works for them… but that’s the rationale behind our decision! 

If you’re struggling with your own Christmas traditions, here’s my advice.

Don’t overthink it.

Be flexible.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Do what feels right for you and your people!

At the end of the day, it’s all about making memories and spending time with the people you love.

Jamie


P.S If you want to treat yourself (and your family) to a gift that will help support you in our stepfamily journey this year, check out The KICK-ASS Stepmom Community. There are workshops on boundaries, disengaging and improving your relationship with your stepkids. Plus live calls, exclusive podcast episodes a private chatroom and more.

Click here to learn more. When you join, be sure to say hi in the Ask Jamie section of the chatroom. I can’t wait to connect!

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