Why I don’t feel bad going on getaways without my stepkids.

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I’m a wife, stepmom x3 and mom x 1 who 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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Why I don't feel bad going on trips without my stepchildren

As we gear up for a summer full of road trips and cottage weekend, I’m reminded something an acquaintance said to me last year, after I told her about an upcoming road trip with my daughter and husband.

She asked if I guilty going away on getaways with our daughter when my stepchildren are with their Mom.  

This question wreaked of judgment. You know those questions… the ones that are less of a question and more of an accusation. Yeah it was one of those. 

“Don’t you feel guilty when you go away with Reese and not them?”

My answer “NoI don’t feel guilty at all”

I paused, watched the look on her face, and then went on to explain. (Honestly I was kind of going for the shock value in my response) 

“Do I think it would be nice if they could come with us? Absolutely. I wish they could be with us every weekend… But do I feel guilty? No! We’re not doing anything wrong”

Here’s what really surprises people. My husband feels the same way. 

Look… 

With an every-other-week schedule we spend half the time away from them.

(By the way, have I ever told you how much I loathe the term “access schedule?”)

Our life, and most importantly our daughters life, shouldn’t be put on hold when they walk out the door…. 

When they are with their Mom they get to do lots of fun activities. 

We shouldn’t have to sit and stare at a blank wall, only to resume regular programming when they return. 

Most importantly, Reese shouldn’t be forced to live her life according to an every-other-week access schedule either.

Their lives don’t stop when they are at their Moms, and her life shouldn’t stop either. 

We are very open about this with them too, and they totally get it. They understand that even though everything isn’t always EQUAL it is always FAIR.  

When they are with their Mom, they go to parties, on getaways, on all-inclusive vacations, go for ice-cream, have cottage weekends, movie nights, beach days etc…  They do a lot of great stuff. They have a blast! 

If we put everything on hold for Reese while they are doing all that, it would be so unfair for her. In fact, sometimes I worry that it is her who is missing out! 

Now if we were ALWAYS going on vacation without them this would be a different conversation.
If we treated Reese differently than them when we are all of together, that would not be okay.
But that’s not the case. 

We have lots of great traditions as a whole family and always try and maximize the time we get to spend with them.

We do an annual weeks at the cottage and try to go away once during the winter too.

But we aren’t going to say “no sorry, we have to stay home this weekend because the kids are with their Mom” – It’s just not going to happen. 

That doesn’t mean we are leaving them out, that we show favouritism, or that my husband has moved on and created a life with a “new family” – it means that we’ve adapted to (and accepted) the complications that come with co-parenting and having a blended family dynamic. 

We’re all living life to the fullest, and doing the very best that we can with the circumstances that we’re in. 

EDITED:
Another thing to consider is that in our family, Reese and her siblings have a significant age difference. As I write this, she is 5 and they are 12, 15 and 16. Their social lives, work schedules and to be honest, their desire to spend time with their parents makes it a unique situation.

As they get older our family time becomes less and less. It’s not something we dwell on, it’s pretty age appropriate. Sometimes we go away with just two of the kids, sometimes one, sometimes all four – but still we maintain that our daughter’s life won’t be put on hold because she was born into a blended family.


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Comments +

  1. bierwerths@yahoo.com says:

    Amen. You are spot on!

  2. samanthawooten25@gmail.com says:

    My husband and I have received a lot of remarks and questions about this from his family too. We don’t have any children together yet so it’s just him and I when my stepson is with his mom. They do so many fun things, and during the summer she takes him on multiple vacations. My husbands family often tries to make us feel guilty for taking trips just the two of us which I think is so unfair.
    This is something I have wondered about when we do have children, if I will feel bad for doing things without my stepson, but you are so right, neither of our lives stop because we aren’t together.

    • jamiescrimgeour@live.ca says:

      Now is the time to take these getaways together! It’s so much more difficult to arrange when you have children. Check out the comment above about subfamilies – it may easy your anxiety about it!

  3. melissa.cohen0214@yahoo.com says:

    One of the best things we ever did was talk to a therapist who explained to us (my husband, really, who felt enormously guilty about doing anything fun when we didn’t have his kids as well as ours) that in a stepfamily – there are different sub-families. My stepdaughters are a unit in and of themselves, because they go back and forth between two houses. My stepdaughters and their mom are another separate unit, with shared memories and traditions that are unique to them. We are a unit – all of us, the stepdaughter, our kids, my husband and I – but the unit made up of just our kids and us is just as valid. We are a family too – not a family that’s missing two members because they are with their mom. It really helped to eliminate the guilt. We love having all the kids together, but it’s okay when they’re with their mom and it’s just my husband and I and our three kids. That’s valid and whole, in and of itself.

    • jamiescrimgeour@live.ca says:

      I love the concept of sub-families! Is so true! Thanks so much for sharing that with me!

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