I’ve talked about how tough scheduling holidays can be with stepchildren before, but as we enter the full holiday swing, I thought I’d share some of our tips for balancing all of the Thanksgiving meals we’re sure to attend!
Here’s the first thing you need to remember about the holidays: Everyone wants to see your kids. Bottom line, especially when you’re a blended family. My husband and I have my stepchildren with us every other weekend, so it’s rare that they get good, quality family time with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. It happens maybe once a month and, unfortunately, that’s just how it goes with stepfamilies. But during the holidays, it’s pretty much a given that everyone wants to see the kids. Cousins need playmates and Grandma needs to hound everyone about what they want for Christmas, right?
My husband and I have come to terms with that, but the one thing we will not go for is more than one gathering per day.
When we first started dating, we had no idea that going to two Thanksgivings in one day would be such a pain, but OH MY WORD. Is it ever. Not only are you, the parents, cranky from driving and toting around two children who are out of their minds exhausted, you’re also disappointing every family at each gathering. If you go see your family that morning, they’re upset that you have to leave early to get to your husband’s side. When you get to your husband’s family’s Thanksgiving, they’re upset that you’re so late and have already eaten. It’s a lose-lose situation. We were never able to enjoy the holidays and we were tired of the “Whose Family is More Important” Game.
(Answer: NO ONE’S.)
So we finally put out the call to both sides of our family: We are not over-scheduling ourselves. We will not over-book our day.
(Because we really want to avoid seeing faces like these in the back seat again. Have you ever seen such angry looking babies? This was after leaving one gathering, opening presents for ten minutes and then rushing out the door to the next family.)
This means a lot of flexibility and planning from our families, but for the most part? They understand. What’s important, especially during the holidays, is remembering that it doesn’t matter what day you eat turkey, as long as we’re all eating it together. My family, for instance, plans Thanksgiving on either the Sunday before the big day or the Sunday after, depending on when we have my stepchildren.
And I know, it’s easy to get swept up in the chaos of it all. There are a lot of holidays where one of our hosts gets their feelings hurt because it just didn’t work out. With my husband and I both having siblings with their own set of in-laws and children, it’s hard to find a schedule that works. But trust me, if you know you and your husband will be miserable all day and your kids will be exhausted? Be a little selfish. Turn down the double turkey dinners and have your own celebration. Meet up with the family you missed on the big day for leftovers the following weekend. Invite them to come over and help you put up your Christmas decorations and enjoy turkey sandwiches. There are thousands of ways for family to get together during the holidays and it doesn’t hurt to ask for some flexibility and understanding.
Because us stepmamas already have to balance a lot and remain flexible in our lives. Holidays are the perfect time to be able to relax and say “I’ll bring the cranberry sauce!” without worrying about how quickly you’ll have to scarf the stuffing down to make it to the next family function.
Are you able to avoid an overwhelming Thanksgiving schedule? Is your family flexible with their holiday gatherings?