Last night I was reading Redbook's 7 Secrets to Low Stress Families and I noticed a couple of things. Our family has been doing these secrets for years - Awesome! And in looking back over the past twelve years it has played a large role in the success of our blended family. It's the LITTLE THINGS as it turns out.
So from Redbook to HHO's are the principles and how they worked in our blended family:
Couples don't divvy up their chores evenly. They divide them in a way that feels like they're in this together. For our blended the family chores haven fallen more on me than my Hubby. I was working from home, I worked less hours. But, my Hubby has always been there to chip in and take over my duties whenever I've needed him, except the dishwasher. Ha! I've never felt alone, just knowing he was there and willing to jump in to do whatever I needed has been more of a comfort to me than splitting chores equally.
Find Moments of Togetherness in the Day. Don't get caught up in creating huge moments. With the kids only here half the time we decided to focus on just doing the normal family things that we had done with our families growing up. Hanging out, watching TV, going to the movies. We shared things we loved to do with the kids and they grew to love them creating a strong bond between us.
Parents as Role Models not Pals.Spouses showing patience and support to one another. Establishing rules for the kids rather than having them help determine what the rules should be. This was an area were we clashed. Raylan had basically raised himself, set his own rules, it worked for him. One of the reasons it worked for him is he had a Dad that Raylan was afraid of crossing. That really dictated him staying within certain parameters. As I tried to explain to my Hubby, you're a pushover so that doesn't work here. Kids need boundaries and structure or the fail without it. And they need it even more so in our situation. Over time we did compromise through trial and error. He was right I had way to many rules and he had way to few, and the few he had he didn't enforce regulary. This compromise was good for us and the kids. We became united and the kids knew we were in this together. Not Dan's kids or Lisa's kid.
Make Dinner at Home. We have tried and been successful for the most part of sitting down to eat a home made meal between 5:30 and 6:00 on the nights we have the kids. This has been a ritual they have grown to love and depend on. When we eat later than that, the complaints start a rolling from the kids. It also has been a place to find out what's been going on, share some laughs. Even if we don't say a word, were together for 20 minutes with no interruptions (no phones, electronic items) just us.
Mom's need to take 5 minutes a day for me time. My kids would probably tell you, I get this all day long. Gee, how little they know. I do work from home during the day, but it usually flies by. I do try to read a magazine, like Redbook for 10 minutes a day. And I always find useless tidbits to share with my family.
Watch TV as a family, sharing snacks, interacting about the TV. This something we've been doing since day one. We only had the kids half the time, but still we did it every night we had them (with a few exceptions). We either watched a movie or we've been fans since the beginning of Survivor and American Idol. Great ways to talk and bond talking about the people, personalities and just plain rooting for someone to win. I credit this one thing for bringing us together as individuals into a family. And the amazing snacks.
Embrace Rituals. Routine and Continuity make life comforting, couples and families happier. ROUTINE was another thing Raylan and I initially clashed on. Big time! Should we have one or shouldn't we. I was a huge believer and he was not so hip on the idea. Elle had a set wake up time, breakfast time, bedtime, bath time and regular dinner time. You name it. Jax and Little Hart varied from day to day. But, I held my ground on this one. I will tell you my Hubby made it pretty miserable for a time. Then he agreed to try it for a while as a test case. Immediately, he noticed a huge change from a set bed time. When Jax and Little Hart went to bed at a reasonable, consistent time they were great, happy kids. When they didn't they were complete bears to be around. They sulked, wouldn't talk, etc. So started the 8:30 betime that has has gotten later as the kids have grown up. Over time the kids and Raylan grew to love the set routine. The Kids knew what they could plan on at our house, it was comforting knowing that it was waiting here when they were away and jumping into the routine when they returned was a comfort. A few years ago, my Hubby said to me "Thank you for bringing the routines into our life. I know I gave you a really hard time when you suggested it, but it's been one of the best things that happened to our family." Well worth the clash.
You add all the little things you do together and over time you have a Happy, Blended Family. I didn't know it at the time, but glad those choices made a difference in our family's success.
To read the full article at Redbook, please click on the link below: