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Live, Love, Blend: Managing Back to School for the Blended Family

LLB Back to School 1

Live, Love, Blend:
Managing Back to School
for the Blended Family

It’s the most wonderful time of the year or so says that Staples commercial.

But um, yeah, the rest of us know the truth. I really hesitated in doing a Back-to-School post, referred to here on out as #BTS. Why? Because it’s so “done”, but alas, it must be done in order to take a look at some of the unique issues that come along this time of year for blended families.

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#BTS MEANS NEW CLOTHES
BUT WHEN AND FOR WHOM?

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You know if you go shopping on the weekend when you have all the kids, you’re going to have to buy equal clothing for all of them.  And for some reason it seems like tax-free weekend always falls on a weekend when we have everyone.  Saving the sales tax just isn’t worth the drama in my book.  Plus, how do you know which wardrobe elements their other parents are contributing?  In my house I pretty much go by the rule that I only buy school clothes for the 3 kids that live with us full time.  I figure we pay child support for the other 2, and their mothers have a better idea what they need anyway.  This can get tricky if you’re dealing with an ex who purposely tries to wait and/or encourages the child to ask you for the things they want.  I take these on a case by case basis, and base my decision on these questions…

–       Is the item something the child needs or something he/she wants?

–       Can we afford the item without throwing our budget out of whack?

–       If I procrastinate long enough, will the other parent eventually just buy it?  (Hey, you want the truth right?!)

Read More: Kid’s Questions: I’m Worried I’ll Get Teased About My Old Clothes!

#BTS MEANS BACK TO THE
REGULAR AND ROUTINE

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This is much appreciated after a summer filled with all the kids lollygagging.  Days of leaving the younger ones home with the teenagers, even though we’re all pretty sure the teens were sleeping til noon and letting the 7 year old run the house.  Hey, everyone survived!

Now as we ramp up for sports and extracurricular activities, the question faced by blended families is how to fit it all in, even when the schedule is out of your control.

When all your kids live in your own household you can pretty much schedule activities to meet your needs.  For instance, I’m not signing my son up for the acting class that’s 20 miles away and starts at 5pm because I don’t get off work until 5:30.  Makes sense right?! However, I have no control over what my Ex-Wife-In-Laws (that’s what I can my husband’s exes) sign their kids up for.  So when one of them signs our daughter up for soccer and cheer, and it overlaps with our other kid’s band performance… well, it takes some industrial strength planning but we manage to figure it out with these basic guidelines…

–       If we divide and conquer, can each kid have a parent represented at his/her event?

–       Is it within our budget to take the whole family to cheer on one of the kids?  It’s great to do this whenever possible, but perhaps not every time if ticket prices are too high for the whole gang.

–       Can any of the activities wait til next season, or if it’s a class, is there a time or location that would take less of a toll on “Taxi Mom”?

Read More: 10 From GEM: 10 Tips To Keep Your Kids Off The Summer Slide

#BTS MEANS NEW SCHOOL AND
NEW EMOTIONS FOR EVERYONE!

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Get ready.

All your kids will have new teachers, be meeting new friends, and perhaps have a new crush.  When your step-kids come over they may be moodier.  Don’t always think it’s a reflection on you.  These new relationships and schedules and pressures will take some adjustment.  It can be easier to see and adapt along with the kids that are in your home every day, so take the time to ask lots of questions of all the kids.  Let them know that one thing never changes – you are in their corner.  If a problem starts growing, gather and talk to your allies to nip it in the bud.

–       your spouse AND the child’s other parent(s)

–       the child’s teachers

–       parents of the child’s friends

Sometimes I fear that kids from blended families can feel like no one understands or cares, when really it’s just that each of the parents thinks that particular problem falls in the other parents’ territory.  Communicate!  It’s not always easy to talk to the ex, but the health, happiness and safety of the kids must take priority.  Get out of your comfort zone and know that as a parent or step-parent you are an advocate for every one of your children.

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Now get out there and have a great school year.  Before you know it they’ll be off to college and you’ll long for the days when you could send them off with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and say, “see ya later alligator.”

What about you? How do you manage the back-to-school shuffle, blended family style? Come on now, share with the rest of the class!

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