They never got stressed on the Brady Bunch. But that show was nowhere near the reality that is the blended family. It can get pretty confusing and there’s lots of drama. It can be downright stressful. So what does a parent or a stepparent do to relax? There are plenty of things blended families are doing today to organize their lives, make things run smoothly and deal with stress. For instance, one important idea is to settle on a parenting plan, as early as you can. It’s those years early on where there’s no set pattern or family culture that are the thorniest. After that, things seem to fall right into place. Building in-roads with wary step-kids can be difficult. You and your spouse have to be on the same page and know just how matters will be handled, who’s handling the discipline and so on right from the get-go. Otherwise, use patience. See what the kids are into and try to connect with them on that level. If they are into sports or something you can volunteer in, get involved and show them how much you care. Make sure you always back each other up. Sometimes one or another parent has to give up control to the other, for the sake of the family. It can be hard but it’s worth it.
Sometimes it can feel like they keep coming at you nonstop, and you just want to scream. Calm down. Take a deep breath and take it one step at a time. Sure you can get stressed. Cover one another. Find some time each week to be by yourself or reconnect with friends, while the other spouse watches the kids. Then trade off another day during the week, and let your spouse off the hook for one night. If you can afford or cajole a sitter, get one and have a date night as often as you can swing it. Learn to reconnect and enjoy one another for one night kid free. It will rejuvenate you. Work out a chore chart and stick with it. Otherwise the house will look like it’s full of zoo keepers. Either that or the housework is going to eat someone alive. It’s hard to be a perfectionist in a blended family, so don’t even try. Remember every family is unique. All the people in it, for the most part, want to be loved and accepted. If you give them that than this blended family will gel after the rough patch is over, and they’ll stick together no matter what difficulties or rocky seas come their way. Isn’t that what a family is for? Let love and your heart be your guide. Have faith in each other and stick together and everything else will fall into place. For more advice, read The Smart Step-Family: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family by Ron L. Deal.