The holiday season is stressful as it is, but when you throw in a new normal following a divorce and top it off with navigating the uncharted territories of traveling as a blended family, it can border on chaotic.
But, despite all of this, no matter the situation, when kids are involved, you want to do everything in your power to make sure that their wellbeing is your top priority.
When traveling as a blended family, there are a lot of unknowns and at Anton Garcia Law, we understand that divorce is accompanied with mixed feelings and uncertainty.
That’s why we created this blog post that includes four helpful tips that blended families can lean on to help navigate travel during the holiday season and beyond.
4 Travel Tips for Blended Families
Communicate, communicate, communicate
Communication is necessary across the board when it comes to traveling with a blended family. First and foremost, you want to effectively communicate with your ex and properly inform him/her of the plans and relevant details of the upcoming trip. Keep them in tune with where you’re going, how long you’re staying, where you’re staying, etc. You don’t have to share the plans for every minute of the trip, but you do need to put yourself in his/her shoes and realize that you would also want to know the high-level details of a trip that involves your kids.
On the other hand, if this is your first trip with your new partner, you’ll want to talk things over prior to the trip because everyone travels differently. Some people like to plan every aspect of a trip while others like to go with the flow and not be confined by a set plan.
Whatever the case may be, it’s a good idea to talk about the itinerary of the trip and how you commonly approach situations while traveling.
Get on the same page ahead of time so that you can band together and create a united front so you’re not bickering in front of the kids.
Even the Brady Bunch didn’t start off as one happy family! Although fictional, it lends itself to a larger lesson and that is that you need to manage your expectations and gradually blend your families. We want you to start slow and focus on building individual relationships. You need to take your time and carve out time to spend with your partner’s kids.
If you’re already in a place of familiarity with your partner’s family and are planning your first trip together as a group, don’t start by planning a two-week backpacking trip across Europe.
Consider a long weekend to get acclimated with traveling as a blended family first.
Create time for bonding
Bonding time is the most important time when traveling as a blended family. You want to take into consideration that all parties involved are adjusting to the new normal. This means that your biological kids might have a hard time sharing you and your attention.
With that in mind, let’s say that you’re taking a beach vacation…Make time to do an activity that you and your kids love. It could be mini-golf, walking on the beach, going out to breakfast, whatever it may be, take the time to do an activity that’s familiar and they love.
While it’s important to give your kids some undivided attention, you don’t want to lean too heavily into that alone time. Just like with anything in life you need to strike a balance with spending time with your kids and the group as a whole so that you don’t perpetuate a sense of division between families.
Find activities for EVERYONE
Inclusion is paramount when traveling as a blended family. It’s already a bit awkward so you don’t want to add to it by doing activities that not everyone enjoys. To that point, consider mixing things up by taking the boys on an excursion while your wife takes the girls on a separate outing.
And remember to not overlook the little things either because something as simple as a conversation can make everyone feel included.
BONUS TIP: Speak with respect
Always, no matter what, speak respectfully about your ex and your partner’s ex. No matter how much you may not like them or disagree with them on certain things, that’s never an excuse to talk badly about him/her in front of the kids.
At the end of the day, your exes are still the parents of your children so speak about them in a way that you would want him/her to speak about you in front of your kids.
Blending families is tough for adults and children alike and if you’re planning a vacation this holiday season with your partner and his/her kids, keep these tips in mind and remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Patience and a good attitude go a long way when blending families.