How to Handle House Hopping at Christmas
Everyone knows that Christmas is on December 25th right? Well in my family Christmas is on the 15th, the 21st, the 24th, and the 25th. Sometimes jumping isn't always fun, especially when your kids have to jump from house to house to celebrate Christmas. It took a lot of time, but I now realize that a day is just a number and what matters on Christmas is who you spend time with, not the day you do it on. The holidays can be a very stressful time for Stepmoms but in my experience, it can be equally as stressful for the step kids. Sometimes our step parents don’t realize that we too feel torn, guilty and pressured to be at a certain parents house for Christmas morning. And if they are anything like me there is probably a house they would rather be but they feel guilty for telling their parents the truth.
Here at Social Stepmom, we are going to be starting a series of posts written from the side of the stepkid. Our goal is to give stepmoms and parents some insight into what their kids are really thinking and feeling. I feel like a lot of step-parents would be surprised about what goes through their kid's heads during Christmas.
So let’s start with when I was younger. My parents got divorced when I was three, so luckily for me, I don’t remember what Christmas was like with my birth parents together. Once my mom got remarried and I had a stepdad, things seemed great! I got two full Christmases and to me, that meant two full sets of PRESENTS! I got two stockings, two turkey dinners, two sets of presents from Santa. To me it all made sense! I got extra and to be honest I learned really quickly that both my parents would compete to get me the best gift… which I enjoyed as a kid (since I didn’t know any better). However, as I got older things started to change. My dad started putting less time and effort into Christmas. My parents would alternate who got to be with me on December 25th and I started dreading being with my dad on the day. He did not uphold any of the traditions that I was used to from my mom. Instead of making Turkey Dinner he started ordering Chinese food. Which as an adult I would be fine with! But as a kid, I didn’t understand why the two Christmases were so different. I wanted normalcy. I wanted things to be the same. I didn't want to jump back and forth when one side didn't seem as fun to me as the other.
SOCIAL STEPMOM TIP: keep some traditions from your stepkid's past experiences and treasure them as much as your own traditions. Christmas is a time when everyone wants everything to be what they are used to. My family watches the same movie every single year without fail and even as a grown woman I would be upset if we didn’t! It’s important to ask your stepkids what they love most about Christmas and what they want to do most this year during the holidays. This will make it easier for them to know what they can expect when they are bouncing between houses.
Having younger kids in a blended family may be slightly easier than those who have adult step kids. Once you have adults/teens involved the schedules become more and more complicated. Two Christmases can actually become FOUR CHRISTMASES. That’s when you really have a challenge. Still to this day my mother and father alternate who gets to be with their kids on December 25th. But it’s not that simple. Now my mom has three stepsons so she has to coordinate with them when they are with their mom and their dad (her husband). She has to first find out If I’m with her on the day, then her stepsons will be with her or their mom. Her stepsons also have fiancés so sometimes they are with them on the 25th. I could keep going with how complicated it could all get but let’s just slow down for a second! The most important thing I want you to take away from this is that the 25th is just a day. My family has done an entire Christmas the week before Christmas. We had Christmas Eve celebrations on the 20th, and on the morning of December 21st we all woke up and pretended it was Christmas morning. We all bought into the game and we all enjoyed it so much! I then went to my fathers and got to have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day all over again. It was great because it felt meaningful regardless. My whole family on each side was there and adapted to the different days and we still got all of the family members included in Christmas. To me, this is an amazing thing. You get to appreciate both sides of the family for their own traditions, yet you don’t have to lose anything. You aren’t choosing sides because you get to do both. Yes, one might be a week early but trust me once your kids open their gifts they will forget what day it is!
SOCIAL STEPMOM TIP: Most importantly -remember that your kids regardless will, unfortunately, feel torn and guilty. The best way to help them through it is to ask them what they want most. Listen to them, hear them. See what they are hoping for this Holiday. And if they make a choice that maybe isn’t exactly what you had in mind it’s best to let it go. The worst thing you can do is comment negatively about their choice to be at their dads or moms and not with you. These comments will make your kid even more stressed than they already are about their wants. In a step kids mind, they know that no matter what they choose one parent will be left unhappy. They already know this and feel this, so there is no point adding to their feeling of that. I would choose another day and make it JUST as special Who cares what day it is! When the kids arrive shout Merry Christmas EVE and everyone will feel in the spirit! And hey maybe one day you can join all the families into one celebration? Maybe we can keep dreaming about that one!