It may not feel like it, but summer is right around the corner. And you know what summer means! Beach, BBQ, long nights, frosted drinks… oh, and no school. Summer is a wonderful time to take family trips, enroll the kids in a camp or two, and just enjoy the long, lazy days and nights.
For many stepfamilies (particularly when it’s Dad and Stepmom), summer is a time to see their (step)children, as Dads more often have weekend and holiday visitation schedules. Again, this can be a great time to deepen bonds, reconnect, and spend quality time. It can also be a bit of a shock to all involved when you suddenly go from your regular routines to a busy, bustling house of kids with nothing to do for the next two months.
Depending on your dynamic, your own responsibilities, and your relationship with your stepchildren, you will want to plan in advance for how the summer will go. Talk to your partner about the visitation schedule. How often will you have them throughout the summer? Will they be attending any camps or clubs? Who will be taking them to and from these activities? What will your house rules and expectations look like for the summer? What will your age-appropriate responsibilities be for the kids?
Be gentle with these conversations. If your husband is anything like mine, he is just so excited to have time with his kids that he never thinks of logistics and expectations. Simply assure him that it helps you plan if you have a sense of what will be happening, and who will be coming and going.
If you will be having the kids for a significant amount of time, and you and your partner are not on the same page in terms of parenting and expectations, you will want to clearly set your boundaries before they arrive, if possible. Will you be responsible for registering them for activities in the summer? For driving them and picking them up? Will you be responsible for caregiving work (i.e. cooking, cleaning, laundry, childcare)? I know that thinking about all of this seems to fly in the face of a “relaxing” summer, but it is always best to be clear and open about your involvement and expectations before situations arise that cause conflict between you and your partner.
Above all, practice self-care, focus on your relationship, and let Dad do the parenting if that’s what is best for you. You can’t control anyone else, but you can control your reaction to a given situation. Here’s to those sunny days, family adventures, late sunsets, and frosted drinks on the patio!
Erin Careless xo