The festive season can be a stressful time for most families and if it’s the first time you’ve celebrated Christmas as a stepfamily there will be even more to think about than usual. The sharing of "Christmas time", who sees who, at what time and for how long can be a very delicate subject.
How the children might be feeling - The children themselves may want to try and please everyone around them and probably won’t want to lose touch with either parent, particularly at a time of year when family is at the forefront of many people’s minds. By its very nature, Christmas tends to serve as a reminder of the festivities of past Christmases and the way things used to be. For that reason it can be an emotional time that needs to be handled with a lot of understanding.
Standing together - A lot of give and take and respect is required on both sides and a united front from parents and stepparents is essential to ensure a smooth transition for the children. Discuss with your partner some of the traditions you have each had in the past and consider introducing some of these into your own Christmas this year, along with some new traditions that will help to mark a new beginning.
A message of reassurance - Some of the feelings children might be facing include insecurity, guilt and concern over how they will fit in, how the new parent really feels about them and how they will accept a new 'parent' within their world. Reassuring them and acknowledging their worries will go a long way towards making them feel relaxed.
The important things - Creating bonds with your new 'additions' will make them feel relaxed and relieved; this will be relevant as much to yourself as well as to them, focusing on what is important at this time of year, not expensive presents, but time spent together.
High expectations - New relationships take time to nurture, so go easy on yourself if everything doesn’t quite go to plan. The build up and pressure to make everything memorable can be overwhelming so let yourself off the hook and recognise that it’s OK to have an average Christmas. That way you have a much better chance of surviving and enjoying this strange, first Christmas together.
If there is one tip I would give to all families it would be, presents are forgotten much quicker than experiences. So create some memories by doing things together rather than buying material possessions.