Blog by Mom of a Blended Family
I am the mother of an 11 year old & 9 year old from a previous marriage. I also have a six month old baby with my husband now. Since I share custody with the older kid’s father, it takes a few extra steps for us to plan for summer break. Some would see this as a disadvantage (and believe me, I have my moments) but I try to focus on the opportunity to give ALL of my children a “quality” summer even when the “quantity” is limited. Besides, the quality time is what bonds our blended members together.
Here’s a few tips that would help any family, but have been especially helpful to our bunch.
Calendars & Communication
In a family like ours, I have to get the schedule set with the older children’s father in the early part of the year. This year, I used a google calendar to share with him, which helped to make sure we were both on the same page. Of course, this means there are no vacation plans to be made before this calendar is set. Once agreed upon, I added these dates to our family calendar at home. This gives the kids a sense of confidence when friends are inquiring, because the kids are aware of where they will be and when. Of course, there are times I wish we could waltz into summer without any limitations, but I’m also thankful for the quiet weeks that I get to invest into my marriage when so many never have that opportunity. So, I am reminded how important order is in my own house, just as it is in God’s house. Because without it we’d be a mess.
Redeem the Time
While I like to plan ahead, I have to recognize that planning can become daunting. When we start to pencil in our “spontaneous” time, we have gone too far! As their mom, it can be hard to block the worry or even focus when your kids are at their “other” house. Most often, I am wondering what kind of mood they will be in when they enter the door. This is why I try very hard to read their needs in that moment and then take full advantage of the time we do have together. In the summer this could mean planning a vacation exploring a new city and talking about it a lot. Discussing ideas for family time can build excitement. But some of our most meaningful times are around the dinner table, playing a card game, or sitting by a fire making s’mores. I am always taken back by the affect family time around the fire has on the whole family. In moments like these, we are all able to reset our hearts and take down our walls. However, when the older ones are gone, I have to remember there are still memories to be made with our little one. I never want to be half a parent just because we’re not ALL together. The same is true in my relationship with God. I may get bogged down with the details of life and not get the quantity of time with God that I would prefer, but if my relationship with God is lacking quality it will most definitely suffer.
Psalm 90:12 AMP
So teach us to number our days,
That we may cultivate and bring to You a heart of wisdom.
Relax, God’s Got This
As much as I am a planner, I have to remember that God’s got my back. While our family may take a few extra steps to be intentional about our experiences together, we are no less blessed or favored by God. Therefore, whether it’s a getaway with all members of the family or an evening walk on the beach with some of us, the end goal is the same for all families. Are we growing towards God and growing closer together?
Father, I pray for each family on this summer break that we would all experience a moment where our families have grown closer to You and closer to each other. I pray that we don’t allow our plans or expectations to rule our hearts as we seek to connect with each other. I pray for the single mom who is trying to figure out how she will afford daycare and worry that her kids won’t have the fun summer they deserve. I pray these mom’s find simple ways to build forever memories, and they give their relationship with You the quality time it needs during the quiet summer moments. I pray for the married mom’s that You would strengthen their marriages over these summer months, and they would even have unexpected time to focus on You and build up the woman that you have created them to be. As well, I don’t want to forget the mom whose children are all grown and have families of their own. I pray, God, that these women would have time to visit with their children and grandchildren, and they would have fun talking old memories and making new ones. Amen