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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Kids in Blended Families Need a Culture of Peace and Respect

I am at the tail end of a long time without my children being home.  I'm so grateful that they were able to go to spend a week with my family in the Midwest.  When family lives far, time together is a gift.  I am so glad they could spend time deepening the relationships with my parents and their cousins.  Our older girls, my step daughters, also went to spend time with their grandparents.


Following this, my younger ones headed out on a last minute trip to the beach with their dad.  I know they are having a fabulous time.  Mr. Wonderful and I are getting things accomplished at home and enjoying lots of snuggles.  I went one whole week without cooking!  But, I'm really ready to have our home full once again.

When my children return from time spent with their father, there is a great deal of activity, noise, and general upheaval of the family flow.  It feels chaotic for them to move between homes, attempt to keep track of items they carry back and forth and to adjust to the nuances that are different in each location.  In short, kids who move between homes have much more stress than children who have a single, permanent residence.  Co-parenting works to give the children access to both parents, but it is not an ideal setup.  Then again, seven people in one house isn't a naturally peaceful setup either.  Because of this, it's so important for us to maintain a culture of peace and respect in our home.

The concepts speak pretty well for themselves.  Peace. Respect. Calm.  Here's how it looks in our home:
  • When possible, we practice routines so that everyone knows what is happening next.  Bedtimes, mornings, after school, etc.  We create rhythms to our day. Predictable is peaceful.
  • We vigorously guard our calendar. We plan ahead and communicate well about upcoming activities. We strive for as few commitments as possible while maintaining our values regarding education, extracurricular activities and our faith community. 
  • For the most part, we keep the noise levels low (major exception for big movie nights). We remind each other to speak softly...often.
  • We speak kindly.  We ask, not tell our requests.  We listen to each other.
  • We allow individuals to retreat into private space, when needed.
  •  I value clear spaces, so we pick up the clutter and purge often. We have cleaning routines in place and regularly pick up the floor.  We make our beds (for the most part).
  • I fight the urge and try not to make a big deal out of things that are not big deals.  This takes great effort sometimes.
We are far from perfect, but in our home we aim for peace and respect at all times.  Yes, we watch our movies with the volume high and sometimes the squeals and giggles reach high decibels, but the overall tone of our home is calm.

What are some other ways to bring calm into the sometimes chaotic world of co-parenting or of children living Between Two Worlds?

Five Unique Needs of Blended Homes

Let's All Agree to Be Less Complicated

Remarkable Parenting