The COVID-19 pandemic has been uniquely challenging for us. That includes how we work, play, and even parent.
However, the challenges for blended families during this time are particularly tricky. Even without the pandemic, it isn’t easy bringing two separate families together to form a new unit.
Yet, it is still possible despite these new obstacles. Surprisingly, the key to successfully blend two families during COVID-19 is always the same.
If you are a newly blended family, here are three tips on making it possible.
1. Acknowledging the Change
One of the challenges for blended families has been when children must let go of their old family and embrace a new one. Even if you and your former partner have been separated for a while, the children may find it difficult to transition to a new family. Keep in mind; it’s a massive change for any child.
Also, the pandemic has introduced many other changes at the same time, such as:
- Shifting from in-person to remote learning
- Not being able to participate in particular sports or activities
- Event cancellations, such as festivals or school dances
- The loss of socializing with friends
It helps that both you and your partner recognize that these changes are difficult. Give your children the space to talk about these issues. Refrain from judging when they get angry or frustrated. After all, most of us feel the same way about how the pandemic has changed things!
2. Getting Into a New Groove
Another challenge for blended families is getting into a new groove when it comes to scheduling. If you and your partner bring multiple children into a new household, then you now have a wider age range to manage.
There may be kids in elementary school to high school seniors. Everyone will have different schedules, commitments, and obligations. Plus, both you and your partner like have jobs.
Although it might seem daunting, everyone can get on the same page. Here are a few ways to coordinate your family:
- Keep a master schedule on a whiteboard in a common area
- Have block times when children are studying, have free time, etc.
- If there is only one computer, try to budget computer time as best as possible.
Have a few activities that everyone can do together. Meal times are a natural go-to, but so is a movie night or playing a game outside. You’ll be surprised how quickly kids adjust and are capable of getting into a new groove.
3. Establishing New Traditions
It’s always been challenging for blended families to establish new traditions. That’s because families will bring their own cherished traditions and activities to the new family. You can’t do everything. Plus, with COVID-19, much-cherished family traditions have been upended.
For now, we can’t invite people from outside the household for a weekly gathering or holiday meal. But we can adapt in many ways, including:
- Visiting relatives in an appropriate manner that’s physically distant
- Having regular video conference calls
- Hand-writing letters
- Participating in a meal where others are on a conference call with their meal
Here’s an idea, ask your children what they want to do. Empower them to take control and engage in traditions they want to do. Try to honor everyone’s wishes as best as possible, but ensure everyone can participate.
Navigating Challenges for Blended Families
Ultimately, the key to success for blended families is consistent and effective communication. That means facilitating communication between you and your partner and between the two of you and your children. There are lots of ways to facilitate this.
However, if you and your partner are struggling with communication and parenting, ask for help. A therapist experienced in parenting counseling will be able to help you navigate through these issues.
There are many challenges for blended families during this pandemic. However, with some creativity, compassion, and effective communication, it’s possible to get through this. If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to ask for help either.
Please contact me today or visit my Parenting Counseling page to learn how I can help you get through these trying times.