Words to live by ↓
Right here is our family, The Blended Tribe. He had two kids, and I had two kids. We turned our two separate families into one blended mess over three years ago now. There is a lot of love and a lot of heartaches that go into keeping a stepfamily together. There is a ridiculous amount of fights over kids and parenting styles. The longer we keep fighting to keep our family together, the better it seems to get.
Why am I telling you all this?!
First of all, I’m reintroducing our tribe to you all. It’s been a while since I’ve shared who we are.
We have the oldest, Cole (Jon’s kid) who just turned 14 and all of a sudden got a personality. This kid has been one of my biggest challenges to figure out. He’s a little quirky, but he has a good heart and is starting to figure out where he belongs in our family.
Then there is Gracie (my kid) who is three months younger than Cole, and you wouldn’t know it. She takes on the role of the oldest for sure. She has an attitude and a personality that I relate to because she’s my kid. She is 100% my child in every way.
AJ (my kid) is next! AJ is ten, and he’s your typical middle child. He went from being the baby to being a middle kid, and that was a hard adjustment for sure. This kid has a temper like no other. He is sick of putting up with the other kids crap, but then he has the biggest heart. He is a kind soul and has the best manners for a ten-year-old.
That brings us to the baby Miss Anabelle (Jon’s kid) who is nine. This one!!! She is loving, smart, and she is brave. She doesn’t have a lot of fear, which scares me a little for her. She is kind, but also gets pure joy out of torturing and annoying her older siblings.
The second reason is I want you all to know that this sh*t is hard! I try to keep things as positive as I can because I choose to do that. I can dwell on the negative, but that won’t get any of us anywhere. Raising kids is hard enough, helping raise stepkids in a blended family environment is a whole other level of hard, probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Parenting other people’s kids makes parenting your own kids a walk in the park.
I’m here to listen and encourage you through it. You are going to have the shittiest of times, and then that will all go away when you have those fantastic moments together, these are the moments that make it all worth it. The reason I started this blog was to help people by sharing my struggles and experiences. I’m just trying to survive blended living. I definitely don’t have it all figured out, and NEVER will. All I know is that I’m a fighter and I want to encourage all of you to keep on fighting for your families!
♥ The Blended Tribe
To read more about us click HERE
Any of you out there watch this show?? It grabbed my attention while I was going through my divorce. Season 5 came out and there is some fun blended family action going on now. Check it out!
Here is a quick update on what’s going on with us:
•School and sports are over for summer…..thank GOD!
•We moved! Which means no sleep. The two young ones are having difficulty adjusting to the new house and all the change. They aren’t the only ones, though; I don’t handle change all that well either.
•I had a little shift in my job—-> it’s the same job but added on more responsibilities and more hours.
•The kids are gearing up for fair. We are down a pig due to Cole’s pig passing away unexpectedly. Only AJ and Anabelle will be showing this year now.
I think that’s it as far as updates go. The move has taken a lot of our time, and we are hoping that life will settle down a little bit and we can enjoy some our summer. We will see how that works out.
I have some blog posts in the works right now. Keep checking back for those. There’s been lots of blended family chaos in the mix of all this 🙂
♥ The Blended Tribe
This Thanksgiving we have all four kids!! We decided to take our Turkey on the road. We are celebrating our 2018 Thanksgiving camping!! The older two aren’t thrilled about it, but the younger two are excited….you can’t win them all, right?! We aren’t traveling far, but if this works out, I can see it as our new tradition. We have family coming out to celebrate with us, and we are looking forward to being together and trying something new. Did I mention it might rain 😉 It will be an adventure!
I know how hard the holidays can be within a blended family, and this Thanksgiving I’m truly blessed not to have to worry about an exchange or not having our kids. That’s not the case for all of you this year, and I know that. Keep your chin up, focus on the positive, create new traditions with you your spouse, friends or alone! Don’t sit around being sad over something you can’t control though! Please stay positive, every holiday won’t be this way, and know that I’m thinking about you!!
Hit me up on email firstname.lastname@example.org or IG @ the_blended_tribe if you’re having a hard time. You’re not in this alone, and I will do my best to talk you through it!
Click on Holiday Blending to get more tips on surviving this time of year.
I make mistakes daily, but I’m a pretty decent Mom, and I know this. I’m certainly able to admit when and where I’ve made some mistakes along the way. Here is one of my biggest mistakes so far as a parent.
We made the mistake of giving kids cell phones at an early age. I believe my daughter was 9 (possibly eight, but I can’t remember for sure) when I handed her a phone. My ex and I were going through our divorce, and she didn’t feel like she could contact me when she was with her Dad so I thought a phone would solve all the problems. It has helped and been a benefit with her being in sports and needing rides and so on. It has also been a HUGE pain in the ASS!! These kids don’t think they can survive without a cell phone these days. It’s permanently attached to them, and I can’t tell you how annoyed I am by it. My daughter isn’t playing a lot of games on hers, she does text her friends and looks at Pinterest for ideas, and it’s all mostly innocent. When you have kids sitting with their face in a game, with headphones on while watching TV……it’s too much!!
My Stepson received a phone around the same time, so we have two 13-year-olds that have had cell phones for at least four years already.
My daughter is grounded a TON from her cell, I take it away all the time. My SS was grounded from his, and it was the best thing for him!! They can, and they will survive without it.
Most weekends that we have the kids, they don’t get their cell phones. They have to put those things in the drawer and forget about them! Do we have some pissed off teenagers…..you know it! I feel like we wouldn’t be doing our job right if we didn’t have pissed off teens in our house.
The point of this post is to encourage you parents our there to hold off on giving your kids a phone until it’s an absolute must. They don’t need the damn things! They will find a way to get in contact with you if they need to. I’m sure all their friends have a cell; they can borrow someone else’s. Your kids will survive without one, and you will survive without being able to get in contact with them all the freakin time, EVERYONE WILL LIVE!!
Don’t make the same mistake I did. If you’ve already given your kids a phone, remember that you control that thing and you have all the power to take it away or restrict use. Be the parent and good luck in raising kids in such an advanced technological world. It creates an entirely new level of problems in an already trying time of raising children.
♥ The Blended Tribe
So today marks the day that would’ve been my 17th wedding Anniversary with my ex. Odd to think about that now. I remember this day five years back. I was distraught and sad and didn’t know how I would ever get through life without my ex. Fast forward five years and my how things have changed. I can’t even imagine being with that man and don’t know how I was with him for as long as I was.
The bottom line is that God has a plan for everything. He knew the outcome of our relationship the day we started dating. Everything happens for a reason, and although I don’t wish divorce, co-parenting, stepparenting on anyone, I wouldn’t change what happened or my life now for anything.
It’s hard not to remember this day because we shared an anniversary date with dear family friends. It is nice to finally acknowledge this date for what it was……a season of my life. It was a long season full of good times and bad times, and it was a season that I HAD to go through to get me to this season.
So, I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t go through that season….guess what, it happened, and I have two kids to prove it. I’m not going to be embarrassed or ashamed of that season anymore because I can’t erase my past or what has happened. All I can do is look back at this day and be grateful for where I am now.
If you are going through a divorce now, please know that it will get better! I know right now it doesn’t feel like it, but you are on to bigger and better things. I promise.
♥ The Blended Tribe
The past seven years of my life have looked a little something like this: happy marriage and sweet baby … turned affair, betrayal, and double life … skip to divorce, grief, and healing … and now, finding love again, an amazing second marriage, and blending all of the above. Successfully navigating through the past seven years has been tricky at best and now, the co-parenting dynamic in a blended family is no different. The complexities that go into the relationships that now make up our new family unit run deep. This has a lot working against us at times. We, however, are all working for one thing, our daughter. So, in my experience, here’s what has helped the most.
We Leave the Past Where it Belongs
More often than not the reason people arrive in a blended family is the product of heartache and trauma. At least two people in the co-parent foursome have experienced the pain of their divorce and that takes serious time and healing to recover from. Taking that time to grieve is crucial in how you’ll operate parenting together. Our magic number was three years. During that time, no one had re-married quite yet, allowing for some focused healing, forgiveness, and mourning the losses that came from the divorce. This time set us up to interact on a healthier level for the sake of our daughter. By the time remarriage was on the table there had been enough time and healing in place to move forward. And what to do with that extra water under the bridge? Make the choice not to drown in it. As co-parents it’s not about your former marriage, it’s about your child(ren).
We Keep the Lines Open
Aside from how we all arrived here, if there’s one thing we can all agree on present day it’s that we want to raise our daughter to be the best little human, thriving in every way possible. Talk about common interest! We could all go on and on about the funny things she says, how amazing her latest painting was, and how proud we are of who she is at only six years old.
As a parent, I will say, hands down the most lingering pain of divorce is sharing your child. From missing the major firsts to simply not getting to tuck them in every night. It gets really sad if you keep your focus there. The ways we soften the blow are a whole lot of pictures, videos, and updates in our “team sweetie” group text that the four of us have going. I missed my daughter’s first flight this past summer, but the video her bonus mom sent me was as second best as it could possibly get. I watched that video on repeat, and it made my heart so happy knowing that she was experiencing this first with a set of parents who love her as much as I do.
This solidarity doesn’t just apply to the joyful and gushy moments of parenting, it’s just as important (if not more) when dealing with the challenges. The behavior issues, the discipline, the consequences, the consistency in all of it … and if you’re a parent, you know that the list goes on. Once you’ve semi-handled one stage of your child, they throw you for a loop and it’s something brand new to deal with. We keep our rules and expectations as identical as humanly possible across the households. And with this, we are all in the know about everything that goes on. If there’s a behavior issue at one house, we all know. At school or soccer practice, we all know. She knows she’ll get the same answer, consequence, reward and so on from each one of us. She knows that we all talk and share and that between the four of us, she can’t get away with much.
We’ve found that there is an exception to the parenting rule when your child is one of a blended family. Some days, they need a little grace when going back and forth from household to household (and that’s okay). They aren’t robots and we can’t expect for them to act like ones. We notice more emotional outbursts and acting out in our daughter when she goes from house to house. She doesn’t express exactly what she’s feeling, but there’s something she’s processing internally that’s beyond us. Do we let her get away with murder? No, but we are mindful that there is an adjustment period needed at times. We give her that space to settle into one environment, family dynamic, and set of parents to the next.
We All Show Up
Softball games, parent-teacher conferences, dance recitals, school meetings, soccer practice, birthday parties, preschool graduations … We all show up, all the time. We continually show her that she is not only lucky enough to have the love, support, and encouragement from mommy and daddy, but also from her two bonus parents. She will never be short on love or support, that’s for sure. We also show her all of our different strengths and interests and see if they spark anything in her. Whether a child has two parents or four, personalities and passions will differ. Children will find that in certain seasons they’ll relate better to one than the next. We hope that she sees what each of us bring to the table separately as something that helps guide her. Parent to parent will always look a tad different, but what looks the same is the consistency of love and support our child receives. Our daily choice to all stay united and show up for our daughter trumps every reason the past has tried to divide us. We choose day after day to be the adults, to show up, and to ensure our daughter always has the loudest cheering section at the softball game.
We Respect Each Other (and our new family units)
As much as it benefits our daughter to be a united blended family, we are still big on developing and fostering each individual family unit. She has separate outings, traditions, and routines for each household. This gives life to each family unit on its own. Yes, we are blending and co-parenting, but we need each side to have its own individual foundation. We respect that in the other. It’s easy to have that sense of “I was here first” when watching an ex-spouse start over. However, this is not the hand we were dealt, nor is it the attitude we should carry. Point one on repeat. We leave the past where it belongs, and let our new families start over and grow. We keep our communication about our daughter and nothing else. We give each family unit the necessary space. If our daughter misses any one of us or wants to talk/facetime while she’s at the other household, we always allow her to, but we also try to respect the time she’s spending with each set of parents.
Her relationships look different with each one of us and we all respect that as well. No one is out to replace or compete against each other. We respect our daughter’s feelings towards each one of us and find joy in the relationship she has with each of us individually. We each take her out on solo dates, we spend time with her in our separate family units, and we spend time all together. Each facet of time spent is respected, encouraged, and important.
Divorce doesn’t end family life; it reorganizes it. The points made above are all daily choices we make FOR our daughter. Some days there are triggers of the past or painful memories that work against our choice, but we don’t let them win. All in all, we keep our heads above that water left under the bridge and focus on that greater good our child deserves.
LAUREN MCKINLEY is the founder of Her Soul Repair; blogger; author; and educator. She is a creative optimist who enjoys time with her husband & babies, strong coffee, sunshine, live music, and adventuring to new places. Lauren resides in Southern California with her family.
I’m in the middle of reading Lauren’s book right now, and as soon as I’m done reading it I’ll be posting a review and sharing the book with you.
Lauren-thank you for the great post!
♥ The Blended Tribe