These may be obvious to others but I’ve recently discovered a few things that are making life a lot easier. Rob and I blended families last fall and it hasn’t all been a picnic. Some of it’s because of the craziness of our own particular situations but some of it is just because it’s hard when one family moves in with another.
Here’s what’s working right now:
- I signed my kids up for swimming lessons on Wednesday nights. Every Wednesday we go out and Rob’s got the house to himself. I hadn’t realized how rare an occurrence this was until we started a few weeks ago. I have time here alone during the day because I mostly work from home but when he’s home usually I’m home and/or there’s some combination of our kids here. Given that it’s his house we live in it’s been a big change from it being usually quiet to now, usually loud. I also went away to Toronto for a long weekend while my kids were at their dad’s and it gave Rob some time alone here with his daughter. For years it was just the two of them on the weekends and I think it’s been hard on both of them having me around all the time. They need their space and the chance to be together without a third wheel hanging about.
- Video game time for chore time. For the past month, every Tuesday night Rob and I go out for coffee/chai at a local independent coffee shop. We play World of Warcraft for a few hours and it’s lots of fun. I make time for this with him and on Saturday mornings we do housework together (specifically cleaning the bathrooms and vacuuming the stairs). These are the two biggest things that get me down when they’re dirty. If the bathrooms and stairs are clean I can mostly keep up (or overlook) the rest of the house. It’s become a great routine and the date night is wonderful. We’re actually having fun together. ;) Having fun is important for making a blended family work. If we’re not happy, then what was the point?
- A grocery list on the side of the fridge. There are way too many people here for me to keep track of who is out of what favourite food. Each kid is responsible for adding to the list if they finish off a food. If it’s not on the list it doesn’t come home from the grocery store. This goes for the grownups too.
- Rules that apply to everyone. This is something we’re still working on and will probably continue to struggle with. One of these rules is that school bags and other gear needs to go into bedrooms and cannot be left in the entranceway. For the size of the house I’ve always been frustrated with how tiny the entrance area is. Bags that get abandoned become tripping hazards and it looks awful. Unfortunately we’re all guilty of coming in and getting distracted. One reason is that the kitchen and computers are upstairs and the kids bedrooms are downstairs. Usually the habit is to come in, come upstairs. Later, when they’re ready to go down, they walk right on past the bags. My excuse is that usually I’m carrying in more than one load so it takes me a couple of trips to get everything where I’m going and I get distracted before I’m done putting everything away. Hopefully now that winter is over I can put the boots away and that will clear up a bit of space.
I hope I keep finding more things that I can add to this list.