Anyone who has seen The Brady Bunch knows: becoming a blended family is no walk in the park, but it can create a wonderful, fun and funky new family. First, congratulations are due on your union! But before you move in, here are some things you should consider to make this transition as smooth and joyful as possible.
Don’t forget about what started this: your relationship
It’s all too easy to be swept up in the details and care-taking of making the transition and forget to devote time to each other. Be intentional about carving out some alone time, away from the kids, even if it’s just to put away the tech for an hour before bed and talk. Keeping your relationship strong from the get-go is what will help you build a happy, healthy blended family.
Make time for the individual families
Particularly if you have young children, making the transition to “sharing” a parent can be challenging and induce some jealousy. Support and soothe those young emotions by setting aside time for your nuclear family. If you previously had a family ritual of sorts (movie nights, Sunday brunch, etc.) keep them up — during the transition they can serve as a touchstone for your kids to know that you’re still together as a family.
Get the kids involved in the move
Help your children to find a sense of connection and contribution by getting them involved in packing, choosing paint colors for their new rooms, and making other small decisions around the transition to help them feel excited. For older kids, set them up in teams with their new step-siblings to tackle appropriate tasks related to the move. Teamwork brings families together like nothing else — just don’t pick anything too controversial…
Be prepared in advance
You have enough to manage without realizing on moving day that you forgot a critical step. Hiring a team of full-service movers can be one good step in the direction of preparedness since they will ask all of the important questions related to moving day. Many companies will even offer a moving checklist to make sure you’ve thought of everything, and can even help with the unpleasant tasks like removing debris, re-assembling furniture, and so on.
Have a trial run slumber party
The kids have met and spent time, but have they been together during the everyday things like breakfast or bedtime rituals? The experience will likely be enlightening for kids and parents alike. Everyone can get a feel for what it will be like once you actually move in, which can help it to feel a little bit more real. For the first trial run or two, make it a special event — then, closer to moving day, structure it to be a little more “real life”. Cook dinner together, go to bed at a normal hour, and maybe even try to get everyone up and out the door to do something fun.
Get clear on your co-parenting style
With two families coming together, it’s inevitable that there are some different rules, expectations, and ways of being that will meet — and maybe not amicably. Spend some time with your partner before the move discussing your parenting styles. Spend time really paying attention to how he or she runs the household, manages chores, sets expectations, and even deals with disciplinary issues. The more you can be on the same page before an issue arises, the better.
Be honest about finances
Yes, you’re aware: getting married means your finances will get tangled. With a household of kids in the picture, that becomes even more of a factor. Kids want toys, they want to take horse riding lessons, they want fancy shoes, and so forth — so plan a household budget that feels appropriate and fair to everyone, and commit to sticking to it as a family. If you each decide to have some discretionary money for your kids, that’s fine — just be aware of any possible perceptions of inequity between the kids. That’s a surefire way to create conflict!
For more insight on what to avoid when moving with children, have a look at our other blog post!