I just got back from taking a vacation with my husband and son. We had a wonderful time in St. Louis, although our vacation was cut short due to bad weather. It’s Spring and we expected mild weather, around 50 degrees or so and sunny, but instead St. Louis was expecting blizzard conditions on the day we decided to leave! In spite of it all, however, we enjoyed visiting their spectacular Science Center and the Arch was amazing as well.
We try to take a vacation at least twice a year. In the beginning of our marriage it was quite difficult. My husband and I would always try to coordinate our vacations around when my stepson could go, but it NEVER WORKED OUT! Something always came up, at the last minute, that prevented my stepson from going and prevented us from going altogether. The Wicked Ex always had some excuse as to why he couldn’t go or why he couldn’t visit during his court ordered visitation time (when we planned our vacations). This kid has attended so many weddings, funerals and birthday parties, it’s ridiculous. Needless to say, my stepson has NEVER been on a vacation with us, despite him wanting to go and us wanting him to go.
We used to just say “forget it” and we wouldn’t go on vacation at all. But then I realized that the only people who were missing out was us because my stepson was still going on vacation with his mom and stepdad. It was my son who was never going anywhere because we were allowing the ex to dictate our schedule. We were doing this by saying that we weren’t going anywhere until she allowed my stepson to go. Well, we would never go on vacation if we did that, so eventually we decided that we were going whether my stepson was in attendance or not. We still make every effort to include my stepson in our plans, but our plans don’t fall through if he can’t go. We plan our vacations around what’s conveninet and feasible for our family; not what’s convenient for my stepson or when his mom will allow him to go.
Aside from The Wicked Ex’s every attempt to exclude her son from our family activities, we also realized that our sons live in different states and therefore they have very different school schedules. For example, they are never on spring break at the same time; which makes it impossible for us to plan vacations together during this time. It’s also another reason why we pleaded with the ex to change the visitation schedule. K used to come during his spring break when M was still in school. Not only did this disrupt M’s routine, but it also prevented K from enjoying his spring break. Because M was in school, there was no staying up late, playing during the week, or going on vacation. It was a situation that was truly unfair to both of them. As such, we requested either extra weekends or an extra week during the summer to make up for this time, but of course she wanted no part of it. In the end, we just decided not to exercise our visitation during this time whether she allowed us to make it up or not. Now, K actually enjoys his spring break with her and her current husband. They plan vacations during this time with him. Although I know she knows that I was right all along, she’ll never admitt it. But that’s okay, because I do what’s best for the children and never make decisions based on how difficult I can make it for her!
Other blended families experience different issues when planning a vacation together. Some use it as a time to bring their family closer together. When the kids aren’t getting along, your kids aren’t excepting your new spouse or their blended family, sometimes a mini vacation (too many days could backfire on you) is just what the therapist ordered. Taking a vacation for a few days, close to home, can help in gradually bringing your family closer together, especially if you’re consistent with creating this new family tradition. However, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure everyone feels included in this new tradition.
- Have a family meeting to allow everyone to give ideas about where to go.
- Make sure you have adequate hotel or resort space at your destination.
- Make sure that both bio and step children are included in decisions about activities that the family will enjoy together. Notice that I bolded the word ‘included.’ Including them doesn’t mean that you give them the power to make the decision. It means that you give them the opportunity to give suggestions. As the adults, you make the final decisions in deciding what the compromise will be.
- Keep it short. Don’t try to plan week long or longer vacations, especially with a newly formed blended family. In the traditional family, after too many days together in close quarters, you start getting on each other’s nerves. As such, it might be even more tense in a blended family situation, so limit your vacation time to 4 days or less.
What about you BFSO readers? We want to hear about your blended family vacation horror stories. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or drop us a comment to let us know. Oh, and when you get a moment check out the links above for the St.Louis Science Center and the St.Louis Arch. You might want to consider St. Louis for your next vacation spot after doing so. We had a blast!