Here are top three tips to assist coParents of blended families, suggests Kate Chapman, coParent specialist, mother of a blended family and founder of This Life in Progress site and blog:
1. Make sure that each parent is “running point.” – If there are a number of children in the home under one roof, it is best to set up a plan where one parent can handle schedules for their children, and the father can set up schedules for his. For example, if there are six kids under one roof, the mother keeps track of aspects for hers. This includes schedules, appointments, school plans and recreational activities. This reduces conflict between the children. Each child knows who to go to and they also know what is established, such as a schedule and certain rules. Each coParent of those children communicates with the parent in the household on each schedule.
2. Make sure that the two parents and coParents are straight on the game plan – You need to get very clear on what you would say “no” to. Establishing rules is key. And being very clear on what the budget is. If you buy one child a toy, guess what? You have to buy all of them toys. Also, a child may think they can go to dad to get a toy after mom says no. Each coParent must stand strong in this.
3. Be aligned behind the scenes – At night, before you go to bed, plan and discuss the next day and schedule. Plan ahead and get the story straight between the parents. Also, take time behind the scenes to take care of yourself and each other, compassionately. Take time to recharge, check on each other as parents and coParents. If one is burned out, step in.
4. Be mindful of the emotions of each family member – Back-to-school is a milestone for some people. This may bring up strong emotions, especially when mom or dad is in another house. They may miss them and the celebration. There could be eight people, all different ages, who actively grieve the absence of their “first” family. Be mindful of where each family member is. Don’t feel as if you need to forge ahead quickly and accomplish everything.