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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Unexpected Stepparenting Moments

*Note to Readers: Our out-of-state move begins next week. My blogging will be sporadic for the next month but I hope to return to a regular schedule by late summer.

Yesterday was my 50th birthday. A milestone. I had great plans for a leisurely morning on my son's first day of summer, while considering a movie before going to dinner with my girlfriends. (With my husband working out of state, I planned my own celebration). But my plans went completely awry.

"I'm headed to the Emergency Room," I heard my stepson, Payton, say on the other end of the phone as I scrambled out of bed. "I'm in severe pain in my lower back and don't know what to do." I sensed panic in his voice and tried to calm  his fears. "Let me call the doctor and try to get you in. You will sit for hours at the ER," I said. "Come to the house so I can help you."

Less than an hour later we were waiting in the doctor's office, my stepson barely able to sit on the exam table.The doctor explained that it appeared he had a kidney stone and would need to wait it out, pushing fluids and surviving on pain meds while praying the stone would pass on its own. I suspected that was the diagnosis we would hear and I think my stepson was relieved it wasn't anything more serious. But kidney stones are not fun to deal with.

I dropped Payton at our house to rest while I picked up his pain medicine. Upon returning, I found him curled in a fetal position, trying to cope with the pain. He took the medicine and began a steady intake of fluids. As the medicine began to take effect, he dozed off quietly.

He stayed at the house most of the day while I encouraged fluid intake and resting. He expressed sincere appreciation for my help during his time of need. He knew it was my birthday and apologized for the inconvenience. But I was thankful I could help.

I reflected on the day later with my sister and she remarked, "That's just how life goes, isn't it?" It was okay that I didn't get to enjoy a leisurely morning or make it to the movies. I did enjoy a special dinner with dear friends that evening as we celebrated my birthday. And I cherished the fact that I was able to help my stepson through a difficult day.

Critical stepparenting moments occur when we least expect them. But if we take the time to rise to the occasion, those are the moments most appreciated by our stepchildren.

Have you experienced unexpected stepparenting moments lately?

Related Posts:

Expect the Unexpected on Your Stepparenting Journey

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

When Stepparenting Isn't What You Expected

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Stepfamily Vacations - 5 Tips for Navigating Your Trip Successfully

If you've lived in a stepfamily long, you've probably endured a stressful stepfamily vacation. Throwing family members together for an extended period of time can wreak havoc on even the most stable family. For a fragile stepfamily, it can be a recipe for disaster. 

But with the summer months upon us, it's time to consider a vacation. So, here are a few ideas to make your stepfamily vacation a success.

1.  Allow your stepchildren to be part of the planning process. If your stepchildren can offer ideas about their vacation, they will more likely play a positive role on the trip. Ask them what they would enjoy and brainstorm options that all family members can actively participate in.

2. Break some of the rules you keep at home to make the trip fun and spontaneous. The child-rearing years can be laborious and tension-filled. When you leave for vacation, bring along your sense of humor and allow your kids special privileges to break the monotony of everyday life.

For instance, when we took our first cruise with the kids a few years ago, our youngest son spotted the self-serve ice cream machine the first day. For a few days, he was only allowed to have ice cream after 12:00 and was limited to the number of times he could return to the machine. By the last day of the cruise, the rule had changed to allow ice cream at breakfast and several other times throughout the day. Ice cream for breakfast was a special treat and he fondly recalls the ice cream machine as one of the highlights of the cruise.

3. Focus on the kids. Your stepfamily vacation isn't the time to count on quality moments with your husband. That can happen on a separate trip that doesn't include the kids. For a successful stepfamily vacation, your mindset should be more about creating lasting bonds and memories. Go out of your way to make it a special time for the kids. They may not acknowledge your efforts, but will remember the time and energy you spent on family vacations when they get older.

4. Buid in down time to rest and recuperate. Vacations are meant to be relaxing. It's easy to plan  too many activities, creating stress-filled days. Allow extra time to enjoy the sunset or catch the fireflies on a lazy evening. Memories can be created just as easily without a lot of expense and fanfare.

5. Keep a positive attitude and don't expect it to go exactly as you planned. Flexibility is key to enjoying a successful trip. Plans may have to change along the way and unexpected events may occur, but that doesn't have to interrupt the atmosphere surrounding your trip.

Stepfamily vacations get easier the longer a family is together. In the beginning, it's easier to take short trips together while family members are still getting to know one another. If the vacation doesn't go well, don't give up. Stepfamily life gets better as time goes by. Vacations are one variable in that equation!

What tip can you share to help create a successful stepfamily vacation?

Related Posts:

Positive Thinking Results in Successful Stepparenting 

Expect the Unexpected on Your Stepparenting Journey

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