Using routines to de-stress your blended family can make all of the difference in the world.
Most blended families have a set schedule for visitation, but visitation where your household just doubled in size can make everyone uncomfortable because they are not sure what’s going on. Make a plan today on how to make visitation at your home less stressful. Use these suggested routines to de-stress your blended family.
I am going to assume that your weekends start on Friday evening. In our home every other Friday our home goes from one child to four, and later on in the weekend my oldest joins the family. That is a big, big change in the amount of food we cook, laundry and dishes we need to keep clean, and showers can be a nightmare. So we have devised a routine to help us with some of the basics to keep our stress levels down to a dull roar.
Planning ahead for meals is crucial.
Normally I cook for 3 people, but we double that number plus one by the end of the weekend. My kids are getting to that age that they are bottomless pits, so planning meals for visitation weekend can get a little tricky. I choose meals that I know everyone will eat. We rarely eat out to save money, so cooking is the only way to go. I like to pick a pizza night at least once a month and we make an enormous amount of pizza. Leftovers are for snacks or whomever doesn’t want a sandwich the next day for lunch. Soups can be easily doubled by adding more vegetables.
Keep healthy snacks like granola bars and a bowl of fruit that are easily acceptable. A large bowl of popcorn is a great healthy snack. The key is to plan a menu ahead of time and do your grocery shopping before visitation begins. Make this menu planning and buying part of your before visitation routine. Shopping with extra kids can be stressful and you want to spend time with your family, not running errands.
Some days I believe that I do more dishes than laundry.
But then I look at the laundry that still needs to be done. Teach your kids that dishes must be washed after each meal. That is the only way that our family can keep up. We delegate this chore to 2 kids. One child puts away clean dishes, and one child loads the dishwasher. I normally wash all of the pots and pans by hand. If each child puts their dirty dishes in the sink or the dishwasher after their meal, this makes things go much easier. If you have a dishwasher, dishes can take as little as 15 minutes a day for a total of 7 people.
Write down who does the dishes and what they are responsible for each day or each meal. We rotate chores , but I won’t get into that now and will be showing you my chore chart soon.
Establish a routine for laundry.
Get the kids involved. In our home clothes stay in the home where they were purchased, unless other arrangements are made. It keeps it so much more simple than mixing up clothes from one home to the other and parents trying to find clothes that they know their kid is supposed to have. This is something that I started with my kids when they were younger, and it just works really well. Those special (ie. expensive) jeans from their aunt stay at our house instead of them going out in the mud at their dad’s house in them. It keeps down on confusion.
To do this effectively, the kids coming in for visitation on Friday immediately change clothes when they walk in the house. Those clothes that they wore are either folded and put away or put into the laundry that night so that they are nice and clean on Sunday for their return.
Do at least one load of clothes each day. On the weekends that we have all of the kids, its more like doing 3 loads a day to keep up with everything. Our routine normally means that the kids gather the laundry, I sort and start the laundry, and the kids flip it. I fold or hang, and the kids put away. I won’t get into which child does what, that is for another post on our chore chart system.
Towels are something that can be reused. I suggest getting each child a towel of a different color, along with washcloths in that color. Each child is responsible for hanging their towel for the next day. This cuts way down on laundry. You can wash those towels after visitation and cut down on 2 or 3 loads of laundry just in a weekend. That’s a lot!
Reminder: Make sure that the kid that is flipping your laundry turns on the dryer. You don’t need to have a load ready to go into the dryer and find soggy laundry in the dryer already. Don’t ask me how I know this, but I do know this. Asking a child to put laundry in the dryer doesn’t mean they are going to turn it on. Specify!
Make this routine work for your family. Not everything is going to go according to plan each time, so learn to roll with the punches. Involve the kids, and make it fun if possible.
One of the hardest things to coordinate is showers.
At least it is for our family. 2 girls and 3 boys along with my husband and I all need a shower daily. The plus is that my oldest normally showers at his dads and isn’t here overnight most weekends. So normally we have the girls shower at night and the boys shower in the morning or vice versa. We have kids that try to get out of their showers, or don’t wash their hair. So our rule is you must have a shower within 24 hours of the last one and you must wash your hair. With Shampoo. Each and every shower. Or Bath. Yep, you have to specify with some kids.
To do this effectively, you need a set bedtime for the kids and start at least an hour before their bedtime with showers. So write it down and discuss it with the kids well before bedtime so that they know what to expect.
These are just a few ways that we use routines in our home to de-stress our blended family. Do you have any routines that help de-stress your blended family?