I’m an only child. I grew up with a lot of silence and space. Now, as an adult, I CRAVE silence and space. I get cranky when there’s too much noise. I don’t need lots of friends. I don’t have the desire to be in large crowds. I’m honestly very comfortable in my own skin, in my own surroundings.
Today has been a perfect opportunity to have silence and space. I think it’s been well over a year since I’ve had the house to myself for a large expanse of the day. Steve and Keegan are at a Colts/Titans game in Tennessee this evening. I teach with VIP KID and did not want to cancel any classes. I told them to have some great father-son time and make some good memories!
What do I do when I have those quiet but blessed moments of solitude?
I love uninterrupted reading time. When I’m not working on writing my own devotional, I read. I am reading about four books at the same time. I am devouring Rachel Hollis’ “Girl, Wash Your Face”, I’m reading “God Speed – Steering Through Triumph and Tragedy” by Chad Bonham for the third time, and I’m reading Dr. Lofas’ “Stepparenting: Everything You Need To Know to Make It Work”. I love her books, and they help me with material for my social media work for the Stepfamily Foundation. I LOVE books about self-improvement. There’s always room for inspiration and growth! I also read the Bible. I’ve finished the Books of Genesis and Job in my quest to complete the Bible in a year.
I write. Two jobs, being a wife and mother, keeping up with a busy home, and traveling afford little time to keep up with my blog like I want to. When I get that random quiet day or block of hours, I work on my stepfamily devotional, I blog, or I write my dear friend Jane. Everyone needs a Jane, a trusted same-sex confidant.
I nap. Yes, I admit that. I have asthma and get tired easy. I make no apologies for that. Sometimes that blessed hour of deep sleeps totally recharges my mood, my thought processes for work and writing, and…my skin. I always have a healthy glow after a good slumber.
I do housework. I’m not ashamed to admit that, either. I love a clean house. It really makes me feel refreshed and centered when I can see a clean kitchen and family room at the start (and throughout) the day. Just speaking for myself, it makes me feel accomplished even if the work day has been ho-hum.
I exercise. There’s something so therapeutic about putting on my headphones and blasting some classic grunge (I’m a 90’s girl) or some old school Metallica.
Last but never, ever least – I miss my man and our little family. Steve is my best friend in this whole world. I miss my husband. It’s good to miss someone. It shows they occupy a very important place in your heart.
Solitude makes me temporarily happy, but seeing my boys walk through the door at 5 am tomorrow morning will make this lady very grateful indeed. 🙂
The holiday season is chaotic enough. Add in the drama of co-parenting (or in our case, NON co-parenting) and you have a ripe atmosphere for conflict.
Then there’s the custody agreement. The custody agreement should make holidays with your kids and stepkids a little easier, right? The tension can be just as bad as if there weren’t time parameters at all. Having to drop off your child by midnight on Christmas Eve, by noon on Christmas Day, or ANY time during the festivities can make the time together feel truncated and more like an appointment than quality time together.
Who struggles the most during this time? Our children. Imagine you are a six-year-old with divorced parents and essentially two homes. You love both of your parents and your stepparents. You want to be able to actually SAY how you love everyone in the stepfamily. That brings up some important Do’s and Don’ts for the holiday season.
DO for the sake of the kids:
Help your kids pick out a present for other members of the stepfamily. Young children who can’t drive or make their own money cannot buy presents on their own for mom, dad, stepmom, or stepdad. Use common sense and help them buy a present for other family members. Put your ego and any negative feelings aside. This isn’t about YOU. The big plus? The kids will remember you being the bigger person at Christmas, and they will be very grateful adults.
Show appreciation and gratitude when your child comes home with extra gifts. Don’t unleash drama in front of the children when the stepmom, stepdad, mom, dad, cat, dog, etc. buys your child a gift. Again, this isn’t about you. Be an adult. Be happy that someone loves your child and took the time to buy them a present. Children can’t have too much love.
Be flexible (if possible) with drop-off and pick-up times. Yes, the times stated in the divorce/custody decree should be adhered to. However, life happens. If your co-parenter is running a bit behind and makes the effort to tell you that, be kind. YOU might need the extra time in the future as well.
Speak to the co-parenter with civility. Your kids are observing how conflict is handled. Be a good example.
DON’T for the sake of the kids:
Please don’t ever, under circumstances, EVER bad mouth the co-parenter in front of the children. When you bad mouth the other parent you also are badmouthing one half of your child. At one time you thought enough of your ex to have offspring with them. Don’t throw shade in front of the kids. It’s just plain hateful.
Don’t make your kids open presents from the other co-parenters alone, in a different room, outside, etc. Be mature and be happy for the love expressed. Again, be grateful that your child is loved!
Don’t buy gifts for your child that are passive-aggressively sending a message of spite to the other household. Kids are smart, and they see right thru it.
Please allow your child uninterrupted time with the co-parenter. There’s no need to call and/or text unnecessarily. Your child will remain happy and balanced when they don’t feel like they have to “report” back to you while they are spending time at the other household.
Thankfully, Santa understands that many children in the world do not live in “traditional” families and households. He loves all the kids regardless of where (or who) they live with.
And most importantly, Jesus loves all of us while knowing the shortcomings of our minds and hearts. He also knows we are capable of incredible love, forgiveness and acceptance. Let’s show that love, forgiveness, and acceptance to EVERYONE. Do it for the kids. 🙂