ALEXANDRA MORTENSEN / Contributing Writer
We’re in the thick of the holiday season and the Mortensen family has a lot to be grateful for this year. On a personal level, I am thrilled to have gotten the opportunity to write Step Talk and connect with other North Idaho bonus parents! To bring those just joining this column up to speed, my husband has sole custody of his two teenage sons.
This means that we don’t face a challenge that so many of the other blended families face this time of year—sharing the holidays.
It can be difficult enough for a “traditional” family to gracefully balance making the holiday rounds between their respective loved ones. Throw in one or two more families into the mix and things may get downright chaotic. Worse, the kiddos involved are often right at the center of the whirling holiday schedule.
For this, I put on my only-child-with-divorced-parents hat as well as my stepmom hat to offer tips to be seasonally step-savvy.
First and foremost, don’t make it a competition. Stepparent or otherwise, picture perfect photos on social media can sometimes leave us with FOI—Fear of Imperfection. Whether you’d like to give your spouse’s ex coal this year, or you get along so well you’ve been out caroling together, don’t worry about what the holiday experience is like at their house. Just focus on filling your own home with love, laughter, and your own special traditions that hopefully will be carried on for many years to come.
Speaking of traditions, as a stepparent, I believe it’s a great idea to uphold holiday traditions put in place before you were on the scene as well as create new traditions as a family. For stepparents who are struggling with feeling out of place in holiday photos and celebrations, this is a great way to remember that you are indeed an important part of your family. Maybe you can even start a small tradition between just you and your stepchild or stepchildren—such as a small gift that shows how much you love them and feel blessed to be in their lives.
Last but not least, don’t forget to be on your own holiday list. You deserve a gift from you this year, whether it be an item you’ve had your eye on or simply the gift of allowing yourself to relax or do something you love. In moments when I’m feeling guilty for doing something just for me, I remember that in order to be the best version of myself for those I love, I must take care of myself, too.
I hope all of your blended families have a wonderful holiday season!