Any parenting book or child psychologist will tell you—consistency is key. With how many balls we seems to always have in the air in today’s fast-paced society, maintaining a consistent schedule for the kids can be a challenge, even when you aren’t a blended family. What do you do when you’re trying to keep that important day-to-day consistency, but you’re not able to find a schedule that works for both households? Or even worse, what if the other parent refuses to work with you on having cohesive homes?
I say, as with everything in life, you simply make the best of it.
If you’re on the same page, but the timelines aren’t quite matching up, try to make sure the expectations are the same. Every night homework needs to be done, chores need to be completed with a positive attitude, and teeth need to be brushed before bedtime. Maybe at one house homework has to be done before dinner and at the other house after, but there is the consistency that homework is not put off until the end of the night.
If, unfortunately, the other parent(s) won’t co-parent, focus on your own home and explain to the children what the expectations are when they’re there.
This is a time where it may be tempting to bash the other parent, but don’t. Save that for an adults only conversation with a glass of wine. The kiddos just need to know that this is how things happen when at this house.
I’m also personally all for explaining your reasoning behind why you have the rules you do! What if they flat out ask why things are different? There’s no perfect answer, but my advice is to tell them that different people do things differently, and they get the opportunity to experience differences and discover what will work for them as adults someday.
Is that a perfect answer? No. Quite honestly, maybe the other parent isn’t enforcing rules and that isn’t what’s best for the child. As a child of divorce myself, I experienced drastically different households and I did discover which style I prefered. I also developed the ability to adapt to differing circumstances and decide things for myself in a way that maybe I wouldn’t have otherwise. There’s always a silver lining.
Parenting in two different households is challenging and there’s rarely any getting around that. Focus on what you do have control of—your home. If your blended family is a pretty darn good team, fantastic! If there’s friction, don’t let it throw things off in the oasis from the world that you’ve created for your children.