Beautifully BLENDED

Since I met Joel and started sharing some of our family life with y’all, many of you have commented about being a part of blended families OR potentially being a part of one in the future. After being asked the same questions over and over, I thought it’d be easiest to answer in a blog post! I am not a professional by any means; I’m only commenting from personal experience. And maybe I learned a thing or two from Jerry McGuire. Ha! #sorrynotsorry Or from my big beautifully blended family on The Bold and the Beautiful (now that is BLENDED). Wink, wink. 

Disneyland Day

Disneyland Day

Before I dig in, the term “blended family” has never sat well with me. I have images of a blender slicing things. Can we come up with a better term? PLEASE?

The question I get asked the most: What would I tell someone who is interested in seriously dating an individual with children.

I wouldn’t tell them anything, but I would ask them a few questions. Blended families are beautiful blessings when you you are ready for that responsibility. Again, I’ve learned from trial and error. I’m just trying to be the best wife, mom and step-mom I can, but miss the mark sometimes.

1) Do you enjoy long talks about poop, math quizzes or soccer goals? 

In other words: are you ready to be a mature, parental figure that puts the kids first (because they did not ask for this)? You will not be newly weds in the traditional sense. You don’t get that alone time in the beginning like two single people getting married. You are an instafamily. And an instaparent of sorts. Ready for that? (I wrote about the instant changes that occur in my column for PEOPLE here.)

2) Are you ready to make comprises, keep your promises and plan ahead?

Kids take planning. There are no “ let’s jump on a plane to Mexico for the weekend” (unless it’s not their weekend with the kids, but single parents are tired! Their spontaneity may have wained considerably). Also, if you make a date with a single parent on their custodial time, KEEP IT. Don’t flake. They may have moved mountains to get a babysitter. 

3) How serious are you about this individual? 

If the relationship is ready for a serious commitment, it’s may be time to involve the children. Children need stability, though, so if you’re one foot in— do not meet the kids.

4) Do you understand the “package deal?”

The most important thing to remember is they are a package together. The chid/children were there before you and will always be the priority. It’s extremely important to make time for each other, but it’s harder. You have to be flexible.

The other thing to remember is that part of the package is the ex-spouse/partner. If they are still in the picture, they will be a part of your life, good or bad. I am learning for most blended families, it’s an adjustment that takes time. And if you think the ex-partner will not affect your life in some fashion, that’s not true (at least not in my experience or most people I know). So, try and keep that relationship with the ex as positive as possible with open communication. When both parties cannot agree about what is best for their child, the law and lawyers get involved. Lemme tell you, this is not fun, but it IS expensive and often unfair. (I could write another blog post about this).

5) Do you like to DANCE?

The exchanges going back and forth with the two families, figuring out schedules and holidays and vacations— it’s not always easy, patience, sacrifice and compromise go a long way. Consider if you are ready for that juggle.  If you notice, Huck isn’t always able to be with us. We share him. So, when we want to do family activities, I coordinate around many factors. To be honest, it’s a really pain in the bum sometimes. I just wrote out a series of examples, then deleted it because this isn’t about my laundry list, it’s about YOU. 

6) Do you like being second fiddle? 

I am a stepmom and a mom. I don’t like the there is a distinction, but I can appreciate it. The only part of our family that technically makes us “blended” is Huck. And Huck already has a mother. I will never take that place in his life, but I can be a “bonus mom,” another parental figure in his life. And occasionally, my husband’s focus is on handling situations with his first son and ex-wife.

7) Can you rule without an iron fist?

With my son and stepson at the happiest place on Earth. We coordinate family weekends based on our time with Huck.

With my son and stepson at the happiest place on Earth. We coordinate family weekends based on our time with Huck.

Someone once told me that rules without relationship cause rebellion. In my situation, I met Huck when he was 2. His father did the majority of disciplining. Over time, we developed our own relationship. One that is familial and maternal and rewarding. Now, we have rules and structure, but I had to earn that over time.

If you or someone you love is considering making life decisions that involve children, these are points to consider from my personal experience. (Not sure how this turned into a PSA! ha!) They are basic concepts, just a sounding board to get a conversation flowing. Because you’ll be doing a LOT OF COMMUNICATING. 

It’s almost impossible to comprehend all of this when you are dating, but if you’ve met someone and started falling for them (and the child), it can be your fairytale. You’ll have the opportunity to love and affect another little human positively. I promise the little munchkin (or big munchkin) will be a blessing in your life and just might make YOU a better person. But the greatest thing to remember is there is no “right way,” there is only the right way for you. Be smart, listen to your gut instincts, follow your heart and remember the power of FORGIVENESS.

I’ve appreciated reading your notes about being from blended families. What I treasure most are hearing your thoughts about being a stepmother yourselves, or remembering moments from your own step parents. I wanted to open that discussion up here, too. I LOVE LEARNING FROM YOU.. So, feel free to share your beautiful blended stories. 

xoxo

AAJ

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM US TO YOU!

Oh our little family! We stayed home today in LA to have a quiet holiday together. Feeling very grateful for our life today. And see our Oscar making it in the shot. I think he was so overwhelmed with the chaos, he stayed back!

And LIFE it has been! Hayden woke up wanting mommy to rock him at 3:30am. I couldn’t go back to sleep after that! Finally fall asleep right before he wakes up at 7am, so I nudge Joel to attack the day! His beautiful way of handling that was to match Hayden’s scream with his own scream! EYE ROLL. Needless to say, we were all up early. LOL. To all you parents out there, I feel ya!

Huck left to go be with his mom, but we will have him at Christmas. It’s not easy to share those you love, but it’s necessary. Hayden counts down the days till he gets to see his brother again. Anyone else out there with blended families doing the same thing today? My hope is that it’s peaceful and loving for both families.

I’m also feeling so grateful for all of you. When I wrote out my gratitude list, you all are on it! It’s been lovely to connect with you here on the blog and share ideas. Thanks for hanging in there with me and being so supportive of the projects I’ve been a part of this year. I try to get back to each of you and all the emails that come through this site one way or another- either through other blog posts or on instastories, etc. It takes a while sometimes, so I appreciate the patience. And really do like all the comments. What unexpected things are on your gratitude list?

I know some of you have had health troubles, some of you have been affected by natural disasters or the fires…. you are in my thoughts. Praying today is a good day surrounded by loved ones.

XOXO


If you’re anything like me, after I clean up later and am snuggling on the couch (do you watch anything specific on Thanksgiving? I have a feeling I’ll turn on one of my dearest Lacey’s Hallmark movies!), I’m sure I’ll be surfing the internet for pre-Black Friday sales and start attacking that Christmas list.

The boys’ pants are from JCrew - and the WHOLE SITE is 40% off right now. And a limited edition JCrew coat at Nordstrom’s is on sale…. it sold out and is now back in stock in three colors. (I just got it and am obsessed with the gorgeous blue color. I’ll be posting about it soon, but in case it sells out quickly, take a peek.) It may be predictable, but I get the bulk of Joel’s gifts from JCrew, so mind as well do it now while it’s on sale!

And my sweater in this photo comes in array of different colors. It’s under $50. I’m just a sucker lately for pink. It makes me feel more awake on days when the baby wants to read books at 3:30am!

But how sweet does he look in this dog sweater in the photo. By the way, Janie and Jack has the cutest kids’ clothes. Take 30% off of everything right now! (I know I still refer to him as the ‘baby’ even though he’s a full on toddler. I could go back and retype that, but I’m not! He’s still my baby for a bit longer… and forever in my heart.)