My family: blended…with bits

December 14, 2011 in Life

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Rosie & Boo

As Christmas nears, Rosie reflects on the past year and that new family she has gathered around her.

I woke up last Christmas morning to a bottle of champagne, left over Chinese and a boyfriend snoring off the night before – utter bliss. This year, I have already used eleven rolls of wrapping paper, spent the GDP of a small nation and felt smug satisfaction when boasting to my friends that I was one of the first to make my Christmas food order at M&S. What a difference a year makes.

Christmas 2011 will not only be our baby daughter’s first Christmas, it will be the first one that my partners’ children (from a previous marriage) spend it at our home after coming to live with us in September.
Obviously the children have always been a part of Danny’s life and came to visit frequently. However stepchildren didn’t seem like a big factor as my Cruella hat was only needed part time!

In the space of six weeks our baby daughter was born prematurely and our household acquired the three J’s aged 14, 13, and 10. An experience to say the least.

There are six of us in the household and it’s fair to say that our blended family is a work in progress. Motherhood is still something that I’m settling into with my baby daughter, so imagine the shock to my system when the words “school run”, “pocket money” and “boundaries” were flying about.

I know that our circumstances are rather unusual but I was wondering, is there a secret to a successful blended family and if so please may I have the recipe???

Whilst I have no desire to replace their mother, I am still the mother of the house so in that respect motherly duties are down to me; it’s a hard job trying to strike the right balance between Cruella and soft touch. The last three months has taught me a valuable lesson in child rearing, especially when it comes to boys.

The foundations of a happy and harmonious family come from organisation, and lots of it. Consistency is key and I’ve found that this is best achieved when you are always ten steps ahead. This is meant both literally and metaphorically; a good family planner with a slot for each person is essential. (You’d be surprised to know that Boo although less than five months old has one of the busiest schedules!)

I’ve also learnt that it’s ok to say no, both to the children when they ask for something but more importantly to your partner; who after a long day at work walks in and asks rather dismissively “Good day?” Talking about key issues regardless of how trivial they may seem allows us to devise a parenting style that not only suits the children and their differing needs (and trust me there are plenty!) but also reflects us as individuals and what direction we want to lead our new family in.

Nobody said it would, has or will be easy – there have been tears, anger and upset both from the children and us. The role of stepmother is a thankless task. People ask me what it’s like to go from 0 to 4 children in less than a year. I don’t have four children; I have my Boo and three Stinkies. But from where I am standing our chunky soup of a family is smelling pretty sweet.