You could say that Christmas for our family is complicated, but we have made it work, for us and for the children.
My partner Jerome and I have four children between us - my children who live with us full-time, Georgia, eight, and Jake, six, and Jerome’s two boys, Daniel, 14 and Sam, 12, who are with us most weekends.
At Christmas we alternate between either having all four children with us for the day, or just having Jake, meaning our home is either chilled out or complete chaos on December 25.
My daughter goes to her dad’s house every other Christmas Eve until Boxing Day morning. We have had this arrangement for a few years now and it means she also gets to spend quality time over the Christmas period with her dad, stepmum and little brother, and enjoy their family traditions.
It is hard for any parent to be away from their child on Christmas Day but we try to make Boxing Day as special as possible when she comes back and I feel it’s important that she gets to spend Christmas Day with them as well.
The arrangement we have for Jerome’s boys means we always see them on Christmas Day and either have them for lunch or from teatime. They live closer so it’s much easier to do that and of course now they are older it is more about the presents and family time then the magic of Father Christmas.
We also have the challenge of trying to please all the extended family, which is difficult to do time-wise.
We have Christmas Day at home so that the children are not travelling around too much and they get time to relax and play with their new toys. We have an open door policy though so that people are welcome to pop in on us whenever they would like throughout the day. We all live quite close together so it’s fairly easy to do that. Boxing Day is then usually spent at one of the grandparents’ houses.
I wouldn’t say it has been an easy journey reaching this place.
The hardest part has actually been managing the adults’ expectations, more so than the children’s, as everyone has a different idea of how things should work at this special time of year.
I think we now have an arrangement that suits everyone and means the children all get to spend quality time with both mum and dad at this time of year which is all about family.
The advice I would give other stepfamilies is to be fair and listen to what everyone wants. Also, remember that Christmas isn’t just one day!