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Hello, beautiful stepmama's,

Sooo, I'm always very curious to know, what are your blended family goals?

For me, there is no denying that forming an amazing relationship with my stepchildren is definitely on that top 3 list, next to my marriage and enjoying life to its fullest. Many stepparents will have their own bonus kids on that list as well. In all honesty, how can this not be a very important or big part of your life?

Your stepchildren are a huge part of your partner's life no matter what the access schedule is. Since you started dating a guy with kids, his kids will naturally become a big part of your life as well. Kids are pretty funny and amazing little people. Will they push you to your limits? Most likely. Will they drive you mildly insane every once in a while? Definitely! Kids will be kids, what can I say?

Despite how good they can be at pushing buttons, forming a strong bond with your stepchildren and watching them grow into amazing young and responsible adults is what most parents hope for. And as a stepmom, I know you want to do it in the most wicked, amazing, uncomplicated, and drama free way possible.

But sometimes we question ourselves, we wonder how the heck these kids are going to open up, like and love their stepparent. Maybe even confide in them one day.

So we start with the small things

Listen to their stories. Like really listen. Don’t nod in agreement, blurting out the occasional ‘Nooooo way!’ or ‘Uhuh’ while scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram feed. Kids are not blind or stupid and pick up on these things. They know when you’re not paying attention. Put that phone down and give them your undivided attention. I promise, you won’t think those 5 minutes of your time were a waste and you missed out on some incredible news on Facebook.

Give them your loving, undivided attention and ask your stepchild what they want to do. Some kids might need some inspiration but don’t hesitate to ask your stepchild what they would like to do and do it with them. Regardless, put the ball in their court and give your bonus kids the creative freedom to dream up some activities to do with the stepparent or the whole family.

At the end of the day, we all know that kids LOVE surprises. Actually, it’s not just kids who love surprises, is it? I love my occasional surprise as well and it’s always fun to realize someone planned for you as opposed you planning it yourself. So go ahead, schedule some one-on-one time with your stepchild. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune either.

Ask about their friends

The one thing that’s the most important for anybody is feeling like they are heard and cared about. Showing interest in their everyday life is one way to do this. Ask about their friends, what they love to do together and suggest planning a playdate or sleepover. You can also learn a lot about a child from who they hang out with.

Speak openly about moms house. Don't shut them down

Their mom is a BIG part of their life, for the majority of kids anyway. Stepmoms can’t ignore this because it might make us feel uncomfortable. If it does, then deal with those emotions and work at finding peace with it. We can’t change the past and wish for the ex to be out of the picture. It’s not fair towards children to either and never a good idea too, directly or indirectly, ask them not to speak about the other home when it’s a huge part of their life.

A surprise or planned baking session

This is a great thing to do with boys and girls. There is not a kid who will pass on freshly baked cookies, cakes or desserts. Yes, the kitchen will get super messy but nobody cares when you’re having fun and making something delicious.

Visit the local pool/rec center

This is a great activity when you don’t want to dish out a lot of cash and kids love going to the pool. Plus it helps burn up their energy while you join in on the fun. Everyone is away from home, in a good mood and relaxed. The perfect recipe to have fun as a family and bond.

Plan for a day at the beach

Don’t want to visit the overcrowded indoor pool? Pop by the local beach or lake! Most likely just as overcrowded but nothing beats being out in the fresh air.

Indoor or outdoor, join in on the fun, play water tag, throw the kids around or play any other game you can think of that’s in the water.

Read the occasional bedtime story and tuck them in without dad.

And ask them to choose the book.

Make their favorite dinner together or as a surprise

This just shows how much you actually listen to what they say and express interest in.

As my stepchildren grow up these activities have changed over the years. We have (mostly) graduated from days and days of jumping on the trampoline and movie nights to dessert dates, happy hours at the local restaurants, no they don’t drink but the food is really cheap, and just good conversations.

Sooo, as I said above. What are your priorities and goals for your blended family and makes up your top 3 list?

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Is this what Mother’s Day has looked like for you? Facebook and Instagram have blown up with sappy love messages wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day or ‘I’m so grateful for…’ posts. In the same breath, you’re celebrating your own mother and mother-in-law while also avoiding this day yourself because you’re a ‘childless’ stepmom and (almost) nobody will celebrate you.

For stepmoms Mother’s day can be hard. And that’s putting it mildly.

I hear you, stepmama. Especially those stepmoms who can’t get pregnant, have been trying for years or are just not ready yet.

Every Mother’s Day I’m faced with mixed emotions after experiencing Mother’s Day in very different ways. It has either been full on acknowledgment with a school made present from one stepson (8 weeks into stepmom life, nonetheless), nothing at all, or their mom doing something special for me and encouraging her kids to do the same.

Exactly in that order.

Going from having no expectations whatsoever for Mother’s day to receiving a little Mother’s Day gift that very same year set me up for some unrealistic expectations the following year. When there were no phone calls, no presents and just a whole lot of silence on my second Mother’s Day I was surprised and hurt.

I wasn’t angry or pissed right the f off. But I had to acknowledge my feelings and find peace with it. Helloooooo wine. One of my closest friends around. 

I get it. I understand why and I don’t expect anything, anymore.

My stepsons don’t ‘forget’ about me out of spite. They don’t deliberately choose to not make me something at school or call me on the day. They are kids! Most kids would way rather play with their friends at school than make two presents. Plus, they rarely know which day of the week it’s, let alone when it’s Mother’s Day. It doesn't matter how often the school or the other parent reminds them. I often have to remind my stepchildren that it’s Father’s Day or their dad’s birthday and not to forget to give daddy his present. There you have it, they’re kids. We really can’t put much blame or resentment on them when they’re young or in the early teenage years.

So, with this being my sixth Mother’s Day after becoming a stepmom, I wanted to share what has helped me get through this day, almost as if it’s just another day. Almost... because if we are completely honest with ourselves we know it's hard to avoid. Mother's day brunches are promoted well in advance and you have your own mom to celebrate. 

Stay off social media

It’s Sunday for crying out loud. Put your phone in a corner, switch it to silent, not vibrate! SILENCE is key here and leave that thing alone if you feel like that’s what you need. Don’t go on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter, heck even stay away from any news apps. There is just no need to see, read or respond to any of it.

Do something for yourself

Make this a special day. Seriously, do what makes you happy. Go to the movies or on a long hike. Anything to take your mind off of ‘this day’. Indulge in your favorite food, get a workout in or leave for the weekend. Start that project that has been on your to-do list forever, now is as good of a time as any other

Buy yourself a gift

Are you expecting not to get anything from anyone but think you totally deserve it? Which you totally do! Then get it. Mother’s Day is just another excuse to get yourself that that new dress you’ve been eying up or that awesome furniture piece that’s totally going to finish your hallway.

Skip the stepmommig for the day

Don’t do laundry, don’t do dinner, don’t clean up after your stepkids. As a stepmom, I feel like we can, just turn to our husbands and say we’re clocking out for the day.

Schedule your day. Keep busy and going

Before you know it the day will be done and dusted with, especially when your day is jam-packed with things to do. Sleep in (or not), make yourself a big breakfast and take your time to eating it. Grab the dog and go on a long hike before having lunch, at home. Go to an afternoon movie, meet up with friends or start getting your house clean and ready for the summer. I know your to-do list is probably never ending, am I right? So I’m sure there’s something that you can focus on around the house. Finish the day with dinner, delivered, and a glass of wine and a good book.

All of this can be done with your partner of course.

Plan your day ahead of time. If you’re not a planner, this is the one time you should make an attempt at it. Avoid going to the grocery store, liquor store or mall. Get everything in advance so you can spend the day at home. Still forgot something? Ask your husband to grab it.

Make plans with your kid-free friends who love and support you

There’s nothing better in the world than friends who get you, know your situation and are super supportive. Our husbands may not fully understand how we feel, but our stepmom friends do. Don’t feel bad for leaving a couple hours to connect with these friends on Mother’s Day.

Journaling

If Mother’s Day is really hard on you, take your time to really reflect on why it’s making you feel that way and write down anything that comes to mind. Getting things onto paper and off my mind has been very helpful.

All in all,  keep in mind that it's just another day and it will be over before you know it. Don’t dwell on what’s not happening. Focus on what IS and what makes you happy. And maybe go to a brunch, I'll take any excuse to binge eat over brunch! 

XO Gina

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With a beautiful home base in Alicante, Spain, my sister, hubby and I set out to explore the Costa Blanca this January. It might have been a odd time to be in Spain but the weather wasn’t scorching hot and we had a few gorgeous 20+ degree days. Plus, we missed out on all the tourists, giving us a more laid back feel during our trip.

This time around my stepchildren didn’t tag along. Their dad would’ve been too busy with work and they would’ve missed a lot at school. I would’ve loved to bring them with us and I think traveling with kids is totally doable and fun, it just wasn't in the cards this time.

A trip to Spain should be one your bucket list. I’ve been lucky enough to visit a few gorgeous places in this country and if you’re planning on visiting the Costa Blanca, make sure you add the following stops to your itinerary.

Alicante Old town

Also known as El Barrio. Wander these streets to find the best restaurants and cocktail bars around! The narrow old streets will keep you intrigued while you navigate this little maze. Try not to get lost! In the old town, you’ll also find the city hall, Iglesia de Santa Maria and the San Nicolas Cathedral.

During the winter months, you can go ice skating at Town Hall where the locals also celebrate the new year with the traditional 12 green grapes and red underwear.

Christmas in Alicante

Imagine our confusion when we arrived in Alicante on December 29th and were met with Christmas songs on the radio and in the stores plus Christmas decorations everywhere.

As it turns out, Spaniards celebrate the arrival of The Three Kings in Spain on January 6th.

Leading up to this, Alicante is host to not one, but two firework displays in the middle of the day. You might not be able to see any of the beautiful colors because it’s all about the sound. It is LOUD! Hundreds of people line the street to listen to this spectacle.

The Three Kings arrive in the harbor on January 5th followed by a well put together parade which starts at the Luceros Square and ends at Town Hall. Keep your eyes on the floats! The children and adults throw candy, stuffed animals and toys into the crowd. The stuff comes at the crowd like missiles. It’s not quite Running of the Bulls, but best keep your eyes open or you could get pelted!

Santa Barbara Castle and more

There are many other things to see in Alicante but make sure you walk up to the Santa Barbara Castle for stunning views of the city. Skip the elevator ride up or the regular route to the castle. Head into the old town and make your way to the castle. You can see the castle from almost anywhere. Eventually, you’ll end up on the old wall which will lead you to the castle.

DON’T go there on New Year’s Day. We did and it was closed… A shame to walk almost to the top to find the gates locked!

Alicante is great to explore in a few days. You don’t need a lot of time to see the main attractions but it’s a great home base to explore more of the Costa Blanca.

 

Guadalest Valley and castle
[ FYI, rent a car with some power ]

Our little car had a hard time getting up the mountain. This is a small town and its inhabitants mainly make a living from tourism. The castle is a must see and once you’ve done this and have explored the small town you can drive towards the lake for a look.

Altea

Park your car at Playa del Albir and walk along the beach to Altea. It’s a 40 min walk to Altea but you can take bus 10 back, if you want. We opted to walk back and stopped at Samoa Lounge Beach for a glass of wine. The beautiful patio alone is a reason to visit this lounge.

Altea is a picturesque town with your typically old narrow streets and white buildings. You can find many restaurants and local stores here as well as an impressive cathedral.

The Pink Lake of Torrevieja

Ever wanted to see a pink lake? This is another reason I’m happy we rented a car because we wouldn’t have stopped here otherwise. Although, we weren’t sure if the lake was actually pink until we got up close.

Elche

A short train ride from Alicante. In this small town, you’ll find the most palm trees in Europe. Over 200,00!  This has earned Elche status as a UNESCO world heritage site. You can get a great view of these palm trees from the bell tower of Basilica de Santa Maria. Definitely worth a visit!

Elche was pretty much the only place we visited by train. January is not the best time to take advantage of tourist buses and the trains and trams seem to run less than in the summer months. For this reason, we opted to rent a car for a few days. Worth. The. Money.

Murcia

Not on the Costa Blanca but I’m happy we decided to visit this city. Murcia is actually not even in the province of Alicante but it’s a short hour drive from Alicante. We set out early in the morning and only had a few hours to spend here. After stopping in at the Cathedral Church of Saint Mary in Murcia, which is the only cathedral in use in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cartagena in Spain, we went to the Real Casino de Murcia.

The Real Casino de Murcia is not a casino as you would expect. It’s not a gambling facility at all. The Casino is a private social club but it’s open to tourists. Pay the 5 euros for the audio tour. The building and rooms are truly magnificent.

There are so many things to do on the Costa Blanca, with or without kids, that make a trip totally worth it. But next time I go, I’ll do it during the warmer months just because I love the heath and the sun.

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Parenthood.

It’s scary, it’s rewarding, it’s nothing you’ve ever done before. Having kids wasn’t in your cards yet, or maybe even ever, but now you find yourself dating a man with kids. Here, here! That was me 7 years ago. I raise a glass of wine to you because life is going to take some unexpected turns.

The great thing about dating a guy who has kids is that you can get a glimpse into how he is as a dad. There is no second-guessing, it’s right there in the way he interacts with his kids and how he parents, disciplines and loves his children.

You may or may not have kids of your own. Either way, dating a man who has kids AND is a great dad is going to make all the difference in the world. But how do you know he’s an amazing dad? There were a few tell-tale signs I spotted when I first started dating a man with kids. I will admit, I struck gold and I knew this from early on, before meeting his kids and becoming a stepmom.

There is a sparkle in his eyes when he speaks about his kids

It’s a pretty good sign when your partner lights up when he speaks about his kids. You’ll see it in the sparkle in his eyes or how he smiles when he’s telling a story about his kids. It just shows how much he loves them and how proud he is to be their dad.

He enjoys spending time with them

When the kids are with him, he is there for them and he goes out of his way to do special things with the kids. There might be less time to spend with you or his friends, but honestly, that’s a good thing. His children mean the world to him and he’s the dad who will spend time reading bedtime stories, helping with homework or playing catch.

He is concerned, scared and is not afraid to admit this

What good parent isn’t concerned and scared when thinking about their child's future? Plus the guy you’re dating isn't scared to admit his fears to you. Being a parent naturally comes with a level of fear. You want your kids to do well in school, have a social life, be independent and grow up into amazing adults. So naturally, there will always be a part of the parent who is worried and wants the best for their children, even when his kids are in their 40’s and have families of their own, and believe me, they grow up fast!

He is not afraid to discipline

A common complaint from stepmoms seems to be the lack of discipline and the poor behaviour that comes along with this. Typically, divorced dads may feel guilty because of the divorce and, as a result, some dads (and moms) spoil their kids. A dad who can put all that aside and move forward with the best interest of his kids in mind is a pretty great dad. He isn’t scared to discipline his kids, send them to their room when needed or take away privileges, if necessary. He is fair but also expects his children to show a certain amount of respect and chip in where they can at home instead of doing whatever they want and walking all over the adults of the home.

He is willing to learn and listen to your suggestions

As you take the relationship to the next level and become a more important presence in your stepchildren’s lives you’ll also see things from another perspective. You’ll have more insight into the day-to-day and if he’s open to your feedback and suggestions, then you’ve struck gold!

First off, being heard as a stepmom goes a long way in not feeling like an outsider.

Secondly, if my husband were to take my input for granted, completely ignore my suggestions or not take my feelings into consideration, life would be pretty miserable. After 4 years of marriage, we’re a team. Our home is our home now and not a home I moved into with him and his kids. I’m definitely not going to stand on the sidelines in my own home while living there with 2 kids half the time. Don’t get me wrong though, there are times when he simply doesn’t agree with me and doesn’t implement my suggestions. That’s just part of a relationship and being two different people.

He is involved in all the major parenting decisions.

He isn’t going to be the backup parent who does all the fun stuff with the kids but none of the parenting. He discusses all major parenting decisions with his ex and wants to be involved in every step, like education, after-school activities, important rules, and expectations. Plus he takes your opinion into consideration as well. Many of these parenting decisions, in one way or another, are going to impact your life, after all.

He respects the mother of his children

No matter what has happened in the past, he has been able to leave the past in the past and put his children’s best interests first. Even though everyone feels like he or she has every reason to bad mouth their ex, he doesn’t because there is just no need to. Hanging on to the past doesn’t do anyone any good. And talking negatively about a person to anyone who wants to listen, doesn’t get you anywhere.

There are many things that make for a great dad which I’m sure I haven’t included. There’s not a my way or the highway guidebook to being a great dad. It all depends on your own values, what’s important to YOU and so many other factors.

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Every time I read an article, full of warnings and scary ex-wife scenarios, I get anxiety and want to scream. Then I count my lucky stars I didn’t read any of it and believed all the stereotypes before I became a stepmom.

The titles of such articles usually read along the lines of:

Reasons why the ex-wife hates you.

Or

Why I wouldn't wish this stepmom life on anybody else.

I imagine that reading these articles in my pre-stepmom days would have sent me running in the other direction, patting myself on the back for dodging a massive bullet of a life filled with drama, screaming matches, lots of cursing, feeling second in my marriage, no love from my stepkids and more drama. (I know for some stepmoms it is that way, just not for all).

If I’d read any of these articles in preparation for becoming a stepmom and meeting their mom, I would’ve started out on the wrong foot. My guard would be up and I would’ve had my back up before even meeting her, just waiting for the inevitable crazy to show its face, which never happened.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to not prepare yourself by reading articles, blog posts or even seeing a counselor who specializes in blended families. I have my own regrets about feeling like I wasn’t prepared enough for everything involved in being a stepmom.

Is it good to prepare yourself as you get ready to be a stepmom and know what life CAN be like before you lockdown and say ‘I do’ or move in? For sure! Educating yourself on how to ‘blend’ your family is never a bad thing. I’m just a walking example of someone who didn't do much research in advance.

And scaring yourself shitless based on countless stories about the horrible ex-wife won’t get you far either. Your situation is going to be unique and won’t be the same as mine or any other stepmoms who share their stories online or in real life.

The ex/stepmom relationship isn’t always all bad and filled with heartache and headaches.

When it comes to light that my stepchildren’s mom and I get along, I’m met with shock. Recently someone asked, “ooooh, isn’t it awkward to spend Christmas with her?”.

I was asked by a person who was simply taken aback and curious, and I know it was 100% based on the ex-wife/stepmom stereotype. Everyone expects that the relationship is filled with turmoil so when I told her I was going to spend Christmas with the ex-wife she was caught off guard.

Truthfully, no, it isn’t awkward to spend Christmas with the ex-wife. I would have happily done so if my husband plans had stayed the same and he was away for Christmas.

However, It’s getting awkward to answer these questions on a regular basis. Sometimes I just want people not to be amazed by our relationship and leave it for what it’s. There shouldn't be any explanation needed but I'll give it. Other days I just don’t feel like getting into the nitty gritty the relationship I have with the mother of my stepchildren because it’s just none of your business.

What should need questioning and explaining are parents who openly disrespect each other in front of their kids. Who yell, fight and curse in front of their kids. Parents who alienate their kids from the other parent and stepparent. Now THAT should be met with shock and questions.

I decided to share my stepmom story in hopes breaking the evil stepmom stereotype, never fully realizing until recently that the ex-wife/stepmom relationship is another major stereotype that needs to be shaken up, a lot.

There is no denying that the rivalry between the ex-wife and stepmom is a MAJOR stereotype. And I get why. It’s the most common example we read about in online stepmom support groups or hear through the grape vines. Although I know it does happen, having the ex-wife hate you is not the norm and please don’t go into your co-parenting relationship expecting this.

Sure, you might not be friends or rarely need to talk (because sometimes there's just no reason to, your partner can be the main point of contact, after all). If she doesn’t want to be friends or heck, you don’t want to, so be it. It’s great for the kids to know their co-parents get along but that doesn’t mean you have to spend time together and be besties. Being civil, respectful, having an occasional conversation, or having each other's backs when it comes to parenting the kids is all that really matters for the kids.

The rest is a bonus. Don’t expect it to be all bad and don’t believe all the horror stories you read online. From my own experience and many others around me, I’ve seen very civil relationships, even friendships.

I hear stories about the ex-wife and stepmom having conversations about the kids. Talking about the next hockey game or what’s going on in school.

I know ex-wives and stepmoms who sit next to each other at their children’s sports games.

I’ve talked to the veteran stepmom who goes on trips with the ex-wife and their kids.

We have all seen the pictures of mom, dad, stepmom and stepdad wearing matching team jerseys while supporting their child from the stands. And we’ve shed a few tears when the stepmom includes her stepson and ex-wife in her wedding vows.

You might argue with me that these examples are few and far between. And there is truth to that but there is a shift happening and more stepmoms are speaking out about the good relationships they have with the ex-wife.

I am the stepmom who occasionally has a glass of wine with the ex.

Will this happen overnight?

No freakin’ way.

Every single one of these ladies will tell you that it takes time, it’s not always going to be easy and there will be challenges along the way. At the end of the day, it’s about being a grown-up, leaving the past for what it’s and putting the kid's needs first.

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2018 is the year of doing things differently.

It’s the year of saying ‘screw it, let’s do what we want to do and have been talking about for so long’.

It’s the year where I feel that my stepkids are finally old enough to understand that we won’t be giving them gifts for birthdays anymore even though that’s what they are used too.

It’s the year where we will officially have a teenager in our household. (insert scared shitless face)

And it’s a year that’s perfect for change and trying new things like creating blended family Christmas journals

For many months now I’ve been deeply inspired by a blog post written by Kate Chapman about her family traditions and have taken that inspiration to use for our blended family.

In celebration of my stepsons 13th birthday, instead of a gift, we decided to go on a weekend getaway with the kids in celebration of this milestone. This is something I have been talking about for ages and I it’s still unreal to me that we’ve finally decided to just go for it.

It’s was just time for us to say no to all the junk that is bought and focus on experiences instead.

With this in mind, we showed up at the school on Friday afternoon with a large happy birthday balloon and whisked the kids away to Nelson, BC for some snowboarding at Whitewater Ski Resort. (Don’t worry, even though I really wanted to embarrass my stepson in class holding a gigantic Happy Birthday balloon I held back and stayed outside the building.)

There is something about Nelson that I love and it has everything to do with food. They have a freaking’ amazing selection of restaurants. The wine bars, nightlife and art is a bonus but mainly, I love Nelson for its restaurant and lounge options.

I have never been to Nelson for the ski resort before but I have heard great things and will also admit that the rest of my family was WAAAAAY more excited for this part of the trip than they were for the food part like me.

Going to Nelson was a last-minute plan which didn’t allow us to give my stepson the chance to decide, plan and execute his own trip like Kate’s kids but, nevertheless, I feel like it’s the start of something new and different.

It’s hopefully the start of a new tradition.

And in light of new traditions and experiences, I have been loving journaling about these moments in life.

Journaling has given me the tools to remember memories that don’t need to be shared online. These are the very personal and intimate moments as a family. I might share a few things on the blog or on Instagram but that’s nowhere close to everything we do as a family.

To this day, I haven’t found the journal that suits my needs. A journal that is geared towards stepmoms and blended families.

I don’t want a clear blank notebook to write whatever I want. I often don't know where to start, how much to write and when to end. I generally feel overwhelmed by these blank pages and give up as soon as I start. I do LOVE prompts and questions designed to make me think. To sift through my memory and write down what I remember.

In light of this, I created a blended family travel journal. It won’t take tons of time but it will allow for those cherished memories to be captured forever. (Memories I often forget or can’t remember many details of anymore)

As a stepmom, it gives me the opportunity to compare different holidays or trips over longer periods of time. I can read back and see the growth in our family and how we’ve changed over the years.

If you’re a stepmom who is big on trips, whether it’s a long vacation far, far away, a brief weekend trip close to home or the odd day trip, then make sure you download your free copy below and let me know what you think below!

Have fun one those family trips! 

Gina 

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I have to admit, I feel like I’ve committed the biggest no-no in the blogging world and that’s going silent for two months. Truthfully, I’m glad I did.

After much thought, I decided to not hit that publish button until I felt like getting back into blogging. I have a lot going on personally and needed to focus on life and get a head start on things before 2018 started to get too crazy.

Simply put, I was putting too much pressure on myself to post xx amount of times a week, to use original photos only and also post to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Blogging was getting out of hand and I felt like I was chasing my own tail trying to keep up. My mind is always spinning with ideas, but I don’t always have enough time to put some well-written posts together.

While in Spain, I allowed myself to take a break. I wanted to enjoy my time away and focus on being with my sister, who I don’t get to see a lot. When I arrived back in Canada, I felt a deep need to focus on the upcoming year and put paid work before blogging.

I started this blog as a way to connect with other stepmoms and I am amazed by how many wonderful stepmoms I’ve met so far. Over time, I’ve learned through blogging how therapeutic writing is and have taken to writing offline as well, journaling whenever I can and whenever I feel inspired. Diving into photography has been a wonderful lesson with a steep learning curve and I enjoy capturing my blended family AND editing and developing our pictures.

In the past few months, I started to ask myself why I started blogging? What do I want to accomplish with this? Where do I want to take it?

Truthfully, I didn’t take a break from blogging or stop working on This Unexpected Love. Behind the scenes, things kept plugging along without the pressure of hitting publish.

First and foremost, I’m here to share my stepmom story. Blended families are so diverse and dynamic, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Take away from my story what works for you, but I also know we won’t always see eye-to-eye. And that’s okay.

Secondly, I’m here to inspire you to create cherished memories with your blended family. I know there are rough times as a blended family. Tensions rise, you feel like the outsider, your stepchildren don’t like you or the ex-wife is making your life more difficult than you imagined. But there is always an upside and putting too much focus on the negatives is unhealthy, to say the least.

Publishing these posts is simply a way of me saying ‘Hey, don’t overlook the little things’. Don’t forget the small victories when your stepchild gives you an unexpected hug and cherish those family getaways and Christmas holidays. There might be some hard times, especially during those first years as a blended family when everybody is still getting to know each other. But I will tell you this, it gets way better over time and being able to look back at pictures or written notes makes all the difference in knowing how much you have grown as a family.

Plus, your stepchildren are growing up fast. Enjoy it while you can because before you know it, they will be on their own. Seriously, these past 5 years have flown by.

Lastly, I might take a blogging break once a year. It was refreshing and the best way to hit the restart button.

And I promise the next time I do, I’ll give you a heads up.

While you're back, take a look at a few older but still very relevant posts below!

Love,

Gina

 

The post Why I had to take a blogging break appeared first on This Unexpected Love - Stepfamily & Lifestyle Blog.

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Happy Holidays!

I have said this already in a previous post but we are actually that much closer to the holidays and it feels way more relevant right now. 

With our Christmas holidays being a total game changer this year and NOTHING like our other years it has me reminiscing about every Christmas we have spent together. AND all the fun things we’ve done as a family.

My beautiful little blended family has come a long way in 5 years. From barely knowing each other to now having so many memories to laugh about and our own traditions I cherish and look forward to every single year.

There is just one thing I regret.

I haven’t documented ANY of it besides the odd picture here and there. Which btw, I’ve also not developed - yet - and are all stored digitally…

Neither do I have a journal I can pull out, read and reflect on how we have changed over the years, what memories we've made and which memories, at that point in time, I cherished or laughed about the most.

To combat this, I made myself a Christmas Holiday Journal. The Blended Family Addition. And I’m sharing it with you for FREE! Just enter your details below and I will send it directly to your inbox. 

This free printable journal is all about capturing your blended family memories.

So grab your favorite beverage, a pen and get some words on paper! 

Merry Christmas!

XO

Gina

  Download your FREE Christmas Memory Journal and receive This Unexpected Love blog post directly to your inbox! 

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The post A Free Christmas Present for your Blended Family! appeared first on This Unexpected Love - Stepfamily & Lifestyle Blog.

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