Are You Prepared for the Unexpected this Holiday?

 “I took a fall tonight and I’m at the hospital. I’ll be okay but I need you to pick me up when you get to town. Please hurry – I don’t know if my house is secure because the paramedic broke the window to get in.”

Those were the words spoken to my husband this past week-end as we were driving to Austin, TX for a visit with his mom and step-dad. We knew his step-dad had been in the hospital for several days due to complications from his diabetes but we were shocked to hear the news from his mom, and concerned about the urgency of the situation. But once we heard the story, we spoke with her about being prepared for an unexpected event in the future.

When my mother-in-law fell she was home alone. She hit the floor hard and couldn’t get up but managed to reach a nearby phone. However, when the ambulance came to pick her up, she couldn’t get to the front door and the paramedics had to break a window to enter the house. It was an added stress to the situation that could have been prevented if there had been an extra key hidden outside, as the paramedics requested in case of another unexpected accident.

We can’t always anticipate what kind of events are going to invade our home at the holidays, particularly in a stepfamily. But we can prepare ourselves for unexpected events by managing our expectations throughout the season. Here’s a snippet of what we included in our new e-book, “Thriving at the Holidays: A Stepparent’s Guide to Success:”  in regards to expectations.

“At the holidays, we manage our lists, our schedules and our budgets. Yet the most important items to manage during the holiday season are our expectations! As stepparents, we are committed to our families and because we want to give our blended family the gift of a joyous and peaceful holiday, we often take it upon ourselves to bring that joy and peace.

While holidays seem like the perfect opportunity to show your stepkids how much you care about them, this time of year can easily become a source of disappointment and frustration. The problem lies in the fact that we have little-to-no control over those around us. When we attach expectations to those in our stepfamily with whom we have little to no influence over, we set ourselves up for potential heartache.

…Whatever expectations you allow to enter your head also enter your heart and your home. It is important to manage expectations so they don’t manage us.”

How do you manage your expectations during the holidays? Will you share what works for you?

Related Posts:

Holiday Tip: Accept What You Cannot Change

Holiday Tip: Take Care of the Small Stuff

6 Responses to “Are You Prepared for the Unexpected this Holiday?”

  1. 1 Sue November 17, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    We have all been invited to my husband's parents' house for Thanksgiving. So far, none of my nine step-children have RSVP'd, and they have not returned phone calls, e-mail messages, or voice mail. Not only does this make it difficult to plan the meal, it has caused a lot of hurt feelings.Unfortunately, the kids and their birth mom deal a lot in secrecy and outright lies. It drives us crazy, but it is one of the things we have not been able to change. Trying to accept that is hard, but my husband and I are trying.

  2. 2 Step Parenting with Grace November 17, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Sue,It's good to hear from you! I can only imagine how hard it is to not hear from your stepchildren as to whether or not they're coming at Thanskgiving. Sometimes I wonder if it's just how young adults do things – they don't make plans until the last minute! But it can be exasasperating if you're trying to plan the meal! I haven't been given an answer from my stepson as to whether he'll be joining us or not at Thanskgiving, but when it's just one person you don't know about, it's not that big of deal.Good for you and your husband that you're not trying to change the unfortunate situation with the birth mom. But I do think it's okay to tell your stepchildren that it is common courtesy to give an answer regarding an invitation!I hope you hear from them soon. Keep me posted! And decide that you're going to have a good Thanksgiving with your husband and his parents, regardless of who else comes. You have the right to do that for yourself!Gayla

  3. 3 Sue November 18, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    My MIL got an e-mail from the oldest of my step-children this morning. It said they deliberated, debated, and finally flipped a coin, and they will be going to their birth mom's for Thanksgiving. Because the invitation was issued over a month ago and none of the kids had RSVP'd, we knew something must be up. Now we know.I don't begrudge their BM spending the holiday with her children, but she has NEVER wanted to have them for Thanksgiving in the twelve years that I've been in the picture, so we had gotten used to them always being with us. Yet another adjustment. I'll let you know how it goes.

  4. 4 Step Parenting with Grace November 18, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Sue,I hate to hear that – I'm sure you're disappointed. I think it's harder to deal with because she hasn't been an active mom for 12 years and is now entering the picture on a more regular basis. I'm sorry – hope you and your husband and in-laws can find a way to enjoy the holiday anyway. Let me know how it goes. I will be praying for you!Gayla

  5. 5 Sue November 28, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Thanks for your prayers, Gayla. We had a very nice, albeit small, Thanksgiving celebration. My husband and I got to spend quality time with his parents visiting and enjoying each other's company–something it's difficult to do when the house is full and our attention is focused on all the children and grandchildren.Having said that, I hope the kids come for Christmas Day or at least let us know their plans in advance so we choose another day to celebrate together if necessary.

  6. 6 Step Parenting with Grace November 28, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Sue, I'm glad it went well although I know you missed gathering with your stepchildren. Praying you can all find a time to get together over the Christmas break.God will bless you as you continue to nurture relationships with your stepchildren despite their efforts. Don't give up. "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be disouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)Gayla

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