Coordinating holiday visits is a challenge for any family; for a blended family, it can be a real juggling act. Kris Kline, divorced mom and coauthor of For the Sake of the Children, says the most important thing is not to leave scheduling decisions to the kids: "Parents should decide on a solution together, then cooperate on details." Of course, even the best-laid plans can be complicated. Some real-life dilemmas—and solutions:
—"It's been me, my husband, his daughter (14), and my daughter (6), and now we're having a child of our own. Between splitting time with other parents, my husband's family, and my family—I have two, since my parents are divorced and remarried—December is busy," says Dawn Bonnefond, of Poolesville, MD. "We keep the girls on the same schedule, so we have both or neither. If we don't have them for Christmas, we celebrate a day early. And we see other relatives in the two weeks around the holiday."
—"My daughter Arielle (18 months) will celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas," says Jim McGregor, of New York City. "Arielle's mother has her for Hanukkah and I have her on Christmas. The tricky day is Thanksgiving. We're going to try alternating every year."
—"My ex-husband and I live far apart, so we swap holidays. I get every other Christmas with my three children," says Erin Hole, of San Diego. "It's important to do what's fair for the kids, even if it's not what always makes me feel happy."
—"I have two stepdaughters and a biological son," says Shelli M., who lives in Downingtown, PA. "It takes us most of December to coordinate visits. We don't schedule time for our immediate family to open gifts; it just kind of happens—usually on Christmas morning before we rush somewhere else."