No, I Do Not Feel Bad Going On Getaways Without My Stepchildren

We’ve adapted to (and accepted) the complications that come with co-parenting and having a blended family dynamic.
08/04/2017 09:49 am ET Updated Aug 07, 2017

A few weekends back, my husband, my daughter, my stepson and I went on a phenomenal getaway up north. We unplugged and spent our days dockside. There was a lot of sun, a lot of laughs, and a lot of quality time. When I look back, it was pretty much perfect.

The following weekend, my husband and I decided the weekend was so spectacular that we wanted to do it all over again.

So we packed up and headed back up north for another few days off the grid.

This time it was just my daughter, husband and I. In accordance with our week-on-week-off access schedule, my stepchildren were with their mom for the weekend. 

As I packed up, I was reminded of a conversation I had a few months ago with an acquaintance who asked me if I feel guilty going on getaways with our daughter while my stepchildren are with their mom. The question reeked of judgment. You know those questions... the ones that are less of a question and more of an accusation? Yeah it was one of those. 

“Don’t you feel guilty when you go away with Reese and not them?”

My answer: “No, I don’t feel guilty at all.”

I paused, watched the look on her face, and then went on to explain. 

“Do I think it would be nice if they could come with us? Absolutely. But do I feel guilty? No! We’re not doing anything wrong.

Here’s what really surprises people. My husband feels the same way. 

Look... 

With an every-other-week-access schedule, we spend half of our time without “the kids” (as we refer to my stepchildren). Our life shouldn’t be put on hold when they walk out the door...  when they are with their mom, they get to do lots of fun activities. 

We shouldn’t have to sit and stare at a blank wall, only to resume regular programming when they return. Most importantly, our daughter shouldn’t be forced to live her life according to an every-other-week access schedule, either. Their lives don’t stop when they are at their mom’s, and her life shouldn’t stop, either. 

We are very open about this with them, too. Today, my stepson joked and said, “Awww, you guys went up north without me?” Knowing that he went to the beach this weekend, I said, “But hey, you went to the beach without us!? You’re LUCKY, too! We love the beach.” He laughed and said “I know,” and we went on to talk about our upcoming family vacation.

When they are with their mom, they go to parties, on getaways, go for ice cream, have cottage weekends, movie nights, beach days, etc. They do a lot of great stuff.  In fact, sometimes I worry that it will be my daughter who misses out, as her siblings have this whole other life that she is not a part of.

Now, if we were always going on vacation without them, this would be a different conversation.  But that’s not the case.  We have lots of great traditions and always try and maximize the time we get to spend with “the kids.” 

But we aren’t going to say, “We have to stay home this weekend because the kids are with their mom.” It’s just not going to happen. 

That doesn’t mean we are leaving them out, that we show favoritism to our daughter, or that my husband has moved on and created a life with a “new family” ― it means that we’ve adapted to (and accepted) the complications that come with co-parenting and having a blended family dynamic. It means we are all living life to the fullest and doing the very best that we can with the circumstances that we’re in. 

Jamie Scrimgeour is a straight shooting second wife, stepmom of three and mom of one all about keeping it real. As a Life Coach with a Specialization in Stepfamily Dynamics Jamie blogs candidly about her blended family life and provides online support to stepmoms, through her one-of-a-kind E-Course The KICK-ASS Stepmom Project. With kids ranging from 3 to 14, Jamie is deep in the trenches of {step}parenting and blended family life. While she admits that most days she flies by the seat of her pants, she maintains that coffee, wine, gratitude and a positive attitude are the key to thriving in blended family life. Follow Jamie on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

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