As part of our Blended Family Friday series, each week we spotlight a different stepfamily to learn how they successfully blended their two families. Our hope is that by telling their stories, we'll bring you closer to blended family bliss in your own life!
This week, we meet Jodi and Robbi's family. With six kids in total -- three boys and three girls -- it's hard not to draw parallels between their family and Carol and Mike Brady's iconic bell-bottomed clan.
"Yes, we're a modern-day Brady Bunch -- the Gaydy Bunch!" Jodi jokes.
Below, the busy mom takes some time to tell us a little more about her family and shares the sweet thing one mall Santa said about her kids that made her realize how far they'd come as a family.
Hi, Jodi! Want to introduce us to your family?
Sure! There's the two moms -- Robbi and myself -- and our six kids: Zack, 17; Silas, 16; Cole, 15; Eliza, 13; Dahlia, 9; and lastly, Azure, who's 8.
Photo courtesy of Jodi Green
How long have you and and Robbi been together?
We've been a couple for five and a half years. We were close friends for nine years prior to dating. From the day I met Robbi through a local mom's group, it was clear that we would be very dear friends. Neither of us knew then just how much our lives would change. We were mothers of babies then. Over the years, we were in playgroups and homeschool groups together, and eventually even worked together and even attended the births of one another's youngest children. (Well, almost -- she was in the car on her way as my daughter chose to make her entry into the world!) After we both went through our own life transitions-- divorces, and our own learning and growing -- I realized that she was the best friend I wanted to share my years with.
What have been some of the biggest challenges of bringing your two sets of kids together?
With six children who all have their own interests, almost every day of the week means that someone has an after-school activity, a rehearsal, or homework to catch up on! Three attend local schools, and three go to schools that are twenty minutes from home. This makes for a lot of driving time involved in the routine of daily life. Sharing parenting time means that some days, we're all home, and some days we're apart from one another. It's a priority for us to schedule in time to spend as a family, with everyone together, one-on-one time with individual kids, and plug in some couple time as well.
Then, like any family with more than one child, we also deal with the typical sibling bickering and learning to live under one roof in harmony. There's a lot of work involved in balancing everyone's individual wants and needs and what's best for our family as a whole. We work together to communicate well as a couple, and teach the children to treat one another with respect and kindness -- or at least keep the volume down!
What's the best thing about being part of a blended family?
There's a lot of love to go around. When we're together as a family a couple of nights each week, we make a point of sitting down to dinner together. We have a family tradition of going around the table, each person taking a turn saying what they're grateful for that day. It always warms my heart when I hear a child say that her "grateful" selection is our time together. There's a lot of joy in having a big family -- everything that's fun to do is even more fun with all of us. We're always our own party! There's always someone to play with, and something fun going on. Many of us are musically inclined and any day, at any time, someone in our house is singing out loud.
What makes you proudest of your family?
When we went to see our local small-town Santa together this year at Christmastime, he commented, "You know what Santa really likes to see? How well you all get along with one another and love each other. That's what being a family is about." I like thinking that our bond with one another is so visible. I love seeing how the kids all support and encourage one another. All three boys are involved in the high school music programs, and two have been active in community theater. They take such an interest in seeing one another's performances, and cheering each other on. I feel proud when I see how proud the kids are to be part of our family, like when the oldest boy took the initiative in starting a Gay/Straight Student Alliance in the local high school.
What advice do you have for other blended families who are struggling to keep the peace in their home?
Keep your expectations realistic -- remember that everyone is learning in the process, including you. Choose your battles wisely. It's OK to seek out guidance and support when you need to. Nobody is going to learn everything about being a peaceful blended family all at once. Remember that you're in this together out of love. There will be bumps -- hold yourself accountable during those moments for being the best self you can be. It never hurts to be kind. It helps to notice the parts that are going well, and ask yourself how you can build on that, to create more of those opportunities intentionally. There are going to be really great parts -- give it time. It gets easier.
If you'd like your own family to be featured on Blended Family Friday, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're looking forward to hearing your story!