Along with your grocery list, you may want to tack up Dr. Linda Olson's list for blended families on the fridge. After all, you don't want chilly relationships at home.
1. Maintain Boundaries — Do not elevate your son to "man of the house," or turn your daughter into a co-parent as your partner brings new children into the home. This a recipe for disaster, and will lead to feelings of failure and resentment. Maintaining good boundaries makes your kids feel emotionally safe, and puts them on a par with the step-sibs. If you need support, turn to your friends, not your kids.
2. Take It Slow — Every failed marriage (including my own) was in trouble the day the marriage started. Know what you contributed to the failure of your marriage. You want to avoid making the same mistakes twice, especially when a breakup would destroy an even more complicated family. Take a class or join a group. Your new relationship should be based on Chemistry, Compatibility and Commitment. Chemistry draws us to others, compatibility is what fosters kinship (and allows all these strangers to build a life as a family) and commitment is the assurance that those important people in our lives can be trusted and that they can trust us. And whatever you do, don't add a new child to the family until things have settled down a bit.
3. Don't strive for perfection. Your kids do not have to be perfect to make this blended family work. Of course there are going to be problems. Any family has problems. But while you shouldn't aim for perfection, you should also set standards. A healthy family looks forward, shares a vision, and accepts that you all have to help each other. You can't blame someone else for your problems, and you can't expect them to fix you.
4. Share love. Make sure your kids (and step-kids) feel loved for who they are. Make sure you feel loved for who YOU are. And make sure your new partner feels loved for who he is. As much as you are trying to become one family, you are all individuals.
5. Reject criticism. Blaming others, criticizing (whether in front of them or behind their backs) and shaming someone destroys souls and certainly unravels relationships. And this applies to ex's - yours or his.
6. Be the best person you can be everyday.