6 Habits that will Change your Stepfamily Dynamic
Do you ever feel like you are damned if you do damned if you don't, Not sure what role you're actually supposed to take. Ever feel like you're dictated by a legal agreement, and you are not one of the people that agreed to it? Like being a stepmom is way harder and complicated than you excptected?!
Here are 6 things that have helped me be a better Stepmom! #1 EMPATHY The ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes is so important in step family life. You know your situation and how YOU feel; But have you ever taken a moment to really think about how your step kids, or your husbands ex, or even your husband are experiencing this. Have you ever put yourself in their shoes?! Because in my experience two people can experience the very same thing in two VERY different ways! How are your step kids experiencing things? are they feeling like they are being torn between two homes? Are they experiencing loyalty issues to their mom? Do they feel like this new woman has come into their life and changed everything? Are there two sets of rules and expectations all the sudden. NOW, think about your husband's Ex-wife. Is she Grieving the life she thought she would have? Is she struggling with the fact that another woman is looking after her kids. Is she unhappy with where she is at post divorce? She may be struggling seeing her ex partner having the life she thought she would have with another woman. Last, lets think about your husband-- He has to keep his Ex "happy"; he has to keep you happy. He has to make sure his kids are adapting. There may be financial stress. He is likely struggling because as much as he wants to advocate for you-- He doesn't want to stir up thing with the ex (he knows that will also cause stress)You don't have to agree, This is not saying any of them are right! This is just saying that considering everyone else perspective can go such a long way ESPECIALLY in a high conflict situation. Perspective is considering that this is their experience and what is going on through their lens. #2 MAKE SURE CONTINUE TO DO YOU! As a step mom there is this misconception that you need to drop everything and be ALL IN! That we need to be the best step mom ever. We tend to not schedule social events when we have the kids.... From experience DO NOT do that. You can still go out for coffee, or have a girls night when the kids are there! You chose this life as much as your husband did but neither of you need to stop doing life. Your partner can handle things when you are away the same way you handle things when he is away. As corny as it may sound You cannot take care of anyone else if you are not taking care of you! #3 Have a proactive mindset
If you have been a step mom for a "few minutes" you know the exes triggers, you know your husbands triggers, you know what is going to trigger your step kids. So, be proactive with your reactions. Think about the way you have reacted in the past- It's important to realize that if its a stressor, your reaction clearly isn't working! Decide how you are going to react ahead of time, talk with your husband about how you are going to handle situations. This time when it happens you don't have that reaction and your not responding irrationally. Be calm, cool, and collected-- This has been SOOOO effective for me. Get your reactions planned ahead of time. You planned for this-- you react, you deal and you move on! Do not let it ruin your day! #4 Acceptance You need to accept that your husbands ex will likely always react the way she is reacting right now. Her values and her mindset, and perspective are likely not going to change. Accept that as a blended family You're not going to function the same way as a first family does! Get rid of the fairytale perception of what family is supposed to look like. Your have a modern day family and your life is going to be dictated by a court order; an agreement that you had NO part in creating. Accept that you have no control over how other people act. The only thing you can control are your actions! A thriving stepmom knows that everyone has their challenges.
#5 Make your marriage a Priority
Think about your marriage for a minute-- how many times have you been in an argument over your step kids, or the ex, or custody agreement, or maybe even structures and rules and routine of how you are going to run your home! Be real - HOW MANY TIMES. It is so important to remember that your marriage is your #1 priority. Sure you are going to have these disagreements but what I really encourage you to do is ask yourself IS THIS WORH THE TURMOIL! You are a step mom because you feel in love with THIS MAN! So when your marriage is not at its best you are less able to deal with the extra stressors. You are more likely to feel resentful over the curveballs that come your way! You need to focus on your marriage, your communication skills, date nights and looking at the big picture! #6 PLAY THE LONG GAME Don't sweat the small stuff. Over half of the stuff we are worried about doesn't even matter. Your step kids are going to forget their belongings at their moms- You are going to need to it up. The ex is going to throw some scheduling in that really derails your plans. Transition day is going to be chaotic. Your probably going to have different parenting values from their mom. Dishes are going to be left downstairs, dishes In their room, wrappers will be shoved in places you never imagined. You very well may fall victim to an unfair legal system-- is it fair NO-- but it will probably happen and it will be So frustrating. BUT before you freak out look at the big picture! Ask yourself will this matter in 5 minute, 5 days 5 years. I legit ask myself this daily! (probably more hourly ;) ) Is it worth my energy?! The kids are going to grow up, child support will end. your interaction with the ex is going to become minimal. You are going to get this time back so spend it wisely. If you need to count down the days DO IT! Just let time do its thing! Remember you cannot change how other people act you can only control how you react! So if you want change- YOU need to start making changes! All My Love <3 Heather