This is part two of a two-part series in honor of National Stepfamily Day.
I hope you were able to catch the first part of this post yesterday for Stepfamily Day.
I just had way too much to say to fit it all into one post … and, to be honest, all of the ideas are A LOT to digest, so it’s probably for the best that we decided to break this up into two installments. If you missed part one, you can go back and check it out here.
Being a step ahead as a stepmom is a full-time job, to be honest, and I hope that all of the tips I am sharing with you here help make you and your family feel a little more peaceful and leave you feeling much less overwhelmed.
I have been living this life for almost 20 years now, and yes, it does get easier.
Here are a few more tips to keep you one step ahead!
To be a thriving stepmom, you must accept that:
- your “second family” is not going to function like a “first family.”
- the ex will probably continue to act the way she does (good or bad).
- the ex will continue to perceive the situation the way she does (even if it’s completely offside and opposite to your perception).
- the way you’re treated is more about the other person than it is about you.
- you will never win with the ex, and that’s okay.
- your life is going to be dictated by a divorce decree or custody agreement.
A thriving stepmom knows and accepts that everyone has their challenges in life. This is theirs.
Make YOUR marriage THE priority.
Your husband is the reason why you’re a stepmom in the first place. Your role is to support your husband in raising the kids. If your relationship isn’t strong, everything in your stepfamily life will fall apart. It won’t seem worth it.
When you’re not on the same page with your husband about your stepkids or the ex, it’s important to ask yourself, “is this disagreement worth the turmoil it is causing in my marriage?”
Five years from now, will it ACTUALLY matter?
The smartest thing I did early on in our marriage was found other second wives and stepmoms to be in community with that I could learn from and grow with. The #1 best piece of advice I learned from them was not to “vent” to my husband about my life as a stepmom. I had my new community for that, and it literally changed everything. He already felt so helpless about the situation I was in; it only made him feel worse to know how I was hurting. My girls helped me navigate my feelings and to communicate well with him so we could decide on our boundaries with the ex together to help us be a more united front. THAT was how we made our marriage the priority, and it changed everything for our whole family.
That brings me to the next tip …
Find healthy stepmom friends.
I’ve said this 100 times, but you can’t understand what it’s like to be a stepmom unless you’re a stepmom. Sure, you can empathize, but you can’t truly get it (just like you can’t understand what it is like to be a single parent unless you’ve walked in those shoes).
It’s essential that you have at least one stepmom friend who is safe and that you can connect with and confide in.
People often ask me how I found my crew of stepmom friends – truth is, it was through a website/ forum that no longer exists, but there are many Facebook groups that are wonderful for bringing Stepmoms together.
It’s amazing how much having that connection can make things easier! I really feel like, for me, it made all of the difference to know that I wasn’t alone and that there were people out there who understood my struggles and were further along on their journey to help me grow within my role.
Keep your eyes on the prize and lay the long game.
I know it’s sooooo hard but try not to sweat the small stuff.
- Kids WILL forget belongings at their mom’s – it will be a major inconvenience to you.
- Miscommunications will happen (intentionally or not).
You’re probably going to have different parenting values than the kids’ mom.
- Transition day will probably be chaotic, and it will probably take days to get the kids back on track.
- Your husband’s ex may make last-minute schedule changes that derail your plans.
- You’re probably going to fall victim to an unfair legal system.
Is it always fair? No, probably not!
Is it frustrating? You bet.
In the long run, does it REALLY matter? Most of the time, no …
Practice the 5/5/5 rule.
Will this matter in 5 days?
Will this matter in 5 months?
Will this matter in 5 years?
The kids WILL grow up.
Child support/ alimony WILL end.
Your involvement with the ex will become minimal to non-existent.
If you need to count down the days, count down the days. Just play the long game!
Our story is still being written, just like yours is.
I adopted our five kids back in 2009 (something I never thought would happen). I now have a daughter-in-law and a grandbaby as well to add to my crew. Our kids have a half-brother by way of their bio mom, and sure, we continue to need to navigate some sticky situations. But the more I intentionally stay in my own lane and just be who I am supposed to be to my kids and leave space for everyone else to thrive through their own roles, we all win. Boundaries and leading yourself well are keys to step success, no matter how many wild distractions try to get you off course. Stand tall and firm and love well. You’ll do just fine, mama.
* If you’d like to hear more of our story and learn some other wonderful tips for loving well, listen to this podcast I recorded with Human Amplified.