Now Reading
3 Tips To Prevent Losing Yourself In Your New Stepmom Role

3 Tips To Prevent Losing Yourself In Your New Stepmom Role

Nichole Banducci
3 Tips To Prevent Losing Yourself In Your New Stepmom Role, RAISE

Just like the name suggests, being a 'step'mom requires taking steps to enter your new role in a way that doesn’t totally change who you are.

Entering my first marriage at 42, I felt blessed to also be fulfilling my dream of becoming a mother. For years, doctors told me I would never be able to have children of my own, so becoming a stepmother was truly exciting for me. I fully jumped in to the role, disregarding the single girl trappings I’d been immersed in for so long. I figured if I could run a business like a rock star, running a household would be a snap.

It’s often assumed that stepparenting is just about building a relationship with your new children. But it’s so much more.

Whether your partner’s ex is in the picture or not — in my case, she was not — it’s easy to lose yourself in the transition. After just a few months of marriage, my naive excitement turned to anxiety. I slowly slid into self-doubt as I lost myself in motherhood. I had severely underestimated the daily grind of managing lunches, laundry, housekeeping and drop-off. I was lucky to have in-laws nearby, who had helped raise our kids after my husband’s divorce, but I was not emotionally prepared to handle the awkwardness that came with having such involved grandparents. In hindsight, I wish I could have coached the over-achiever in me prior to making the transition.

WHAT MAKES BECOMING A STEPMOM SO UNIQUE?

It’s often assumed that stepparenting is just about building a relationship with your new children. But it’s so much more.

We go from single women to household managers of people who already have a routine that we’re supposed to know and fit into. We’re navigating multiple new roles at once with no learning curve, and it’s our nature to feel ashamed when we falter. We’re supposed to be able to do it all, right? It’s easy to tell ourselves that the struggle is just a phase and will pass, but I’m here to encourage you to nurture yourself as much as you’re nurturing your new family.

ROCKING YOUR NEW ROLE WHILE STAYING TRUE TO YOU

I’m not about to suggest more work for you as a way to help you navigate your stepparenting transition, but I’m happy to share some key points that I wish someone would have shared with me prior to charging into the role full force. Some of these may seem obvious, but once you’re knee-deep into parenting, it is easy to miss the most simple solutions.

Communication: Get Everything On The Table

Those super woman expectations you feel are likely just that — your expectations. Not your family’s. Chances are, they are just thrilled to have you in their lives, no cape required.

Discussing roles and expectations prior to the transition will not only make boundaries clear, but it will serve as a reminder (to you) that you are not solely responsible for every aspect of your family’s life.

The first step is to lay the groundwork with your partner. Review how the household is currently running and what your role will be moving forward. It’s critical that your spouse understands the unique space you’re stepping into. Reinforce the fact that you will make mistakes, but that all of your efforts will be made with the best of intentions. Continually remind yourself of this, as well.

Once you and your partner are set with how you want your new blended family to flow, it’s time to loop-in the kids, in-laws and other relevant parties. Plan for ongoing “How are we doing?” check-ins to make sure any hiccups are resolved before they become major issues. It’s important that you and your partner run this discussion as a team. You are not there to dictate. The two of you are building a new family together.

Accept Help: You’re Not in this Alone

Speaking of in-laws, they’ll likely want to help you. So will your friends, parents and other members of your community. It can be hard at first to accept these offers. You’ve rocked your own world for so many years, why would you ask for help now? Instead of fighting it, I encourage you to take a deep breath and decide where you could use some assistance. Leveraging the communication points from above, you can likely uncover support areas more quickly.

You don’t have to pile on the super mama armor to make a difference. In fact, it is just the opposite. Your family wants the real you to love and care for them.

Within your own family, try employing a ‘mercy word’ for when you need help. I’m not joking: After a long day of work, when you come home to an empty refrigerator and a pile of urgent, filthy laundry, it may be time to call for help with the mercy word. “Oh shucks, what are we going to do for dinner?” (Shucks being the magical word to signal that you need some help). The whole family can be in on the mercy word rule, keeping it fun to recognize when mama could use a hand or simply a bit of grace.

You Time: Non-Negotiable Self Care

Why is it that when we become moms (step or otherwise), our prior self-care rituals can go out the window? Instead of making time for friends, nail appointments, or date nights, our calendar fills up with playdates and practices. Suddenly, we start feeling guilty any time we consider a little TYS (treat yo’self) pampering.

The abrupt stepmom transition can cause us to disregard our previous social structure and self-care routine, essentially leaving ourselves behind. If anything, this is a time where you need self-care the most.

Make a list of your favorite me-time rituals. Pick one that is your non-negotiable and make sure it gets inked on your calendar at least once a month or weekly, if needed. Out of the remaining items on your list, pick 2-3 to sprinkle throughout your calendar during the year. If a soccer game bumps one, no worries, just reschedule.

OK, MAMA, YOU’VE GOT THIS

Just like the name suggests, being a stepmom requires taking steps to enter your new role in a way that doesn’t totally change who you are.

The most amazing lesson I’ve learned is that that stepparenting is easiest when I’m simply myself. Things getting tough? Let your family know. Not sure how you’ll swing one more day of making lunches? Let your mother-in-law help out. You don’t have to pile on the super mama armor to make a difference. In fact, it is just the opposite. Your family wants the real you to love and care for them.

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

© 2020 Raise Magazine. All Rights Reserved.

Scroll To Top