I'm the type of person that sees tips and strategies and picks up the pen to start taking notes. Be a better gardener…Where do I sign up? Learn to love your thighs…show me the way to the massage cream and exercise equipment.
Be a Content Stepmom...Heck yes! What do I need to do?
Partnering with Peggy Nolan to co-host the Stepmom's Toolbox Radio Show was one of the healthiest choices I made for myself this year. Peggy is a stepmom and a stepkid and she has a heck of a lot insight. She also has a lot of great connections all of whom we interview on our show.
In the seven months we've been on air, I've developed something a list of ways I can improve myself – from being a better stepmom to being a better wife or a better person.
I liken the list to an action plan I might have at work. The plan helps me stay on task toward being a healthier, more content version of myself; not a nearly wicked nag that I wouldn't want to befriend.
Consider the following tasks if you're looking for contentment:
Action Plan Item #1 Don't Take it Personally
When you take things personally, you're making other people's issues about you. If your stepkids (or partner or his ex) lashes out at you for something that was clearly out of your control, recognize and repeat after me: I'm not going to take it personally.
Exercise: Keep a "Don't Take it Personally" journal. Record the instances where you felt compelled to take something personally. Pay close attention to the trigger and your emotions.
Action Plan Item #2 Affirm yourself
Stepparenting can be a thankless job that even with the best antidepressant can leave a person feeling hopeless. To become a more content stepmom, assess yourself and your feelings. Why did something make you upset? Did you take something personally? Did you feel like there was an element of truth to what the person said?
Exercise: Challenge yourself to write daily affirmations
Ban the bad talk; instead, write down a daily affirmation that you can keep within reach at all times. The daily affirmations will remind you that you're not the bad person some people may want you to believe you are. Some examples to get you started: I am a good person; I am a loving parent; I will not let other people's issues control me.
Action Plan Item #3 Remember: You are not the Mom or the Dad.
Regardless of if the Bio-Mom is a crack head and Dad is an emotionally unavailable dork, a very important rule to remember for stepmom sanity is that you are not Mom or Dad – do your best to not act like one. While seemingly admirable, some stepmoms have a tendency to try to overcompensate or overparent to make up for the biological parents' dysfunctions. As a stepmom, you may feel like this feels like the right thing to do. While being over-loved has rarely hurt anyone, overparenting and overcompensating hurts you.
Exercise: Keep track of your Mom/Dad behaviors.
As women, we're going to trend to want to swoop in and rescue the children when life has deal them a blow. If you're making phone calls to the doctor's office because Dad can't be bothered or remember, step away from the telephone and write down what it is you're doing and how you're feeling. What you may start to notice is how much you're doing for them and not for you.
Action Plan #4 Remember your spouse.
You remember your honey, right? The whole reason you got married/coupled up. At one point in your relationship, you two couldn't get enough of each other. You were wrapped up in a love cocoon and no amount of stepfamily drama could have made you wince. For this action plan item, I want you to get back to your couple time.
Exercise: Erect a Step Couple Bubble
Obviously, I'm not talking about a real bubble, but an emotional one. Work on getting back to that place where it was just the two of you in your love cocoon. Set aside time and real thought to what you and your partner love about each other and how you're going to combat the drama.
Action Plan #5 Kill the Martyrdom
Does this sound like you: I'm tired, I'm worn out and no one appreciates what I do for my stepfamily. Why can't anyone say thank you? Let me tell you a secret: You're not hearing thank you because everyone loves a martyr. So long as you're giving up pieces of yourself for other people, no one is going to tell you to stop. Why would they? You're doing for them what they don't need to do for themselves. If you want to feel better, you need to put an end to the martyrdom and take care of yourself first and foremost.
Exercise: Access your feelings and find a good support system
If you feel you're giving too much, then take that feeling seriously. Your feelings don't lie. Get in touch with those feelings and really dig to the bottom of why you're sacrificing yourself and not practicing self care. While you're examining those feelings, be sure you're rallying with supportive people. As any recovering martyr can tell you, it takes a village to help a person put an end to their martyrdom.
Would you believe I've learned all of these tips from the Stepmoms Toolbox Radio Show? It's been a tremendous help to talk and listen to our wonderful guests (many of whom are contributors to StepMom Magazine). If you'd like to hear more of what they have to say, you can download our previous shows on www.blogtalkradio.com/thestepmomstoolbox or bookmark the page for upcoming show dates.
The preceding was included in StepMom Magazine. You're subscribed, right?