Being a successful stepmom is one of the most impressive juggling acts ever created. There’s seemingly no end to the list of people you are now capable of letting down, which means the pressure on you sometimes feels massive, whether it is real or just perceived. Society seems to view you as something “other than.” You are not the mom; you’re an interloper, a substitute, or “just the dad’s new wife.” When it seems like the deck is stacked against you, it can get draining trying to do what’s right. However it is important that, of all the things you do in life, this is one that you get right. To help you do that, I have put together a list of five habits of healthy and successful stepmoms.
5 Habits of Healthy & Successful Stepmoms
Successful stepmoms know that step-parenting is not just a weekend gig. They make the time to do something every day for the kids, even if their efforts will not get noticed until Saturday. That something can be a little thing, such as making sure his son’s favorite cereal is ready for Saturday breakfast, or something more significant, like planning a girl’s day out to get in some crucial bonding time with his daughter.
Stepmoms who are successful wake up every day with a partnering attitude. They know they are not trying to replace mom. They are confident in their role as a partner to two or three other people in the raising of the children. When stepmoms exist with this attitude, it makes it easier to roll with the changes that can come with raising children. These changes can cause chaos in even traditional families; a partnering attitude can make everything easier within the stepfamily dynamic!
However, while successful stepmoms are happy to be partners with the rest of the parents involved with the children, they also know how to set boundaries so that they do not get taken advantage of. It is one thing to agree to pick up the kids at the last minute because someone was sick or had an issue come up that could not be rescheduled. It’s another altogether to be expected to pick up someone else’s slack. Part of maintaining a partner relationship is to remember that everyone needs to pull their weight. No one can be a great parent if they are feeling burned out or resentful of their parenting partners.
Successful stepmoms are those who practice gratitude. Being able to be a mentor and an influential person in the lives of your husband’s children is an honorable role and one that will make you feel tremendously proud as you help raise these children to adults. Notice and appreciate all the terrific things that happen on your stepmom journey. Stay present in those moments when tremendous things are happening. Be thankful, to someone else, or even to yourself, for the moments that you have.
Successful stepmoms do not ignore time with their spouse. When two people get married, and neither have kids, they usually have a few years of exclusivity; no kids to steal that precious time together. This bonding time is critical to marriage success. However, because you are a stepmom, you have to accommodate for the needs of the children on a regular basis from the earliest days of the relationship. Because there are always activities, concerts, or parent-teacher conferences, your marriage is going to be busy from the get-go! In most relationships, stepmoms have the unique ability to have at least a few days a week where someone else is directly responsible for the care of the children. Take advantage of this time to make sure that you and your spouse get to have a date night at least once a month. Schedule a spa date, or dinner and a movie, or a memorable night in with your favorite desserts and a Netflix binge session. Refuse to become part of the 67% of 2nd marriages that end in divorce.
The most significant goal for most stepmoms is to play a part in raising children they didn’t birth. The whirlwind of logistics involved in achieving this goal can sometimes become overwhelming. You will have some rough days, but in time, the superb days will far outnumber the bad. Use these tips to help you rock the stepmom life!
PS: Looking for more on developing a partnering attitude? Here’s how to let the small parenting differences go, from someone who swore they’d be high conflict forever.