Are you new to being a stepmother? Have you recently started seeing someone with children? Have you recently moved in with a partner who has children? Do you feel as though your world has turned upside down?
Embarking on a life with someone who has children whether you have your own or not is an incredible adjustment to make. This adjustment can be even greater for women who haven’t had any children of their own. Having children in your life means that things become less predictable at times, home spaces can be more disordered, there are multiple needs to be met with in the home and outside the home (i.e. driving to sports, birthday parties etc) and more. The life you once knew where you felt a sense of certainity, belonging, comfort and stability is now morphing into something else.
The initial stages of being a stepmother are the hardest. They are the hardest because your dreams and visions of family life come up against a reality which may have many unforeseen challenges. These challenges can bring with them conflict, custody battles, acts of disrespect etc. During this initial stage you start to realise that your fantasies are not going to become a reality. This can mean intense feelings of anger, sadness, resentment, jealousy, stress and confusion emerge. These feelings have the capacity to over shadow your entire step-parenting experience.
During these initial stages incredible loss can be felt. The loss of the normality and dreams you once had is huge. These beginning stages are the optimal time to talk with your partner about what your participation in the family might look. Establishing new boundaries around household chores, childcare responsibilities, finances, behaviour management etc are vital during this time. Being a stepmother can be incredibly enriching and fulfilling, and this does not ignore the fact that the beginning stages can be really tough.
Here are 3 tips I share with every new Stepmum:
1. Allow yourself the space and time to honour your own needs for reflection, connection with familiar people and engagement with your interests. For example, make sure you get to that Saturday morning yoga class, have coffee with your friends after work, attend that art class. Keep yourself enlivened by engaging in the activities which bring you joy.
2. Communicate with your partner in a non-confrontational and loving way. It is important to let them know what you are processing. Invite them to offer their insights, wisdom and support. You might hear from them that they feel caught in the middle. This is how many biological parents can feel in a step family. Be sure to share how you are feeling in a deeply respectful way because in many ways your relationship has a great opportunity to grow and flourish under these conditions.
3. While it may be challenging and difficult it is important to make time to spend with your partners children. Ensure that he/she is there to manage any firm behavioural needs and give yourself permission to purely engage with the children in a fun, joyous, and lighthearted way. For example, you might like to invite the kids to bake a chocolate cake with you or go down to the basketball court and shoot some hoops, bring home a special treat. What might you do to start building a relationship with your stepchildren? Be creative, honour your values and have some fun!
Be gentle, kind and loving towards yourself as you adjust to all the new people, relationships and personalities around you. You don’t need to feel pressure to call yourself a stepmum either at this stage. Take time to really get to know who you want to be in this stepfamily. You might want to be hands-on or you might want to be hands off. There are no rules except for the ones you set for yourself.
Can you relate to this blog post? Are you in the initial stages of stepmotherhood?
I would love to hear from you and to learn a little bit about how your initial stages are going. This time can be really tough so please do reach out if you need to. You can comment below or head on over to my Facebook page Amazing Stepmums: The Place To Be and share your thoughts.
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