Coping with Summertime as a Stepmom Without Going Crazy

summer as a stepmom vacationing with family

Summer is a season of sunshine, relaxation, and a break from the usual routines – at least for kids who are out of school. For adults, it means figuring out how to occupy those kids. And for most, it also comes with fun summer weekends and family trips.

But summertime as a stepmom brings all kinds of unique challenges. Keeping your spouse’s kids entertained and engaged can feel like-a full time job. Custody schedules often change, or there might even be challenges just agreeing with your partner’s ex on a summer schedule.

Which means that for stepmoms, the carefree months of sunshine can feel more like the dark, cold months of winter.

The good news is that there are some practical things you can do to manage some of the most common summer struggles for stepmoms.

Managing Kids Out of School

Especially if you’re a new stepmom, it can be awkward to manage kids’ extra time at home. Here are ways you can navigate and fill the long hours:

1. Create a Summer Schedule: Just because school is out doesn’t mean structure should be abandoned. Work with your partner to develop a loose schedule that includes time for activities, chores, and downtime. This can help kids know what to expect each day and reduce the likelihood of boredom-induced mischief.

2. Plan Activities: Keep a list of activities handy that cater to different interests and energy levels. Whether it’s arts and crafts, outdoor sports, or quiet reading time, having options ready can make it easier to keep everyone occupied.

3. Encourage Independence: Summer is a great time for kids to learn new skills and become more independent. Encourage them to take on age-appropriate responsibilities, like helping with meal prep, gardening, or organizing their own playdates.

Navigating Family Trips

Family vacations can be a wonderful opportunity to bond with the kids, but they can also be a source of stress. Here are some tips for making the most of your family trips:

1. Involve Everyone in Planning: Make the trip more enjoyable by involving the kids in the planning process. Let them have a say in choosing activities or destinations. This can help them feel more invested and excited about the trip.

2. Set Realistic Expectations: Not every moment of the vacation will be perfect. Be prepared for tantrums, disagreement, or just general moodiness (especially if teens are involved!). Try to go with the flow as much as you can and just focus on bonding and enjoying your time together.

3. Schedule Downtime: Vacations can be exhausting, especially for young children. Make sure to build in some downtime each day to rest and recharge. This can help prevent meltdowns and keep everyone in good spirits. This means rest for you, too – you don’t need to always be “on,” and you deserve some time to de-stress where you can.

summertime as a stepmom 10 Daily habits opt-in

Handling Changes in Custody Schedules

Custody schedules often change in the summertime, which can be challenging to navigate as a stepmom. Here are a few ways to manage these transitions smoothly:

1. Communicate Clearly: Maintain open lines of communication with your partner and support them as they’re working to get on the same page as their ex. It’s important to get everyone is on the same page regarding the schedule and any changes. Clear communication can help prevent misunderstandings and reduce stress.

2. Be Flexible: Custody schedules might shift during the summer due to vacations or other events. Try to be flexible and as understanding as possible when these changes occur. Remember that the goal is to ensure the children have a happy and stable summer.

3. Focus on Quality Time: Regardless of how custody schedules are arranged, focus on making the time you have with the kids meaningful. Plan special activities or simply spend time together doing things you all enjoy. Quality time can strengthen bonds and create lasting memories.

Taking Care of Yourself

With all that you have to balance in the summer, it’s easy to push your own self-care to the side. So before you say, “I just don’t have time for me,” try a couple of these:

1. Set and Stick To Your Boundaries: If you have boundaries during the school year, just because it’s summer doesn’t mean they fly out the window. It’s always okay to reassess and decide if you still need them. But if you do, then stick to them! There’s a reason you set them in the first place.

It’s also okay – in fact, I encourage you – to let go of the things that may not be your top priority in the summer. You may be hyper focused on whether the kids put away their dishes or clean their room regularly during the school year. But you could choose to let that go a bit in summer when there is so much else going on. Figure out what you really care about and then let the rest go.

2. Make Sure You Take Time For You: Summer can feel all-consuming, like ever waking minute is spent occupying the kids or shuttling them to different activities. Take a minute to do some things for yourself. Get your toes summer-ready with a pedicure, grab drinks with your girlfriends, sit by the pool with a book – by yourself. However it looks, be sure you’re recharging your own batteries.

3. Talk About The Summer With Your Partner Before It Arrives: We’ve established that summer can get nutty. So talk about it with your partner. What are each of your expectations around the summer months and how things will go with custody, family trips, etc? Do you need to adjust those expectations? What support do you and your partner need from each other during the summer? Laying all this out upfront can help you avoid misunderstandings and arguments as the months wear on.

You’ve Got This.

Remember, even when things are at their craziest, you’re not alone in this journey. Reach out to other stepmoms for support, share your experiences, and celebrate the small victories along the way. If you need help or would like a community of stepmoms who know what you’re going through, check out the Stepfamily Circle.

Here’s to a summer filled with love, laughter, and lots of sunshine!