I will never forget the moment in my wedding when I said, “I do!” Standing at the altar, friends and family all around on a perfect April day. Everything went off without a hitch, and we had finally come to the moment of making the promise of forever. The weight of the phrase struck me a little harder than I thought it would. As the officiant asked me if I promised to love and care for him until death do us part, I realized I wasn’t just making a promise to my spouse—I was also making a promise to three little children. They were there staring up at me with eyes full of excitement, love, and hope as I became their new stepmom.
I was saying “I do, with them too!” I was committing to a life of love, care, respect and helping them grow into their best versions of themselves. I’ll admit I was a little naive to what that TRULY meant, and honestly, to the road that lay ahead for us.
I am still figuring it out as we go.
I know being a new stepmom isn’t always easy. We are constantly dodging things left and right. We are being told we aren’t doing enough right after being told we are doing too much – I know you are nodding your head in agreement! More than once I wished there was a guidebook with step by step actions. First, say I do. Second, say I do with them too. Third, live happily ever after! Alas, we don’t live in a fairytale. But don’t worry, I will share the top three things I wish someone would have told me as I became a new stepmom.
3 Things New Stepmoms Need to Hear Before “I Do”
1. You and your partner should be your top priority.
It’s easy to get caught up in the craziness of life. Chances are there are sports practices to drive kids to, homework to be completed, lunches to be packed, and dinner to be prepared—that’s just the beginning! Let’s not forget the visitation schedules, transition days and, for many of us, custody issues creating additional stress. It’s no wonder our relationship with our partner often gets put on the bottom of our to-do list.
However, if it wasn’t for the love you share with your partner you wouldn’t be in this role – yes, it’s a double edged sword! Take the time to foster growth of your relationship, date nights and time to connect just the two of you sans kids! Make it a point to schedule out two dates a month and watch the shift it has on your relationship and the closeness you will feel when you feel like a strong team.
2. Don’t sacrifice your self care.
Listen, you were your own person before you became a wife and stepmom. You enjoyed nights out with friends, spa days, working out or whatever it was that energized you – don’t stop doing that! You can’t pour from an empty cup! I can promise you that if you try, you will end up with stepmom burnout and become resentful in your role.
We are constantly giving in in our role, and in many cases adjusting our lives to accommodate our stepkids and the ex. It is enough to make anyone go crazy, so make sure you do what you need to, to keep your mental health in check. Don’t feel guilty for setting aside time and money for you! It doesn’t always have to be an expense either, it can be as simple as creating a space in your home that is only for you, a reading corner in your room or a gym space in the garage.
3. Find your community of stepmoms.
I can promise you no one understands the struggles of a stepmom quite like a stepmom. Even your partner will never fully understand your struggles. Finding a fellow stepmom you can connect with will make all the difference in the world. Having someone you can vent to, ask questions to, cry with, and know they aren’t judging you. They aren’t thinking, ‘you signed up for this.’ More importantly, they can be a safe space for you. I learned very quickly that vents go into other rooms and my mom friends who I thought were a safe space didn’t understand my struggles and couldn’t understand my frustrations because they didn’t have their partners ‘ex’ constantly dictating their lives. Finding a few like minded stepmoms will make this journey a little less lonely, and, dare I say, help you enjoy it more!
It hasn’t always been easy, and believe me when I tell you there were many times I cried on the bathroom floor wondering if I was actually capable of being in this role. But I am, and so are you. I am still figuring it out as we go, especially as we are now nearing the preteen and teen years. So give yourself grace stepmom, you’ve got this!