Sadie has been a proud stepmother for over 25 years. She writes about blended family issues and modern family dynamics.
Being a stepmom is one of the most challenging roles in a family dynamic. If you're struggling with perfectionism and the need to make everyone happy, these self-care tips and suggestions are for you.
You do so much for other people—for your spouse, your stepchildren and all the other members of your extended blended family—including accommodating the scheduling needs and requests of your stepchild’s biological parent. Sometimes you find yourself trying to predict their wants and needs so that you can be ready to respond at the drop of a hat. Many of us do this out of love and concern for the well-being of our blended families, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t stressful!
You don't have to do it all.
Who doesn’t want to be there for the people they care about? Who doesn’t want to give back to the people in their lives who bring them joy and happiness? I know I do. I want to be a reliable, responsible, caring person who can be counted on when times are rough. After all, I know that my friends and family would be there for me in a pinch, so I want to be there for them, too.
But what about you being there for YOU? When was the last time you gave yourself permission to take care of your needs?
The number one gift that you can give yourself as a stepmom is permission--permission to feel joy, permission to rest, permission to take care of what really matters: you!
You have permission to take a break.
Set aside four hours of “me” time every week to do something special for yourself. If money is tight right now, don't worry. You don't have to spend a lot of money to take a break from the world. Besides, not everyone is a big fan of spa treatments, manicures, and massages. Some people don’t like going to the art gallery. Others don’t feel the need to go on a shopping spree in order to make themselves feel better. Being nice to yourself doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor. Sometimes the simple act of giving yourself absolute permission to do exactly what you want for 4 or 5 hours on the weekend is all that you need to boost your self-confidence and recharge your energy levels.
Start by taking small steps.
If you don’t think you have enough time to block four straight hours out of your busy schedule, how about dividing that time up into smaller chunks throughout the week? Give yourself permission to play and to learn. You might even decide to do a bit of housework. For example, many people find that tackling a cleaning task makes them feel more organized and on top of the so-called chaos that surrounds them. Once they’ve taken care of a few projects their mind is freed up to focus on other things. Whatever you choose to do with your 'me' time is entirely up to you. There's no right or wrong way to spend your downtime. All that matters is that you're the one that gets to decide what you want to do.
You are allowed to make your own decisions.
Speaking of making your own decisions about what you want to do, one of the nicest gifts you can give yourself is to honor and respect the decisions that you make for yourself. Having confidence in yourself means having faith that you're capable of making the right decision, at the right time, for the right reason. If you feel the need to check in with other people every time you make a decision, you're subtly suggesting to yourself, and to others around you, that you don’t trust yourself to make the right choice. If you want other people to respect and honor the choices you make in life, you need to own up to every one of your life choices (even the not so good decisions that you’ve made in the past).
What do you do to take care of yourself when you're feeling tense and stressed out? Here are some things I've found are helpful when I am stressed out about my role as a stepmom:
- Have a relaxing bath or give myself a spa treatment
- Talk to people who will listen to my worries without judgement
- Go back to my spiritual roots
- Travel or just get away for awhile. Even booking an appointment at an out-of-town day spa can feel like a mini-vacation
- Read, draw, or write in a journal
- Spend time in the outdoors with Mother Nature
- Walk, exercise, or go to the gym
- Visit forums, blogs and websites by, for, and all about the unique concerns and challenges of being a stepmom.
Please leave a comment and share any suggestions you have for other stepmoms on how to reduce stress and take care of yourself.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Robert E Smith from Rochester, New York on April 27, 2017:
What I've heard all my Christian life is to live the "JOY" principle. I'm sure you've heard of it, "Jesus First, Others Second, Yourself Last."
Now that principle works only if the divisions all get some time otherwise the principle would be Jesus First, Others Next and then....?"
There is a reason that Yourself is last (serving others, earning "treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not consume") but also there is a reason that "Yourself" is included.
If you have allowed no time for Yourself then the other two sections of the J-O-Y are accomplished with exhausted routine and ritual, lacking, well, lacking joy.
There doesn't have to be great pomp when telling all that you are in "Me Time" as if they don't matter. But if a proper boundary is drawn at certain times the others in your family circle will learn to do the same with their time. They will learn to have time for God alone, for family and for themselves.
I really enjoyed the way you conveyed the importance of me time without minimizing the other things in the Mom's life that she finds important. Thank you, Bob.