3 Things You Can Expect as a Full-Time Stepmom

Updated on October 15, 2019
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As both a mother and a stepmother, Michelle explores the complicated dynamics of modern parenting and stepparenting.

For many women out there, the role of being a stepmom involves planned out visitation schedules and plenty of back and forth between the biological mother and biological father.

But what about the stepmom who has her stepchildren full-time?

Whether you have just recently become a full-time stepmom, you are going to become one soon, or you have been in that role since the beginning, here are some tips and added advice for your journey.


1. You Will Be Overwhelmed

There's no doubt that being a mother is overwhelming in general but what about being a full-time stepmom to a stepchild or stepchildren who already have a mom who's not around much?

Whatever the circumstances of your current situation are, as a full-time stepmom you are it. You are the one who is there, you are the one who will feel responsible, and you are the one who is filling the mothering role.

Some stepmoms can go from being full-time to part-time and then back again years later depending on custody issues or the desires of older children who are involved. Other times, a stepmom could have spent years doing the every other weekend routine only to suddenly be left with her stepchildren full-time.

These transitions can be extremely tense and emotionally exhausting for everyone involved.

Being a full-time stepmom requires a huge amount of love and commitment. If you also have your own biological kids in the mix it can be especially difficult to navigate through everyone's feelings and emotions.

If your relationship with your stepchild or stepchildren is healthy then being a full-time stepmom may not be so bad. On the plus side, there's no going back and forth which can be great at times. On the negative side of things, you pretty much never get a break.

Being overwhelmed with your stepchild's emotions over having a biological parent who is rarely or never there is probably the most difficult emotional landmine a full-time stepmom will face. Crossing through that territory with a stepchild can be filled with anger, resentment, and many, many turns.

What to expect as a full-time stepmom
What to expect as a full-time stepmom | Source

Being overwhelmed is to be expected. But you can't let it consume you. Part of the trick to being a full-time stepmom is to make sure you carve out even small pieces of time for yourself to unwind.

Depending on your situation, you may be experiencing lots of pent-up anger or resentment towards the absent biological parent which isn't healthy to harbor on a long-term basis. Let your partner know when you need a break and take it.

Being a full-time stepmom requires a huge amount of love and commitment. If you also have your own biological kids in the mix it can be especially difficult to navigate through everyone's feelings and emotions.

Being overwhelmed doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong. It just means you're human and need to take a step back for a moment. Parenting can be rough. Stepmoms need to recharge sometimes just like any other parent. Know your limits and allow yourself to take downtime.

If you feel like packing your bags and leaving out of frustration - try just taking a mini-break instead. Full-time stepmoms need to recharge just like any other parent.
If you feel like packing your bags and leaving out of frustration - try just taking a mini-break instead. Full-time stepmoms need to recharge just like any other parent. | Source

Being overwhelmed with your stepchild's emotions over having a biological parent who is rarely or never there is probably the most difficult of emotional landmines a full-time stepmom will need to face.

2. You Won't Always Get That "Mom Credit" (Even When You Do Everything!)

Even when you're a highly involved or full-time stepmom who is doing most of the mothering grunt work, you may not get that full acknowledgment from your stepkids.

You know you deserve the credit and it sure would be nice if you could get it, but it simply may not happen until your stepkids are grown adults and realize how much work you actually put in as a step-parent.

Whatever your situation is that brought you to the role of a full-time stepmom, whether it's a biological mother who passed away, who lost custody due to drug or alcohol addiction, or who simply didn't want that full-time mom responsibility for whatever reason, you are going to be the "go-to" woman in your stepchild's life.

This is a huge responsibility and it doesn't come without intense feelings of resentment, frustration, and exhaustion.

Sometimes you'll get that "mom credit" and other times you just won't
Sometimes you'll get that "mom credit" and other times you just won't | Source

Whether you get your due "credit" as a full-time stepmom or not, there are more important things to focus on such as the day-to-day work of raising a child or children. Getting stuck in the "credit rut" is a trap many of us stepmother's fall into whether you're full-time or not.

Try and remember that even biological parents don't always get their "due credit." Most parents slave away giving everything they have and certainly get taken for granted without appreciation. As a step-parent, this feeling can come with far more resentment than a biological parent but it's definitely something all adults raising children go through.

Even though many stepmoms feel as though they are on an island all alone where no one understands what they're going through, it's important to remember that you are not alone and there are others out there struggling with the same issues.

The time a full-time stepmom devotes to the lives of her stepchild or stepchildren is vast and all-consuming.

Try to let go of the "mom credit" hang up!
Try to let go of the "mom credit" hang up! | Source

3. You Have The Opportunity To Create A Lifelong Bond

I've covered a couple of very difficult scenarios that can happen once you become a full-time stepmother. But what about the good parts? Are there any?

While it's true that being a stepmom for any amount of time is extremely demanding on a number of levels, once you find yourself in a full-time stepmom role for at least a few years, you can begin to literally feel as though your stepkids are your own children.

This doesn't happen for every stepmom. Many stepmoms do struggle dramatically in the full-time role -- primarily with tweens and teenagers. But if you have your stepkids 24/7 -- especially from a young age -- you're bound to form a very intense bond with them.

It's pretty difficult not to feel just like a "real mom" while being in the role of a full-time stepmom. You're there every day. You're probably going to end up doing a huge amount of the disciplining over the years unless that's something you've decided to completely back away from and hand off to your partner.

A close bond with your stepchild or stepchildren can be a lifelong treasure
A close bond with your stepchild or stepchildren can be a lifelong treasure | Source

A full-time stepmom does all the same things a biological mother would do on a day-to-day basis. She may work full-time, she may be a stay-at-home stepmom, or even work from home. She deals with messy rooms, homework, meltdowns, sleepovers, birthday parties, and so on.

The time a full-time stepmom devotes to the lives of her stepchild or stepchildren is vast and all-consuming. The relationship built in this time is not only highly influential, but it can change a child's life for better when there is a healthy relationship between the step-parent and stepchild.

Becoming a full-time stepmom isn't for everyone, but this type of stepmom role is on the rise in our current society. With more blended families than ever and an increasing amount of father's who win full custody of their children, the role of the full-time stepmother is becoming more normalized as well as much more appreciated.

If you're a full-time stepmom now and wonder what you've gotten yourself into, try to have some hope and patience. You are doing incredibly important work which you should be proud of and most definitely thanked for many times over.

I want to hear from full-time stepmoms like you!

If you are a full-time stepmom, do you feel appreciated by your stepchildren? If you would like to comment further please do so in the comments section

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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.

© 2018 Michelle Zunter


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    • profile image


      10 days ago

      I am definitely understanding my own situation now. And trust me guys. U are not alone. I have six kids total between me and my husband. 4 live with me full time. 2 are my biological kids and the other two ate my steo kids. My son also comes on the weekends and we are trying to get custody of the other one. I love every single one of them! But it's been really hard to find time to bond with each of them, by themselves... they all have different personalities and i have a job and health issues. But we are managing it!

      Just hang on a little longer, it gets better!

      I loved the article and it shined some light on to things i couldn't pinpoint myself!

      Good read!

    • profile image


      2 months ago

      I have been a full time step mom since nov 2016. Our children are now 9 (boy) and 11(girl). Adding to the package not only im full time with them but also my partner (their biological dad) works away most of the time leaving me in almost a single step mom sort of role. I am so happy to read this article because it is very very hard to find someone in the same situation. I feel people care a lot about the "real mom" and forget that besides not giving birth to these 2 children i have done absolutely everything for them including fixing several things caused by her. I wish i could meet more people in similar situations so i could at least not feel so alone in my role. I love my children i love my husband but the pressure i get sometimes is really hard.

    • Farawaytree profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Zunter 

      2 months ago from California

      Yes! Exactly! They know you will love them no matter what because you have proven that!

    • profile image


      2 months ago

      So glad I found this article. Have been full time step mum to two for past 6 years, since ages 5and 6. Mom sees them regularly.

      Do feel very alone in this at times, mom gets all the adoration and I get all the tween grumps, however I do feel very loved, and I just hope they realise when they are older the way things have really been, and not the twisted stories they get spun. I think I get the grumps though because they know that no matter what I will be here for them, so they are safe to do it with me.

    • profile image


      2 months ago

      I am a full time step mum to a 5yo boy and have been for the last 2 years. I have 2 bio children 2&4. When I say full time I mean I may as well be a single parent.

      My SS can be lovely when he is in a good mood or things are going his way but is also extremely violent, verbally abusive, and defiant. This of course is ALOT better than it was 2 years ago when he pretty much only screamed, hit, bit or threw tantrums all day every day. His bio mum is verbally abusive to us and him, she is violent along with a string of drug and mental health issues and boyfriends to go with them.

      It’s the hardest job I have ever done, with little to no credit for getting this boy to where he is now which is a somewhat normal boy all on my own with no support from any of his biological family. My two children are terrified of him, as am I at times as we all have been beaten black and blue by him (all but dad).

      Don’t get me wrong I love my step son, but it’s not to say it makes the job any easier. This step mum business is definitely not for the faint hearted and I’m sure it will be all worth it one day but until then it’s our jobs to be strong for them. They may not have chosen us, but we’re all they have.

    • profile image

      Tiffany M 

      4 months ago

      I am a full time mother of 2 young boys and full time step mother of 3 teenage girls. First let me state that I’ve never yelled or disciplined my step kids...and will never do so. But it Seems like everything I do is never right, no matter what. They barely ever listen to anything I ask. Their mother might (just might) see them once a month. She does nothing for them financially. When the summer finally comes, she never has them the whole summer. Maybe two weeks at the most. Don’t get me wrong, I love my step daughters, but sometimes I need a break!!! My husband doesn’t understand, he says he always wants his kids to be around, but he is hardly around to spend time with them. He is either at work, the gym, school, or bs’ing around somewhere. Most times he travels and could be gone months. And when he is gone who has the kids 100% of the time...ME!!! I don’t ever have time without my own kids but don’t add 3 more that don’t do anything for themselves, even though they are teenagers, on top of that! I just need a break that is longer than a weekend a month! I’m going insane and becoming extremely unhappy because I am always stressed.

    • Farawaytree profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Zunter 

      6 months ago from California

      I absolutely love this! I totally relate to your feelings as I'm sure many others do! Sounds like you're an amazing person who loves deeply! Don't give up!

    • profile image

      L F 

      6 months ago

      I have been a step mum now for 5 years, 2 of those years my step child living with my husband, myself (our child who is almost 3 now).

      It has been overwhelmingly hard specially since he has gotten older himself (now 7).

      The younger years were easier in comparison.

      With age he has a deeper understanding that mum and dad aren’t together and now it bothers him, possibly when his world got wider by going to school, and access to his mother.

      Wanting to be a ‘normal kid’ in his words.. normal as in mum and dad live together.

      My husband has a very demanding job so I have him majority of the time.

      Bio mum became more involved only a year ago. And has shook my world upside down.

      She can be quite mean and resentful.

      Some days i really struggle with this role, where I stand what to say back when he is only being honest with how he thinks or what his mum thinks.

      Some days are hard to accept that this is my life, never knowing what might come out of his mouth. Feeling constantly under pressure to be the best step mum while copping criticism from bio mum about how we parent(either by her or through him)

      Such a vulnerable time in your life when your trying to do your best.

      My husband and I constantly pick up the pieces when she isn’t reliable or reasonable. If where not careful can strain on our relationship when we let it.

      Not everything is a negative. Being in this situation makes me appreciate little things like the simplicity of having my own child in comparison who loves me deeply, is quite easy to love even in the hardest moments.

      Having a step child is for my experience a conscious decision to choose to love like my own, even on the days it’s quite hard.

      He is a great child, who loves his blended family underneath the hurt and misunderstanding, that naturally you can’t blame a child for feeling this way.

      Being a full time step parent, isn’t the ultimate position to be in.

      I’m hoping with the balance work I put into these relationships that it will get better and to build an even thicker skin from this will make me a better, inspiring person for others I may come across in a similar circumstance.

      For all you full time step parents out there, I’m sure your doing great. Nobody can really understand until there in your shoes.

    • profile image


      7 months ago

      I have been a full time stepmom for 10 years now. My daughter is now 17. Bio mom has been in and out of our lives while dealing with addiction. Every time she comes back she promises the world to our daughter and then breaks her heart. During the years we have gone through many cycles of our relationship. When bio mom is back in the picture I am the devil himself as far as my daughter is concerned. Then once bio mom is gone and life returns to normal she seems happy and we have a great relationship. Recently bio mom came back into her life and my husband and I found secret correspondence between them even though there is a no contact order in place by the court. From that we learned that they had plans to have my daughter run away with her bio mom and live happily ever after. My daughter has recently made several accusations towards me at our church, accusations that could result in an investigation and the removal of my son who is 6. I don't understand where all of her hatred towards me has come from. I have loved her and cared for her like she is my own daughter. I consider her my daughter. I have spent thousands of dollars on legal fees to fight for her and keep her safe. I spent 2 weeks in the hospital with her when she became ill, every day I was there while my biological child was staying with relatives and missing me. I did this because she was my daughter and needed me more than my son did at the time. I am historically the bread winner in my family and have on many occasions been the only person working in the household. So not only am i playing the role of mom...I also financially support the family by myself. We have never received any financial assistance from the bio mom. This past Christmas, before the discovery of any secret conversations, my daughter surprised me with a certificate of adoption. She signed it as a show of faith that once she was legally an adult she wanted me to adopt her. I was astounded. I had no clue she had planned this. Every voice in my head said to rein in my heart. I didn't listen. I was overjoyed that finally she saw me as someone who loved her unconditionally. Finally she understood the work and the effort I had put into raising her all of these years. It was beautiful. I happily told my family and coworkers that the long awaited day had come. She had accepted that she was my daughter. Then came the discovery. We did a spot check on her phone because she gave us alarm as to how she was acting. Keep in mind she is newly 17 and has always been a pretty good kid in the realm of getting into normal teenage trouble. We discovered a web of lies. She had been plotting to leave in the middle of the night and run away with her bio mom. She talked about how much she hated me and how horrible her life was. Then the mother of all let downs. She talked about how the adoption was all a lie. She was doing what she thought would make everyone happy so we wouldn't be suspicious of her plans. That broke my heart. I have held on all these years hoping that eventually she would accept me. I let my guard down and it has almost destroyed me. I am so angry with her. I am appalled that she would tell such horrible lies at our church about me. Lies that could lead to my son, her brother that she has been raised with since the day he was born, being taken away from our family. I fight back the urge to tell her to get out every time I look at her. I feel this hatred for her that has never been there before. It scares me. Here is this girl whom I have considered to be my daughter all of these years. How could I possibly feel this way about my child? What do I do? Do I hold my ground, bite my tongue and hope that maybe in a year or two it might get better? I don't know that I can do it. I try to talk to my husband and he just says he doesn't know what to do. This is all normal teenage behavior and that it will pass. I don't think he understands where I am emotionally with her. What can I do at this point?

    • Farawaytree profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Zunter 

      7 months ago from California

      I'm glad to read that you took charge and things are better. Yes, it's super hard to deal with biological parents who are not there for their children for whatever reason it may be....

    • profile image

      M K 

      7 months ago

      I’ve been a full time stepmom for almost two years now. My stepdaughter came to my husband and I with all kinds of problems. ADHA/Bedwetting/insomnia/bad behavior at school. With my husband working more hours than me, a lot of things is just left there for me to “take care of “. I use to feel so overwhelmed and often times wanted to just leave the entire situation. Instead of leaving, I did what any mom would do... I started taking her to a behavior therapist and doctors. Our family home life has been such an improvement. One of the things that keeps me going is that my stepdaughter is extremely appreciative of me... she calls me mom and our bond is very close. She loves me very much..My biggest fear is that her biological mom letting her down tremendously!

    • Farawaytree profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Zunter 

      8 months ago from California

      Wow, That sounds like you have your hands full! No, you're not the only one at all. Those feelings of resentment are so normal! Those are really tough ages as well. It does sound like you need to take more time to yourself if you're able to do that...? Stepping away for small amounts of time can be helpful. It does sound like you're a wonderful mother to all of them and I'm so sorry you're going through this frustration. It is completely normal. Have you tried speaking to your partner about it? Is he helpful?

    • profile image


      8 months ago

      I’ve been a full-time stepparent to my husband’s 4 children since he was awarded full custody almost 2 years ago. I’ve been in their lives for almost 7 years. Their birth mother is hardly in the picture. I also have a biological son from a previous relationship. Lately, I’ve been really overwhelmed and distant towards the 3 girls(ages 8, 10 & 11). I take everything they say or do personally and sometimes I don’t even want to be in the same room with them. I don’t know if I’m just depressed or if I’m angry bc I’m a stay-at-home mom and I’m always the bad guy and take it out on them...I just don’t know. I feel like I’ve been given this opportunity to raise these kiddos and be the best mom I can be, but sometimes...a lot of the time, I just don’t want to. Am I the only one?

    • Farawaytree profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Zunter 

      13 months ago from California

      Awesome!! Well, kudos to you for being an amazing stepmom! It's totally normal to wonder if your stepchild prefers the other house, etc, especially when it's short visits filled with lots of fun. It's great she has the structure at your house but also nice she can have fun with her mom. Keep it up

    • profile image


      13 months ago

      Great article! I think one of the differences that makes it harder having children who have 2 mums rather than 1 mum is that the child always can compare and consider where and who they prefer or where they would rather live! My step daughter and I love each other lots and she lives with me fulltime but sees her mum in the school holidays in another country where she is allowed to go to bed late, ice cream every day etc. We continue with our routine when she is back but i sometimes feel aware that given when she is with her birth mum it’s fun fun fun that she may start to think she would prefer to be there! It’s the comparing that can be hard- but perhaps this is more in my head than in her head - so I’ll try and work on this! Thanks anyway for the article :-)


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