Being a stepmother can be extremely challenging and can make many of us miserable. This is the ideal time of year to take stock of our lives and decide how we can improve them. Besides resolving to lose the proverbial ten pounds, to eat nutritiously, and to exercise regularly, consider making some specific resolutions for the New Year that will help you as a stepmother. Here are some for you to consider:
1. Live a life of your choosing rather than your partner’s: In our quest to become an integral member of our stepfamilies, too many of us stepmothers expend all our energies taking care of stepfamily members with the consequence that we are too exhausted at the end of each day to focus on developing and attending to our own needs and interests. Be careful not to exclusively attach yourself to your partner’s life by spending all your time with his family and doing the activities he enjoys; make a concerted effort to be with your family and friends and to do activities that enhance your growth and development. Create a life that authentically expresses who you are.
2. Have a weekly date night with your partner: Being true to yourself does not mean you must ignore your partner. In fact, to be content as a stepmother and survive the stresses of stepfamily life, your relationship with him must be the most important priority in your life and his (right after your own well-being, which should always come first). Having fun together strengthens your relationship and makes it easier to get over the crises when they occur.
3. Cushion yourself from rejection: Rejection by stepchildren and other family members is a common experience for many stepmothers. Naturally, this hurts. To cushion yourself against these wounds, reach out to friends and other stepmothers for support. Their love and support can buffer you from rejection if it occurs. Make an effort to spend time with friends.
4. Simplify your life: Many stepmothers complain about how tired they are, how much they have to do, and how little time they have to devote to themselves. What many of us don’t realize is that we have choices about what we do. We can regain our vitality in life by reprioritizing our responsibilities and eliminating certain tasks. To prevent burnout, you need to safeguard your time by saying “no” to unreasonable requests, and by choosing activities you really, really like to do, while letting go of the others. Make sure that household tasks are fairly shared.
5. Have fun every day: Laughter is truly the best medicine. Make sure you do something fun each day to offset the responsibilities in your life. Petting your dog or cat are simple, free activities that can make a huge difference in creating a positive outlook on life.
Wishing you and your family a Healthy, Happy New Year!