Out of the Shadows – Advice On Being a Stepmom Today

Stepmother Meaning

Ali Wilks
Certified Stepfamily Coach

As the year comes to a close we often reflect on how the last year went.

Did it all go according to plan? Did it meet your expectations? Did you accomplish all that you had set out to do? Did you meet your goals?  Life is busy and we may not have time to reflect but hopefully you can find the space to do so.

We may just have enough time to decide that the events that were so challenging for us aren’t going to happen again and we we can plan for better.

Reflection and introspection is good and necessary to take stock of where change needs to occur. But it can also be overwhelming.  It can also be very disheartening. Failure doesn’t feel good. But we can learn from it, grow from it. 

We may want the stepchildren to like and respect us even be grateful. We may want the ex to be appreciative, unselfish, and to grow up. The catch with that? When we put the focus outside of ourselves- wanting others to change their behaviour- we are likely to end up feeling disappointed, angry, guilty, resentful and stuck.  

2016 is your year!  Make it about you. 

I know that sounds selfish but really if you are doing well stress is handled better, you have a clearer head and that is a positive impact for all of your family members. You become a better, happier mom; a better, happier spouse; a better, happier YOU!

While reflection and introspection is good and necessary to take stock of where change needs to occur; guilt resentment, anger, and lamenting doesn’t support movement forward. Even if its’ baby steps keep moving forward.

Promise yourself a new year where you are taking care of yourself, setting healthy boundaries, communicating clearly, strengthening your intimate relationship, and getting what you want AND need.

So the next question you ask is: That sounds amazing! But how do I do all of THAT?

First set your priority: focusing on yourself!

Advice on being a stepmum

Advice on being a stepmom – don’t forget to look after yourself

Start by taking care of yourself. It may sound hard but it doesn’t have to be hard. It really can be as simple as 10 minutes a day. Take some head space and some heart space.

Create a space for you and you alone. Or take a drive, have a bubble bath with a glass of wine,  walk with your dog, do a 10 minute meditation, do your no holds barred dance listening to something upbeat, try the new fad adult colouring books, bake some cookies, watch an episode of your favourite comedy show (I personally really like Big Bang Theory- it appeals to my nerdiness!)

Learn to set healthy boundaries (FYI setting healthy boundaries is part of taking care of yourself) – decide what you will and will not accept regarding behaviour from your partner, behaviour from your stepkids, behaviour from his ex (yours too), behaviour from other people who think they can tell you your business but really have no place doing so!

Be clear about those limits and also be clear about what the consequences will be if they don’t respect your boundaries. THEN FOLLOW THROUGH on those consequences.

Communicating clearly – I love journaling or writing letters when I have something important to talk to my husband about and have a hard time telling him to his face. Or even if there’s something I feel particularly vulnerable about sharing I write it out. I then let it sit for a day or 2 then re-read it and rewrite it as necessary…then I read it to him.  Oh yes I do!

I seriously believe we make a lot of assumptions about how we think the other person will respond and based on that we decide that we won’t even bother. But trust me when I say that what YOU have to say, what you feel and what you want IS IMPORTANT!

Strengthening your intimate relationship – do you remember why you fell in love? 

Talk about that magic moment when things changed or that process of dating.  Reminisce and bring back those feelings of excitement.  Go back to the beginning: go on dates even if they are at home and after the kids are put to bed. Talk on the phone or sext each other, find time for intimacy- give him that knowing look or touch, the little secretive laughs, fan the flames! 

Let your husband know he still does it for you…laugh together, find time to make love, it really is the barometer of the relationship. Appreciate the small things and value each other!

If you follow these tips then you are well on your way to getting what you want and need. Want more tips?  Message me and we can look at ways that are specific to you needs.

And if all of these are too much then pick one or two and remember your worth then go out and OWN 2016!

My name is Ali Wilks (www.aliwilks.com)  and I have a BA in Psychology with a MSc in Human Ecology specializing in Family Studies and I am a certified stepfamily coach.

I have been working in Children’s Services since 1998 in Edmonton,  Alberta. I am currently a trainer on Edmonton’s Caregiver Training Unit providing classes for foster, kinship, and adoptive parents. These classes include building essential skills in raising children not born to them who present with special needs. I am a stepmother of 3 adult children (with a couple of grandkids too)  and the birthmother of 2 beautiful girls.

aliwilks@xplornet.ca

www.facebook.com/stepbystepmom/

twitter.com/ali_wilks

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