Thursday, March 28, 2013

Facing Little Ones' Fears About Your Marriage

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For the first time this week I shared with my husband the fears his daughter has shared with me several times about what would happen if we didn't stay together and got a divorce. I think that would do the sweet girl in. She often talks about how horrible it would be if she lost me. She's seen her mom go through boyfriend after boyfriend so she knows that relationships don't always last. In her mom's world no one stays together, everyone breaks up.

When I told my husband this, it caused him a lot of grief. He hadn't even thought about her worrying about this. It immediately took him back to his own childhood sadness as he watched his parents' marriage fall apart and break up their family.

It gave us both a push to make sure we model a healthy relationship for our sweet girl. That we do all we can do to help her feel safe, loved and cared for in our home. Becoming a stepparent isn't just marrying a nice man or woman and taking on some responsibility for their kids. It's making a decision to stand as an example to a small child about what a good relationship can look like and to help them see that it is possible for them when they grow up too.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Factor In Recovery Time For Yourself

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My plea today is that you will begin to schedule in downtime after very stressful family events. This would include court hearings, ugly interactions with the other parent or with the stepkids, or dealing with financial and other major stresses. Some days you will be able to plan this in advance, please do it. For the days you can't plan it in, push everything else aside and make that time. It is incredibly important.

We have found that the day after court hearings we are completely emotionally and physically depleted. After devastatingly bad hearings it has taken us days to recover. You may want to plan on that and make sure you take time that day for quiet and calm. Often for several days after problems with "The Mother" it will take me time to get the stress levels down. Anticipate that the stress levels will rise at any time and then make sure you take time to lower them in any way that works for you. Maybe it's exercise, maybe getting to bed a little earlier so your body has time to recover and repair, or a talk with a good friend, a long walk in a beautiful spot, an hour sitting on the beach.

Find out what works for you and use it to your advantage. There is very little in life that is more stressful than fighting over the well-being of your child and worrying about your future. Make sure you safeguard your health and well-being, especially as the stepmamma. You take on a massive amount of stress that is generally out of your making. It can be very easy for it to overtake your life. You must protect and safeguard your own life and your well-being. Take the time, make it your number one priority. Spend less time fussing about things out of your control and make yourself your top priority. Get plenty of sleep, eat healthy clean foods that will keep your body functionally optimally and leave you with high energy.

I'll say it again TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. It is a must if you are going to survive stepmomhood and you home and marriage are to survive. It's not selfish, it a blessing to everyone, most importantly to yourself.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Favorite Book Chapter By Wayne W. Dyer

Wanted to pass along a favorite piece of inspiration today. When I am feeling out of sorts I often go back and read this chapter from Dr. Wayne W. Dyer's book The Power of Intention. He in fact suggests reading this last chapter A Portrait Of A Person Connected To The Field Of Intention first before the rest of the book. It's a portrait of what life could be like if you are connected to your authentic self and living in the present moment with intention.

It is a beautiful guide for where you can be in your life if you live in peace and inspiration aplenty to motivate you in that direction. When you are so self-solid that no one outside of you can rock your boat you have a power that few achieve and all are seeking. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Remembering Simple Actions That Restore Calm

My little one has not been sleeping well this week. This is very unusual. She has always been a fantastic sleeper. But she's been waking me up multiple times every night saying she had a dream or she can't sleep. It's really been taking a toll on me because I'm not getting any quality sleep. She's doing okay because she's already sleeping four to five hours before she starts her middle of the night routine then still sleeps another 4 after she finally falls asleep again.

Last night on our way home from an event, already 20 minutes past her bedtime, I decided to take a detour and take a walk at one of her favorite places in our neighborhood.  It is the grounds of a religious building and a very serene and calming place to wander. We used to take her there at least once a week when she was little but in the past few months with an earlier school bedtime and her now spending weekends with her mother, I haven't taken here there.

A stroke of inspiration made me think maybe this would help her calm down and sleep well. I thought too that maybe keep her up a little later would make her just a little more tired and keep her sleeping through the night. So we went and we walked and she was amazingly calm and peaceful as we wandered and when we left. She calmly went to bed and she slept through the night.

It was a good lesson for me for a few reasons. First, listen to my parental inspiration. Second, remember what worked in the past that you might have let slip. Third, don't be afraid to break out of the usual routine in unusual circumstances.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

No One Ever Told Me My Feelings Would Get Hurt

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One thing I had no idea about when I stepped into the world of parenting was how easy it would be for my stepkid to hurt my feelings. Who knew growing up that our parents had feelings and that our disrespect or unkind words might actually wound them?

I was never very disrespectful or rude growing up, but I can tell you that I don't know that I ever concerned myself with my parents feelings other than to avoid them feeling mad at me. I've been amazed at how easily a small child can wound me by the way she says things, by disrespecting me, ignoring me when I talk to her or embarrassing me.

It's another little place where a stepparent has to learn to be the grown up. It's easy to be a little more hurt I think when you've made the sacrifice to take on this child who is not your own biological child. It's a big sacrifice to give up on your dreams of starting a family with just your future spouse, only to find out he's already in a family and you're going to join that family. Only you really understand the magnitude and depth of sacrifice you've made to give you your dream and create a new dream for your life together. So then when the stepkids step on your feelings it can really hurt.

I'm learning to get over my ruffled feathers more quickly and not take it so personally. These are kids we're dealing with after all. We need to teach them appropriate behavior but sometimes it's totally appropriate to just let things roll off our backs and get on with life. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Does Your Face Light Up When They Arrive

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I remember many times Oprah Winfrey talking about how all people want is for your eyes to light up when they enter a room. I think she was quoting Maya Angelou. I have thought about that a lot. Some of my very favorite people are people whose face lights up when I enter a room. They make everyone feel special, cared about and appreciated just as they are.

All children, no matter the age, appreciate seeing your face light up when they enter the room. Imagine what it can do for a stepchild/stepmom relationship if they feel your eyes genuinely light up every time they enter your home. It will break down walls, dissolve fears, warm hearts and create lasting relationships.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

If There's Still Time, Rethink Destroying The Family

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This is a plea to parents who have not yet separated or divorced but you are seriously considering it. Please read this first and thoughtfully reconsider for your children's sake. One of the saddest things I regularly see is watching kids being traded back and forth between parents. When I go to pick up our little one it is at a police station which is a very popular places for drop offs and pick ups to happen. While I sit there and wait I am surrounded by car after car doing the same thing. And it is excruciating to watch little kids being traded back and forth week after week.

Some cry, some scream. Many just walk with drooped shoulders, heads down. You can feel their loyalties being torn between two sides sometimes. You can feel the disconnect, the sadness, the damage. You also see pain and sadness and desperation on the faces of parents now forced to only spend part of the week with their kids, trading them back and forth with a spouse they can't possibly stand anymore.

I will never forget the words of a dear friend who divorced his wife long after his children were grown. He said, "If I had known the damage our divorce would do to our kids, I never would've done it." This is a man with grown children. One can only imagine how much more devastating it is for children under the age of 18 who don't understand why or what is happening to their world.

There are very legitimate reasons for divorce. Among them I consider abuse, addiction and adultery. But many times families are begun without proper thought and consideration. Many times they are broken up in exactly the same way. I want to stand up for all these hurting children of divorce and say think twice before you marry and think twice before you divorce. Don't put your children through any additional trauma at your hands. Your kids will suffer enough just growing up in the world around them which is challenging enough. Do everything you can to avoid hurting your kids and causing them additional suffering. Don't divorce out of convenience or because you're not happy. It's time to put your kids happiness at the forefront of your life. IF they are happy, you will be happy. If they are sad, you will never be happy.