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It takes a lot of grit, determination, and support to be a stepmom.
Repeatedly being rejected by our stepkids can be one of the most difficult settings to be in. No matter how hard we try, or what we do, it never seems to be enough. To make matters worse, our partner comes out smelling like roses (our perception), while we feel like sh*t (our reality).
Our feelings run from frustration and anger, to uncertainty and ambiguity, to resentment and mistrust. And as much as we’d like to hide from those who are the cause of these experiences, as social beings, we need to find ways to cope. We need to build our resiliency reserve—the antidote to stress and anxiety.
Here are seven ways to build resiliency:
1. Set healthy boundaries.
Healthy boundaries help us to have a sense of control over our life and our home. We need to communicate those boundaries with our spouse or partner if we want them to be respected. Don’t forget to talk about the follow-through, otherwise boundaries are useless.
2. Gain confidence.
It’s not about being perfect or making everyone happy; it’s about doing our best and realizing that no one has it all figured out, all the time.
Make a list of 10 things that you do well. For instance, I drink my eight cups of water each day, I make delicious meals, and I’m a good listener. When you feel down on yourself or doubt your abilities as a stepmom, take a second to think about the different things you’re good at, and remind yourself that you are not alone in this struggle.
3. Find friends.
Many times in my role as a stepmom, I felt like throwing in the towel. The kids often tried my patience and I was regularly on edge with their mother, day in and day out. I’ve found that talking with other stepmoms has helped me learn how to be more resilient in these tough times.
During my interview with bestselling author, Wednesday Martin, she talked about finding our squad—women who understand what we’re going through. With the holidays just around the corner, start planning on who will be a part of your crew to help you get through one of the most challenging times of the year.
4. Keep going.
Even on days when you feel like quitting, know that you’re not alone. We’re often faced with the challenge of juggling our own lives with those of our stepkids and partner. It’s common for a stepmother to feel like she is fighting an uphill battle that she can’t win. When this happens, it’s important not to give up. Instead, continue to establish a connection with your family while remembering that there will be bumps in the road.
5. Remember the good times.
Remind yourself of all of the success stories from your experience as a stepmom. I know you might have a hard time finding any, but I promise you, there are definitely a few somewhere. Write them down on a sheet of paper, or download and complete the resiliency sheet from my website.
6. Build your own life.
One of the most difficult aspects of being a stepmom is balancing your own needs with those of your spouse and stepkids. Stepmoms often feel as if they never get enough time for themselves and feel overwhelmed with all the responsibility and household work.
The first thing to do is take some time for yourself—you deserve it. Spend an hour by yourself doing something you enjoy, like shopping, reading, or watching your favorite show. It’s important to stay healthy and happy to be the best stepmom you can be.
7. Talk about it.
Another way to work through the difficult times is by talking about them with your partner or close friends. Sometimes, just getting it out on the table can make it easier to deal with challenging situations.
After 31 years of being a stepmother, I’ve realized that it’s not about being perfect or making everyone happy. It’s about doing your best and realizing that no one is ever perfect. It will take time for you to adjust to this new role, but the more effort you put in, the more confidence you’ll gain. Your children may need some help adjusting as well—this transition will be infinitely easier if you stay calm and act like an adult.
In other words, people with resilience are not only able to bounce back from hardships, but they also have tools and support that help them get back on track.