For whatever reason, step-dad “burn out” does not appear to be a thing. I’m sure that it happens, but when women are thrust into parenting roles, the burnout rate is high. When I talk to other stepmoms, two emotions show up frequently: Overextended and resentful.
It is unfortunately bound to happen. Stepmoms often make it their duty to ensure that all family relationships are smooth. Since women are more likely to feel judged by the state of their homes, they take responsibility for the majority of domestic duties. Due to there being an expectation for women to be maternal, stepmoms throw themselves into parenting the best way they know how. They also feel judged by the behavior of their child and step-children, whether or not they have been able to be a disciplinarian yet. And then they burn out.
Self-care is important as a human, as a mom, and absolutely as a stepmom. Our role is thankless and questioned often- and if we don’t take care of ourselves, it is a breeding ground for resentment. So how do we take care of ourselves?
Find some step-mamas.
You need people who get it. People who have sat in courtrooms. People who have questioned this life they chose. People who know all the ins and outs of sharing custody. And these people – especially young Christian ones are hard to find. Guess what? You don’t even have to know these people in person! My best stepmom friend’s name is Emmy, and she lives in New Orleans. We met on the internet (because why not), and we are pen pals. She has a stepdaughter who is Nyra’s age, and we both love wine. Facebook stepmom support groups are definitely a thing, and you should utilize them. They will be a breath of fresh air that you didn’t even know you needed.
Do not let yourself be isolated.
And by this I mean, spend time with people who know nothing about blended life as well. Sometimes you will want to talk about anything but the drama that surrounds you, and these friends can give you that escape. You can talk about the latest episode of “This is Us” and complain about your husband not doing enough laundry. You will need this relief.
It’s so easy to let family chaos bleed over into every facet of your life. My husband and I have been married for barely a year, and there have been months where the fighting seemed relentless. One of our biggest issues was that I wanted to talk out (aka control) every potential situation. And I wanted to talk about it A LOT. My husband grew tired of this and started resisting any attempt for us to discuss stressful issues. This behavior created a dreadful cycle. Then, we finally changed something: we set times and dates to discuss stressful things, and all other time is off limits. My husband literally sends me a Google invitation called “Stressful conversations” for 9 am at Caribou Coffee. It helps me know that we are planning to discuss something and not let it slide, and it helps him that he doesn’t get blindsided by super heavy conversation.
Invest in things you love.
Do you love to paint? Have a favorite tv show that you love to binge watch? Do you love catching up with old friends? Do those things on purpose. Do whatever it is that makes your heart sing. Be “selfish” and allow yourself to take breaks. Grab a glass of wine, go upstairs, and shut your door. The house will in fact, not fall down. When I shut the door and do something that is just for me, my soul feels infinitely lighter. Because I cherish these moments where it is just ME, I am far better able to love and care for my family.
Don’t let yourself become overextended and resentful. The best way you can keep your family healthy is by investing in your own emotional and spiritual well-being. It rings true for mamas no matter what kind, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”