Mother’s Day Advice for Stepmoms

We know from experience that, for many stepmoms, Mother’s Day can be one of the hardest days of the year to handle gracefully. Little acknowledgement or recognition for all you do for your stepfamily year ’round can compound this. Add in the mother of all holidays and you may wind up feeling especially sad or unappreciated.

On an internal level, of course, we’re fully aware that we’re not our stepkids’ parents. Yet, we still want to be celebrated. Our first suggestion is to revel in the quiet knowledge that you do what’s right because it’s the right thing to do. Sure, we know: Being recognized is nice. But if you’re not? These “5 Tips” will help:

Stop pretending.
If Mother’s Day is difficult for you, shift your perspective and your approach. Don’t pretend that your feelings don’t exist. Don’t tell your partner “it’s OK” you were overlooked or that you “don’t care that much.” Be honest. That doesn’t mean rattling off a laundry list of things you do for your stepkids. It means being vulnerable enough to create moments of intimacy that’ll benefit you both. It can also mean being honest with yourself, identifying how you’re feeling and why.

 Celebrate yourself.
The contents of your heart and the way you conduct yourself are more important than what anyone else thinks of you. As a woman and a stepmom, your worth and identity aren’t defined by or dependent on your marital or maternal status. (Read that again.) They’re yours to define. This weekend and always, know that you’re enough and that what you do matters; not just today but every day. Use this occasion to celebrate you, spending time and energy making yourself feel special.

Do something fun!
Wanna know how to make the most of an otherwise difficult day? Hatch a plan that sounds like fun and leave room for spontaneity. Do all sorts of things which bring you joy! Give yourself permission to plan the day around your interests—going it alone or partnering up. Sleep in. Eat your favorite foods. Practice yoga. Read or do crossword puzzles. Have a glass of wine. Take a bubble bath. Take a hike. Do anything and everything your heart desires.

Don’t go it alone.
Managing ourselves and our expectations is easier when we’re willing to accept advice from other stepmoms who have been there, done that for years. Now is the time to call that stepmom friend who understandsand never judgeshow you’re feeling. Don’t have any in-person stepmom gal pals? The StepMom Magazine private forum is available to subscribers 24/7/365. Find a thread that resonates with you. Or start a new one!

Help a sister out.
Mother Teresa wasn’t anybody’s mother, yet she’s celebrated far and wide! If the mother of all holidays has you feeling left out, consider reaching out to someone who’d appreciate your kindness. Let another woman (any woman) know that you admire her and why. Write her a note. Call her. Invite her to lunch. Helping others is an act of healing. So, pay it forward, stepmom. It’ll make her day (and yours) a little brighter!

Whether or not anyone else says or acknowledges it, you’re an incredible woman. To accept a job that offers little security, few accolades and no promise of unconditional love—while also managing the inherent complexities of stepfamily life—proves that you’re one strong, brave … and, among other things, kickass stepmom!

Don’t let Mother’s Day get you down.
Get the guide:
Stepmom Guide to Mothers Day






18 thoughts on “Mother’s Day Advice for Stepmoms”

  1. This is such good advice to stay above the thoughtless comments or omissions that even the well-meaning can make.

  2. And remember, anyone can surprise you in a good way if you are open to it. Anyone. My three step kids got me a Mother’s Day gift and their mom went out of her way to get it to me. There you go.

  3. Great post. Thank you. from an Other Mother 🙂
    @bonusmomof3 love your reminder in the comment too. Always be open so surprises and love.

  4. I would never do it again if I knew what I know now! It’s very difficult and very hard on my children. There is never a balance, and it’s never fair. I feel like my kids are always on the back burner, and I’m just a dirty pot! Never again! And my husband is actually one of the good ones! It’s just too tough!!

  5. That’s true. In my opinion we are a special kind of mom! I am a childless stepmom and for me it does not matter what people think about it, because in my heart I know that my stepsons (twins) are my sons….and they’ll be forever. I love them!!!
    Every weekend, when I put them on bed, I say: “aunt Juli will take care of you forever and ever”…after that I always receive a big hug and lots of kisses!!! That is enough for me! 🙂

    Happy Mother’s day to all of us!!!! 🙂

  6. My husband and I married when his kids were teenagers — and they still are. I’m pretty sure that even if I weren’t a stepmother, the rewards would be few and far between at these ages. Remember that kids aren’t always grateful for the people in their lives. As they get older, it’s more likely that they will recognize the good things and people they have had the chance to experience. Or so I hope!! 🙂

    1. My husband has two teenagers as well. I completely agree with you! I think in the long run our efforts, pain and everything we add to their lives will not only be acknowledged but appreciated.

  7. I detest this day. My now grown stepkids, who I have known since they were 3 & 6, have been compelled to choose “sides” by an unstable mom, and that is a position no kid should ever be in.

    Even now that they are young adults, I am apparently invisible to them. If I had known how much sacrifice and relentlessly difficult work, physically & emotionally, we’re to go into step-parenting, I doubt I would have chosen it.

    Today I have a solid marriage, since my husbands child’s have been out of the home, but it has come at huge cost, literally. It’s been a difficult month; I had cancer surgery, a birthday, and this day…. I know everything is temporary. Good thing.

  8. Love this! The past few weeks have been exceptionally hard for me and my family because my step son has been going through a lot. This is just what I needed to brighten my day and get through this Mothers day!

  9. Wow, this almost made me tear up in my office when I read this. As a 27 year old step mother of 2 and I myself have lost my own mother, this article was just what I needed to hear!

  10. We celebrate Step Mom day the weekend after. This gives my step daughters a chance to pamper me as their step mom. I love it because it gives me the wonderful feeling of my own day to celebrate me as a step mom and what I do for my family

  11. Your article is okay, but misses the MOST important factor in a stepmother being recognized on Mother’s Day: the children’s father!

    I never expected to have my stepchildren on that day, nor did I EXPECT them to do anything special for me. Although they had a difficult relationship with their bio mother – my husband had full custody and I was a stay-at-home mom – we always encouraged their connection to her.

    When they were young, I made sure they did something special for her for their visit on Mother’s Day. At first they said they felt bad they wouldn’t be with me, but I told them it was okay. I said, “EVERY day is Mother’s Day for me, because you’re with me!” And luckily, I meant it.

    For me, the person to recognize and honor and celebrate my commitment to raising my stepkids was their father, my husband.

    While your stepchildren are with their mother, what a PERFECT time to have a special time with the man you’re doing it all for?

    We stepmothers ARE NOT in this alone! Don’t let your partner take advantage of you, or discount your feelings and difficult circumstances.


  12. I don’t expect to be recognized as a biological parent but it is nice to be honored. It is a hard day especially when I wanted to be a parent.

  13. Stepmothers’ day is the following Sunday, I think! If the schedule gets to be stressful on Mother’s Day, make that your holiday. Or some other day. Just make it yours. 🙂 Hallmark won’t even notice, and you’ll be so much happier. ❤

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