By Mary T. Kelly, MA
Stepmom, now is the time to prepare for the long weeks ahead. Work with your partner, in the most realistic ways possible, to manage the “overwhelm” that’s likely to occur when the schedules and routines of everyone in your stepfamily home are thrown into disarray, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Without making this discussion solely about your stepkids, structure a daily plan everyone can live with.
Structure is a stepmom’s best friend. Kids also thrive when they know what to expect from day to day. Remember that you’re all experiencing the same major life event, so expect bouts of fear and disruption. To minimize that, intentionally plan time in which everyone can:
- Work or study independently
- Exercise for fitness & fun
- Fit some playtime in
- Enjoy time alone
- Quietly coexist
Here are a few other important tips to keep in mind (some, quite literally) as you face this challenging time in world history. They’re primarily aimed at helping you zero in on your mind/body connection. You can even modify them for use by your partner and your stepkids. Or simply share this list and let them decide which strategies might be helpful to them.
Take Care of Your Mind. Guided meditation apps—like Headspace or Ten Percent Happier—can do wonders to relax a frazzled stepmom. Very doable, 10-min. spurts of meditation time help calm the soul, heart, mind and body.
Distract Yourself. Whatever helps occupy your mind, do it. That could be Netflix (“Love Is Blind” is fun to watch), Amazon Prime, YouTube, books you’ve been meaning to read, etc. Have at it! Superficial distractions can be both therapeutic and calming.
Stay Connected. Isolation is not your friend, so get creative. Stay connected to the people you love via phone, FaceTime, social media, etc. Skype-ing with grandparents is a great way to entertain kids while making grandparents feel special! Looking to connect with other stepmoms? Join StepMom Magazine’s private group.
Mind Your Body. We irrationally believe that taking care of ourselves is indulgent and selfish. Studies show that when we don’t take mental and physical care of ourselves we’re less productive and engage in more conflict. So, it’s selfish to not take care of you! Now’s the time to do yoga, stretch, meditate—not increase sugar or alcohol intake, which make us feel worse.
Get Outside. Nature is always your friend. Take advantage of the great outdoors as much as you’re able. This is a great time for kids to step away from their devices and get back to the basics of playing outside. Wide open spaces are one of the safest places to be right now. [Editor’s Note: Keep scrolling to read Part One and Part Three of this blog series.]
If being a stepmom is harder than you imagined, you’re not alone. We’re THE HOW-TO GUIDE for any woman who dates, lives with, or is married to someone who has kids. Join us today. We can help.
MARY T. KELLY, MA, is offering 15- and 30-min. stress reduction and survival sessions for stepmoms at a reduced rate during these challenging times. For details, visit her website at RealStepfamilies.com or email her directly via Mary@RealStepfamilies.com.