You’ve officially tied the knot with your husband and now you are settling into life as a wife… and stepmom. All of you are adjusting to life as a blended family. Now what?!
Maybe you were semi-seasoned and grew up in a blended family, so this will be a pinch. Or, Your parents are seasoned one-marriage pros and you have no idea what you just got yourself into.
First things first: Stepmomming ain’t easy! If you thought your life was going to be the next Hallmark Series, think again. There will be tremendous challenges but tremendous growth as well.
There are many opinions on how involved stepmothers should be. Many people, stepmothers included, believe it is best to remain out of the parenting situation altogether. I disagree in regards to my situation, but it’s different for everyone.
If you had a front row seat to the chaos, you may decide it’s best for everyone that you remain distant, at least for a time. But if your experience has been a graceful situation full of warmth and welcome, it would be odd to be removed from the day-to-day decisions. You don’t want to be disengaged but you don’t want to be high-conflict and cause drama either.
Anyway, I am simply here to share with you some of the things that helped us as a family adjust to our new life together. Each family dynamic is different, so you do you, stepmomma!
Blended Family Marriage Tips
1. Observing Your Blended Family
I hope you did this before you sealed the deal, but in case you are a smidge behind, you might want to sit back and see how the household operates. It’s best to watch before offering up your opinions or laying down new rules.
For us, we lived together before marriage so I quickly learned how my stepson and husband operated together. I also quickly noted where our family to-be could be a more solid and united unit. With that, I decided meal planning and family dinners were one of the most important things, so I took over that role. Both my husband and stepson were appreciative and willing to help, which made it easy and natural.
You can read about some of our favorite recipes on the blog.
2. Establishing Parental Boundaries in a Blended Family
This is a double-edged sword. You don’t want to come in guns-a-blazing as the new dictator, but you don’t want to be all willy-nilly with your decision making either.
Before you are put in any kind of disciplinary position, rules and expectations should be discussed between you and your husband. In addition, talk with your husband about your role as a disciplinarian.
Personally, we have the same “authority.” What we say goes and Nikolai knows and respects that. If one of us isn’t quite sure on the disciplinarian action, we talk it over before making a move. Your role as a parent should flow naturally.
3. Making Your Blended Family Better
One thing to remember, is your spouse was flying solo for quite some time. As you observe, notice where the family unit as a whole could be more organized and run more smoothly.
For us, it was meal planning each week and taking note of likes and dislikes when it came to food. After we got our meals down, we moved on to organizing our laundry days and coordinating drop offs for switching houses. Before we knew it, we had a well-oiled machine.
Here are some ways you can be a more organized family:
- Create a shared Google Calendar and mark your time with stepkids and any appointments or date nights planned.
- Make a weekly meal plan
- Designate days for laundry, grocery shopping and housework
We operate best when plans are laid and everything is in its spot. When laundry is done and meals are planned, we are capable of handling any mishaps through the week.
4. Making Time for Your Spouse
YES! Always make time for your spouse. Marrying your family (pun intended!) into one unit can be trying at times. Truth is, there’s not much of a honeymoon phase when an anklebiter is following you around, but altering that Hallmark ideal with real-life perspective will make you intentional with creating time for your spouse.
During this time, remind your husband about how thankful you are for all he does for the family. Send him words of affirmation! Remember, you are continually building on your lives together.
We schedule a date night at least once a month. We grab dinner and a few drinks and usually turn in a little early for snuggles and Netflix. Continuously nurturing the relationship will keep the homefires burning and the “honeymoon” phase present.
5. Making Time for Yourself as a Stepmom
This is a big one! When you make time for yourself, you are also making time for your husband and stepchild to bond.
Nikolai and Taras are big into “boy” movies with superheroes and military movies and that’s just not me! So, while they go and watch things blow up on the big screen, I get my pedicures. It works as a double-bonus as they get their male bonding time and I get my alone time. We all come back together refreshed and ready to enjoy our time together.
Mostly, I notice the need for this when Nikolai returns from his birth mom’s house. He’s itching to show off his new Lego creation or game. He wants to talk about ALL the things right when he gets home.
About this time, I suggest the boys do something fun over the weekend for the two of them.
If you have little ones of your own, this is a great time to suggest your husband bond with your kids. Take some time for yourself to recharge. I always return brand new!
Blending a family isn’t an easy task. It’s a new lifestyle and journey. What are some of your struggles with your family? Tell me in the comments or shoot me a private email.