Choose your happiness.

One of the things that I have noticed with most stepparents I talk to, is that their problems aren’t usually with the stepchild, per se.  Their problem is the way their significant other treats his/her biological child.  Often, they talk to them like they are infants.  In a non-blended family, I’m sure this also occurs, but isn’t as irritating, because hey, that’s your baby too!  When this infantilization is connected to a child that you are already trying to fit into your new lifestyle and adjust to, it can be annoying, frustrating, and for many new spouses, almost a deal breaker.  If you don’t recognize it, you can subconsciously internalize an animosity for the child that is truly not their fault.  There are a few ways to help with this:

1.  Take a deep breath and realize it’s a super small issue in the grand scheme of life.  

You are with the person you loved and wanted to spend your life with.  You went into this relationship willingly and presumably you knew the strings attached.  We all have strings attached.  So this blended family is a tremendous exercise in compromise.  It will be a struggle, but there are places for you to vent.  Like here!

2.  Spend time with the stepchild.

Spending time together will build a relationship that is lacking in the first place.  You are given an instant family without the parent bonding time you get to develop with your own child over the course of their lives.  Doing little things for the child will also connect you and make you start to feel differently about your relationship.  Make cupcakes for them for school.  Make their favorite food.  Wash their blanket in fabric softener all fresh and clean and have it all set up for them when they are ready for bed-whatever will make that child/teen happy.  Discover what they like and indulge them a bit.  For example, my stepson loves Angry Birds.  I made special Angry Bird magnets for Valentine’s Day to put in his special treat bags for his class.  I felt good about it, he was excited and it was a fun memory to share.  It’s not always easy…but it helps.  It’s part of what I call “creating the mindset you desire”.  I wish to be a sweet, loving stepmom…so I act accordingly.  The hardest part is that with your own child, you often can say what you feel.  You can punish them or redirect them.  With a stepchild, that is a very touchy issue.  In our home, I leave that to my husband.  I tell him if I think something needs to be addressed and he deals with it later in a way that we both see fit. A stepparent has a difficult enough role.  It’s best if they just get to be more of a confidante, friend, mentor, role model-rather than a disciplinarian.

3. Every single day, spend some time alone with your spouse.  

Even if it’s only twenty minutes watching a show before bed, make a routine that is yours.  As your kids get older, you can tell them that they need to be in their rooms by that time (for us it is 9 pm) and settled down.  They can be reading, watching TV, drawing or whatever, but they will also grow to respect that it is time for you two.  Your relationship being solid is good for everyone in the family.  No one wants turmoil, anger and tension.  A nice routine is to have a little glass of wine or cup of tea each night before bed and chat theneveryone goes to bed happy.  We always stop what we are doing and head to our great room with a small glass of wine and watch an episode of one of our favorite shows before heading up to bed.  It’s one of our favorite times of day.

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Photo from http://www.stepfamilyrochester.org/cartoons.html

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Branching out the blog.

So it’s been awhile, right?  But I’ve been pondering what to do with this blog.  Although I still strongly identify with the single mamas, I have been successfully part of a blended family for about five years now.  I am a full-time stepmother of my stepson, as my husband has full physical custody and of course have full-custody of my girl.  Over the past five years, I have listened to others tell me how I need to write a book about blended families.  They have come to me with their problems and challenges and asked for advice.  Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been easy for me, but I think we’ve got a good handle on this whole dynamic and it’s taken a lot of research and compromising.  🙂  

So, are any of you interested in a blended family blog with tips, hints, stories and guest bloggers? Please comment and give me some of your super helpful feedback!  

Name change?

I’m going to start regular posting again, as I’ve had some people mention that they are having a hard time finding a blog that deals with blended families.  My question for all of you is…should I change the blog title from “Former Single Mommy”?  If so, any suggestions?  Catchy of course, is always good.

I think we’ve done a good job with our “blending”, now that we are three years into it, I feel like I can discuss it much better and with more detail.  I do have to say that the road isn’t easy or for the meek.  It’s been a very interesting transition, one that I am excited to share with all of you.  And hopefully, it will help those of you who are just entering this new life, to feel less alone and to have a place to vent.

For my single mom friends…I still want to remain part of your chats as well, since that part of my life is very dear to me.  And as those with blended families will assure you, once a single mom, always a single mom.  🙂  I definitely have my own parenting thing going on, in addition to the blended situation.

For those unfamiliar with my dynamic, I married a man who has full-custody of his eight year old son.  The son does go to his mother’s quite often.  Every other weekend and more frequently on school vacations.  More on how this came to be, later.

Roll call…anyone else out there?