Let Go of the Guilt

Five inches of snow fell in Central Arkansas yesterday. We rarely get to experience the fluffy white stuff so our town always enjoys a break from the routine when snow appears. You could find kids on every corner making snowmen, sledding down the biggest hill in town, and sipping hot chocolate around a fire.

I spent the day with the kids in the snow but kept feeling a nagging sensation I needed to be inside working toward my writing deadlines, tackling my to-do list, or checking off completed chores. I finally gave myself permission to enjoy the day, free of guilt, but it required an extra effort of self-talk.

Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we insist we must be perfect in all our efforts as a mom, stepmom, wife, employee, or volunteer? How do we change those negative messages of guilt that barrage us?

I think we create guilt by comparing ourselves to others. We see a family that appears to have it together all the time and wonder why our family continues to struggle. But what we often forget is that we compare how we feel on the inside what what we see on the outside. Read that statement again. Appearances don’t usually match reality.

Another easy way we create guilt is by assuming we must do everything the way the experts tell us.  I read an article recently on how to teach your children about money and as I finished it, I felt guilty. There were many things mentioned that we hadn’t done so I assumed we had done a poor job in teaching our older children about money, even though they’re managing their money well (most of the time, anyway).  

An important thing to remember is that every family is different. Particularly in stepfamilies, we can’t compare how we do things with how another family does it. Our children have influences from outside our home that we can’t control. We have to accept their input and the reality of their influence.

My stepson was never taken to church when he stayed at his Mom’s house. He lived there for three years during his adolescent years and had very little exposure to a Christian life. As a young adult, he rarely steps foot into a church and seems to have little regard for living for Christ. Although it saddens me, I refuse to feel guilty over it. My husband and I did our best to expose him to Christian principles and teach him how to walk with the Lord daily when he was in our home.

Some guilt can be good and convicts us of how to live. But too often, mothers and stepmothers, carry around unnecessary guilt. We beat ourselves up regularly for less than perfect parenting.

In my next post, I will offer a few more ideas on the subject.

What do you feel guilty about? What will you do to let go of self-defeating guilt?

Related Posts:

Living in Peace While Blending a Family

How Do You Find Balance?

Let Go and Let God


Holiday Tips for Stepfamilies – Balancing Your Time as You Consider What’s Important

My parents live out of state and visited for several days over the Thanksgiving holiday. We had a wonderful visit and I enjoyed our time together. But I was mindful of my tendency to focus on my to-do list during this busy season instead of simply relaxing and enjoying their company.

I don’t want to regret the way I spent my time when my children are gone from home and my parents have passed away. I want my loved ones to know they are important to me. I demonstrate that when I make time for them.

It’s easy to overload our schedule this time of year with shopping, Christmas parties, and other social events. But if we fail to leave time for our family, we neglect the most important item on our list.

Balancing our time includes saying no. We don’t have to go to every Christmas luncheon we are invited to or volunteer at every function we hear about. But it’s important to make time for our children’s Christmas programs and recitals.

Finding balance during the holiday season for me also includes taking time for exercise and watching what I eat. During the Thansksgiving break, I noticed a sluggishness toward the end of the week. I’m certain it was a result of too much sugar and not enough exercise during the break. So, I re-committed to healthier eating and consistent exercise to give me the energy I need for the holiday season.

As we begin the busiest month of the year, it’s a great time to evaluate our schedules and determine what’s important to us. We are given once chance to live each day. I don’t want to look back with regret. I want to look forward with anticipation. How about you?

Is your schedule overloaded? How will you find balance?

Related Posts:

Holiday Tips for Stepfamilies: Live One Day at a Time

How Do You Find Balance?

Setting Goals and Your Stepfamily

Holiday Tips for Stepfamilies – Live One Day at a Time

“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but only empties today of its strength.” Charles Spurgeon

When emotions are high during the holiday season, it’s easy to worry about the upcoming visitation or encounter with difficult family members. But if we consider each day a gift that will not be experienced again, we will make each day count.

Living one day at a time as a stepparent means we wipe the slate clean every morning of previous hurts and offenses, starting new for the day with a positive attitude. We don’t burden ourselves with concerns of tomorrow that may not happen anyway, but stay focused on what we can do today to positively impact those around us.

We can remind ourselves that God will never give us more than we can handle if we choose to meet only the responsibilities of today, not yesterday or tomorrow.

If past holidays have been difficult, we may project that the next one will be also. But we determine what kind of celebration we will have and whether we will allow others to interrupt our joy. We can learn from our past and do things differently, while choosing not to place blame or wallow in self-pity.

I love the quote, “Experience is not what happens to you, it is what you do with what happens to you.”

Determine to make every day of this holiday season a special one. Focus on what you can change and let go of what you can’t. Begin today with a renewed commitment to live one day at a time.

“Therefore, do not wory about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

Are you facing unusual challenges this season? Will you strive to live one day at a time as you meet those challenges?

Related Posts:

Holiday Tips for Stepfamilies: Let Go of Unrealistic Expectations

Healthy Stepparenting: Take Care of Yourself Physically, Spiritually and Emotionally

Back to School Tips, Part Two – Evaluating our Schedule

With the beginning of a new school year always comes a busy schedule. I was thinking about how to change my dreaded outlook of the new school year by wondering what I could eliminate from our schedule. Since our youngest daughter is beginning her senior year of high school there are many things on the calendar already that I can’t change.

I am a strong believer in evaluating our commitments regularly and considering if we need to change/add/delete any of them. For example, my husband was asked recently to consider another commitment at church  The program is a valuable ministry within our church. But when he asked my opinion of it, we began listing  his other commitments for the Fall. Adding one more thing to his agenda didn’t seem like a good idea.

As we look at ways to help our stepchildren have a successful school year, we need to consider our schedules. Our family must be our primary ministry. There are a lot of wonderful activities to be involved in, but when we have children at home, they must be our first priority.

I am reminded of some wise words from Christian psychologist, Dr. James Dobson. “I wish parents wouldn’t commit all of their energy to the business of living, holding nothing in reserve for the challenge of raising their kids. The routine stresses of raising an adolescent can be overwhelming. Someone within the family must reserve the time and energy to cope with parenting challenges.”

Our role as stepparents is even more demanding, mentally and emotionally, than that of a biological parent,  If we give all of our energy to outside commitments and demanding careers, what do we draw from to deal with the inevitable crises and unexpected irritants that will surely come our way?

As a new school year begins, it’s a perfect time to evaluate our schedule. If we’re intentional with our  commitments, we’ll have more time and energy for our stepparenting roles, allowing us the chance to help our stepchildren achieve greater success at school.

How do you Find Balance?

“This holiday week-end has had too many commitments for me, ” I told my husband as we were walking into a church service Sunday evening that required another piano commitment on my part. I usually enjoy the extra music that goes along with 4th of July festivities but since I have taken on the additional role of a piano accompanist at a second church, the demands get overwhelming at times.

And then throw in a 5K event in our hometown my husband was in charge of, out of town company, two separate firework events we attended, and a slew of teen-agers at our house every time I turned around looking for food and a place to sleep, and you find me completely exhausted at the end of it.

I have found my life out of balance on several occasions. When you live life as a blended family (and have a bunch of kids like we do), you can easily end up with too many obligations on your plate. So, here are a few suggestions to help create a balanced schedule:

1. Say NO unless it is important to you or your family and provides meaning for you. There are a lot of great activities we can be involved in but if we want to simplify our schedule, we must learn to say no. We will have plenty of time to enjoy other activities when our kids are grown.

2. Eat right and include regular exercise in your routine. Most of us know how to eat and are well aware of the need to exercise, but just don’t do it. However, when we take care of ourselves physically, we are more likely to make good choices with our priorities and have more energy to take care of our commitments.

3. Get adequate rest. Don’t skimp on your sleep. That is usually the first thing to go when life gets hectic, but it will create problems in other areas of life. Recent studies have shown that lack of sleep can negatively affect the hormones that regulate our appetite, leading to weight gain. Adequate sleep results in clearer thinking and sharper judgment.

4. Maintain a spiritual journey to bring wholeness and harmony to your being. Find an active Bible study group, attend church regularly, join a prayer group, or use personal study time to grow spiritually. Walking a spiritual road can have a significant effect on our well-being at every level.

5. Include leisure time in your schedule. Coffee with a girlfriend, date night with our husband, or simply a walk around the block can create the perfect environment to recharge our batteries when we began to head toward overload.

We have to be intentional with our time and responsibilities if we want to maintain balance. Life is too short to fall victim to busyness. We all have the same number of hours in a day but how we choose to spend them is our choice.

Do you feel out of balance? What healthy choices will you make to put your schedule in balance?