They needed help.
Several years ago, I spoke with two stepmoms who were covered up with too much to do and too little time to do it. They were trying to do it all by themselves.
With kids at home and constant household duties, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and underappreciated as a stepparent. Add working outside the home and you can have a recipe for “Woe is Me!” served with a side of “No one cares how I feel!”
So, where do we find help? The first place to consider is our spouse and children. For some unknown reason, society has dictated that women are primarily responsible for household chores. However, if we’re working full-time and trying to manage the household by ourselves, we will drown; taking care of our family is a full-time job by itself!
After staying home with our kids for many years, I returned to work. I had been accustomed to doing most of the chores at home because I was home more than my husband. But suddenly, I found myself suffocating from too much to do. I was irritable with my kids and angry toward my husband.
I expected him to figure out that I needed some help.
Finally one day, with tears spilling down my face, I admitted that I was tired of being Supermom and needed someone else to pick up the slack.
We held a family meeting and talked about what needed to change.
We split up the chores and asked everyone to do their part to keep the household running smoothly. It took several reminders to get it going but we finally managed to get things working on an agreeable schedule.
In my book, Stepparenting With Grace: Encouragement for Blended Families I have a chapter titled “Taking Care of Yourself.”
We can try to be Super Stepmom, but it won’t work. Or we can try and do everything ourselves and we KNOW that doesn’t work.
But whatever we do, we must find time to practice self-care and part of the self-care process is asking for help from those in our family.
As stepparents, we cannot afford to expend all our time and energy working inside and outside the home. When we reach the end of our rope, the relationship with our stepchildren suffers. I heard a comment from Ron Deal, founder of Successful Stepfamilies, that resonates with me.
“Stepparents must shave off their rough edges. Kids will love an unlikeable parent, but rarely even like an unlikeable stepparent.”
When I have too much to do, I become an unlikeable stepparent. I’m quick to snap at my stepkids and grunt at my husband. Therefore, I’m constantly aware of my need to discern what activities and extracurricular events I will be involved in. I know when to ask for help if I begin to feel overwhelmed.
How do you keep your household running smoothly? Do you need to ask for help? How do you practice self-care?