Stressed, burned-out and dreading the holidays? What’s a stepmom to do? Keeping yourself sane and healthy is a gift you can give yourself this holiday season. Crawl out from underneath the covers and get ready to put your party shoes back on. You’ve got this!
1. Get realistic
No matter your perfect holiday planning–the dinner, the decorations, the gifts—one snarky gesture, one rude comment, or one run-in with the ex, can snowball into a cavalcade of holiday-gone-wrong. Unfortunately, stepmoms know this drill all too well. Yes, the kid-shuffling, overindulgent gift-giving and co-parenting angst can be cause for concern but it’s not worthy of ruining an entire occasion. Stop expecting perfection. Start embracing reality.
“Keep Calm and Carry On,” that popular British motto topped with a crown and emblazoned on everything from coffee cups to t-shirts to totes is not to be underestimated. The Brits were on to something when they coined that phrase. Often, it’s the small things that get us off track and keep us there.
However, the holidays are about enjoying the company of family and friends, sharing in experiences and making memories together. It’s impossible to think that you will be able to make and keep everyone happy all of the time. You are dealing with a family after all; exes, in-laws and stepchildren included. Expect unhappy moments. Expect downtrodden faces. Expect emotional moments.
And then, keep calm and carry on.
2. Connect with your partner
Remember that guy you married? He still exists. Somewhere deeply hidden by Christmas cards, gift lists, wrapping paper and ribbon, he’s still there. If you’ll recall, he took some vows; specifically, for better for worse and what not. He’s not the enemy. In fact, he’s likely waiting for you to come find him and ask for help.
It’s important during this time of hurried schedules and frantic deadlines to connect with your spouse. You have created a family together. You depend upon one another. You help keep one another sane. Emotional support is a dire necessity when you feel stressed and anxious. Look to the person who promised to provide it for you. Then, do the same for him.
Whether it’s a morning cup of joe, an impromptu shopping trip for the kids or a full-fledged date night in the midst of the hustle and bustle, it is a commitment to your marriage and your partner. No gift is more important than that.
3. Make time for you
The active verb in the sentence above is “make.” No one else will create time for you to engage in activities that are enjoyable and restful. It’s up to you. Put it on your schedule.
Making time for you, otherwise known as self-care, is not self-indulgence. It’s the maintenance of your own well-being. Just as workers take holidays and vacations, so should stepmoms. No, it may not be a week in the tropics or a skiing vacation in Switzerland but it should be a time to relax and recharge. Maybe it’s twenty minutes on Twitter, an afternoon pedicure or drinks with girlfriends. The goal is to reenergize and refresh. When you are in a better frame of mind, your family reaps the rewards.
Also, find time with your people. Yes, you have people. Remember your friends, your co-workers, your gym crew, your stepmom mentor? We all have people. They are our cheerleaders, our allies, our cohorts. They encourage and uplift. They laugh, they cry, they listen, they pray. You need these people more than ever. They were, are and will continue to be your support system in the trenches of stepfamily life. Don’t underestimate your need for them, especially this time of year when you are dealing with squabbling stepchildren, co-parenting dilemmas and visitation schedules.