Submitted by blended family expert, Shirley Cress Dudley
Being a stepparent is tough. Really tough. You want to keep your spouse happy, their kids happy, your kids happy (if you have some biological kids) and usually anyone else that comes within three feet of you happy. Admit it… you’re the one in the family that’s taking care of everyone – except yourself.
If you keep running and running, making sure that the whole world is happy and forget yourself, you are going to burn out and be worthless to your family and to yourself. If you truly want to love your family, you need to learn how to love yourself.
Time to Relax
How do you unwind from a busy day? Is it by taking a bath, reading a favorite novel, drinking a cup of herbal tea or a glass of red wine? Do you loosen up after a workout at the gym or a walk through the neighborhood? If you are saying to yourself that you don’t have time for these things, you’re wrong. You don’t have time to skip relaxing. Figure out what makes you calm and make room for these activities in your day. Even if you have to write them on your “to do” list, just do it.
Time to Rejuvenate
What gives you strength? Is it talking on the phone to a friend, going to a funny movie, or shopping at the mall? Figure out what activities you truly enjoy doing and make time to do these things, too. Figure out a time, at least 1-2 times a month, to schedule something special just for you.
Time for Respect
If you are always the one saying, “Go ahead, I’ll clean up” or “Don’t worry, I didn’t want any, you can have a second helping” or “You can have this seat. I can see if I turn my head, at an angle, around the really tall man in front of us”… How can others respect you if you don’t respect yourself?
At birthdays, when your family asks, “What can we get you?” – think about it, and give them a thoughtful list. You are a precious, unique person. Treat yourself that way! Do you want your daughter or son to treat themselves as someone who always comes in last place, gives up the good seats, the last bite of special food? No, of course not.
Time to Remember
Create a box, drawer or file to keep remembrances. Put cards (birthday, mother’s day, anniversary, thank-you notes) – anything you receive into this box. If someone gives you a compliment, write it down and put it in your remembrance box. Periodically, go through your box and read these compliments and praises.
Time for Yourself
You’re worth it! Make time for yourself. You will feel stronger physically, mentally and emotionally after you have regular times to renew your spirit, soul and body. Your family will appreciate a stronger, healthier, and happier you.
Shirley Cress Dudley is a licensed professional counselor with a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Counseling, and a master’s degree in Education. She has a passion for helping blended families grow strong and be successful, and her book, Blended Family Advice, has been touted as the ultimate must-read for couples contemplating or undergoing such change.