5 steps to surviving step-motherhood
Step-parenting

When I fell in love with my husband I didn’t realise what I was getting myself into. Marrying a man that has already been married and has kids is incredibly challenging. Indeed I often wonder what it would be like if he had not brought so much baggage into the relationship. I had my fair share of bags too, don’t get me wrong, although none of them contained an ex wife or children.

So what advice would I give to those embarking on the same journey?

I have five steps that I believe have helped my husband and I stay married and his children stay alive in my care (just) …

Step 1.

Unless you know that you truly love this man I would reconsider. Mat and I are lucky that our love for one another was unwavering. Indeed it is the most important priority in our life after our faith. We work on our relationship daily and prioritise it over our kids. If we are not getting it together then our kids will suffer in return.

Step 2.

BITE YOUR TONGUE. Have respect for the children’s mother. As hard as it can be sometimes, she is their mum and ultimately where their loyalty lies. If you speak negatively about her and make comments that undermine her in front of the kids you will be fighting a losing battle. She makes up half of them and if you speak of her as rotten then they feel half rotten, too.

Step 3.

Know your place. You will have to do all things that are required of you as a mother but you are not their mother. Think of yourself as a carer. It is not your place to discipline or tell them what they should and shouldn’t be doing with their lives. Leave this up to their dad. It is his place and you need to be on the same page with this. It is also not your place to have communication with their mother about the children – this is his responsibility. Unless, of course, you have a good relationship with his ex wife, which is ideal but also not very common.

Step 4.

If you have other children you must make your step kids feel as though they are just as important. Schedule some one-on-one time with them and their dad so they are not having to compete for his attention with the other kids. Mat once took Skyla on a pretend date. He drove up to the house with flowers and they drove off together to play putt putt golf. Children spell love T I M E. Let them feel loved by you and their dad.

Step 5.

Make time for yourself. It’s easy to resent all the time you pour into kids with very little acknowledgement in return. Give yourself the acknowledgement you deserve. Spa treatments, getting your hair done, something to keep you happy. “Happy wife, happy life” for everyone else they say. That happiness can be a decision made by you.

I have been in these kids’ lives for nine years now, and as their step carer for just over five years. Being the substitute is never quite the same as the real thing but I couldn’t imagine my life without them now.

This article was written by Chloe Maxwell for Kidspot.com.au and has been adapted for Kidspot.co.nz

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