How can I prepare myself, my kids and my husband for Mother’s Day when I am the stepmom? I recognize that being the stepmom sometimes is easy and sometimes it’s hard and often it’s awkward. My role is different than the biological mom and yet I am still the leading lady in my own home, so how do we make this all work for Mother’s Day?
First, I think it’s important to lower expectations and to not put too much pressure on anyone to make the day perfect. We don’t want these days to be big emotional events, just try to make them enjoyable and have reasonable expectations for yourself and the family. Most likely your stepchildren will spend the actual day with their biological mom and yet you can help prepare everyone for the day. A few ideas would include:
- Ask your husband if there is anything he would like to do to help them prepare for the day, for their biological mom and for you? If the children’s mom is not remarried or in a significant relationship, there may not be any other adult available to help the kids prepare gifts or cards. Though it is not your job to do this, brainstorming ways to make it fun for the kids is a blessing you can offer to the children because you love the kids.
- Your husband may want to talk to their mom to find out if there is an adult to help them prepare for the day. Some husbands may not see the need or significance in this; however, as a co-parent, it is important to talk to the other parent about anything important that impacts the children. It would be a healthy co-parent expression to simply ask the question a few weeks in advance and offer to help the kids prepare for the day, again because he cares about the kids.
- Offer to take them shopping to get their mom a gift or a craft they can work on to give her.
- Verbally express your support of their mom. It actually helps children love you (stepmom) more when you affirm the love they have for their mom. When they don’t have to pick favorites, it helps them relax and love everyone in their extended families.
- Remind kids that you are not there to replace anyone and that you are thankful they have a mom that loves them.
- As for your own household, consider a special meal or outing the week prior or post to the actual Mother’s Day weekend.
Another important thing to remember as a stepmom is that we often don’t see the fruit of our labor until years, maybe decades, later. Some of the hardest years are right in front of us while the long-term view of life and loving relationships is often forgotten. We often want to see a microwave family come together quickly, be fully bonded, and always feel connected to our stepkids. The reality is that it takes years to build the bond between kids and stepparents; the positive payoff is not always immediate but becomes clearer as the stepchildren become adults and become parents themselves.
This Mother’s Day and all days let us stay focused on what unites us, not what divides us, and strive to be the one who leads with the most loving attitude of all.
What can you proactively do this year to make Mother’s Day a blessing for everyone in your family?
Tammy Daughtry, MMFT is an author of the book, Co-parenting Works! Helping Your Children Thrive after Divorce as well as the creator of the DVD, One Heart, Two Homes: Co-parenting Kids of Divorce to a Positive Future.