Being a mum is hard. Being a stepmum is even harder. You don’t want to step on anybody’s toes, or take anybody’s place but you still have to show you have the authority of a parent.
My step daughter doesn’t live with us, I don’t know if that makes it harder or easier. Sometimes I think if she lived with us full time she would have the consistency of me. She would get to know me well enough to become my friend. I think because she doesn’t live with us it makes it that bit harder for me and her to initially build a strong bond.
Three years down the line we are finally at that point where I can positively say: “hey, we are good friends aren’t we”
Here’s some pointers that I genuinely think helped us get to where we are today:
1. Have 1-2-1 time with the child.
It is so important to allow the child some 1-2-1 time with the child to bond over something that they enjoy. I quickly found that Maisie loved having her nails painted. So I bought loads of nail varnishes and nail pens and asked her if she would like me to paint them. Sure enough she agreed and genuinely that was when I think I had my first big break through with her. After that she asked me all the time to paint her nails and repaint them and repaint them again. She couldn’t get enough of it. She loved it and we had something in common for us.
2. Allow her time with the primary parent.
She has to know that as much as you’re there you aren’t going to take her dad away from her. She may become very jealous to begin with, which is normal. She will eventually learn to share her dad, but breaking her in gently is key. It’s all new and probably isn’t a nice feeling.
3. Make her favourite meal.
Let her know her thoughts and feelings count. Cooking her favourite meal gives her a sense of control and let’s her know you care about what she likes. I regularly ask Maisie what she would like for tea on the nights she stays with us. It’s easier if I give her three options because alot of the time she is indecisive anyway but she always loves the fact she got to choose.
4. Bedtime stories
I always read to my eldest anyway at bedtime. This is the time when we get to just chill out and wind down. When all of the kids are at our house they all each get to pick a story and I will sit and cuddle each of them at their storytime. They love it, especially my stepdaughter. It’s normal activity for Korey but it’s not particularly normal for Maisie.
5. Keep the rules consistent.
Maisie is a people pleaser anyway but I found that keeping the rules and disciplines consistent for each child means she understands that each child will be treated the same way regardless if they are my children or not. The same as the rewards for good behaviour. I will also treat all the kids if they have behaved.
I hope this helps somebody reading this who is probably new to step parenting or if they are struggling. It’s ok. I struggled and I still do now. The problems we stepmothers face don’t necessarily go away we overcome them and new problems arise.
And let’s face it, stepmothers don’t get the credit they deserve… we’ve all read the stories of the evil stepmothers… It’s a hard job but it’s the best job at the same time.