I would have to say that becoming a step-mom is similar to becoming a mom. Strong statement, I know but bear with me! I’ve had no time to write anything in my blog – key words: NO TIME! See my point? It’s like becoming a mom because you can see the reality on the horizon but have no idea what you’re in for until you’re actually handed that baby and you look at it and say – now what? There are no real handbooks and how-too’s. You have to learn from your mistakes and start from the beginning. Every home and heart is a little different. Trust your instincts and press on with a gentle hand and loving heart. I am not saying blending family is the exactly the same as having your own child…let me clarify…just huge similarities to the reality of responsibilities that you are actually taking on, you’re not always sure of what you’re doing is right but lean on your instincts anyway, and sometimes you can feel like you’re screwing it up. Every mom feels this way from time to time. Accepting someone else’s child for who they are, loving, and caring for them is not always easy and not always wanted. Love is a choice they say. Showing love and grace can be a huge part of developing a close bond with your step-kids and that includes your own kids. It is not easy to develop a bond and I have explained this before in older posts. You didn’t raise them from the start, in some cases, so they are a product of their previous environment. They are used to another way, and they are used to hearing from their parents only and not some “evil” step-parent! These kids are being thrust in to a step-mom and step-dad family structure. It takes time to get used to, for everyone!
So what are Surfer Boy and I doing right and what are we doing wrong? Probably everything and all at once. Right now we are running around with our heads cut off because all four kids are in softball and baseball. Despite that, I am welcoming the rain here in California this coming weekend with open arms as a relief to do a whole lotta nothing with our kids this weekend, and relax. BUT first, right after I put them all to work scrubbing floors and toilets and lock in them in the attic! Kidding…kidding… One of the big hurdles besides the bio mom (which will never end, I’m sure), is that I was sick and tired of our lovely children tattling and bossing each other around. Who died and made each one of them in charge! I barely have any hair left because I’ve pulled it all out! So I searched and searched for answers. Oh how I love Pinterest! I’ve seen those “get along shirts” and the kids look miserable! No fun in that but still such a great idea in my opinion. What we did was sat the children down (including our 14 year old – he is not exempt), and outlined our expectations and a few rules. Then we told them that we were going to implement a “get along jar”. This jar has sticks in it and each stick has a little something on it. At our table meeting the four got to pick what the sticks were going to say. That way they would be willing to follow through – hey they all agreed! So instead of Surfer-Boy and me getting upset or raising our voice, we simply say: “come pull a stick”. This allows us to us to handle the situation with each other’s kids without punishing each other kids, make sense? OK good! Most of these sticks have chores that you have to do together and some funny ones say things like: make the other person a snack, slow dance together, sit on the couch and hold hands for 2 minutes (torture…I love it! mwahahaha!), pour each other a glass of water and do a cheers and say something nice, and others say things like pick up dog poop together, clean the toilet together, take out the trash together. Some are simple like give a hug and say you’re sorry. This is our “get along jar” pictured below (It has saved my sanity and keeps things slightly calmer). The even bigger plus to this is that those frowns and frustrations sometimes turn in to a laugh which is priceless. The positive wins again!