Empowerment is more than just a buzzword. Feeling empowered makes life worth living and gives us as women the confidence and inner-peace to lead content, meaningful lives. But, Kaitlan, how am I supposed to feel empowered when I sometimes feel like the evil stepmother?
You’re right. It is hard to feel like a confident, sexy, self-assured stepmom on those days or weeks when you feel like an outsider in your own home, or your stepchildren and you just can’t seem to get along, or maybe you and their birth mother aren’t seeing eye-to-eye that week. Trust me, I know how that feels! One thing in a blended family situation that has always made me feel less than empowered is that I contribute to raising my stepchildren in all ways, but do not ultimately have the authority to make decisions about them. I split the kids’ expenses in our household 50/50 with my spouse, including activities, clothes, food, and medical. However if it comes to behaviors, habits, discipline, responsibilities, the friends they spend time with, the activities they’re involved in- in the end, it’s not up to me. This is just something that makes me feel powerless.
But, do not fret or give up yet. I am going to talk to you about some things that I try to do that you can too to bring back your inner strength and wonder-woman empowerment.
Have little somethings you do for you.
I posted about this on my Instagram today (follow me! @traveling.stepmom), and I think this is one of the most important things you need to have to feel confident in yourself. If you aren’t already, start finding things you like to do and do them often. These can be things you’re simply passionate about and enjoy, or they can be a hobby you like to do that you’re really good at. For me it’s geeking out on my favorite shows, such as Doctor Who and Outlander, reading good books, traveling as much as humanly possible on my tight little budget, and writing this blog! Finding what these things are for you and making it a priority to indulge in them at least once a day will help remind you that you were an individual before you were in a blended family and that you still are a cool ass B with strengths and interests.
Have a space in your house that’s all yours.
My husband and I moved into a bigger house recently and moved out of the much smaller starter home he originally bought with his ex-wife and has lived in for a decade. Not only did we buy a “new” house because we wanted a fresh start together, but because there was just absolutely no space for us to have our own space! Ya’ feel me?
As a stepmom, it is truly necessary for you to have an area of the house that is just yours. For me, it is having our own bathrooms to get ready in and having an office to retreat to. In our bathroom and my office, it is a kid-free zone filled with my personal things, objects I like to look at, pictures and decor that I enjoy that others in the house may not. If you want to have a weird steampunk clock, creepy dolls, and enough books surrounding you that they might call up the producers of “Hoarders”, then you can do you!
It is important to have your own space because when you come into an already established family unit, it can be too easy for all the spaces in the house to be overrun with your husband’s and your stepkids’ belongings, habits, and decor. In a traditional, nuclear family, two parents raise a child from infancy to adulthood in which the family slowly creates their own culture over time that meets everyone’s preferences, living habits, and needs. When, essentially, a stranger (you) comes into the family with completely different needs, habits, and preferences that haven’t been assimilated yet, it’s very unlikely that anyone is going to adopt even 80% of your lifestyle preferences. Another reason it is important is that you simply need a place to meditate, unwind, destress, and process thoughts without intrusion (and this isn’t just stepparents who need this).
Bottom line is, it helps to keep your identity intact and stress levels down to have your own little stepmom nest.
Take a trip somewhere, solo!
Heading down to Vegas and getting crunk at the Wet Republic pool with your best girlfriends or going on a nice, romantic trip on the beach with your handsome hubby is certainly relaxing, fun, and needed! However, nothing is more empowering than accomplishing some trips on your own. Traveling alone shows it to yourself that you are a capable, strong woman. It also allows you to choose your own path in life for that time being, without any outside influences. You are independent as you navigate cities and towns and set an itinerary that meets your wants for the trip. Trust me when I say that you will feel like Lara Croft Tomb Raider or a female Indiana Jones after traveling somewhere awesome all by your lonesome!
I think everyone knows by now that exercise increases your endorphins, dopamine, and all of that good stuff that controls stress levels. Keeping your stress down allows you to think clearly and have the energy so that you can be confident in your decisions and choices as well as be productive during the day. Getting in that 30 minutes of HIIT or taking that spin class also gives you a sense of accomplishment and control. Every time I work out, I immediately feel better because I accomplished something and am taking action to better myself. This is way better for my self-esteem than binge-eating a Chipotle burrito on the couch and finishing the whole Netflix series of “The Keepers”. True story.
Breathe…Learn to let go.
This is a big one! Dwelling on how you think your stepchildren hate you, worrying about whether your husband is standing up for you enough, or getting annoyed every time birth mother makes a comment to your husband about their past in front of you…It’ all soooo exhausting! I’ve learned that all of this is simply not worth your energy and will drain all the lifeblood from your soul. Ok, a little dramatic, but seriously it is not worth it. Let go and accept that you cannot control others and realize that people do the things they do because of where they are at with themselves and their own lives. This will free your focus from feeling like a victim to remembering how amazing, kind, fun, and powerful you really are!