Becoming a stepmother is a huge adjustment, but the biggest transition is being handed to your stepchildren. Whether you’re setting up a new home for them, just getting to know who they are or learning to handle tricky behavior, a few of these tricks might be able to help!
1. Let them set up their own bedrooms!
If you’re moving into a new home with your husband and his children, let your stepkids take the rein on decorating their bedrooms. The more excited and comfortable they feel in their room, the more comfortable they’ll be in the home, even if that means adding dinosaur stickers to every inch of the closet door.
2. Discipline them.
I know, that sounds totally off the wall, but hear me out. In my experience, when my stepchildren aren’t being disciplined, they are grouchy and miserable. If there’s no set “nap/rest time”, no rules about cleaning up toys before bringing out new ones, etc., they are tiny demon spawns. Without discipline, there’s no structure or regulation to their day and that can leave you with exhausted kids who have no limits. I’m not saying pull out the switch and become a real-life Disney stepmom, but keep them in check if they need it. It’s good for them!
3. Let them know they can talk to you about anything.
Some of the best conversations I’ve had with my stepdaughter are when she pulls me aside and tells me she “needs a talk”. She knows that, no matter what, I will be there to listen to everything she says. In fact, I heard her telling her little brother that he could tell me whatever he wanted, even if it hurts my feelings because “Sammy loves us so, so much.” Talk about making your stepchildren comfortable with you! Remember, the little stuff is the big stuff to them. Listen.
4. Watch your pronouns.
My stepchildren have never heard the words “David’s children” come out of my mouth. They know that I count them as mine and no one ever questions it. If your stepchildren are around, try not to say “your kids” when talking to your husband or “his kids” when talking to a friend. It can cause a divide in your family and make life tough. Your stepkids probably don’t say “Daddy’s wife”, they say “my stepmom”. Do them the same courtesy.
5. Be nice to their mom.
I’ll say this until I’m blue in the face, but if you’re not on good terms with your stepchildren’s mom, your stepkids will notice. Be nice to her. You don’t have to bake her a cake or meet up with her for coffee, but just be kind. Talk to her when you see her. Save her a seat at the t-ball game. Be nice.
6. Attend your stepchildren’s activities.
I have never missed one of my stepson’s t-ball games and I’ve been to every awards ceremony my stepdaughter has had at school. They know I am there, come hell or high water, and they talk about it often. If I didn’t show up? They’d want to know why. Put aside any insecurities, worries or fears you might. Don’t worry about what anyone else says. Show up for them.
7. Don’t take any negativity personally.
I know my stepchildren love me like I love them, but when they say “I want my mama”, I don’t take it personally. You can’t. All it does is create a block between you and your stepchildren. You’ll start to feel small, unnoticed and unappreciated. Don’t let that happen! If these were your biological children, they could just as well say “I want my daddy”. Kids are kids. Let it roll off your back and keep going.
8. Introduce them to your family and friends.
If you haven’t yet, introduce your stepchildren to your aunts, uncles, friends, etc. My stepchildren know that my family is their family. They call my parents Grandmommy and Grandpa and have never once felt like they weren’t one of the grandkids. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that when they graduate high school, there’s going to be an entire section of bleachers devoted to all the people that love them. That kind of support is incredibly reassuring to a kid.
9. Spend one-on-one time.
It took me a while to learn that when my stepchildren are with us, we don’t always have to do things involving my husband. I assumed that since it was Daddy’s weekend with his children, he’d want to be involved every single day, but sometimes, a girl just wants to hit up Hobby Lobby with her seven-year-old stepdaughter. And that’s okay! We take turns every now and then. He goes off with one of them while I take the other on an adventure. Some of our best memories are because of a trip to Target or the ice cream place. It’s incredibly bonding and makes my stepchildren feel that much more comfortable around me.
10. Call them your family.
It’s a big commitment to become a stepmom. You’re immediately taking on a new family and that can take a lot of adjusting, but if your stepchildren know that you consider them your family? Oh, the places you guys will go! Let them know that they are as important to you as your husband, that all of you are one big, happy family. When they realize they’re not just going to “Dad’s house”, but to the other half of their family and their other home? They’re going to be very happy kids and you’re going to be a very happy stepmama.
Any other tips or ideas for making your stepchildren more comfortable with the family adjustments?