Now I am not going down an ‘alternative’ route here, this is science!
We are all energetic beings and certain situations, people and experiences will either drain us, or make us feel great about ourselves. Our energy affects others to it is important to take notice of how you might be affecting those around you too.
If we are already a little fragile, certain situations can trigger us and zap our energy.
We really can lift each other up or bring each other down. It is important to learn how we affect other people, and also learn how to protect ourselves.
Parts of being a stepmum can be very draining, and your stepkids are most probably not intentionally trying to drain you, it is just the common stepfamily dynamics that can take a bit of getting used to. You may also have an ex in the background that you feel interferes in your life or your relationship with your kids or husband. Again, this is just a situation where processes/boundaries need to be put in place.
I don’t think other people intend to suck our energy, it might just be where they are in their lives and how aware they are of themselves and what they put out into the world.
We all have to rest and recharge in order to keep at optimum health, but this can be hard as a stepmum (or mum for that matter!) when we don’t have the time that we used to practice self-care. Our energy levels are related to our mood and temperament, and we all know being a stepmum can be testing and bring out the worst as well as the best in us.
Allowing your stepfamily to drain you, is slightly different in my opinion to stepmum burn out which I will do another post on 😊 I have been in that position, so know it takes a few days or so to recover from, and happens when we really do reach the end of our tether.
Prevention is always better than cure, so I feel it is better we learn to keep our energy levels as high as they can be, rather than wait until it is too late.
Here are some ways I feel being a stepmum can drain you:
So how can you start to regain your energy and not let your stepfamily stressors drain you? There is quite a lot to say on this subject, but here are my seven main tips:
1) Know that you are not alone in feeling like this and know that it is completely normal to feel drained by your situation.
If you freak out, get anxious, overreact or act in a way that you look back and think ‘hmm I didn’t need to do that’, go easy on yourself.
Being tough on ourselves for letting a situation get to us won’t do us any favours. None is the time to practice lots of self-love and self-worth. Whatever you did or said does not make you a bad person.
Acceptance of how you are feeling, is the first step to creating change.
2) Make communication a priority. Share your problems with other stepmums who may have been through something similar situations, and can give you advice. Learn to communicate with your husband and talk about problems that you feel may arise in the future.
A lot of problems arise in stepfamilies because of fear of the unknown, not being willing to compromise and feeling like life is out of control. A lot of problems can be sorted by simply communicating and creating a structure that all members of the family agree on.
Every house should have a set of rules around finances, chores, discipline, manners etc. This way everyone is on the same page and knows what is acceptable or not.
Different people have different values, so it is important that there is a bit of give and take and compromise in creating structure.
3) Take a step back for a bit if necessary. If making all the meals every day for your stepkids is starting to drain you, then ask your husband to help out.
If you want to go out with your friends rather than visit your stepson’s basketball activity, then do that! You do not need to be there for everyone all the time, and you are allowed to have your own life too.
You are allowed to have balance in life and you are allowed to do things for yourself.
Don’t ever forget who you were before you became a stepmum.
4) Focus on yourself – this leads on from my point above.
When was the last time you did something lovely for you?
And I mean really lovely, like going to a spa day with a friend, or having an afternoon drinking session with your pals or even just spending the day in bed reading books and watching films.
Whatever makes you happy in life, you should be doing more of that!
How much exercise are you doing?
Are you meditating?
Are you limiting all the crap foods that make you feel crappy?
Are you spending enough time with friends?
Are you doing your favourite hobbies?
Are you spending enough time focusing on your dreams in life?
A lot of stepmum resentment and energetic draining comes from not giving enough to yourself first, before you give to your stepkids. You cannot pour from an empty cup remember 😊
5) Put boundaries in place with the ex and your stepkids.
If the ex is taking advantage in ways that make you and your husband feel uncomfortable, then work together to set some boundaries so that you feel you have your own life as much as possible.
You dictate the rules in your household remember. Some people will try to take advantage and it is best to nip these kinds of behaviours in the bud, but also it is never too late to set boundaries. You must feel comfortable living your life.
You are not a bad person for not wanting someone else to dictate what goes on in your own home.
As women, we are biologically programmed to be the primary caregiver in our own home, so when another woman tries to overstep the mark, it can cause a lot of frustration and pain for us.
6) Become a lot more organised!
A lot of my own personal stepfamily stressors come through simple lack of organisation. I am a natural born organiser, a little OCD and a bit of a control freak (although working on this massively), so I like to know what is going on.
I am not good with last minute changes or not knowing what we are going to have for dinner or if my eldest stepdaughter will be seeing friends of staying with us at the weekend. It can push my anxiety through the roof!
As much as I can, I plan my week and weekend in advance when we have the kids. I know what we are going to eat for dinner, I try and get my stepdaughter to let us know by the Thursday if she is staying with us on the Friday and Saturday that weekend as she is vegetarian so it changes things slightly.
Maybe ask yourself are there any ways you can organise your stepfamily life so that you aren’t wasting any energy on anything you don’t need to be?
Our brain can only make so many decisions a day, so if you can get organised ahead of time, then the less decisions you have to make the better for your mind!
Most women tend to be better organisers than men too. I know my husband has no problem in me taking control of organisation of our week!
7) As well as self-care, you can practice specific energising and protecting rituals such as these:
I hope that all helps, and trust me I do know that stepfamily life (and life in general) can suck your energy. I also know that just a few shifts can make a massive difference.
Whether we are in a stepfamily or not, we always need to look after ourselves, our health and not allow other people to bring us down or affect us negatively.
You are always a priority, please don’t forget that!