Stepmum burnout is quite common as stepmum's are much more likely to suffer with stress, anxiety and depression than biological mum's. So if you are suffering with burnout or have done in the past, remind yourself you are NORMAL.
There is nothing wrong with you. You are just a normal woman experiencing the highs and lows that come with being a stepmother.
I always wonder why it is so common though? Stepmum's tend to be quite strong women. We have to be to cope with all the stress that comes along with being a stepmum! We don't need to just be strong emotionally, but also strong in heart. I have found you need a very big, open and loving heart to be a stepmum. It really is going to trigger you in lots of ways and bring out the worst and best in you.
My gut sense is that stepmum's do not have that same biological drive to provide for their stepchildren in the same way their mum does. Everything a stepmum does is out of choice and a love that has grown over time. So if you continually keep giving and giving, getting nothing physically or emotionally in return, in the end, you may be left thinking 'why do I bother?'
There is only so much anyone can do for someone else without starting to feel resentful and bitter over it. It is the same in a romantic relationships too, if a relationship was very one sided. Eventually you come to a point where you had enough!
I feel stepmum burnout comes about when you are continuously giving to children who aren't yours, maybe financially, emotionally and physically and there is no appreciation or the love you wanted in return. There may be an ex in the background who is trying to turn the kids against you and it makes the whole bonding experience even harder.
You may not even realise you are heading for burnout until it is too late, which is what happened in my case! I remember being so emotionally drained and exhausted by constant stress, that I actually called up the Samaritans as I just needed someone to talk to.
So what are the warning signs you should be looking out for?
If you are feeling OVERWHELMED, FRUSTRATED, TIRED, INSIGNIFICANT or NOT ACCEPTED in your own home, you know you are on a path you don't want to go down, and something needs to change.
Although these are very normal feelings in stepfamily life, they still aren't pleasant. You may try even harder at this point to feel accepted and liked, which then leads to more resentment and stress when your hard work is unappreciated in your own home.
If you keep pushing past this stage, you may then start to feel USED, EXHAUSTED and INVISIBLE in your own home.
If you are at this stage, you may feel like the cook and cleaner rather than a wife, stepmum and human being in your own home. You may have taken on the duties a biological parent should do, and be giving way more than you are getting back from your stepkids.
If you are feeling RESENTMENT and wishing you never met a man with kids, then you need to start STEPPING BACK and letting your partner do the parent duties.
Remember his kids are his responsibility, that are not technically yours.
If you don't step back at this point and focus on your own well-being, you could lead yourself to full blown stepmum burnout which will take longer to recover from.
This is when you are left completely exhausted, empty, low, even depressed and are screaming at your partner you want to leave him or want a divorce.
You may have lost yourself, contact with friends and family, unable to prioritise your own needs or well-being and generally wondering who the hell you are.
You may be crying a lot, shouting at your stepkids and wishing they didn't exist and looking back thinking how did this get so bad?
So this all sounds VERY depressing I know! But the good news is that I have suffered with stepmum burnout, and I was able to come back from it, bigger, bolder and brighter than before.
If I can, you can too!!
1) THE FIRST STEP IS REALISING YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
You are NOT a failure, weak or unable to cope with life. Stepmum life is hard and the emotions and feelings are enough to send a sane person mad.
Please be kind to yourself and know this is your chance now to focus on you. Your feelings and emotions are very normal. You are in no way in the wrong here.
2) STEP BACK AND LET YOUR PARTNER PARENT HIS KIDS!!!
I am putting this in capital letters and making this very clear now! If you are resentful, burnout and stressed, please please please take a step back. You do not need to do everything you are doing right now if you are hating you husband and stepkids for it?
A stepmum is not a servant to her stepkids. A stepmum is exactly what the word 'step' indicates and she steps in or steps back. Sometimes you do need to step up and help out, but also you are entitled to step back too.
It isn't good for you to be doing all the cooking, cleaning and general household motherly duties, but feeling resentful for it.
If you are burnout out, you know you are doing too much and something needs to give.
3) ASK YOUR STEPKIDS FOR HELP
Not only can you ask your husband for help, but you can ask your stepkids too! On the day of writing this, I cleaned the whole house and instead of doing it all myself, I asked my stepson to help me.
I believe greatly that a stepmum is not the house maid and so the stepkids should help out around the house.
I wrote a blog post all about this and WHY I BELIEVE YOUR STEPKIDS SHOULD DO CHORES, AND HOW TO GET THEM TO DO THEM.
Please ask for help if you need it. I know it is scary and you don't want to feel like the evil stepmother, but you are actually doing your stepkids a massive favour in the long run.
4) PUT YOURSELF FIRST
If you are burnout, it is more than likely that you have forgotten everything you love.
You might not have seen friends in months, you may keep forgetting to call your own parents and you might not have done one bit of self-care in weeks.
This is a time where you need to take a few days and completely DETOX your mind, body and soul.
Take time off social media, eat healthy and fresh foods, do lots of meditation, walks in nature, Yoga or whatever exercise feels you up with JOY.
Let go of any guilt that you are being selfish. It is vital for your stepfamilies health, that you put your own health first.
Think of what example you want to set for your stepkids too? Do you want to teach them to prioritise their own needs or to put others happiness before their own?
By filling your own cup first, you are not only setting a good example to your family, but also you are going to be much healthier and happier in the long run.
It really is a win win for you all!
5) THINK OF WHAT YOU LOVE OR WANT TO ACHIEVE IN THIS LIFE
One reason people become burnout is that their lives feel empty with no meaning. You may be doing a job you hate Monday to Friday and then have your stepkids at weekends. No wonder you are going to feel burnout!
It is almost like your soul is being destroyed from all levels. If this is you, then burnout is a blessing for you to go deeper within and listen to your heart.
What passions do you have that you are not exploring?
What dreams do you have for your life?
What is your purpose here on earth?
YOU ARE NOT JUST A STEPMUM.....
If the above rings a bell with you, please check out my 'Women's Empowerment Course' and book a FREE CALL with me to learn more.
I believe in you, and you can do this!