The only BURNOUT you have time for is the wheels of the car on the pavement as you speed off to your dreams, stepmom! Okay, we should address the all too common, but avoidable problem of stepmom burnout.
“Burnout is very common among stepmoms. It happens when your emotional tank is on empty and you have nothing left to give, which is why the littlest thing sets you off. You may feel like you’re failing, but what you really need is a break.”Jenna Korf
Sound familiar? One of the best ways to avoid stepmom burnout is to make space for your own dreams, friends, and hobbies. Care for them like they’re your children. Defend them to the death. Otherwise, you run out of juice and end up feeling unappreciated, burnt out, and resentful.
If you neglect the joyful parts of your life outside of stepparenting, there’s a good chance you’re going to be let down. Instead of feeding your kids, (lol, JK you should keep doing that) feed your dreams, ambitions, and goals. There’s more to life than your parenting routine. In fact, when you go outside of that routine it benefits the entire household.
When you invest in yourself you invest in your family. Here are three examples:
- When you spend time doing things you love, your happiness levels increase. You solidify your individuality as a human being, exercise creativity, and have new successes to celebrate. When you’re filled up with satisfaction from activities you do outside the family, you come home a whole person. You have more to think about than how terribly your stepkid loaded the dishwasher or how lenient your partner was with bedtime last night. Now that you have more interesting things on your mind, you are less vulnerable to get set off by little things.
- When you take a break from stepparenting, your family gets to figure out how to survive on their own. If they don’t already know how to do things without you, they need to learn right away. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow! There’s no guilt in excusing yourself from a dinner, an extracurricular activity, or an entire weekend of being at the house at all. You might be pleasantly surprised to see how well everyone copes when you hand over the reins for a little while. Added bonus: this gives your stepkid and partner time to bond one on one.
- When you invest in yourself, you set an example. You show your stepkids and your partner what it looks like to take care of yourself, to be an empowered woman, and to prioritize balance in life. You demonstrate what flexibility and ambition look like, and that there is value in pursuing your dreams. That’s a gift to your family that will be more memorable than the time you scrubbed beans off the stove (and don’t worry, the beans will probably still be there waiting for you when you get back).
When you don’t invest in yourself, you run the risk of pouring everything into stepparenting. And there’s a lot less recognition and reward in that activity. Of course, you will continue stepparenting, but it’s important to invest in alone time as well. When you don’t balance family life with personal time, it’s a slippery slope towards becoming a burnt-out, disempowered, angry giver.
You give and give and give until you end up like the stump at the end of The Giving Tree. Can someone please take that beloved children’s book off the shelves? We deserve better.
If you’re looking for ideas on how to take a break and fill up your tank, here are a few things you can do right away:
- Make a collage
- Watch a funny TV show
- Get a massage
- Hang out with your friends
- Go to dinner and a movie alone, and don’t skimp on the wine or popcorn
- Eat a pint of ice cream
- Drink a pint of beer
- Take a luxurious bath
- Start a blog
- Go to the batting cages and hit some balls
- Take a mini road trip
- Play your stepmom anthem
- Fly somewhere for the weekend
- Take a new class (ceramics, dancing, Krav Maga)
- Whatever makes you happy