3 Ways to "Lighten Up" Your Step Family Life
Why is it that blended family life feels so "heavy" so much of the time? Isn't it great when those moments of fun, laughter and joy sometimes show up out of nowhere? But, it seems like those times can be fleeting. They slip away just as quickly as they appear. They might even seem to be getting fewer and farther between!
Every step-couple wants more of these "lighter" moments in their journey. The times that feel like, "Ahhh…we're going to be ok".
Here's the truth - every step-couple can have more of these moments! By focusing on just a few simple things you can "lighten up" your stepfamily life!
1. Slow Down
Parents and step-parents can often feel a sense of urgency to do all kinds of things. We want to bond as a couple, to discipline the kids well, to build relationship with step-kids, to manage our interactions with the ex's, to instill values in our home…and we want it all done by tomorrow night!
Stepfamily expert Patricia Papernow says, "Slowing down speeds things up".
All the research points to successful stepfamilies taking things slow. So, your first step here is to let go of the "urge toward urgency" and focus on slowing it down. Let relationships build. Allow a shared history to develop as a family. Let new routines and traditions get established. These things take time. They cannot be forced or rushed.
2. Watch for Wins
Celebrate little wins along the way.
Early in our marriage, Kim was dropping me off to do some work on a rental home we owned. I was getting out of the car and leaned back in to give her a kiss goodbye. From the back seat, in her sweet little 5-year-old voice, Annika exclaimed, "Gimme a kiss too!". That was the first time my new step-daughter asked me for a kiss…it was a little win that I still remember 16 years later.
When tough days come along (and we all know they will!) we can recall the little things we've seen along the way that remind us our relationships are building. They encourage us to keep moving forward. They give us hope that eventually we'll arrive at our desired destination.
3. Step Forward
What is your "desired destination"? Have you ever thought about where you're headed as a step-couple? What does the future of your blended family look like? This is a question that deserves some attention and can help you focus on the third point: Take Action.
When you work together as a couple, describing what you want your future to look like, you begin to be empowered and move toward the goal. You might decide in this season of your journey that it's best to work on your relationship as a couple. Or maybe it's time to build new skills in parenting. It could be a time to build a bonding strategy between step-parent and step-child.
Once you know what you want your focus to be; look for a book to read together, take a class, read more blogs or seek out a group of stepfamilies in your community to support each other. When you are intentional about defining where you want to go and take even little steps to get there, you'll be amazed at how empowering that is and how much "lighter" you'll feel.
So, "lighten up" by slowing down, celebrating little wins and taking just one step forward. You'll be glad you did!
QUESTION: Which of these three areas do you need to focus on in your stepfamily? Leave a comment below: