National Simplicity Day – July 12, 2017

When I married my husband, I was head over heels in love (still am btw!) and so excited to blend our families and start our happy life together. It was going to be simple, right? BAHAHAHAHAHA!!! #NOT

I consider myself a pretty organized person. I like to keep things simple. But any simplicity that I had incorporated into my daily life was wiped out when I married a man with kids. The list of obstacles I have come across is long and seems to get longer every day. It can make you feel like you are losing control in your own home.

NOTHING about Stepfamily life is “simple”. In fact, it is one of life’s most complicated family arrangements.

If you feel like you have lost control, don’t worry – you can get it back! How? By simplifying things.

National Simplicity Day is celebrated on July 12th. That’s right – it’s a thing. In honour of this amazing day, I would like to help you simplify your stepfamily life.

I know what you are saying. “Aimee, HOW can I possibly simplify ANY part of stepfamily life??”

I’m glad you asked! My family includes myself, my husband, his three kids, my two kids and both of our ex’s. It’s a lot to handle. So here are a few things I have done over the years to simplify our blended family life.

FOCUS on what you can control
One of the biggest complaints I hear from Stepmoms is that the Bio Mom makes changes to the drop off schedule or registers the kids for camps without any notice. This can be absolutely frustrating for a Stepmom. You now have to add running kids around to activities to your schedule, which probably fall on the same night as that yoga class you signed up for. I know how hard it can be to let those things go. TRUST ME. What I am encouraging you to do is FOCUS on those things that you CAN control and let go of the things you CAN’T. If it helps, make a list of all of the things you actually can control. You may be surprised at how many there are!

Understand your obligations
Everyone knows that there is a stereotype out there about Stepmoms being “WICKED”. It is actually quite the opposite. Most Stepmoms try VERY hard to make their stepkids and husband happy. We often do MORE than what is needed of us. We take the stepkids to soccer, make their lunches and comfort them when they are hurt (and sooo much more). You are not obligated to do all of those things! Seasoned stepmoms will tell you that they too did all of those things in the beginning, but over time learned that they didn’t have to. I know I did! It came at the expense of taking care of my own needs. And I’m sure you can guess how well that turned out. Take a look at what you NEED to do and also what you DON’T NEED to do. Simplify your obligations and take time for yourself!

Simplify your relationships
Do you deal with a high conflict ex-wife? This is one of the most common stressors for Stepmoms. One of the ways to simplify this complicated relationship is to accept her for who she is and don’t expect her to change. I know, it’s harder said than done. But let your husband deal with her and stay out of it! You can eliminate interactions with her and have your husband give you only the ‘need to know’ information.
Simplify your relationship with your stepchildren by learning to say NO! You don’t have to do everything for them. We would all like to receive appreciation from the stepkids for what we do for them. This usually leads us to overcompensate by doing more than we really need to do. Talk to your husband and let him know what you are willing to do. This will help reduce any resentment that is sure to build up as well.

Lower your expectations!
If you are looking to simplify your life, lower your expectations! When you lower your expectations, you will find that you aren’t disappointed as often. You will find that expecting less will leave you less stressed and leaves you more time to be happy and enjoy YOUR time! I used to expect my house to be clean every day when I got home from work. With 5 kids at home, that was a very unrealistic expectation. I used to get home and be angry and snippy towards everyone around me. Now, I look at things differently. It’s more important to me to have a fun meal with my family, talking about their day. The housework can wait. Now, I expect smiles and lots of conversation at dinner. Identify what is important to you and get rid of everything else. Simplify.

Live in the NOW.
Simplifying your life isn’t about the “what ifs” or the “if onlys”. It is about showing gratitude for the RIGHT NOW. The more grateful you are, the more present you become. Instead of stressing over what you don’t have or what you wish you had done, learn to live in the moment and be at peace with what you have. You can’t change the past, but you can ruin the present by worrying about the future. Learn to fully appreciate and live in the NOW.

Take a look at what you can do to make your life simpler. It could be your expectations of the people around you, the family dinner menu for this week, or personal goals for the years to come. You don’t HAVE to do it all! Simplifying your tasks and daily routines can lead to a much happier and meaningful life!
Aimee Allen – The Happy Stepmom