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How to be a team with biomom- Lessons with The Yogi Lama

Lessons with the Yogi Lama: How to be a team with biomom

 

Hello. Guten Tag from Germany, Social Stepmom Readers!

This might sound too good to be true but I am one of the rare unicorns orbiting in the stepmom galaxy, as biomom and I get along. We are not BFF’s braiding our hair and wearing matching jerseys to game days. However, we are always polite and cordial when we see each other be it during pick-ups//drop-offs or school events. We even host birthday parties together. Biomom bakes the cake and biodad, my husband aka Bavarian Babe (BB) and I organize the games.

Just a few weeks ago all three of us attended a parent/teacher conference together.

Can you believe it? We sat in the same classroom, at the same time with {our} son and listened as his teacher updated us on his achievements, progress and next steps. After the conference, BB and I hugged {our} little boy lama goodbye, smiled, and waved as he drove home with biomom.

My goal in writing this blog is not to make other stepmoms who perhaps may not have such an ideal relationship with biomom feel frustrated or even jealous. Instead, my mission is to inspire you and provide realistic, practical strategies and small steps that hopefully with help all {step} families find a nice balance between kindness and respect.

We have found a way to put the kids interests first - that sounds easier said than done, right? It is not easy. To me, the effortless thing is to feel irked (maybe even resentful?) and give up.

It can be really hard to be a well-blended family.

A stepmom that gets along with a biomom takes patience and dedication to a higher cause. I like thinking about this from a 'team' perspective.

Once upon a time, I co-coached a varsity boys volleyball team. We practised Tuesdays to Thursdays, 4-6pm and participated in home/away games every weekend from the end of August to mid-November. That is a lot of time spent in the gym, on the road, competing on courts across Europe and all for the greater good of our team. It took us seven long years to finally win the glorious championship title and after so much sweat, grit, and tears our perseverance and dedication paid off. We knew we earned those gold medals and we wore them with pride.

That is how I look at raising children within a blended family. We are a T-E-A-M, no matter what it takes or how hard it gets; we are going to stick together. Our shared purpose is to nurture {our} children to grow up to be well-adjusted, balanced, contributing citizens of the world who treat all people and animals who cross their path with dignity and compassion.

When biomom & stepmom get along it sets up the blended family to see each other as team members who are striving and thriving.

In addition to my experience as a volleyball coach and yoga teacher, I also have close to two decades as a special educator working in international schools. The young people I had the pleasure to teach had all sorts of {special needs} ranging from Cerebral Palsy, being on the Autism spectrum to having an extra chromosome also known as Down's syndrome. My time working with students of determination taught me so much about slowing down, understanding things from a different perspective and smiling through it all.

It is fair to say that I have a very unique perspective on co-parenting. My teaching expertise and years of classroom experience often helping parents, teachers and administrators through sensitive situations and students achieve their goals to the best of their abilities can now be used in my very own home and yours too!

Four ways you can work as a team with biomom

1) Set a stepmom mantra

The yogi in me has years of experience as a long time devotee of this ancient practice.

The first thing I tell a new student is that yoga is not a competition. It does not matter that the person on the mat next to you might be doing the splits and you can barely touch your toes. Focus on your own body, listen and send breath where you need it. Yoga is a journey, each day is different and one’s practice is ever evolving.

The same yogic principles can be applied to the biomom in your life: it is not your job to judge or compare her style of parenting to yours. Remind yourself that each day parenting throws something different at you and we are all doing our best to go with the flow.

Perhaps you think she gave you a condescending look or you do not like the way she handled something while the kid(s) were at her place. Instead of a typical response of getting all fussed about it,  breathe in new energy and exhale what you do not need. Holding on to negative emotions will not do anyone any good.

Action Plan:

Take the time to set your own “go-to” Stepmom Mantra and repeat it immediately the next time you feel yourself getting riled up. Something as simple as:

  • “Our love for our children is our shared priority”
  • “Take a step back. Relax. Release. Ease”
  • “My Ego is not my Amigo. Stress is not my friend”
  • “It is not the end of the world. I will keep things in perspective”
  • “I choose Peace and Harmony”

… can really help to diffuse your emotions and make the moment that much easier to breeze through.

Think like a girl scout and be prepared with a calming stepmom mantra of your own.

Inspo Alert:

Check out www.alwayswellwithin.com

Mindfulness teacher Sandra Pawula has written a great article,

“33 Mantras to Bring Back Calm” – who doesn’t need an extra boost of serenity these high-speed days?

Maybe it is helpful if you set an individual mantra for any and all people that might throw off your zen: your hurried husband, interesting in-laws, belittling boss, cranky colleague or salty {step}children. Now you can apply on the daily what all Yoga Teachers know:

Mantras do as much good off the yoga mat as they do on!

2) Create a text group and share pictures 

We have a text group called: “Big Parenting!” Perfect name, in my humble opinion, as that is exactly what we are all doing. We try to share important information about particular items the children might need to be packed as well as photos of what the little lamas (we also share a little girl lama) got up to during our time together.

I specifically asked that BB set up a group text with biomom (and her partner) as at times I felt left out of their private communication. It made me feel like I always had to ask for information instead of just receiving it like any other parent. My BB is very supportive and he spoke to biomom and voilà we now have a shared group – yeah!

It is not always easy to see pictures of the kids having fun in their “other” home with their “other” parent but at the end of the day we have a shared goal to *-- always make the children’s interests and wellness a priority! --*

Our combined efforts only help our cubs feel comfortable, safe and secure no matter which of the ‘Home Sweet Homes’ they are in. They know they can talk about things going on in one house as we are all in communication about it. There are no secrets. They can tell us about how last weekend they went camping or to a play with biomom because we already received the photos.

Action plan:

Set up your own co-parenting text group and look at the pictures often with the kid(s). This reinforces that first tip about yoga/co-parenting not being a competition. When the children see you looking lovingly and with genuine interest at pictures of them doing things they did without you with their “other” set of parent(s) - they hopefully start to feel more relaxed and at ease.

Ask questions about what the children did in the photos but not intrusive ones. Depending on the age, children can practice their recall or storytelling skills by filling in the details.

Extra tip:

The majority of the pictures we send each other are just of the kids. I mean does biomom really want to see a picture of me snuggling up during a spectacular sunset with her ex while the kiddos run around on the beach in the background? As they say in German – Nein!

Do text a simple and to the point, “Thank You” when biomom does send pictures or remembers to pack the items you requested. Showing gratitude is another yogic principle. Displaying appreciation helps set a thoughtful, mindful tone of communication.

Our intention in sharing photos is to keep each other in the loop, create a sense of shared experiences and to make “joint custody” as stress-free and enjoyable for the children as possible.

3) Attend special event(s) together

As I mentioned, we also all go to events such as birthday parties or the first day of school as a large, blended family. We take pictures with the two sets of co-parent couples and the little lamas. Of course, we also take separate photos but it is so nice that we can stand together, side by side - the message to the kids is clear - we ALL love you!

My plan is to flesh out this point with specific “How-to’s” and examples in one of my next blogs for Social Stepmom because I know this is super challenging and requires an article dedicated solely to this point so stay tuned…

4) Try to have consistent rules & expectations

Behavioural issues can arise when there are a different set of rules at each home and that is one of the things we are working on; trying to be more consistent so the children know what is expected from them at all times in every environment.

Action plan:

When necessary, meet with biomom to discuss shared values and positive reinforcements to ensure the kid(s) make good choices and display respectful behaviour no matter which house they are in.

For example, if you know biomom does not like the kid(s) watching anything but PG movies  – resist the urge to be the “cool” parent(s) and let them at your house. Even if they throw every trick in the toddler/tween book: whine; complain; stomp their feet, throw a tantrum, silent treatment, sweet talk, etc., etc., etc., (lol).

The focus should be on having clear guidelines at both houses that are ideally agreed upon between the co-parents. It makes for such good energy when both houses flow to a similar vibe. I am not unrealistic and realize that biomom and biodad divorced for a reason and so obviously there will be personality/parenting differences – minimizing them is key!

Wear your stepmom medal with honour and joy!

*Despite the challenges, the ebbs and flows, ups and downs, I enjoy being a stepmom to our two little, kind, and growing beings. I am grateful my BB opened up this whole new world to me.

I reached out to the “Social Stepmom Society” because it is such a unique role and there are so many misconceptions due to Hollywood movies and fairytale books with a stereotypical stepmom character that is usually portrayed in a negative light. Ugh! How tired.

In reality, it is clear that the role of a stepmom is complex, multifaceted and full of hard-earned rewards. I wear my {Step} Mom Medal with honour and joy!

I have learned, that it is important to talk about and express your feelings and having a receptive and understanding partner has made such an amazing difference.

Connecting with people and families in similar situations all around the world is what I look forward to most. Here’s to sharing our success stories, best tips & tricks and to picking each other up when the load seems overwhelming. We’ve got this! Go “Social Stepmom Society” team!

It is exciting to be part of a community that not only speaks the same language but also is actively changing the narrative of {step}families.

Being a part of a team means showing up to practice and doing the tough work. I am IN! Hope you are too. See you every other Tuesday for more “Lessons with the Yogi Lama”. Please feel free to contact me with any special requests for articles.

Sending love and bright light from our pretty patchwork family to yours.

Namaste *the light in me, honours the light in you*

Lara x

The Yogi Lama

Where can you find her today?

From May-September 2019, Lara is leading “Yoga in the Park” (for the 2nd Season!) with the Bad Gögging Tourism Board [@badgoegging] who is celebrating their 100th Anniversary in Bavaria, Germany. This collaboration provides free Yoga in a beautiful outdoor setting to the local community. Visitors welcome!

After years of crisscrossing the globe, Lara is a recent newlywed and has rooted; now living in Germany with her Bavarian Husband and their two beautiful {step} children. Having earned her B1 Certificate in German, Lara is (conversationally) Bilingual and is teaching The Little Lamas her native language - English.

Follow Lara’s Yoga journey, Advocacy work and be the first to know about upcoming Retreats//Workshops//Special Events on Instagram [@The.Yogi.Lama] or connect on LinkedIn.

Special Hashtags: #LessonsWithTheYogiLama #FlowmitLara #BadGoeggingMeetsYoga