Many women aren’t sure what self-care is, so they mistakenly think it means being selfish, and they feel guilty when they attempt to do something for themselves. One reason for this is because it wasn’t modeled for us as children. Most of our moms sacrificed everything for us, so we never saw our moms take time out for themselves or enjoy hobbies— especially not at our expense.
When I recommend self-care to stepmoms, I’m recommending they do activities that achieve two goals:
1) Give them a break from their daily stress
2) Refill their emotional tank/feed their spirit/bring them joy
We all have things that do this for us, but we often forget them because we let life get in the way. It could be dancing, painting, walking the dog, going to the gym, cooking, reading, getting a manicure, etc. You might have to think back to when you were a child to find out what you really enjoy doing.
As far as things that all stepmoms should do, you should carve out time, at least once a week, for this activity. This shouldn’t be thought of as a “nice-to-have.” It should be a non-negotiable “must-have.”
It’s important that you spend time away from your source of stress. You can’t recharge when you’re surrounded by the same environment that adds to your stress. Even if family life isn’t stressful at the moment, this should be something you do with friends or alone, because if you’re with people you either feel obligated to take care of or even want to take care of, it’s defeating the point.
I know there are women out there who are convinced they just have NO time for this. I often say that something needs to change if this is the case. Dad needs to step up or they need to reach out to family and friends for support. But in these cases, just five minutes alone in the bathroom can make a difference, even if it’s short lived.
Stepmoms with young stepdaughters are important role models who can teach them what it looks like to value themselves. Boys are naturally pretty good at doing what they want for themselves, but girls often struggle with this. (Think of all the people-pleasing women you know.)
When you’re taking good care of yourself, you gain a sense of confidence that carries over into other aspects of your life. When you’re feeling good about yourself, you’re more likely to feel good about others and less likely to take things so personally. And when you return to our family more patient, less stressed and more peaceful, everyone wins.
This article was originally published in the August 2014 issue of Sm Magazine
© 2014 Jenna Korf All Rights Reserved
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- Why stepmoms need a kid-free zone in their home
- Stepmoms, it’s not personal
- Stepmom Burnout: What to do about it