Planning. Everyone who knows me knows that I am all about the planning. I Christmas shop in July. I pack for vacation two weeks before leaving. I plan meals a week ahead. I even schedule workouts.
Therefore, it should be no surprise that upon entering into a relationship with my now husband and realizing that I would be a stepparent, I made a plan. My plan of attack was preparedness. Yes, I had come from a stepfamily but mere experience didn’t feel like enough preparation. I read every stepparenting book I could find. I talked to every stepparent I knew. I discussed specific parenting situations with my husband just to ensure that we were on the same page.
Thefreedictionary.com defines a plan of attack as ideas or actions intended to deal with a problem or situation. If you are on a diet, you have a plan of attack for handling dinner parties. If you are studying for exams, you have a plan of attack for acing the test. Upon entering a stepfamily, you must have a plan of attack. Surviving in that stepfamily requires the same effort.
Despite all of my best efforts at preparedness, I was still tested as a stepparent. That’s life. But there were also countless situations that I was prepared for. Often that plan of attack decreased stress and increased familial happiness.
While the unexpected will happen, there are plenty of situations for which you can make a plan of attack. Talk with your spouse. Get on the same page. Plan for specific situations that are known to induce stress and anxiety in your stepfamily’s life. Strategize how best to implement those plans. Preparedness could be your salvation.
Parents’ night at school and you are anticipating that your stepchild will not invite you. Why not make plans with friends so that you feel secure and encouraged in your own relationship outside of your stepfamily?
Encountering problems with pick up/drop off times with the other parents. Perhaps it’s time to invest in a facilitator who acts as an intermediary to pick up and drop off the kids.
Hearing the dreaded words, “You’re not my mom/dad.” Have your comeback planned in advance! Write it out. Memorize it.