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Friday, May 21, 2010

When to Ask for Help

I spoke with two stepmoms this week who were covered up with too much to do and too little time to do it. With several kids at home, a full time job and constant household duties, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and underappreciated as a stepparent.

So, where do we find help? The first place to consider is our spouse and children. For some unknown reason, society has dictated that women are primarily responsible for the household chores. But if we're working full-time and trying to manage the household by ourselves, we will drown.

After staying home with our kids for many years, I returned to work a few years ago. I had been accustomed to doing most of the chores at home because I was home more than my husband. But suddenly, I found myself suffocating from too much to do. I was irritable with my kids and angry toward my husband. I expected him to figure out that I needed some help.

Finally one day, with tears spilling down my face, I admitted that I was tired of being Supermom and needed someone else to pick up the slack. We held a family meeting and talked about what needed to change. We split up the chores and asked everyone to do their part to keep the household running smoothly. It took several reminders to get it going but finally worked into an agreeable schedule.

As stepparents, we cannot afford to expend all our time and energy working inside and outside the home. When we reach the end of our rope, the relationship with our stepchildren suffers. I heard a comment from Ron Deal, founder of Successful Stepfamilies, that resonates with me, "Stepparents must shave off their rough edges. Kids will love an unlikeable parent, but rarely even like an unlikeable stepparent."

When I have too much to do, I become an unlikeable stepparent. I'm quick to snap at my stepkids and grunt at my husband. Therefore, I'm constantly aware of my need to discern what activities and extracurricular events I will be involved in. I know when to ask for help if I begin to feel overwhelmed.

How do you keep your household running smoothly? Do you need to ask for help?



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