5 TIPS FOR STEPMOM SELF-CARE

AMIDST HIGH-CONFLICT CO-PARENTING

Stepmom self-love relaxing with a coffee and capturing her emotions and experiences in her journal

Maintaining stepmom self-care while facing a high-conflict reality is no easy feat.

Some may think stories like ours only come from those who love drama — like the people you see on reality TV and Judge Judy. Unless they’ve lived through a high-conflict dynamic themselves, they might think using words like anxiety, abuse and PTSD are an exaggeration.

For many of us, these words reflect our experience.

My significant other and I have thankfully been able to find freedom from a co-parenting nightmare that wreaked havoc on our lives.

The conflict with the biological mother of the kids was relentless — and emotional chaos was our reality for far too long.

In our early years together, it almost destroyed our relationship.

But, instead of focusing on what we couldn’t control, Chris and I chose to do the work to create foundational changes together as a team.

We got some major help from experts and therapists who understood exactly what we were facing and could give us guidance on how to actually CHANGE the dynamic. Only then were we able to move on to a level of healing and thriving that I didn’t always believe possible.

I’m not going to sugar coat it though; changing the situation was hard-ass WORK.

But now I know it’s possible because we’ve done it.

And you can too if you decide to.

Here are my top five stepmom self-care tips to get you centered so you can focus on protecting what’s important:

1. Mindset Shifts 👀

From now on, practice looking at each problem that arises with the other bio-parent as an opportunity for you and your partner to learn more and educate yourselves.

Believe me, girlfriend, I know it sucks when it happens! 🤬

I always tell my clients that developing emotional strength is similar to building bigger muscles in your body. Working out and breaking down muscles is what makes them stronger as they rebuild and grow.

Building emotional muscles works pretty much the same way. It’s miserable and it hurts, but the rewards are worth it.

Just reacting or blaming is easy, but shifting your mindset takes work.

Allow yourself some time to bitch about it with your guy then move to a problem-solving stance.

Shift your mindset by saying a little “thank you” to the Universe for pointing out an area of vulnerability in your co-parenting situation.

Say to one another:

“This stressful situation and wasteful drama is an opportunity for change. Thank you _______ for shining a light on the areas where we still need to create boundaries, rules, or consequences, so this can’t happen again.”

(Insert name of other bio-parent or your nickname for them into the blank. C’mon now, let’s be real, you know you have one lol!) 🤣

Think of it as a challenge to see how powerfully you and your partner can come together as a united front. Don’t sweep things under the rug.

Try your best to reign in your reactive emotions and behavior. Instead, spend your precious energy figuring out new preventative measures.

Mindset is everything. It always is.

The lessons we need to learn don’t magically go away until we’ve learned them! What lessons is this challenge here to teach you?

Dive deep.

REAL self-care feels like the inner peace that comes when you know you’re making progress toward removing chaos from your life — but it takes effort.

If you can start to consistently implement this Stepmom Self-Care Tip #1: MINDSET SHIFTS, I promise you’ll start to reap the rewards sooner than you expect!

Mindset shifts are one of the greatest forms of self-care a stepmom can practice when facing a high-conflict co-parenting reality

VISUALIZATION FOR THE DAY: picture yourself energetically building a protective fortress around your relationship and household; one brick at a time.

2. Sacred Time  💃🏽🕺🏻

Okay, here we go, this is an IMPORTANT one. We all know it, but do we actually make it happen?

Plan something enjoyable to look forward to with your partner — kid-free — at least once a week. 

And when I say SACRED, I mean you both give it your respect by cherishing the time together and making it happen, no matter what.

I know it can be a challenge, especially during times of high-drama, but you both must make it an absolute priority.

Call it connection time, date night, solo time — whatever works for you. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, just make it happen by getting it on your calendar!

Get creative.

Make it fun. 🎉

It’s extremely important to recognize that you both need to feel connected as a couple while at the helm of your household. 

Chris and I have put forth a lot of effort explaining to the kids how important this time is for us. They understand that we can’t be solid role models for them if we’re not healthy as individuals and as a couple.

And if the partnership is struggling (or maybe even falling apart), everything else suffers — including our ability to care for our family.

Healthy parenting comes from an emotionally balanced space, not a disconnected and depleted one.

So — make a promise to one another.

Commit to protecting this SACRED TIME.

No talking about anything related to the other bio-parent, the kids, the household, stepmom struggles or custody issues. You’ll find that sometimes this is easier than others. You may have to force yourself to stick to it.

I know I’ve failed at this more than a few times. This girl has got a very low tolerance for bullshit! How about you?

It sure ain’t easy to chill out and relax when it feels like fires are burning all around you 🔥🔥🔥, but your relationship is worth the focused effort.

One of our most important jobs as parents is to role model a healthy and happy relationship if we choose to expose the kids to one.

Otherwise, the patterns they witness in your relationship will likely carry forward into their relationships later.

So, for us, Stepmom Self-Care Tip #2: SACRED TIME comes first.

Once Chris and I spend time connecting, we’re more equipped to parent from a grounded space. This was especially important when we were facing a lot of conflict.

Now, years later, it’s become a healthy habit.

It’s part of our household routine and it’s a non-negotiable.

Connection is everything in a relationship.

Make it happen.

A stepmom connects with her partner on date night

VISUALIZATION FOR THE DAY: picture yourself feeling a carefree, romantic, protected and connected vibe. ✨

3.  Process Emotions 💓

Let me tell you from the get-go : if you feel it, it matters. 

I’ll say it again: IF YOU FEEL IT, IT MATTERS! 

Many women tend to shove down their feelings. They often question whether or not to speak up when something is bothering them. They don’t want to create more problems for their partner, so they swallow their pain.

Clarity about their emotions evades them, so they bury their feelings, deeper and deeper.

We all know this isn’t healthy, but many women do it anyway.

If you want to process your emotions, it’s essential to get clear on what it is you’re feeling and why. 

Which means you must first acknowledge your feelings.

Journaling is a great first step for breaking through blocks that might be holding you back. It’s a safe space to allow yourself to acknowledge your emotions — even the ugly and angry ones.

Let ‘er rip!

Whether it’s journaling, expressing them to your partner, going to therapy, or talking with a coach, you must let yourself feel your emotions to move through them. What thoughts keep looping through your head about the conflict? How does the situation make you feel? What are your hopes for change?

Ask yourself meaningful questions and sit with the feelings that come to you. 🤔

Stepmom Self-Care Tip #3: Process Emotions is key.

As you start to get more in tune with yourself in this way, knowing and speaking your truth then becomes more comfortable.

And sister, I’m sure you know this by now, boundary-setting skills are at the root of diffusing a high-conflict situation.

But, to set effective boundaries, you must first get aligned with your gut.

Ahhhhhh — authenticity sure does feel good, doesn’t it?!

Our emotions are there for a reason. What are your emotions telling you right now?

Stepmom self-worth: processes her emotions by journalling with a coffee

VISUALIZATION FOR THE DAY: picture yourself releasing a heavy, fear-based energy from your body and feeling the power of your truth replace it. ✨

4. Kindred Spirits  🥰

(Kinda like me and you. 🙏)

More than anything, I hope you now know you’re not alone in your suffering. 

The stepmom role is not an easy one. Add a high-conflict dynamic and it can make it almost unbearable at times.

But, if you know you have a good man and you want your relationship to survive — it IS possible to change the situation.

I just want you to know that.

Reach out and set an intention to connect with one soul sister within the month. Someone who is either living a similar experience or has come out the other side of one — which is even better.

Girl-time is proven to lower blood pressure and anxiety levels.

I can’t survive without it.

My guy calls us “cackling hens.” My girlfriends and I can talk for hours while his eyes start to glaze over when he hits his limit of heart-to-heart conversation.

I always stop to acknowledge that I feel better afterward.

My stress levels have lowered, and I feel as if my sisters have shrouded me in their love and protection.

This connection with other women soothes my soul. I know it will nourish yours as well. 💞

I tell my clients it’s important to find other women who can relate to what you’re experiencing with your partner as far as high levels of stress and drama within your co-parenting reality. We all need some validation in what we feel — and the challenges that come with this stepmom role are incredibly unique. Most people just don’t get it.

There’s a whole world of women out there who are living or have lived this stepmom journey. Make it a priority to connect with at least one!

However, try not to connect only on your pain-points, but also on a shared goal to move beyond them. Venting can serve a purpose for the short term, but be cautious not to surround yourself with women who will enable you to get stuck in it. 

That’s precisely why I think it’s paramount to seek solace in other women who have done the work to move beyond the conflict.

I’ll tell you honestly though — these ladies are few and far between in regular support group environments. When you’re no longer living in drama and chaos, there’s really nothing left to talk about — unless your job or goal is to help others by sharing your experience.

Just be mindful who you take advice from.

If you want to meet your KINDRED SPIRITS in-person, try posting on Meetup, Next Door or Facebook. Whatever you can think of to put that intention out there. ✨

Or, try meeting remotely via Skype, Zoom or in Facebook groups. The internet offers us so many solutions — we really have no excuses in this day and age. Women before us didn’t have these options.

Find the resources and make Stepmom Self-Care Tip #4: KINDRED SPIRITS happen! You won’t regret it.

There’s nothing like the safe and connected feeling that comes by surrounding yourself with your soul sisters!

Join me in my private Facebook group, Empowered Stepmoms, for more support.

Stepmom Self-Care: Women sharing their experiences of their stepmom journey and connecting over their stories

VISUALIZATION FOR THE DAY: picture awesome, like-minded women who understand exactly how you feel surrounding you. You don’t have to convince them of anything because they’ve been in your shoes and survived it. You feel inspired by your time with them.

5. Tap in 🙏🏼

This is a BIG one! 💥

Connect to source energy every day. God, the universe, source, spirit, the divine — whatever resonates for you.

Get quiet with prayer or meditation, and allow all the resistance and stress to fade away. 🧘🏽‍♀️

Make it a priority to TAP IN to source energy.

Know that you’ve done your part and given it your best.

Trust that everything will be exactly as it’s meant to be.

Let go as you hand it over to something bigger than yourself. 

Most mornings, once Chris and I have meditated, I say this Divine Love Meditation out loud as we both sit side-by-side.

(Deep breath in through your nose slowly. Hold. Let your breath out through your nose powerfully! Sit for a couple of minutes and pay attention to any thoughts and feelings that may arise.)

During the times when it felt like the chaos was getting the best of us, this prayer is one of the only things we could manage as we tried to get somewhat centered and bring forth positive energy amidst a very toxic situation.

We were in the trenches and we needed help.

We couldn’t control the circumstances, but we could try our damnedest to maintain our inner peace.

I’ve come to realize that sometimes, we just gotta hand it over and consciously f’n surrender. And I tell you — when I started to really do this Stepmom Self-Care Tip #5: TAP IN — that’s when the real magic started to happen.

After years of work to move beyond the chaos, I said my little prayer by myself one morning. At that point, I knew we had done everything we could do as a team. There was nothing left within our control.

We were depleted at that time because we had a stressful court date on the horizon.

After the prayer, I started to cry and mumbled, “please help us.”

I had never said that before.

It’s almost as if a protective energy took over that I can’t even explain. I didn’t notice it in the moment, but I’m aware of it now.

There was a definite shift from that day forward.

The timing was exactly as it was meant to be — and nothing has ever been the same since.

Maiko Michelle Stepmom self-care: a stepmom taps into her personal power in loving meditation

VISUALIZATION FOR THE DAY: picture a protective energy surrounding you, your relationship, and your household. Breathe in light, exhale all the dark energy. Let the universe recycle what you exhale as it becomes light again. “I am safe. I am listening. I now connect with Divine Love. All is well.” ✨

And, of course it goes without saying, make sure you get plenty of exercise, downtime, and sleep.

You’ve got this sister!

I hope you found my five top self-care tips helpful!!

I really do believe if you work hard to implement each of these into your life right now — especially while dealing with high levels of chaos — the shifts can be profound. 💫

Real Stepmom Self-Care: Create Change 🙌🏼

It’s OK if you’re struggling right now.

If you’ve gotten this far, I’m guessing you’ve probably fallen in love with a man who has kids with a woman who seems hostile.

The thing is, society pressures us to believe that we should all be able to co-parent cooperatively “for the sake of the kids.”

BUT, if you’re dealing with someone who is high-conflict and/or personality disordered, you’re living in an abnormal situation and one size does not fit all.

The regular rules of co-parenting can’t be applied to high-conflict cases. 

That’s the trap. And that’s why generic advice isn’t working, as “reasonable” as it might seem.

It might be time to start seeing the situation for what it is, and do the work to move forward to a place where her drama and attempts at conflict don’t impact your lives any longer.

There IS a way to get there — I promise.

My coaching program, Freedom from the Chaos, is an intervention into your present reality that will teach you an unconventional parenting stance that actually addresses your high-conflict situation — not some surface-level ideal of what co-parenting should look like.

It’s a new approach that will empower you and your partner to shield yourselves — and the kids — from more chaos.

You and your partner are going to have to dig deep — but it’s worth it. Trust me.

THIS is what it looks like to take your power back!

Life is too short continuously be impacted by someone else’s emotional chaos.

I’m also available for immediate 60-minute “Solution Sessions” should you need immediate guidance on a particular issue independent of the program.

Are you ready to start protecting your future?

We’re all in this together.

xoxo, 💖

Maiko

PS. Please be sure to follow my Facebook Page for more stepmom self-care tips, Maiko Michelle — Empowerment Coach and please get in touch if you think you might need some guidance. ✨

Freedom from the Chaos co-parenting: the sun rises over the mountains