Step Mum Experience

I am a proud step mum of my fiancés two children – a girl almost 9, and boy almost 7. Although I knew the children for over a year before their dad and I started a relationship (now 4 years ago), and I have ten years Early Childhood Experience, it certainly didn’t make this transition any easier for me and there has been many challenges as a stepparent. Being a step mum has definitely been a wild ride, but I love them and will always be here for them.

My life changed almost instantly with an open mind and expectations entering into a blended family relationship.  I found it interesting that when I asked a friend or someone for advice, they’d say to me, “Well you know what you signed up for when having a relationship with someone with kids.” ….Well do you really? I think not. I expected it would be difficult trying to fit in with the father, his ex and the mother of their children. I knew it may be difficult for the children settling in each time they came home for the weekend, but I really wasn’t as prepared as I’d thought and you really don’t know what you are signing up for until you are immersed right in.

You always remain apprehensive as I do, because you don’t know how much or even if they will love you back, how much they do appreciate you or even how much they love being involved in activities with you. What most also don’t realise is the change from being wild, single and free straight into a co-parenting life was not and is not a natural straight forward thing to do. I have experienced tantrums, rejection, anxiety, love, laughs and some of the best cuddles I could have hoped for, from the very children I have grown to love as if they were my own. One of the most emotional rollercoaster rides of my life.

It became apparent their father and I needed to work together singing from the same song sheet, if I was going to remain sane enough to continue and have some sort of structure in our new family unit moving forward.

I had some idea, as I had split parents from a young age, and stayed at my fathers every second weekend. Just our two children do.

However, when I was younger, my step mum was very busy, she had twins and a baby son. I feel as though we never really developed a relationship… it was just what it was. With this in mind, I did not want to have my two experience the same. Yet 25+ years later, I remember going home after my weekend and crying to my mum. Although I was happy at my mums, I was very jealous of my younger siblings – they always had the latest toys. I didn’t like going there also because it wasn’t my ‘place’, yes I had a room, or shared a room at times too, but it wasn’t ‘my’ room, nor felt like my ‘home’ or where I felt safe and happy.

I did not want this for our two and it was my childhood experiences that had influenced how I wanted to ensure the children always felt welcome, happy, safe and always loved in our home. I setup structure when they came home for the weekends involving them every step of the way. For them to play, be creative and themselves, we created game nights and burger night Fridays followed by stories before bed, not to mention family time with the extended family most weekends (grandparent visits).

Unfortunately, it is not as easy as just decorating their room with decals of their favourite interests, getting super cool duvet covers, heaps of fun toys they love, and having clothes they like.  There is so much more to it… This is something that you learn as you go, not something you can prepare for.  I have learned how to adapt and be creative in order for me to ‘do’ off the cuff (experience is key).

It takes the children at least a day to settle in with the change from one home to another, but unfortunately they only stay for 2 nights, before heading back. This gives us limited time with them, not quite enough to settle some weekends. We enjoy the school holidays because the children stay a week and have the time to settle, relax and be comfortable with their change. Shared care would be an option, but with them living at other end of the city, this was not going to be achievable.

To be honest, we struggle at times. But we take it day by day, and try to make their time at ours as fun and engaging as we can.

As a step mum, a personal struggle I have had over the years, is seeing the children smother all over their dad. This is because I have always wanted to be a mother and it’s a process, I’m going through to get pregnant. However, I know the children do love me, and they do love having cuddles with me, it will just never be the relationship as a mother/father does with their own child. I love my step children, and love having them come stay.

Written by: Sarsha Baker - July 2020