Amanda Morgan* of Citrus Heights is burned out. She currently lives with her husband of four years and his three children, who rarely, if ever see their biological mother. She cares for the children, works full time and still manages to do volunteer work, have a deep relationship and a social life. While she doesn’t bear the burden alone, it’s taking it’s toll. ” I feel like a bad person for feeling this way” she states in referring to her not being interested in her step son’s upcoming baseball tournament. ” I feel resentful and I don’t know why.”
Amanda is not alone. Nor is she selfish, greedy or uncaring. Step parents, especially those with full time custody, all over the world get the same feeling. Sometimes working non-stop from sun up until sun down for another’s children, meanwhile knowing you are never the first choice or might have a target on your back from a jealous ex. Custodial step parents often face the challenges that Amanda does. ” Honestly I wish some days it could be about me, and only me” While it may sound a bit narcissistic and selfish, it’s not.
Stepmothers and step fathers without children of their own go from being alone, single, and able to dive into ther own worlds, into a world where all of a sudden their own wants and needs are put on the shelf, becuase there are children involved. Children take the first priority, then the relationship takes a close second. Factor into that parents, siblings, jobs, caring for a home, general maintenance of life, no wonder there’s burnout. No one actually tells step parents that they must do it all and do it all with a smile, but it seems like an invisible expectation that’s out there.
Step parents and parents alike need to know that it’s perfectly acceptable to take a time out. If they are burned out, overly tired, frustrated, or simply tired of being a parent, then step back, recruit help and take a breather. Yes, it was said: tired of being a parent’ ; It does happen and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean a parent doesn’t love and cherish every moment of being a parent or that they wouldn’t sacrifice everything for them, but it means they need a breather. Even overpaid players in the Super Bowl get a time out when needed. Why can’t unpaid overworked parents?
In order to stop burnout in it’s tracks, it’s perfectly okay to be selfish once in awhile. If you were to take a day off, or even an afternoon off work, keep the kids in daycare and take some time for yourself, what would you do? Whether it’s for a pedicure, an uninterrupted hour at the gym, a nice long chat with a girlfriend, shopping without time limits or kids, it can be whatever you need it to be. Granted, for many households this isn’t a common occurrance so even splurging once in awhile is perfectly fine. You’ll come back to your daily routine and responsibilities renewed refreshed and much more able to take on the day’s challenges, jobs, kids and all that goes with them.
* all names/details have been changed to protect privacy.