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Embarking on the journey of a blended family is a unique experience that weaves together moments of joy and challenges. As someone who’s walked this path, I understand the delicate balance required as a stepmother. Our recent In The Blend podcast guest, Susan Haworth (otherwise known as ‘The Stepmom Whisperer), shed light on the concept of ‘over functioning’ that many stepmums may find familiar – taking on more than necessary.

Today, let’s delve into the art of recognising when it’s time to step back, practising the gentle dance of disengagement. This isn’t about withdrawal or neglecting relationships; rather, it’s about finding a harmonious balance that nurtures growth within the family while safeguarding your mental well-being.

Here are seven heart-centred signs that you might be overfunctioning and why it’s essential to consider taking a step back:

1. Feeling Constantly Overwhelmed:

Life in a blended family can be a whirlwind of responsibilities. Are you the superhero managing every household task? It’s time to consider if others can step in and share the load. Juggling myriad roles without respite can lead to burnout, impacting your well-being and the quality of relationships.

2. Micromanaging Behavior:

Do you find yourself orchestrating every aspect of family life, from schedules to decisions? Let’s ponder whether others can contribute to their share of responsibilities and whether your partner expects this of you. Over-involvement might also lead to micromanaging and imbalance, impacting the natural ebb and flow of family dynamics.

3. Neglecting Self-Care

Amidst caring for your stepchildren, partner, and the family, are you overlooking your self-care? It’s time to put yourself on the priority list. This one is a non-negotiable! Could a coffee date with a friend, a massage, or simply lounging with a good book become part of your routine?

4. Feeling Resentful or Unappreciated

Harbouring resentment due to unacknowledged efforts is heavy. If negative emotions accumulate, it’s vital to reassess your involvement. Open communication with your partner about your feelings is key to maintaining a healthy emotional landscape.

5. Struggling to Set Boundaries

This is a big one. If you find yourself saying yes to every request, consider if it aligns with your well-being. For example, do you need to be the taxi service for your teenage stepchildren over the weekends? It’s crucial to protect your emotional space by establishing healthy boundaries. Setting boundaries is an act of self-love.

6. Neglecting Your Relationship with Your Partner:

The partnership at the heart of your blended family deserves your focus. Remember, it is the reason you have a blended family in the first place – and you are connected to your partner by choice. If you sense a disconnect, it’s time to revisit your priorities. Quality time with your partner is a cornerstone for a thriving blended family. Do you have regular date nights in the calendar? Time throughout the week to connect and give your full attention to your partner? If not, make it your focus to put these in the diary today.

7. Feeling a Sense of Guilt::

Guilt about unrealised expectations can be a heavy burden. Acknowledge that you’re doing your best, and it’s okay to step back when needed. It doesn’t make you a bad person. You need to work to free yourself from the weight of guilt and embrace the art of finding balance.

Recognising signs of over functioning is a testament to your strength and self-awareness. It’s not about emotional withdrawal but about fostering a balance that nurtures individual growth and harmony within the family. Prioritise self-care, set loving boundaries, and communicate openly with your partner.

If you need help knowing when to step back, sign up to our newsletter for more helpful tips and if you’re a stepmum, keep an eye out for our ‘Bonus Mum Blueprint’ course which will be available later this year and includes an entire module on the art of disengagement, with more practical strategies and tools for doing so effectively.

Do any of these signs resonate? Continue the conversation and let us know on Facebook or Instagram.

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