The Light at the End of the Tunnel: What Worked
I'm the 75-year old BM & SM of 5 who suffers flashbacks as I read the blogs & forums. We made it to the end of the tunnel & I wanted to share what worked as we coped with the day-to-day chaos.
1) Counseling, the best money I ever spent. Takeaways: assertiveness, engagement & more one-on-one time with DH. This is contrary to the often-recommended disengagement but in those days, I needed to step up to my family role. As DH & I spent more time together, we became "deeper than dirt" as we shared our kids' issues.
2) DH took all 5 kids out of the house for at least a few hours one day each weekend in the early years. As an introvert, i needed downtime. Him doing this made the situation bearable
3) All the kids living here full time. The first 4 years were incredibly difficult & I seriously dreaded the SKs' arrival each weekend. They weren't bad kids, just aggressive & boisterous. After a day or so, things would be better but we'd start all over again the next weekend. To my surprise, everything went more smoothly once they moved in full time. I now realize the back-and-forth was hard on the SKs, too. When i read about co-parenting, i wonder how that can work.
4) I went back to work & completed my degree. I had a 33-year career I loved. Gaining financial independence also gave me the option to bail which I seriously considered many times.
5) Easy-going housekeeping attitude. I wasn't then & am not now a perfect housekeeper. I didn't stress out about the kids' rooms. Once in awhile, i'd shovel out or hire cleaning help.
6) My happiness is central. If I'm happy & centered, the whole family does better. Period.
Step-parents, I'm with you. Hang in there, dear ones.