Blended Family Life,  Step-Parenting

How to Deal With Anxiety from Extended Time Away from Your Stepkids

There are lots of things that give me anxiety. Like queasy stomach, racing heart anxiety. Blended family stressors is one of them. One stressor that I didn’t expect however, was getting anxiety whenever it’s time for us to get the kids.

About two weeks before the kids get here I always start questioning myself. I worry that they won’t act the same. That they won’t love me. That they won’t be excited to stay with us. That the relationship won’t have been able to withstand the distance and everything will be awkward. It makes me want to crawl in bed, watch Pretty Woman, and cry over a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

But I can’t do that! I’m a grown up! (sometimes… lol)

I think the main reason for my anxiety around the kids returning is how big my love for them is. It’s kind of like seeing a friend you haven’t seen in a long time. You build up this reunion in your head. Your replay how it may go over and over in your head. You imagine the cinema-style, slow-motion, running embrace followed by laughter and tears. You imagine how perfect things will be. You build up this unobtainable, perfectionist reunion that reality will obviously fall short to. Then you start playing all the worst scenarios in your mind so that you don’t overhype the unobtainable, movie version. Either way, if you are anxiety prone like me, you drive yourself crazy waiting for the reunion with your stepkids simply because you miss them so badly and want everything to be perfect!

In reality, the first week or so is difficult for everybody.

I think the transition from home to home is just as tough for the kids as the transition from no kids to full time kids is for us. Try to remember this when dealing with your anxiety. Try to remember that you aren’t the only one going through this. It is hard for us to adjust to new schedules, early bedtimes and early mornings, messy floors, and the chaos that comes with having two little ones running around. It is hard for them to adjust to a different set of rules, a different schedule, different personalities, and no school. Even though you may be stressed and anxious, be mindful of your how your little ones may be feeling.

The transition period is also rough because everyone is so excited to see each other, but sometimes that happiness gets lost in the frustrations of adjusting. I have found a big difference in the shorter stays versus the longer stays. The times that we have the children for four-to-twelve days are a lot rougher and don’t tend to ever really calm down, but the longer summer break is the one where we get back into our groove.

This helps when I am anxious about getting the kids for the summer, because by now I know this is when we shine. (bright like a diamond!)

The shorter breaks (Thanksgiving, Christmas, & Spring Break) are so hectic and we hardly get enough time to find our groove as a family.

The long summer break is great because we get enough time to really mesh together and flow. We get past the transition week, and we all fall into our routine.

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I am a very anxious person by nature, and that took Dan a little while to understand.

He wouldn’t understand when I would share my anxiety about the kids returning with him. He would say things like, “But you love them, so what’s the problem?” The problem is my brain is telling me it won’t be the same. My brain is filling with all of these horrible scenarios, and what if they come true?! But he has gotten so good at comforting me and knowing what to say to calm me down. He is my rock during my times of anxiety. He reminds me that no matter how rocky it gets my love for the kids and their love for me is what is most important.

Some things I like to remember whenever I start getting anxious about the kids coming are…

  1. Be Mindful of Their Emotions

You are feeling anxious and nervous because you haven’t seen your stepkids in awhile, but remember you aren’t the only one in this scenario. These are big feelings for you, but they must be even bigger for those little people! At least you are staying in your same home, they are in an entirely different environment. (I am in no way saying that our home isn’t a home to my stepkids! I always want them to feel like this is their home. I am just saying that it is not only a completely different atmosphere than their other home, but it is in an entirely different state! Everything is different.)

2. Be Patient

Maybe I’m a broken record here about patience, but I wholeheartedly believe that patience is a vital characteristic in successful blended families. You have to be patient with yourself when you undoubtedly feel these anxious emotions, even though you want to be stronger than that. You have to be patient with your SO when he doesn’t understand why you’re feeling this way. You have to be patient with your stepkids when they don’t jump out of the car and run to you with open arms. Be patient. It will all get better with time. You will stop getting so anxious, your SO will start to understand (or at least find ways to comfort you), and your stepkids will find other ways to show you they missed you.

3. Love Conquers All

Typically, I worry for nothing. For the most part, every reunion so far has been amazing. These times are always full of hugs, smiles, laughter, and maybe a few tears from me. (happy tears! I can’t help it.) I try to remind myself that the love I have for these babies, and the love they have for me in return, has proven to withstand the time and distance, and it can continue to do the same.

Stepmama, when you get anxious about the kids returning most importantly remember that your love for them and their love for you is what is most important. If you are dreading the transition make sure to remember that the adjustment is temporary. Don’t forget to lean on your SO during these anxious times. He knows you best and knows how to comfort your anxious heart.

Love you family, love yourself, and live your happiest life.

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