You Talkin’ To Me?!!!: Anger Management is a crucial skill for stepmoms.

27 10 2008

I wrote a book about becoming a stepmom because I was scared. I wanted to talk to as many people as I could to make sure that I did it “right.” And I learned so much from the many brave stepfamilies I interviewed for the book. I found out what worked. I wrote it all down. I practiced it in my own home. But there are still days when I can’t handle stepmotherhood with much grace at all.

Some days I am in such a bad mood that I am not fit for human company. Those are the days when my thoughts spiral down into negativity. When I feel claustrophobic in my own home. When I feel taken advantage of because I am providing free daycare to kids not my own. When I feel assaulted by the noise and chaos. When the last thing I want to do is sit down for a stepfamily meal to bond with my stepkids; I’d rather jump off a bridge, thank you very much.

And the resentment builds.

Even when I am volatile and cranky and just plain burnt out, I know I don’t want to keep resentment in my heart. In five years or 10 years I don’t want to be mad about something that happened today. I don’t want to explode someday because I’ve never gotten my anger out. So in this post I wanted to write about anger and the things that stepmoms can do to dissipate resentment because I need to learn how to do it, too.

Escape Clause
Head out for a weekend getaway alone or with a close friend. Changing up your daily routine can help you, your spouse and the kids get a fresh perspective.

Play Time
Do something you really love to do. When was the last time you actually took time to do something you love? Americans are taking fewer and fewer vacation days. So what if you just took a day off from work or taking care of the kids and took care of yourself? What if you took today off? Or tomorrow?

Anger 101
Be mad. Be hurt. Be outraged. Acknowledge your feelings. If you’re mad, tell a trusted friend you’re mad. Write it down. Get it out into the open air. Swear if you need to. Name the feelings you’re having. Write a letter to the person you’re mad at. Tell them why. Tell them what they could do to make you feel better. Destroy the letter, send the letter, or call the person you’re upset with and have a discussion about what happened. Even if you’re upset, make sure to use compliments and gratitude to ease the tension so you can have a real conversation, and not a fight that ends with either of you saying hurtful things you can’t ever take back.

Body Building
Stretch out on your bed, the couch or the floor and tense your entire body. Tighten your hands into fists, make an angry scowl. Hold your breath and hold the position for as long as you can. Then let all your muscles relax and breathe out. Do it a few times. If you’re daring, add a scream when you tense and a big, loud sigh when you let the pose go.

Creative Solutions
If there’s something happening at home that bugs you, be as creative as possible to find ways around the issue. For instance, with three kids in the house, there were A LOT of stinky shoes cluttering up the front hallway of our home. It drove me crazy. I hated those shoes. And for a few days I didn’t do anything about it but complain to my husband and get madder and madder. I had just tripped over a set of sneakers on my way to the car and was about to go on a rampage when my eye caught two sets of metal racks in the garage that were holding an assortment of junk: tools, baseballs, bicycle helmets. And I had a stroke of genius: I could use those racks! So I lined them up in the garage right by the door and gave each kid a shelf to put their shoes on. They sometimes leave their shoes next to the racks instead of in them, but at least they are out of sight and don’t present a danger to anyone coming into our house.

Breathe
Take time out for deep breaths to nourish your body with all the oxygen it needs.

Now you: What strategies do you use when you’re feeling angry and resentful?

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