Avoiding Stepmom Burnout

Do you ever feel like commitments, responsibilities, tasks and chores get piled on you endlessly?  Do you feel like if one more thing gets added to your plate you might break? Do you feel like there is no end in sight and you might break from all of the pressure?  I think we all end up feeling like this at some point in our lives.  The important thing is what we do when we’re feeling like this.

As I was preparing a presentation for teachers related to burnout and how important it is to take care of ourselves, I realized how closely this relates to our role as a stepmom. Too often, we get caught up in our stepmom role.  Am I spending enough time with my stepchild and husband? Should I forgo my weekly running group to spend time with my stepfamily? What would a mom do? Am I being selfish? All of these questions and more run through our minds as we’re preparing for an outing, but the answer is a resounding YES. Yes, you are spending enough time with your stepfamily. And no, you are not being selfish.

If you want to be a loving, happy, emotionally-satisfied stepmom, you need to take care of yourself first. You need to cultivate your relationships with friends because those relationships help you gather your strength and let off a little steam. Plus, you’ll have an opportunity to relax and rejuvenate. You need to do the things that you enjoy because those are the things that make you feel happy and feel like yourself. You’re more than a stepmom and wife.  You’re a friend, yoga-lover, runner, hiker, and reader. Whatever makes you “you” is important to your well-being and happiness.

That’s where this beautiful poem, “Fire” by Judy Sorum Brown, comes in.


What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.

So building fires
requires attention
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.

When we are able to build
open spaces
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible.

We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.

A fire
simply because the space is there,
with openings
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.

This poem illustrates how important it is for a fire to have space to breathe and really allow the fire to come to life and burn. The same idea applies to our lives as stepmoms.  We need that space to come alive and thrive in our stepmom role. Without that space, we start to feel burnt out and resentful of our role. We start to lose our zest for life. We start to lose ourselves. That’s why we should pile on the logs, or the commitments and responsibilities, slowly and carefully, always being careful to keep our fire alive.  What kind of space do you build into your life? What do you need to do to keep your fire burning?