As my stepmom life has evolved, the vibe and energy in my home has become my number one priority and has evolved too.
Trust me: I know not everything can be solved with a dimmed light and a candle but there is something to be said about how our environment makes us feel. There’s even science that backs it up.
Think back to being a kid and hearing your parents fighting while making dinner. Now think of being a kid and hearing music and feeling a chill vibe while doing your homework or hanging out in the family room.
Ambiance is real. As a stepmom, mom and wife, I protect the vibe of our home at all costs.
When I am deciding what’s worth the fight, I think about the vibe.
When I have an issue with my stepkids or disagree with my partner, I think about the vibe.
When I want to yell or curse, I think about the vibe.
Ten years from now — what do you want the kids to remember about how their home made them feel?
I am becoming increasingly particular about the energy I surround myself with. Thinking of the energy in my home has changed the way I react to things that are stressful or triggering.
Sure there are times I want to spout off about things I don’t agree with.
Yes there are times when I want to let it all out.
But I try (my best) to bring it back to the vibe.
I ask myself:
Is it worth it?
Can this be dealt with in a better way?
Here are some tools that help me set the vibe of my home. I think they’ll help you too.
Before we dive in, I am going to be straight. I’m not perfect. It’s not all kumbaya over here all the time.
But I try.
It’s helped, in a big way.
Let’s be real—candles do NOT fix everything. But, they can drastically put people at ease, they smell good, and can be relaxing. They are a good cue to people that we are transitioning from the chaos of the day to the restfulness of night.
A lot of times, stepmoms are highly sensitive people (yes this is a real thing) and highly sensitive people are, you guessed it, sensitive to lighting. Dimming the lights can give a message to your brain that you are relaxed.
I can’t stand walking into a room and feeling like I’m in a room with a surgical table. There is no need to have lights on full blast all the time. It makes us hyper aware of all the things, which in stepmom life, can be tiggering AF.
Play Soft Music
At the end of the long day I love to turn on a soft playlist to set the vibe. I pour myself a glass of vino or tea, dim the lights, light a candle and start to make dinner.
There are so many relaxing playlists on Spotify. Take some time to search and find one that’s your jam. (Literally)
Greet Everyone With The Energy You’d Like Them To Match
This can be challenging because, you know, teenage moods are real.
You’re the adult.
Even if they are in a teenage mood. Don’t match their mood.
Set the tone when they walk in the door.
Even if you are faking it, smile and say hello.
It’s like our mom’s always told us, treat others how you want to be treated.
Tidy Up Clutter
Clutter is linked to stress. Our environments affect how we feel.
As my friend Allie Casazza says, “things that take up space, take up your time”
Have a designated space for the junk, do a quick tidy, rid your environment of as much chaos as possible.
Before your stepkids arrive, straighten up your home—not for anyone else—for YOU.
For more on how clutter affects your environment, listen to podcast episode #129:
Decide How You Will React To Stressful Situations In Advance
I try my damnest to be proactive not reactive with my stepfamily stress.
Think ahead: Am I going to be annoyed if and when my stepkids come in and carelessly throw their backpacks and shoes in the space that is currently tidy?
If the answer is yes, how can you decide in advance you will react?
You could plan ahead: If they do that, I’ll calmly ask them to please put their things away.
I will NOT: snap and ask them if they think I am their maid, send a message to my partner bitching about the kids, and ruin the rest of the night.
Deciding in advance gives you more control over the situation and you’ll feel less thrown off.
This protects the vibe in a big way.
When You Feel Triggered Or Overwhelmed, Take A Minute To Breathe
Model what self-care looks like. If you feel triggered/annoyed/stressed/angry:
Go to your room, sit on your bed, take 10 deep breaths in and out.
Or go to the bathroom and wash your face.
Or take the dog around the block.
Or sit in the living room and text a girl friend.
Ask yourself what’s worth the vibe of your home.
Give yourself space.
Ask Open Ended Questions
instead of asking “How was your day?” and risk getting a one syllable grunt back, ask an open ended question and see if you can spark some more meaningful conversation.
Stepmom: How was your day?
(Conversation stops there.)
Stepmom: Who did you sit with at lunch today?
Stepkid: Oh, the funniest thing happened because I was sitting with Madison and Morgan and……
See the difference?
Encourage Kids To Take Space
Look, sometimes shit happens. People have a bad day. A teenager is struggling. They are in a mood where they are being disrespectful.
If you cannot be productive, ask them to take some space.
Normalize taking space when you need to regroup.
They’ve seen YOU take space when you needed it, so that helps normalize it.
This is a GREAT lifeskilll to have.
Tell them to hang in their room and decompress, and to come out when they’re ready.
Not in a “go to your room, you’re in trouble” kind of way but in a “hey why don’t you take a beat. You could use a minute” kind of way.
So stepmama, I encourage you to try at least one of these techniques this week.
The vibe of your home will thank you for it.