Ep 14 – Get Out of the Stepparenting Autopilot Grind

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Hey Stepparents! Today we’re exploring intentional living.

For a large chunk of my life I functioned on auto-pilot. If right now you’re thinking “What!?!” I’ll explain.

You might have had the experience where you drive somewhere but you don’t remember the drive. And seemingly in the blink of an eye you’re at your destination.

That used to happen to me a lot, and in many areas of my life. Everyday had the same stale rhythm. And it felt lack-luster. I noticed that I was becoming resentful. Irritated with all the to do’s that held my days hostage.

Something had to give. This had to stop! But how?

I realized I had to get out of the routine of just responding to everyday needs and instead, be intentional with my time and responsibilities.

Sure, there were things that were non-negotiable some of the time … but not all of the time. And if I planned my time right, I could do more of the things that light me up. Things that feed my soul and build back my energy.

Sometimes I found myself doing things that I didn’t even need to do anymore because their function was obsolete.

For example, there were chores that I was struggling to keep up with, when I could have asked for help or had a rotating schedule for members of the family to pitch in to complete.

So instead of the auto-pilot dance … I’d like to invite you to live intentionally

Intentional living is developing habits to be mindful of what is really happening and what is needed to respond to it right now instead of reacting in a rote way.

Sometimes this can look like not addressing something at the moment and waiting till later. But the consideration has to be given and plan for action has to be set up on the spot.

Don’t do things for the sake of doing them. Instead do things that are supportive to all involved.

And here are the steps of how to do just that …

1. Recognize There is a Choice

The thing I learned after years of resentment and exhaustion, and that I’d like you to know is … that you don’t have to function on autopilot. The way things are is not the only way it has to be.

You actually GET to choose which things you want to hold on to and which you might want to trade in … which is living intentionally. This applies to tasks you complete, commitments you make, activities you engage in.

You get to have choice over if you do the thing, but also when and how.

For this and the next steps, let’s use the following example … dropping your stepchild off for their time with your partner’s ex-partner.  

2. Tune In to What is Needed

The way I work with my clients to do this is …

Observe what needs to be done. Make a list. Then do a pros and cons list of doing the task and of your doing the task vs. someone else.

The need is that the child needs be in the same location as your partner’s ex-partner for the handoff. This need can be met in a number of different ways.

The other parent can come to where the child is and pick them up, or you can drop the child off, or you can meet at a half-way point, or even another mutually convenient location.

3. Evaluate

Review your lists and how things are currently working.

Is the child able to see their other parent in accordance to what is best for them and to satisfy the agreements around this? 

What is the best way to accomplish the handoff such that it requires the least energy, time, and is emotionally safest for the child?

4. Choose the Best Solution

Look for a solution that accomplishes the best result based on the questions above. Or it may be obvious by now.

Maybe it’s that the other parent comes and picks the child up from school on a certain day of the week, or you drop the child off on your way home from work because it’s not far from the other parent’s work or house.

When you put the focus back on your stepchild and their well-being, usually a lot of other minor details that cloud your judgement fall away making the best solution clear.

Give this a try and drop me a line letting me know how it works out.

Until next time, be well!

Related Episodes:

How To Stay Sane In Stepparenting

How To Have Difficult Stepparenting Conversations

#1 Cause of Disconnect in Your Stepparenting

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