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Back to Being the Stepmom

Mother and daughter embracing
Photograph by ThinkStock

Being a stepmom during the holidays can be difficult. Having to explain why Santa does things differently at each home (My stepdaughter, Chloe, was extremely suspicious as to why Santa wrapped the gifts at our house and not at her mom’s), and trying to create strong holiday memories in a single week are tough and can remind you just how hard this particular role can be.

With those challenges, though, come the absolute joys that are unique to the holidays. The holidays give you an excuse to really sink into your family, to be the “mom” that week, to help create the Christmas magic.

But the holidays are over now. There are empty gift wrap tubes stuffed in your garbage can, tinsel caught in the bristles of your broom, and your champagne flutes are back to sparkling in the china cabinet. And now that the glittering green and red is gone from your every day, it’s even harder to be a stepmom.

You’re faced daily with school programs that can make you feel out of place or moments in the grocery store where an adult you’ve never seen before speaks to your stepchild, but says nothing to you because she knows you’re not her mother. The holiday vacation is over and it’s back to seeing them every other weekend. Nearly every day, there is a reminder that you are a stepmom and that these are your stepchildren.

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My advice to all of you stepmothers out there is to add a resolution to your bathroom mirror, to that list crumpled in your purse’s inside pocket: Keep those December reminders—those memories of pulling your family close, from spending quality time in the kitchen to spinning magic for your children each day with elves that move at night and gifts that magically appear in their stockings.

Don’t forget those feelings, Stepmamas. Keep those December reminders. December was the perfect excuse to treat your stepchildren as if they were your own. Keep that reminder. You have 11 months of “normal” life with bits of magic sprinkled in and, I promise you, they will remember these months, too.

They will remember when you read them three bedtime stories in a row, not because it was Christmas and you were trying to cram in the memories, but because it was a Thursday night and you haven’t seen them in 10 days. They will remember when you made chocolate chip cookies with them and let them eat one before dinner, not because Santa Claus was on his way, but because they were so good in the grocery store. They will remember when you put on some Disney music, lit some candles and had a twirl contest in the living room or when you stuck a note that said “You are smart and you are beautiful and you are funny” in their lunchbox.

They will remember these little bits of magic, Stepmamas. Maybe when they’re older, they won’t recall details, but if someone ever says, “What was it like growing up with a stepmom?” they will proudly say, “It was like Christmas every day.”

Leave the twinkle lights up in their bedroom window. Give them some extra hugs. They may not share your DNA, but they do share your life. Embrace it. Love it. Spread it with magic.

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