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Synergistic Stepparenting Pocast
7 minutes | Oct 21, 2021
The Stepparent's Secret Weapon
Hello Stepparents! In last week’s episode I talked about how to stay sane as a stepparent. Find the show notes for that episode at www.synergisticstepparenting.com/7. I mentioned several different strategies that I tried throughout the years to help me connect with a place of calm.I advised that it’s important to stick with something for a while before moving on. This idea of sticking with something for a while is what I’d like to explore in this week’s episode. Find the show notes for this episode at www.synergisticstepparenting.com/8.Finding Calm – Stepparent’s Key ResourceThere are many options and suggestions for how to connect with and find calm inside of your body and your mind. And let’s face it, as stepparents the need for calm is in high demand.With today’s climate of screens and variety of technology in this digital age and add to that the limited personal space not taken over by your partner or your stepchild, it can hard to find a quiet place to unplug.Unplugging feels so foreign that it’s downright uncomfortable. For lots of folks it’s anxiety inducing, especially if you live in North America.Take yoga for example, a practice that is about going inward and connecting to your body through your breath. Sounds amazing – right?The Benefit of Calm for Working StepparentsHowever, if you’re the type of person who’s been living life in the fast lane and constantly rushing to do All. The. Things., the idea of yoga sounds scary if not straight up terrifying.When I was in corporate, I prided myself on my work. Because I was good at it, my reward was that I got more tasks and projects assigned to me. At the time, I wore that as a badge of honor.Being an immigrant from a family of hard-working accomplished over-achievers, I thought that pushing and doing was not only necessary and normal but that it was a triumph.But, I quickly slipped into workaholism. I loved to feel productive when I’d put in lots of long hours on projects. I would feel proud of my achievements and my work ethic for being able to work that hard. In reality, I was ignoring myself.I wasn’t taking time to think, breathe, or tune-in. Instead, I was distracting myself from what I was actually feeling and from making sense of my experience. I was just hoping everything would work out one day, instead of intentionally leading and creating my life.One day I tried a yoga class at the gym. And over time, it completely changed my life.Find the FULL episode transcript here.
5 minutes | Oct 14, 2021
How to Stay Sane in Stepparenting
Hi, Stepparents! I know that for me, it hasn’t always been easy to get support in my stepparenting role. And more accurately, it’s been downright challenging. Find the show notes for this episode at synergisiticstepparenting.com/7.Most of the people in my world couldn’t relate or even fully understand what I was going through. They didn't know about the constant juggle I was experiencing. Not only the physical juggle but the emotional one as well. In addition to my stepparenting responsibilities, there was work, day-to-day essentials and doing something to keep my sanity.The Key to Stepparenting SanityI realized over the years that keeping my sanity and even a bit of calm was the most important component that would make or break my day. I had to learn to be present if I was going to effectively take care of the many To Do’s on my list without starting World War III.Learning how to find and stay connected to that calm was essential in relieving the many needless fights. Fights that started over tiny things, like washing your hands when you come home, and quickly turned into blow outs between my partner and me.After the storm had settled and I had reflected on how and why things escalated so quickly to such a drastic point, I realized that there were moments where I was triggered or jumped to a conclusion and made an assumption.Those things didn’t actually exist. They weren’t said or even implied, but I read them as such in the moment. I’m not saying that the misunderstanding only happened on my end, my partner contributed to things as well. But, I focused on my end of things because that was the quickest path to getting results and lessoning the chance of these situations happening again in the future.Develop a Stepparent Sanity RoutineI started to develop a morning routine. It’s changed quite a bit throughout the years and now I’m able to be pretty fluid with it because I’m relatively in touch with what I need. But, in the beginning and over the years I tried a lot of different things.The key for me was consistency and sticking with each one for a good while before moving on. I tried things like yoga, running, exercising, meditation, journaling, dancing, listening to music, reading, just to name a few.I realized that creating sustainable habits was the key. Whatever I did to get myself to that calm place, was how I was able to find it. And by establishing that initial connection every day through healthy habits, I was able to re-connect to that grounded place throughout my day.As I built these habits and utilized them regularly, that connection with feeling grounded strengthened. And I was able to access that deep ocean instead of flailing in the choppy waters at the surface.My VIP clients also tell me that the key to stability and calm, is not waiting until something challenging takes place to find a way to calm down and maintain your cool.Instead, the key is to create supportive routines and learn go-to tools that you can rely on for support during those inevitable moments.If you’re struggling to maintain your cool due to anxiety, anger or fear, grab a Rapid Resolution Session with me to get unstuck and create more energy and resources for your stepparenting role. You can book that at synergisticsteparenting.com/rr.I hope you found this episode helpful. Give these suggestions a try and reach out to let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear your feedback! Until next time, be well.
7 minutes | Oct 7, 2021
Stepparenting Feels Like a Culture Clash
Hey Stepparents! As most of you have probably experienced, being a stepparent is different than being a biological parent.In today’s episode I’ll be exploring some of these differences. Find the show notes for this episode at synergisticstepparenting.com/6.Differences Between a Stepparent and a Biological ParentYou probably remember the beginning of your stepparenting journey. For many of us it’s an abrupt transition with no time to prepare.It felt a bit like plunging into a lake where the temperature was a lot colder than you were expecting. And maybe you didn’t see the rocks beneath the surface. And didn’t know that the lake is full of snapping turtles and piranhas.At least this is how it was for me. Maybe some of you can relate. My relationship with my partner was pretty new so we were still getting to know each other. We were finding our groove and not yet on solid ground.On top of all that there was this other little person thrown into the mix with her own personality, needs, and wants. It was a big adjustment for me.A blended family doesn't have the typical rhythm that a bio family does. In a bio family the couple meet and start to build a life together first then later bring a child into the picture.Additionally, there isn’t the benefit of time during the pregnancy phase. When you know the human addition is coming soon but you have about 9 months to get ready. Time to adjust yourself, the dwelling, and your life.Stepparenting Felt Like a Culture ClashMy partner and I discovered early on that we had similar values. In spite of that, there were massive differences between how we did things. The dynamics were reminiscent of my early days as a Russian immigrant coming to America. I didn't fully understand the culture and was unsure of my readings of situations and how to respond.As a stepparent, you are often the only one in this situation within the family. Certainly you're the only one in your household in this position since your partner already has a long-standing connection with the child, not to mention the rest of the family.Everything back then felt like a new adventure. It was fun but took a lot of energy at times. I felt cared for and supported. But I also experienced lots of moments of real isolation. Feelings of strong belonging were far and few in those days.It was hard.The Challenges of Belonging in a Blended FamilyIt makes sense that connecting wouldn’t be easy because it takes time to learn who people are and all their tells. Let’s face it as human beings we all have generally the same emotions. But what triggers or initiates emotions varies for each of us.How we express emotions looks different for many of us too. Someone might laugh when they are upset. Someone else cries when upset. A third person carefully hides any trace of being upset. When a fourth person gets upset they suddenly get quiet.We each respond in our unique way and it’s only natural that the code to correctly interpret these nuances won’t be cracked from just spending a few hours together.It’s natural to be protective of your feelings in vulnerable states. And common to be uncomfortable being transparent with someone you don’t know well.Children often have mixed emotions because you are here and not their other parent. There is inherent conflict for them because their loyalties are split between the two of you. And they might be feeling guilty about liking you.Your partner feels pressured because of the high stakes. They are probably constantly weighing the pros and cons worrying how their child is adjusting to the new arrangement.As a stepparent it’s easy to accidentally put your foot in your mouth ...Find the FULL transcript for this episode here.
6 minutes | Sep 30, 2021
What's Getting in the Way of Showing Up in Your Stepparenting?
Hello stepparents! In episode 4 I discussed what it means to fully show up. Find the show notes for that episode at synergisticstepparenting.com/4. Today I’m going to explore this concept a bit further and discuss what gets in the way of showing up fully. Find the show notes for this episode at synergisticstepparenting.com/5. In the beginning of my stepparenting journey there were lots of events and new players in the cast of characters that I had to meet. I remember being really nervous because it was very important to me to get off on the right foot with family and close friends.For years I would show up with mixed results.Sometimes, I would show up and it seemed like I would get infected by this energy that lifted me up and took me on a ride of being present where everything felt easy, effortless, and smooth. I felt confident and comfortable.After this type of experience, I would feel rejuvenated. It felt almost like a zing of life pulsating throughout my entire being. Like I could feel the source of vitality coursing through me.And then there were other times when everything felt like a chore. The timing of my interactions just felt off – either forced or awkward. I felt tense. And there was a lurking frustration that something about the environment was bringing on a low-grade headache.Interestingly, I noticed that when I didn’t want to attend something because I felt drained or wasn’t feeling well, but attended anyway, things often worked out well and I had a wonderful time.I would walk away feeling renewed and energized, finding value in the interactions and experiences and generally grateful for the impressions I was taking away with me.After years of observations, I wondered … what contributes to whether I have a great experience or a negative one?I thought about this carefully for a while. I realized that what it boils down to is commitment. And there are 3 major components to making decisions with commitment ... 1. Be IntentionalMake the choice with intention. Meaning, don’t ignore your reservations, negative feelings and worries and simply push them aside. Instead, take your time to work through them.While making your decision, consider and weigh the pros and cons. 2. ChooseYou can make yourself crazy thinking about all the What If's. STOP. I realized that even though I wasn’t feeling well, or was too tired, or had too much going on to attend an event … when I would attend anyway, I was making a choice to let go of resistance. And it felt liberating.Making a choice is powerful because with that you choose to surrender. And when you surrender, you are no longer bogged down by mixed feelings and emotions about the options and which one is best.With that comes clarity which frees up your energy and creates ease because you’re no longer caught in the swirl of choices.Once you've made up your mind, make peace with what you discovered and your decision.3. Don't Wait to DecideMake the decision with time to spare. The benefit is you'll have time to mentally prepare for what's coming which relieves anxiety and overwhelm. This way you can spend your precious time on creating a plan rather than wasting it floundering.If you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed about a big decision, schedule a Rapid Resolution Session at synergisticstepparenting.com/rr to break free of the thought patterns that aren’t serving you and gain clarity.Remember, it starts with getting rid of the resistance by making the commitment to move towards ease and joy.Give these steps a try as you make an important choice in your stepparenting journey and please let me know how it goe
6 minutes | Sep 23, 2021
#1 Cause of Disconnect in Your Stepparenting
Hello stepparents! In this episode I’ll be delving into a topic that I’ve found to be the cornerstone of most things in life. I call it showing up. Find the FULL show notes for this episode at synergisticstepparenting.com/4.Have you ever felt like you can’t seem to say or do the right thing? Like everything you say is causing more conflict and aggravation? Maybe it seems like there’s a disconnect with your spouse, your stepchild, or with members of your blended family. When this happens it feels so frustrating, painful, and isolating. Well, it maybe that you’re not showing up. I know what you’re thinking … GASP. How dare you? But, before you shut off your radio, computer, iPhone or whatever device you’re listening on – please, let me explain … For a long time, I thought showing up meant just that - physically getting myself somewhere. I’m sure many of you have probably heard of showing up. You might have heard the famous quote by Woody Allen who said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Or perhaps have seen other iterations of it, such as “Showing up is half the battle.” But after years of trying that, I noticed that my results weren’t good. As if something was missing. Even though I was physically present, things weren’t quite landing in conversations and the meaningful connections I craved weren’t being made. My desire to understand and figure it out swelled. I built more awareness of these instances and reflected on my actions and outcomes. And a light bulb went off ... Though I was physically present, I wasn’t actually showing up. Not the way I wanted to. I wasn’t showing up by bringing ALL of me to the table. I began to deepen my knowledge and understanding of this concept. I discovered that everything in our world is energy, including you and me. And I believe that energy is really powerful when it’s activated and directed towards a specific purpose and goal. When you intentionally concentrate your energy towards something, whether wanted or unwanted, it influences the results you achieve. So, when I was struggling to communicate a proposed solution for a new project at work or helping my stepdaughter problem-solve an issue with a friend, the reason I was having a hard time was because I wasn’t fully engaged in the experience … I’m talking mind, body and soul. Typically, I tend to be a very passionate person. People have often told me how magnetic I am when I’m in my element and speaking about a topic that is close to my heart. My energy has even been described as contagious. But I’ll admit, I have trouble conjuring up that much fervor for topics I’m not as devoted to. Such as, offensive foot odor and fashion tips on braiding back-hair. And when you’re not completely engaged are the times you tend to go into autopilot – which your brain is naturally wired to do.What does it take to fully show up?I learned that there are 2 major factors … First … approaching every opportunity with curiosity. Prioritize the goal of understanding. Whether it’s understanding the other person more or understanding where your own feelings about the situation are coming from. Second … responding from the heart with your entire being to the whole situation. This requires vulnerability and a willingness to be open. It’s not surprising that you don’t often show up this way because it requires more of your already taxed energy. Especially so at the beginning, when you’re starting to train yourself to do things in a new way.For the rest of the show notes go here.
6 minutes | Jul 30, 2021
The Surprising Thing That Will Make You a Great Stepparent
Hello, stepparents. I’m thrilled to be spending this time with you. Today I’d love to explore some common fears in stepparenting. Find the Show Notes for this episode at synergisticstepparenting.com/3.I’m sure you probably have a million things running through your mind right now. Perhaps you are reminiscing about the beginning of your stepparenting journey and remembering what that was like for you. Talk about being thrown into the deep end! Am I right?My partner and I dated for a few months, quite seriously, before I ever met my kiddo. And all along I remember thinking what a serious responsibility it would be if I were to be a part of her life. I had millions of questions and worries.At the top of the list was … Am I really READY to Be a Stepparent?There was the responsibility and relationship with my future stepchild to consider. But, also, the dynamics of my then boyfriend and his ex - my stepdaughter’s bio-mom. Not to mention the extended family members. Everyone adored my stepdaughter. And, I knew, each has opinions and ideas about what to do and how to do it. If those considerations weren’t significant enough, I had to confront my own demons of parenting misses I had experienced in childhood. I wanted to be sure to do things differently during my turn at bat. Repeating my Parents’ Mistakes in My Stepparenting - My Biggest Fear … and What I Did about It. This fear was so great, in fact, that … I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but … I actually pointed out to my then boyfriend all my flaws and reasons why he should go and find a good role model for his daughter who is better suited for the challenge, instead of wasting his time with me. Yup … I actually said those words exactly. And to my surprise in response, he gave me the most encouraging and best piece of advice that I’ve ever received. He looked me earnestly in the eyes and said, “Because you’ve experienced what was painful and what you didn’t like, is exactly why you will be a great parent. Because you already know what not to do.”Upon hearing that and letting it wash over me for a few days, I made a choice to not only accept the role, but I promised myself to really show up. I will do another episode on what it means show up soon.My road with stepparenting has had many twists, turns, certainly tons of challenges. But I have not only learned so much about myself and life lessons, I’ve also gained incredible relationships along the way and discovered deeper and more fulfilling happiness than I thought was possible. The truth is that, yes, the responsibility is great. But if you’re up for truly showing up … the rewards, growth, impact, and lessons are incredible and will very likely be some of the most powerful lessons you’ll experience. And look, you don’t have to do it alone or suffer years of frustration and heartache!Grab a Rapid Resolution Session at www.synergisticstepparenting.com/rr to clear up the pesky fears holding you back and powerfully step into your right role creating harmony and joy for you and your blended family. After all, it all starts with just taking the first step and saying “yes”. I hope you found this episode helpful. Drop me a line and tell me what you think, I’d love to hear from you!Until next time, be well!
2 minutes | Jul 22, 2021
Synergistic Stepparenting Podcast - Trailer
Synergistic Stepparenting Podcast is hosted by me, Maria Natapov, Stepparenting Coach and Strategist.I am excited about helping stepparents transform family chaos into meaningful and harmonious co-parenting.I get it. Being a stepparent can be terrifying as well as amazing!I’ve been a stepparent for over 8 years. I built a rapport from scratch and 5 years in, she revealed that she was being abused and neglected by her mom and stepdad. She came to live with us full-time so I was jolted into full-time mom mode in the blink of an eye.I’ve learned first-hand the vital importance of preventing further harm by acquiring the right tools and establishing smart parenting support systems.I’m also a certified parent coach, a trained Behavioral Technician and a Rapid Resolution Therapy Practitioner.Podcast episodes will center on how to develop meaningful connections and create a stepparenting role that feels good to you without the stress.We’ll dig into how to set boundaries, get out of overwhelm, create connection and all the elements crucial to stepparenting success. Some episodes will have guests to provide a joint learning experience.For more information go to synergisticstepparenting.com/podcast. Subscribe on your favorite podcast app so you don’t miss a show and share this podcast on social media to help other stepparents get out of overwhelm and create more peace and joy.
5 minutes | Jul 22, 2021
How Stepparents Can Choose Wisely Between Competing Priorities
Hello stepparents and thank you for joining me. In episode 1 I spoke about the long list of demands that stepparents are constantly juggling. Find the show notes for that episode at synergisticstepparenting.com/1. Today I’d like to discuss a related topic that many of you are also very familiar with … competing priorities. Find the show notes for this episode at synnergisticstepparenting.com/2.These might involve having to pick up or drop off your stepchild and attend an important work meeting or event in 2 separate locations … at the same time! Or vice versa, having to attend a work event or dinner and missing a stepchild’s important game, concert, performance, or celebration. Situations like this can be very stressful and anxiety-provoking. When I’ve been faced with these kinds of conflicts, I felt practically paralyzed as to what to do and how to choose. Naturally, the technology doesn’t yet exist to allow you to be in two places at the same time. And, even if it did, mental health practitioners would probably advise that it’s not a good idea to spread yourself so thin anyway. And that it gets in the way of being truly present at either event. So, how do you decide which is the priority and where to invest your energy? There are a few important aspects to consider. First, before drawing iron-clad lines in the sand such as “family always comes first” or “work always comes first” … consider the following. What is the state of your relationship with the involved players?For example, if you’ve already been at your job for a while, have a great rapport with your colleagues and boss and know the ins and outs of the job, projects and clients really well, you will know whether this meeting or event is critical to attend. Conversely, if you know your stepchild and the other family members involved with the event, you’ll know how critical the event is for them and whether your presence is non-negotiable because of their feelings towards it. Secondly, I invite you to consider which of these conflicting commitments is most important to you? Take some time and space to think through and get clear on why you feel this way and where that feeling is coming from. Make sure you are being true to how you actually feel.Once you take the time to consider these important aspects you will have much more clarity on how you might want and need to proceed. What do you do once you decide which priority and action to take?The key as always with many sensitive situations is communication. Keeping open lines of communication and keeping each player in the loop is critical. I encourage you not to just tell one person and expect them to spread the word for you but to communicate to each person that’s impacted with whom you have a relationship directly. This simple step will mean so much to the individual - that they matter, that you are thinking about them, considering them and giving them a heads-up so that they don’t feel blink-sided. Whether it’s your stepchild, your significant other, the stepchild’s other bio-parent or another family member, your boss, colleague, vendor, or client, just the step to communicate with them directly goes a long way to preserving mutual respect and an open dialogue.
4 minutes | Jul 22, 2021
How Will You Meet Your Stepchild's Constant Demands?
Hello stepparents, and welcome. Thanks for spending some of your time with me today. Let’s talk about constant demands, especially the physical demands your stepchild makes of you. They can take over your life! Find the Show Notes for this episode at synergisticstepparenting.com/1. We’ve all been there. I know I have. There’s work, work and school meetings and events, school and extracurricular pick-ups and drop-offs of step-kids (not to mention the extra pick-ups and drop-offs if you’re sharing custody with the other bio-parent), grocery shopping, making dinner, laundry, just to name a few. Before you know it, the day is over. And you’re exhausted and frustrated that you were just putting out fires all day and handling the absolute essentials without getting to the many other have to’s. Not to mention the nice-to-do’s. This kind of day-to-day stress is overwhelming and unsustainable. What can you do about the never-ending list of things that need doing?Well, for me and for my clients the first step is to step away from the hectic busy-ness. Go somewhere quiet. Maybe it’s the bedroom or maybe the bathroom … or your car. Just being somewhere without noise. Without someone needing your attention or needing something from you. And without something to have to do. After a few moments you start to notice more of what’s going on within you. What sensations do you notice? Are you feeling achy in your body? Is there pain or tension in your lower back, neck or shoulders? Do you feel exhausted? Can you barely keep your eyes open? Maybe there is tension in your chest or a knot in your stomach.Just notice. You see, if you’re like me, so often you are running around like a chicken with its head cut off doing ALL. THE. THINGs. which takes away the space and keeps you from noticing how you’re feeling and what you might need at any given moment. So, I strongly urge you to take just a few minutes to: 1. Stop. 2. Get away. 3. Get curious and notice. It’s a gift!Do this for just a few minutes each day. Better still … find a few minutes 2-3 times a day to do this. Creating this space for yourself not only allows you to be more aware of what is going on within you, but it allows you to form a great habit as well. By giving yourself a few moments of intentional reprieve, you are also creating a better relationship with yourself. I’ll leave you with this …You give your time, energy and attention to so many things and people on an everyday basis. Don’t you deserve just a tiny bit of that yourself? How can you forge a relationship with anyone if you never take the time to listen to them?
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