Suddenly Mum

A blog by a Yorkshire lass living in Scotland who became a sudden full-time step-mum when she married a gorgeous African man who used to have a pet baboon.

Kate is a winner of Top 25 Moms with Blended Families - 2012

What aspect of being in a blended family has surprised you?

I've been surprised and truly blessed by the way we've all clicked together. We've been in a privileged position in that everyone in the new family wants to make it work. The kids accepted me very quickly, I didn't feel like I needed to win their love at all, in fact they were desperate for hugs and kisses, time to chat and have a laugh together. It's been so rewarding to see two young lives blossom and hear almost every week, "This is the best day EVER!" in response to just the simple things in life.

What's a good tip for preventing sibling rivalry?

Hmm. Make sure you as parents spend equal time with each child, treat everyone equally with treats, gifts, quality time and hugs. Don't treat the kids as a whole entity though, pick out their individual needs, be it a heart-to-heart on the sofa or just help with homework. I also find listening in on the arguments before they come running to you to tell tales often gives you the upper hand when it comes to fathoming who needs the discipline and who needs the support!

What's one piece of advice you'd give to moms who are about to become part of a blended family?

Don't try too hard, pray hard and just as you've committed to your husband in marriage for better or for worse, resolve to do that for the kids too. Roll with the challenges and be honest with the kids when you need a bit of space. I tried to be Super Step Mum for the first few months, but ended up blowing a gasket and turned into StepMonster instead. Major back-fire! Work together as a new family, after all you're not the only one who's new to this. Encourage the kids to talk openly about how they're feeling, what they're finding tough about being in the new family and listen, listen, listen, love, love, love. Oh and no matter how tempting it might be, never speak ill of their mum, even if it means just being silent - it's really not worth it and can be so damaging to the kids and the family life you're trying to build. Every now and again we go out for a family meal and review the highlights of the last few months together. We also each go round the table and pick out positive things to say about each person in the new family. It builds everyone up and creates a great atmosphere in every-day life which could otherwise be tough. This life is so rewarding and I wouldn't now swap it for the world.