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Stepfamilies – a few healthy tips

Could we get any more inundated with the volume of material as to how to stay healthy, from

the obvious, eating healthy, exercise daily, rest, stay away from sugar, to the more esoteric, such

as one I recently read … chia seed water (spoiler alert maybe good for you just do not over do it).

We know balancing work and family life is a positive. A personal favourite is what many Grandmothers told us “ All things in moderation including moderation”. So reflecting on this, I

thought what are some healthy tips for a happy step family.

Lets talk about “happy “ first – what realistically does that mean.

Everyone sees happiness differently. There’s a lot of talk about “happiness”. Brene Brown

states in her book Atlas of the Heart...” I would define the state of happiness as feeling

pleasure often related to the immediate environment in the current circumstances.” I think

what she is saying is that you can be happy under certain circumstances and not happy in

others. Being happy is a state of mind that you choose. So, we know we can’t be happy every

single minute of every single day. But we can decide to have a positive attitude and try to see

and do things in our life that make us happy. 

I might add that as per the flight announcement “put your oxygen mask on first “ there is a

positive to wading through some of the above noted materials on being healthy and balanced

as there is no question that being in a better physical and mental will significantly help you in


I believe there are three ways to help you be happy:

1. Learning to be positive. 

2. Thinking about what you are grateful for.

3. Adjusting your expectations.

Let’s look at those three ways:

Being positive 

When I was a teacher, some years ago, we had a little saying that helped me a lot and that was

“catch your children being good.” So we would look for what the children were doing right and

ignoring what they were doing wrong unless it was unsafe. And of course, that works in a household with all the members not just in a classroom. You must tell them though. So reinforce what family members are doing right.

Another favourite saying is ” listening is loving.” Hear what the family members are saying and

repeat back the positive of their comments. Just the fact that you heard them counts.  

Repeat back “You were saying that you don’t like soccer but you do like baseball. .” “ ok … Good let’s play baseball”  

Keep your self  talk positive. Be kind to yourself as well as the other members of the family. Be

your own cheerleader and try not to take everything that happens personally.

Of course avoid those people who put you down or any of your children down. Surround

yourself with positive people. 

Being grateful 

My very first day of counselling I was given some very good advice from my supervisor. She said

“come from a place of love and not a place of fear. You’re going to be great.” I will always be

grateful for such good advice. I have used that advice with my stepfamily too.  I think that being

grateful requires you to stay in your heart. 

When you tuck your children/ stepchildren in at the end of the day ask them to give you an

example of something that they are grateful for that day. And be sure to give them an example

yourself. You can also ask them what they are grateful for within the family.

Bonnie Brown thinks that gratitude and joy are connected. When we are grateful for someone

or something we feel happier. 

Keeping our expectations in line with reality

If you were expecting everything to go right in your family, you will of course be disappointed

because no family is perfect. If you are expecting the stepchildren to love you right away well

then, you’re going to be disappointed because it takes time to love someone. However, if you

can roll with change and adjust to different personalities and not expect everything to be perfect, you’re going to like being in your stepfamily so much more. 

Write a list of what you expect this family to look like, discuss it with your partner, and adjusted

your expectations accordingly. They say if you have fewer expectations, you will not be disappointed.

Don’t forget to have fun

I don’t know anything that works better for uniting a stepfamily than having fun together. It can

be as easy as playing board games or card games, or sports in the backyard. You can get out on

a holiday such as camping or a longer road trip with interesting sights/activities planned. These

types of experiences are great because they create happy memories.

Thinking about happy times, and loving family members will make us feel good. And isn’t that

what happiness is all about? 

Researchers know that the brain changes when we are  happy. That’s exciting and once you

make it a habit to be happy and not let little things get you down, being in a stepfamily gets


Be grateful, be positive and maybe enjoy a little chia water.

Best wishes,




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