What I Want For Every Stepmom Who Reads This Blog

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What I Want For Every Stepmom Who Reads This Blog

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The other day someone asked me what my favourite blog for stepmoms is. 

They wanted to know where I turn when I’m looking for support of guidance. 

The question stopped me in my tracks. Because the truth is, I don’t read stepmom blogs for personal support. I really don’t. 

During those early stepmom years, I dove into all the stepfamily resources I could find. 

When I was struggling, I was a regular reader of Stepmom Magazine. I’d google resources and read the latest stepmom articles on Scary Mommy and stay up to date on The Huffington Post. 

But to be honest, outside of stuff for this platform, now, I don’t read a thing. At this point, I don’t feel like I need to.

I don’t mean to sound arrogant, and please don't confuse what I am saying. It’s not that we don’t have the stressors. It’s not that our stepfamily life is perfect or that we don’t have issues. We do. OHHHH trust me on that one. 

It’s that now, the things that used to throw me into a tailspin, no longer affect me.

I don’t dwell.
I don’t get consumed.
I don’t feel insecure.
I don’t struggle with my role as a stepmom.

I have the tools in my toolbox (if you will) to deal with the stressors so that they don’t knock me on my ass the way they once did. 

Things that used to send me to our bathroom floor with a glass of wine, now, are no sweat off my back. 

The strategies I learned at the beginning, continue to work, even as our stepfamily stressors evolve. 

So, I can’t really answer the question because I don’t have a favourite stepmom blogger.  I don’t have a favourite person I follow online.


WHAT I WANT FOR YOU…

This got me thinking about what I want for every stepmom who religiously reads this blog (and even the ones who don’t)

I want YOU to get to this point too. 
I want you to spend your time on the internet scrolling through fun fashion blogs, or other interesting hobbies… not stepmom support. 

I want you to get to the point where your latest stepmom saga doesn’t throw you into a tailspin.

I want you to feel so confident in yourself that you don’t need to go to a Facebook Group or a blog post to see what other people are doing. 

I WANT YOU TO FEEL LIKE YOU’VE GOT THIS, BECAUSE YOU DO!!!

Look, this isn’t me telling you that I don’t WANT you to read this blog… I love this community we’ve built! But I do want you to get to the point where you don’t NEED it!

At the beginning I struggled HUGE! I was a mess.

But after a lot of work on myself and my family I eventually got to the point where I realized that even though so many of our stepfamily stressors are the same as they once were, everything is completely different. 

No scratch that. I am completely different.  

And with, that my marriage is completely different
and my relationship with my stepkids and even my husband’s ex-wife was completely different…

(even though I was the one seeking change and not them)

The whole purpose of this platform is to get you to this point too! 

WHAT WAS IT LIKE FOR ME AT THE BEGINNING?

I’ve said this a thousand times, but I was so overwhelmed with anxiety that my hands would literally shake. I couldn’t think about anything but the latest saga and what I could do to do fix it.

I was the stepmom who naively thought that I could swoop in and fix everything, so I took everything ON!

But in doing so, I wasn’t productive in other areas of my life. I wasn’t confident. I wasn’t happy. I questioned my every move. And I felt like a failure, because as I am sure I don’t have to tell you… it didn’t work!

Then there came a point, when I made the decision that THIS was NOT going to be the way I lived my life. That’s when the work began

The point of this platform and all of my resources is to get YOU here too

THIS COMMUNITY AT THE VERY BEGINNING

The other day I was thinking about the women who took The KICK-ASS Stepmom Project when I first launched the program. THEY were my regular blog readers. They were my regular commenters on social media. They were the ones who were in my inbox and active in the Facebook Group. 

Guess what… I barely hear from them now (except when we catch up as friends). WHY?  Because their life changed to!  They no longer need the regular support… 

It’s actually pretty amazing when you really think about it… and shows how possibly it really is!

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PS If you’re at that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH point, and have decided that THIS is not going to be YOUR life… join The KICK-ASS Stepmom Project before the cart closes December 31.

PPS Here are some other amazing blogs for stepmoms and blended families… go check them out!

Stepmomming with Kristen Skiles 
This Life In Progress with Kate Chapman
Blended and Black with Naja Hall

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What We're Doing Differently This Christmas

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What We're Doing Differently This Christmas

DISCLOSURE: This video is sponsored by RBC

Hey hey!

This time of year I get oodles of questions about how we do Christmas in our blended family. From how we handle Santa, to how we keep things fair with my stepchildren and our “ours baby’ to how we manage the chaotic schedule… my inbox is over flowing with questions from you all.


In this video, I share a bit about how we do Christmas with our crew, and also what we are doing differently this year! This new Christmas strategy is helping us keep within our Christmas budget… while focusing on what really matters, which is making memories with our crew!

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P.S If you’re looking for more info on how we navigate Christmas I’ve linked some other Christmas related blog posts below! Take a look, and if you’re still looking for more support, request to join my online Facebook Group, The KICK-ASS Stepmom Community. There are lots of likeminded stepmoms in there, who I’m willing to bet, have the same questions as you!

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The gift I give myself every Christmas... that my family reaps the benefits of too!

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The gift I give myself every Christmas... that my family reaps the benefits of too!

Jamie Scrimgeour - What a stepmom wants for Christmas

The ground is covered with snow. Home Alone is playing on repeat (who else knows all the words?) and the tree is up. The holiday season is OFFICIALLY here.

Bring on the joy! But also bring on the work!

As stepmoms and moms, we tend to think about everyone else this time of year (which is great, because I don’t know about you, but around here, Christmas wouldn’t all come together if it weren’t for me)

But this year I want to encourage you to think about YOURSELF too… you’re the rock of your family. You keep the wheels turning (whether you get the appreciation you deserve or not) You’re also the one that gets shhh done.
 
And being a stepmom isn't easy.
You’re good enough until you’re not.
You’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t.
You’re the one who sacrifices!
It can be exhausting


You know that I’m a big advocate for personal development!

I’m all about being deliberate about the life that I want to live, and always seeking to improve myself in some way shape or form.

Personally, I don’t want to look back on my life and think “I could have done better but I let the BS get in the way”

So come Christmas time, as much as I am excited about all things celebrating with the fam, my mind naturally goes to the following year - and I start setting resolutions for how I can amp things up.

 
The Christmas Gift Every Stepmom Wants - Jamie Scrimgeour
 


I have this little tradition where every Christmas I treat myself to some sort of resource that is going to help me do just that. I invest in something that is going to help me take myself to the next level the following year.  Basically, every Christmas I give MYSELF a gift!
 
The first year I invested in a stepmom course with Jenna Korf from Stepmom-Help. The following year I took B-School with Marie Forleo to help me figure out how to do all the things I do on this online platform – I literally knew nothing when I decided to start doing this. (SIDEBAR: When I say I’m figuring things out as I go, I truly am figuring things out as I go)
 
For the past two years, I’ve invested in counselling to help me plow through some of the crap that keeps creeping up from my childhood (guys, by the way, I highly recommend counselling, for like every person walking the planet) 

At the end of the day, these gifts to myself, have made me a better wife, mom and stepmom. The whole family reaps the benefits, ALL year round… because as we all know, HAPPY WIFE = HAPPY LIFE (same goes for happy mama and step-mama too right?)

____

Every day I get questions from stepmoms asking me

  • how to deal with an ex-wife who is impossible to co-parent with

  • how to get on the same page as your husband

  • how to stop being perceived as the bad guy 

  • how to develop a relationship with laws who are still tight with the ex

  • how to stop feeling insecure about being the second wife… 

  • the list goes on

The questions hit me where it hurts. Not just because I feel sick that another woman is struggling the way that I did, but because I want to give you a big shake (slash hug) and tell you that the change you’re seeking starts with YOU! 

I’m not just blowing smoke with all the content I put out.

I’m not someone who has it all together all the time. I’m not a stepmom who came into this stepmom role with all the answers (if you want proof, listen my first podcast where Darren and I talked all about what that first year of our marriage was REALLY like)

We’ve had major road blocks. We’ve had really bad days. We've had REALLY bad months.  This whole online platform started after I spent an evening on the bathroom floor bawling my eyes out. I only talk about that one evening, but trust me, there were LOTS of bad evenings. 

We’ve had our share our issues and we continue to have them. But we work through them without CHANGING anything that anyone/anything that is causing us stress is doing...
Because we know we can’t. Trust me, we’ve tried (like REALLY freaking tried) 

For the most part – the issues that we have today are the same issues that we had back then – give or take a bit – what’s different is US and how we approach them. 

I was doing a Beachbody video the other day and the instructor said 

“it doesn’t get easier, you just get better” 

and while she was talking about the squats we were doing, it rings true here too! 


But guys, change started with ME! I did the work on MYSELF and my relationships. I did this without anyone in my family knowing I was doing it, and I'm here to get you to this place too! 

This year I want to encourage you to invest in YOURSELF and YOUR family for your Christmas. Gift yourself (or ask your partner) for some sort of resource that will set you guys up for a better 2019. 

Whether it be my program, The KICK-ASS Stepmom Project or something else you’ve been eyeing up, YOU DESERVE to live a better life. 

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Did you grab your FREE copy of The Secret to Improving Your Stepfamily Life yet? If so, you should definately get on that get on that!

Implement the tips outlined in this guide and you’ll see change in your stepfamily life, I can pretty much guarantee it! You can grab your copy HERE!

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Should a stepmom be financially responsible for her stepkids? Here's how we handle finances in our blended family.

 Budgeting meetings always include a cocktail … takes the edge off ;)

Budgeting meetings always include a cocktail … takes the edge off ;)

Oh finances

Finances can be stressful enough when you’re in a first family - then throw in kids from a previous marriage, child support payments, alimony, lawyers bills, financial strain due to divorce, different ideas about where to allocate funds, and moving into the house where you husband lived during his first marriage…  when you’re in a second marriage - the topic of finances can get REALLY tricky.

A few months back I received this note from a reader, about her struggles with finances - today I thought I would answer it for all of you!

Hi Jamie

Thank you for all that you do.

Can you address the issue of finances when your partner has kids and you have none. How do you deal with expenses such as mortgage (I moved into his home, I am not on the deed, and I pay half), the utilities, and especially the groceries. We have the kids 50% of the time (just like you). 

I think that this is an issue that many step-parents/partners wrestle with. I also think that we have a tendency to sugarcoat the issue. There is nothing wrong is saying that "I have no obligation to pay for your children." That said, I still wonder how to go about dealing with finances in an ever evolving situation: Children grow and they will cost more money

I am sure that many people secretly struggle with the issue of finances.

All the best, my friend.

T


First, I want to start off by saying that it’s important to remember that what works for one family, may not work for another family! There are SO many contributing factors that come into play when it comes to navigating finances when you’re a stepmom, especially a childless stepmom.

These include:

  • Financial position of both the stepmom and dad

  • The stepmom’s relationship with her stepchildren - Do you see them as part of their family? How have they accepted you into their lives? For example, some stepmoms think of their stepkids as their own, while others see them as her “husband’s kids”

  • Child support payments

  • How much the children’s mother contributes financially

  • The details of the legal agreement that stipulates Dad’s financial responsibilities

  • How finances were handled when your partner was with his ex (for example, some parents pay for the kids extras like cell phones or brand shoes, while other parents feel like the child should work for these things)

  • The way you view your partnership and marriage

the list goes on

When deciding how to navigate finances in YOUR relationship, it’s important to consider how aligned your views are in these areas. The more aligned you are, the better merging finances will be.

If you’re not on the same page, and don’t believe that you should be financially responsible for your stepkids, then merging finances is probably not the best thing for you.

At that point, you need to sit down and figure out what you will contribute and what you feel is fair. This is an area where communication is key!!

It should be noted that this may be a conversation you need to revisit several times. It may not be an area where you can come to an agreement after just one pow-wow.

I know that some of you want me to tell you how much a stepmom should contribute to the mortgage or to the groceries, if she isn’t financially responsible for the kids, but I can’t. Again, this is a situation where you need to do what feels right for you. I will say, its probably a conversation to have sooner than later, before financial habits and expectations are put into place. Ideally this conversation happens BEFORE you move in.

It may be helpful to start by thinking about how you would split finances if there were NO CHILDREN INVOLVED - then factor in the kids from there.

For example, maybe you split the mortgage (the cost of that doesn’t change based on how many people are in the home) but your husband pays for 2/3 of the hydro and the groceries on the weeks when the kids are with you. This is where the expenses will increase based on how many people are in the house.

If it bothers you that you’re not on the deed for the house or on the mortgage, that’s a conversation to have with your partner as well.

YOU MAY WANT TO ASK:

  • What happens if your relationships doesn’t work out as you ARE helping him build equity in the house.

  • Are you going to be compensated for the equity you’ve helped him build? Is this considered rent? Is there a long term plan?

  • Is it necessary to put something in writing?

The more clear you are, the better! As much as legal agreements makes marriages a little less sexy and way less romantic, they are often important to have in place.

 
Jamie Scrimgeour - should a stepmom have to pay for her stepkids
 

Personally, I’m often asked how WE handle finances in OUR family, so today I’m going to share that as well.

Here’s the HOW and WHY of how
WE handle finances in OUR blended family….


When my husband and I first started dating, I saw that he was struggling in the kids clothing department. With 50/50 custody schedule, he was responsible for getting the kids what they needed while they were with him. Like many fathers who weren’t used to this resposnibltiy during their marriage, the guy didn’t have a clue.

I was actually quite excited to help out in this department, because I have always loved kids clothes. I loved taking them to the mall, or surprising them with a new outfit. Soon I found myself doing a lot of the shopping for the kids.

On the weekends, I’d also often whip to the grocery store to grab something to make for dinner. While I was there, I’d pick up whatever was needed at the house. I loved doing it but it left me STRAPPED for cash in a BIG BAD WAY. (Let me tell you the cost of groceries continues to blow mind! Kids are EXPENSIVE)

This went on for a while, and as much as I loved contributing, it was also quite stressful. I remember one day, I logged onto my online banking to discover that I only have 5 dollars left in my account and that my VISA was maxed. My car payment was coming out the following day and PAY DAY wasn’t for a week.

I felt embarrassed calling my now husband to tell him I needed money, but I had spent my money on his kids.


Don’t get me wrong, he always paid me back, but sometimes we would just forget and the constant writing cheques back and forth got a little tedious.

As I became more involved, this stressful situation happened more than once.

To avoid this, within months of living together, we decided to merge our finances. My paycheques went into his bank account, and all of my expenses came out of it. My student loan and car payment came out of the same account as child support and lawyers bills. Everything was in one.

We’ve never talked about percentages or who contributes what. From day one it’s been this “what’s mine is yours” scenario … and that includes both of our debts and financial obligations.

THAT’S what works for us! It’s NOT what works for everyone.

Guys I have to say, this isn’t a decision I made lightly.

There was part of me that thought “I am giving all of my money to a man”, how stupid am I?!”

I heard my mom’s voice in the back of my head saying “Jamie you always need your own money, you always need a safety net”

We weren’t even married yet!

But we followed our gut, and both agreed that if that either of us felt this arrangement wasn’t working, we would go back to separate finances. No questions asked.

I went into this relationship HEAD FIRST… knowing that it could either be the BEST thing that ever happened to me or that I could get BURNED really quickly. It was a risk that I was willing to take. So far it’s been the first of the two, and I’m grateful for that.

After we had our baby girl, we decided that I was going to stop working in Child Protection and stay home so I can be available for the kids. My husband’s job can be quite demanding, and with the extra curricular schedule and all things “life with four kids” - he wasn’t able to leave work every day to get them to where they needed to be.

We sat down and realized that it was better for OUR FAMILY financially if I stayed home while he continued to work. Essentially, my job is to support him so that he can better support us. (I bet that sentence got a few of you wound up - remember THIS is what works for us)

It’s a team effort - with me being home, he is able to work longer and harder, which ultimately benefits our entire family unit.

I take care of everything on the home front - except for taking out the garbage and cutting the lawn that is! And he handles most of the finances.

This arrangement lasted for a couple years, until I was able to start my own business from home. The truth is, me working wasn’t in the plan. We never intended on me being anything other than a stay-at-home-mom but I was getting bored! I still had this burning desire to help people. While I wanted/needed flexibility to be there for the kids, I was CRAVING more! I also very much wanted to contribute financially.

| SEE BLOG POST: How I make money from my blog |

Now, while everything I make goes in a SEPERATE account for my business, it’s still ours. When I pay myself, I transfer it to our account. There have been many times when I have been the one to pay financial obligations for the kids such as camp, winter coats, etc… It hasn’t changed the way we look at our funds.

DOES IT BOTHER ME THAT THE MONEY I MAKE GOES TOWARDS HIS KIDS?

Personally no. I look at our marriage as a partnership and I see his financial responsibilities as my financial responsibilities and vice versa. I also don’t view the kid’s expenses as his responsibility. I view it as ours. When I married my husband, I also got three stepkids. I am happy to support them in anyway I can.

The reason why this works is that we (for the most part) are on the same page about what we will and will not provide for the kids, and how much we will allocate for what.

Yes, we’ve had disagreements. Yes, there have been heated conversations because we aren’t ALWAYS on the same page, but that’s normal for any family. The PROS of this arrangement far outweigh the CONS.

DO I RESENT HOW THE FINANCIAL RESPONSIBLITIES FROM HIS FIRST MARRIAGE IMPACT OURS?

Look I’d be lying if it hasn’t crossed my mind - so to answer this question, sure I do. With divorces come legal agreements that stipulate certain financial responsibilities including kid’s expenses, child support etc…

These calculations don’t necessarily reflect what the financial responsibilities would be if there were no divorce. I think that there are aspects of the system that are flawed, unfair and unreasonable. BUT guess what… spending my time and energy dwelling on the Ontario Family Law Act isn’t going to change it.

Spending our time and energy thinking about what life would be like, if we didn’t have to worry about some of the thing we do, won’t change anything!

I hate this saying, but “it is what it is”

—-

When it comes to navigating your way through finances, it’s important to remember that A LOT of couples in first families have separate bank accounts and deal with their finances separately.

This isn’t an issue that is exclusive to blended families or stepmoms.

So, moral of the story is if you’re constantly getting into arguments over what is being spent and where… separate finances is the way the go!

If you feel that your current system is unfair, then sit down and talk to your partner about it and get on the same page.

Finances are very personal and people have different relationships with money! You have to do what feels right for you, and is best for your family dynamic.

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PS There is SO much more to cover on this topic! Like I said, finances is a COMPLICATED subject. If you have specific questions, be sure to leave them in the comments - a follow up post is coming REALLY soon!

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