The StepMom’s Toolbox: An Interview With Peggy Nolan

Mother’s Day is May 8th. Time to celebrate the mothers in your world!

For moms in blended families, however, it might be the hardest day of the year.

My second Mother’s Day, as a foster-adoptive mom, I spent the first half of the day managing intense behaviors and protests that I was not their “real” mom. After lunch, I grabbed the keys and drove. Not headed anywhere in particular, just getting away from the nightmare of motherhood I’d inherited. I drove for 6 hours that day, half-blind through tears, yelling at the steering wheel. Lovely Mother’s Day, right?

It’s hard to not be your child’s first mom. To be the one there every day, bandaging owees, making school lunches, holding them while they cry and miss their first mom… and managing all kinds of tough behaviors that spring from that grief!

Recently, I connected with Peggy Nolan (@toolboxgirl) on Twitter and had a major “ah-ha” moment: stepparents and adoptive parents can relate! Peggy’s heart for stepfamilies to thrive is a calling close to home for me, so I’m honored and excited to share an amazing resource she’s created with you today!

Interview with Peggy Nolan, Creator of The StepMom’s Toolbox


What inspired you to reach out to support step-parents?
In 2006, I got remarried – this time to the love of my life. I had two adult children from my first marriage and he had four children from his first marriage. His youngest son was 14 and the last one in the nest.  After the “honeymoon” phase, Junior began acting out in ways that surprised not just me, but his parents as well. I searched for help in my local community and online but quickly realized that there was not a lot of help or a place that provided support to the whole remarried family. It took a while to find Junior the right help. I decided to create an online community with “at your finger tips” resources. 

“My passion is helping step parents find their strength, their sense of agency in the process, because stepmoms and stepfamilies do have control and do have choices.”

What is the vision behind your site, The Stepmom’s Toolbox?
For it to be the Yellow Pages for step families. A place where step parents can go for coaching, financial, legal, social, emotional and grief help. I also want to provide stepmoms a safe, supportive, and caring private community where they can learn, share, and grow.

What do you feel is the toughest challenge facing step parents?

Being a step parent, a stepmom in particular, is one of the hardest roles women take on. Broken relationships, hurting children, angry ex-spouses, spouses that don’t know how to deal with their ex’s, etc., and it’s a recipe for drama and chaos.

There’s a lot of grief and loss that may have not be processed and released by the adults. On top of that, there’s loss and grief that the children are experiencing and they experience it in a different way than adults. Even under the best of circumstances remarried families will stumble into past issues that trigger old hurts to surface.

What’s Stepmom University and how does it help moms?
Stepmom University is a place where women can learn, share, and grow. Our classes are structured to help women find balance in their lives, reduce and manage stress, and learn how to live their best lives now. Classes are delivered via email with a private online forum as well as conference calls. Conference calls are recorded and sent to students as part of the class.

“We currently have a free eCourse, Six Steps to a New You, and it’s available just by signing up on our website!

If you could give one piece of advice to new step moms, what would it be? 
It takes time for stepfamilies to marinate. Stepfamilies are not first families so don’t expect instant bonding. Take your time building trust with both your spouse and your stepkids. Make regular deposits into your relationship with your husband. The stronger and happier your marriage is the stronger and happier your kids and stepkids will be. And last but not least, take time every day to take care of yourself. Meditate, pray, eat well, stay active, find an activity or hobby you love, stay connected with your girlfriends and family. Most importantly don’t lose who you are inside your stepfamily. You matter. You count.

Connect with Peggy:

Thanks again, Peggy, for the work you’re doing to help stepfamilies get unstuck and enjoy life together! 

And to all my blended family mamas out there – have a very HAPPY, blessed Mother’s Day!

-Laurie
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