Catherine Njeri Kariuki is a kindergarten teacher and a mother of six: four step-children and two biological ones. She started her blog Fashionable Step Mum to share her transition from a single girl to a step mum, as well as her style evolution over the years.
Tell us more about your blog?It was to support other step mums in blended families because I had no one to talk to when I married my husband. I did it on my own for the first nine years. There was no internet or books that could advise on the issues. I struggled alone. Most people are not open about their step motherhood as well, including some of my friends. This does not help the children accept it, and it becomes very hard for them to adjust to this new family setup.
How have things changed since your first year as a stepmom?The family has blended really well. Everyone knows their role and their boundaries. We live any other normal family, only difference being that the kids have two moms now.
What pushed you to brand yourself as The Fashionable Step Mum?I love fashion, and I feel like our society perceives motherhood as a barrier to looking good. Fashion has helped me become more confident, especially within my blended family setup.
Looking good and trying to take care of myself helped me cope with the challenges that came with being a stepmom. What would I have had to offer if I failed to take care of myself first?
What three things would you say a stepmom needs to survive her first year of step motherhood?Lower those expectations. Remember that you are the stranger; you are the one who joined the family.
Understand that building a relationship with them will take time. Be patient, because it is like getting to know a stranger from scratch; their behaviours and personalities.
Put the children first. You may get too involved with the politics as adults that you forget that the kids are already hurting; either through the separation or death. It is important to understand that things are already as they are with the family.
Being honest, the first five years are the toughest in this journey.
On that note, what were the main challenges you have had to face?Being accepted into the family, definitely. They were already comfortable with how the setup was.
Learning how to co-parent with the biological mother was another challenge. The children need all their parents, so we had to compromise and find a way to work together. It is important for the kids to see this as well. We have to always read from the same page, otherwise factors of manipulation from the children would arise.
How do you decide on what to write about? Do you share it with the family beforehand?No. I don’t think my family even reads my blog. (Laughs). The thing is, the blog is not about them; it is about me as a stepmom.
I cannot tell their story, so I choose to share mine from my perspective. Everyone has their own story and truth.
They are okay with the blog, but I get to choose what tickles my fancy. Besides, I sometimes write about things far from step motherhood.
Greatest joys of being a stepmom?The hard work has come to pay. We are now a happy family. My two biological children do not know of any differences.
To them, we are all equal, and this is my joy to be honest. The divorce was of course not a good thing, but I am happy that something good came out of it. My husband and I teach our children that issues in relationships are normal and can be dealt with cordially.
Would you say you made the right decision saying yes to your husband and signing up to be a custodial stepmom?Oh yes. I would not have it any other way. However, I would advise someone to think hard about it first. I was full of positivity and did not know the challenges and dynamics involved.
Tell us more about the Blended by Love event.It will be happening this Saturday at Karen Woodlands from 10 a.m. and will involve the coming together of blended families to share and encourage each other.
It will also involve a legal mind, who will give information on the family laws and policies when it comes to divorce, custody and even the division of property, which people rarely talk about. Partners tend to put the children in between by dictating terms.
It is important to understand how the laws and policies work in such situations. Learning and applying them ensure the children settle down and adapt to their new family setups as early as possible.
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Catherine Kariuki: I started a blog to support step mums have 944 words, post on www.nation.co.ke at August 30, 2018. This is cached page on Talk Vietnam. If you want remove this page, please contact us.