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Should You Date A Dad?

date a dad

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you either are or are thinking about dating a dad. Maybe you’re nervous and have some apprehensions. Maybe you’ve heard the “horror” stories or you’ve had family members warning you NOT to make this mistake.

If that is you, then you’ve come to the right place. By reading this article, we intend to give you some thoughts & guidance that you probably haven’t thought of before. And this time, you’re going to get perspective not from a stepmom, your aunt or a disgruntled co-worker, but a Dad himself.

Before meeting my wife, I spent almost a decade as a single dad, parenting a little baby girl by myself.

date a dad

Over the years I came across two different ‘kinds’ of women: women that would, and women that would never, go on a date with a man that already has kids.

Lucky for me, my wife, Cheyanne did not make any objections.
On the contrary.

She gladly embraced the part of me that I had become through my years of being a dad.

Three years into our marriage and having our own baby boy together, we look back on our story and wonder how our experience could help others.

If you are wondering whether or not you should date a dad, we hereby share with you the perks as we experience them.

date a dad

#1 – You already know what kind of parent they are.

Maybe you have children of your own, and maybe you don’t.
If you do, than you know what an impact’ becoming a parent’ has on you.
And you also know that you probably could not have known in advance how you would be changed.

When we become parents ourselves and it’s our turn to raise the next generation, we tend to fall back on what we’ve seen and learned in the course of our own lives. And we’re left with two choices: either we do the same, or we do the opposite. There are some things our parents used to do while raising us of which we think: “Never shall I do it that way”.

Most of our behavior is determined by what we’ve known for our entire lives, because it’s what we know to be ‘normal’.

But maybe your spouse doesn’t feel that way.
Maybe they believe that what you’re doing isn’t ‘normal’ at all.
Maybe they feel that your most natural way of parenting is totally the opposite of what they think it should be.
And maybe you just don’t know yet.

All the little things we see as ‘normal’, because that’s how we’ve always seen them, all of a sudden might not be.

Maybe you can talk about it in a respectful manner, and maybe you don’t.
Maybe you can learn from each other, but maybe you won’t.

When two become one, so too must “the way we do things” become one way.
You and your partner now have to come to terms and reach an agreement in what the two of you perceive as ‘normal’.

More often than not, we don’t talk about these things beforehand.
We don’t think of these things, simply because we have no idea how we’ll be impacted by parenthood.

But when you get to meet someone who’s already been impacted by all the changes of parenthood, you already get to see how they will be as a parent. You get to decide in advance whether or not you can respect and relate to their way of doing. Now you can talk about their ‘normals’ and why they do the things they do, and see if you can get on the same page.

This way you can test whether or not your communication styles are compatible in the real world and if either you or your partner is able to adjust either behavior or expectations, so that you don’t have to find out the hard way after your child has been born.

date a dad

#2 – You get someone who’s strong & tender

As your potential partner has had his share of taking care of little kids, he most likely had to wipe some tears and kiss away many booboo’s. Helping a child navigate their way through their feelings and pains has potentially made the father more in touch with his own emotions.

When raising a kid, there will probably have been some moments of sheer crisis. As any parent can acknowledge, it therefore is crucial to remain calm and centered yourself so that the kids can also become calm and peaceful.
Having had experience as a dad will probably have given them plenty of opportunities to practice that muscle.
It is the parent that takes care of the kid, not the other way around.

At the same time, they will have also had the chance to become more responsible and protective, having had to take care of little children. They had to make more sacrifices than you can (probably) imagine. The kids’ needs have always had to go first: not eating or sleeping simply isn’t an option for a kid.
This would make a dad possibly less egotistical than anyone who’s never had to take others’ needs into account.

And as any parent will acknowledge: in order for kids to thrive, they need stability. They need predictability.
They need repetitiveness. And so your potential partner also had to be strong enough to create a sense of stability, yet at the same time also gentle enough because the routine has to be finetuned to meet the needs of all those included.

Now, because this section covered quite a lot, here’s an overview of traits a dad might consist:

  • A caretaker
  • In touch with his emotions
  • Centered & calm
  • Responsible
  • Protective
  • Sacrificial
  • Less egotistical
  • Stable
  • Strong
  • And gentle

#3 – They’ve been around the block

When you’re dating, you meet people when they’re at their best: in a beautiful & romantic setting, freshly bathed, wearing their finest & favorite clothes, no stress or threats whatsoever.

However, this does not resemble real life at all.

While it’s easy to feel attracted to someone’s best side, but when living in an intimate relationship, it is our deepest and darkest sides of our personality that get revealed.

“Under pressure, the cracks get revealed.” And what a pressure a (first) kid brings with it.

Between the lack of sleep, dirty diapers, loads of laundry, intruding parents(- in-law), societal pressure, obligatory house guests, failing breast feeding attempts and living on naps, the romance is absent more often than not.

During these hard & difficult times, one is often presented with insecure moments.

In moments like these it’s extra convenient to have a partner by your side who’s been there before. Someone who’s gone through it all before, and therefore can be there more to help you help the baby.

Someone who can be a rock for you, new mommy, who you can build on.

Someone who can be a rock for the family.

But because they’ve loved and lost before, they’ve learned to appreciate the value of a happy family.

“The best gift a father can give his children, is to love and respect their mother.”

Since it may not have worked out with the mom of his kids, he sure will have learned some very valuable lessons the hard way. So when he looks at you for engaging in a lasting love relationship, just the mere reason that he would entrust you with his most valuables – his little ones – is a huge sign of how deeply he wants to commit to you.

What do you think?

Could you imagine being a stepmom? What would that look like for you?

Now, that you see the perks of marrying a dad, come see the perks of being a stepmom. Come download our FREE Healthy Mindset Guide for Stepmoms right here.

This fairytale could be even better than you imagined,

Kim Cleyman

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Turning 34

Wow. Here I am. Ending my Jesus year. On to 34.

“Jesus year,” you may ask? Huh? I remember the first time I heard that. Jesus himself only lived to his 33rd year, and wow, what a year it was for him. I am now OLDER than the most important person in my life ever was.

My husband also will be going through this same exact situation when he turns 42 in March as his own father never made it to his 42nd birthday.

There are times & moments in life where we all feel invincible – like, NOTHING could touch us.

And then, there are other times when we feel so thankful to be alive because we know how precious life is.

I remember, upon turning 30, how so many asked me how I was feeling about leaving my 20s behind. Honestly, I was ecstatic. I had an amazing time in my 20s, but they were FULL of trials too. I followed a lot of dreams and became a totally different person – inside and out – from my early 20s to late 20s.

Now, venturing into my mid-30s, I’ve never been so in love with my life.

My 30s haven’t been absent of trials, however. If anything, the trials I have faced during my 30s, make the ones in my 20s look so small and simple. In my 30s, I’ve become a wife, step mom, gave birth to an amazing son at home, immigrated countries, became bilingual and maintained a 100 pound weight loss…just to name a few.

But, they paved the path for me to ride the waves of the ones I’ve experienced now in my third decade. I LOVE that about trials. If you lean into them, and fully surrender, you can come out of them stronger, wiser and BETTER.

That is what I want for my 34th year. In my 33rd year, I lived through more restrictions because of a worldwide pandemic, navigated a challenging court battle for my stepdaughter, let go dreams of moving to the States this year, became a full-time entrepreneur with my husband, experienced a miscarriage and survived Co-Vid.

If that doesn’t launch me into my 34th year of with hope & expectation, I don’t know what does!

I look back on my 33rd year of life and feel like it broke me down, only to build me back up.

It showed me that I no longer needed to “muscle through things on my own.” Throughout all my trials, I got experience new sides of God’s character. I got to fully rely on my husband and see more of his personality that is so uniquely suited for me. For better or for worse, he has stood by me and allowed my soul to flourish in the pain.

34. I see you.

I am excited for you. And I know, my best, and my family’s best, is yet to come.

-Cheyanne Lent Cleyman

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Boundaries in CoParenting

Boundaries!  

man in white button up shirt
Photo by Yan Krukov on Pexels.com

Ah, that BUZZ WORD is everywhere nowadays – isn’t it?!  

So, what ARE they actually? 

 And how do you know what ones are right for you?  

How do you make sure they stay in place & your co-parent doesn’t walk all over you? 

We’re going to dive deep into ALL those questions here. No worries.  

Perhaps the BEST place to start would be establishing what ARE boundaries.  

Simply put, boundaries are rules you put up that show people how to treat you. When boundaries are not in place, people, even ones with the best intentions, can walk all over you. Perhaps you’ve experienced this in your life…with a boss, your friends or your ex.  

When it comes to your coparenting relationship, it is crucial for the right boundaries to be put up in place. How do you know which boundaries are right for you? One expert we asked on this topic said the best way to figure this out is to look for and focus on the areas where you feel hurt. When you and your ex are communicating, and there’s certain things or situations that you feel hurt or pain, that’s a big indicator that there needs to be a boundary put up there.  

One huge bonus about boundaries…

…is that your ex doesn’t have to agree with them in order for you to establish them. In fact, you don’t even have to communicate with them that you’re doing it. As Nike says, just do it. And do it consistently. 

Chances are, if your ex has been able to treat you a certain way for many years, they won’t adjust to your new boundaries very easily. But remember, this isn’t about them. It’s not about making them happy or comfortable. That’s not your job or responsibility. They are responsible for their own peace and happiness – as are you for your own. Establishing boundaries in your relationship with your ex is about protecting your peace, your sanity and your marriage.  

What if you ex pushes back with your newfound boundaries?

Don’t let up. Be consistent. Over time, they will get the hint.  

What we’ve walked you through above is merely an abridged version, or “Cliff Notes,” of a fantastic interview with just did with single mom & co-parenting expert, Katie Davie. To go deeper, get the full details & strategize your OWN boundaries with us, go check out our full interview at the link below:

Kim & Cheyanne

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Breaking News: The EX ISN’T Your Biggest Problem

Living in a blended family is a true trial & test for your marriage. The pressure continually keeps growing and you can’t remember the last time you were IN your comfort zone. 

As a young American woman who doesn’t speak Dutch (the language of the land she lives in), Chey knows all too well how it feels when you join a family and you’re the ‘new’ one, aka “the odd one” out. 

She’s also had experiences where she’s felt unwelcome by some people who refuse to speak her language when Chey indicated that she didn’t understand. 

We know that there are times, when your biggest enemy or person who attacks you personally, could be the same person causing conflict in your family home. 

Didn’t like someone 

Unfortunately, if you’re a step mom reading this & you are shaking your head YES (like, I TOTALLY get it), it’s probably not the first time that you’ve experienced pain from the ex doing “this”, whatever it is, you can fill in the blank here.  
Did she not come to pick up her children?

Did she say something to your stepchildren to get in between you?

Are you the one doing all the hard work of raising her child(ren), while she gets all the credits, undeservingly? 

After some time, she may become your ‘squeaky wheel’; as you’re cruising along doing life, she’s this annoying ‘squeaky sound’ that follows you everywhere you go. 

And between women, there is bound to always be some competition. 

(Sometimes, we get it. There’s no other choice than to do something LEGAL.)

Source of all misery

It’s natural to feel a little competitive if that person is repeatedly taking your spouse away from you. Sometimes it’s only being physically away, but more and more, there’s an emotional distance too, which is even harder to live with.

Is it true? Is this other woman the source of all “your misery?”

If she would only just go away, wouldn’t all your problems be solved?

In those circumstances, it’s easy to see someone that is the “cause for all your trouble”. 

Even though, deep down, you may know it’s not 100 % her fault every time there’s a disturbance in your family. She just comes on top of everything else, time and again. 

In life, there are moments that our emotions take over, and in those situations our first response could be to seek blame with the ex – and find. 

Responsibility 

If you find yourself continually thinking this way, nothing good can come from the path you’re on. 
Let me ask you a question: if now you’ve got some resentment growing deep within you, and you don’t want to allow that to take over your heart, do you? 

Since we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them, if you want a different result, you first must do something else. 

Is it worth it? Is she worth it?

Acknowledging within yourself that there might be some truth in there, is the first & most important step to break this downward spiral. The mental shift that it allows is that you are never a victim. 

woman in white tank top sitting on ground

You have within you the power to take ownership and focus on what you can now own what you do & what you CAN do. 
 

Teach 

When you let go of ‘feeling angry’ and take responsibility, you can see how YOU have allowed this behavior.

Here’s two more good questions for your soul:

How am I respecting my own boundaries? 

Am I a good friend to myself? 

photo of girl hugging her mom while doing yoga pose

Change on the outside starts with a change on your inside. 
The more you connect to your core and heart, then peace and love will reign in your life. 

And then you’ll find that she doesn’t have to bother you – that much

Now you can take it. 

So, who is it really? 

The more negativity we see, the more negativity we will see; it only gets bigger. 

In this blog, we wanted to show you that you yourself own the key to your happiness 

Sometimes we discuss ideas like “imagine how life would be if we can get out of our own way”. 

If you want to check out how you can free your home from the ex and co-create your own, unique family together with your spouse, then click here. 

Is everything really the exes fault? Find out when you click the link above!

We love you guys….Tot Ziens (See you later),

Kim & Chey

PS. We also know, sometimes the ONLY thing we can change in life, is ourselves

YOU CAN adapt a healthier mindset when it comes to your role as a stepmother in your family…but don’t do it alone! Allow me to guide you here.

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Why You Need To Go To Court

From a StepMom & Bio Dad’s perspective

crop businessman signing contract in office
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Going to court for child custody is NOT an easy topic. Quite frankly, we don’t think anyone WANTS to go there. It usually comes, from our experience personally and with our clients, out of necessity. It takes a lot of time, finances and emotional energy to achieve child custody. However, as much stress & turmoil it may put you & your children through temporarily, we’d encourage you to look at the long term gain.

Let’s paint another picture:

Imagine you knew your step daughter would be with her mom for 3 days. Even though the last time it was 4 days, this week, it’s only 3. You and your husband make some plans to go away for a romantic weekend. You’re there, things are going good, and then, out of nowhere , after only being with her mom for a few hours, you are demanded to come back and take care of her. And this isn’t the first time this has happened. Or the second.

Or, say, you’re a planner. And you want to plan a nice outing as a family, including your stepkids, but you’re continually waiting on their bio mom or dad to give you their schedule. And sometimes, it comes the night before.

That TOO is stressful, right?

(Or, maybe the problem isn’t the ex, but something else altogether – check out our other blogpost on that here: )

Cheyanne, as a stepmom herself, would say a LEGAL document is vital. It is necessary. For the stability of your stepchild, AND your family.

Now, we would be the first to say that doesn’t mean you have to go before a judge and have your lawyers dig up dirt from both your lives and try to convince the judge which one of you is a better or more “worthy” parent. Although, sometimes, it DOES come down to that, there are OTHER legal options that wouldn’t require that situation.

You & your co-parent could instead decide to meet with a court-appointed mediator.

This would be someone that would help you both get on the same page and come to an agreement that you both would sign. Yes, this WOULD be legally binding. Ideally, this is the least hostile option and the most inexpensive.

However, we know that in some co-parenting relationships, this is just quite simply – impossible. You & your co-parent are always arguing and can never agree on anything. This is where a court situation would benefit you both -so, in the future, there is less bickering, less manipulating and straight-forward document that you and both your families can depend on.

(If you’re struggling with getting the exes influence out of your home, take back control by downloading our FREE guide here:

As a bio dad, this is what drove Kim to setting up a legal custody situation for his daughter for the first time ever. She was almost 13 when it all happened. For the first 10 years of her life, he and her mom made it work. It was just the two of them (two single parents and their daughter). Now, as a married man with a toddler, the instability of a regular schedule was affecting his family and their peace in their home. He want to bring a schedule that would be predictable for his daughter, and also his wife and new baby boy.

Wherever you find yourself in your co-parenting journey, don’t judge your situation.

Don’t feel bad for wherever you are at. Own it and see what you can do about it. You, your children and your family are worth it.

*If during the process of establishing custody and working on your co-parenting relationship, you notice the need for boundaries to be set in place, we have an awesome interview for you to check out. We recently interviewed, Katie Davie, a single mom & co-parenting expert, who shares her insights on co-parenting, establishing boundaries and keeping them for good. Check it out below!

As always, come say HI on our social & share with us your thoughts!

Our Instagram: @theCleymans

-Kim & Cheyanne

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Long Distance Dating For Newbies

Have you ever found yourself living on the other side of the planet as the love of your life? 

We currently are THERE as Chey is visiting her family in Florida, and Kim is home in Belgium. We also did this during our entire dating relationship.

So, as huge proponents of Long-Distance Dating/Relationships ourselves, we wanted to share with you some of our thoughts:  

First, let’s focus on the BENEFITS of Long-Distance Dating: 

-Less fluff, more focus on conversation, really getting to know the person 

-Less superficial (not testing them with friends, family, dressing up to impress) 

-Grow genuine trust, connection, dependability 

Ok, so maybe you’re thinking – guys, that’s great, and I totally agree but – How does one now DO that?  

Glad you asked: It’s one thing to date long-distance & communicate through our devices, but how can we make it extra special and guarantee the connection remains strong or continues to build? 

There’s a few things we’d suggest:

Text – and not just a HELLO & Good Night or “Wyd” – but REALLY open up! Share what you’re feeling for your person or what’s going on in your day. Send them an inspiring quote or a funny joke – keep it an alive conversation!

text on a blue message balloon
Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

Voice Memos – these are even more special than Texts, because then you get to hear your lovers voice. Sometimes text IS more convient and easier to read on the go, but by leaving voice messages, it offers a more natural opportunity for a convo to flow and for you to go deepr with your partner. Maybe even sing to them or read a book outloud together! We did that together and it gave us something to look forward to every single voice memo.

photo of woman using cellphone while smiling
Photo by Yan Krukov on Pexels.com

FaceTime – Ah, yes! Thank God for modern technology! Now, you can SEE & HEAR each other. But, don’t just feel you have to sit and talk to each other in a static location. Move! Take each other on date’s through the phone. Workout together. Cook at the same time. Involve friends & family ever once in a while, so they can get to know your love too!

dawn businessman man person
Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com

Share links to – YouTube videos, Instagram reels, music that shows your interests, passions & values – there’s so many way you can make long-distance dating interactive and “shorten” the gap the distance forces upon you.

person using laptop computer during daytime
Photo by picjumbo.com on Pexels.com

So, forget what you think of how “it should be” & surrender to the opportunity you get to still stay connected and build a flourishing relationship from your fingertips.

 Focus, instead, on what DO have & be grateful for this technology  

Have you long distance dated before or are you currently? 

Share this post so other couples like ours can use these great tips to stay connected!  

Also, we LOVE hearing others ideas!

Let us know your ideas!

How did you keep the connection alive when dating long distance?  

Leave us a comment below or come say HI on social: @TheCleymans!

-Kim & Cheyanne

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Traveling With Toddlers: How To Thrive at 10,000 Feet

Yep, we’re about to take the journey (AGAIN) that maybe some of you mom’s and dad’s have before and that is- traveling over 7,000 miles with a toddler!!!

Ahhhh, did that make anyone else just cringe? Or grab for the puke bag?

Wouldn’t it just be easier to travel that distance once he’s older? We get this question a lot.

Maybe. But easier isn’t always better, especially when you have family between two main countries and only get to see them 2x a year.

Traveling with a toddler doesn’t HAVE to be as exhausting and stressful as it sounds.

This will now be our toddler’s FORTH trip across the world with our special little man (2 solo with mama & now 2 with Daddy’s too), and with all these trips, we’ve learned a lot of DOs and DONTs along the way that we wanted to share with you.

First up…

DO bring your husband!

Haha, we HAD to put this one first – especially since our son’s first two trips between Europe and the States, Chey did alone. This time around, she is SO thankful to know she will have that second set of hands. If you find yourself, like she did before, traveling alone with a baby or toddler, do yourself (and your little one) a favor and ask for and accept all help. Whether it’s another mama waiting in line with you or a friendly flight attendant, allow others to help you. This is NOT the time to activate your Super Woman status and try to do it all. You’ll be so happy later on during the travel for the extra hands, extra napkin or extra set of eyes you had from that kind stranger.

DO pack MORE than enough diapers, wipes & sets of clothes

There are some things you do NOT want to run out of & have to scour an airport for and that is diapers, wipes & extra sets of clothes. Even if your little doesn’t have hardly any “accidents” anymore, pack extra. You don’t want a sudden blow out, when your plane is about to land, and you have no clean clothes or an extra diaper to put him in. We’ve been there. Done that.

DO NOT pack too many toys

Ok, here’s your first DON’T! Write this one down: Remember, often times, kids favorite toys are the NON toys. In most airports & air planes, there are a lot of free pamplets, napkins, spoons, forkc & etc. that your little one will love to discover and play with. You don’t want to scramble around for your passport at check-in while trying to get around the 12 blocks, 3 books & extra soft giraffe you packed in the diaper bag. If this sounds realistic, it’s because Chey has been there too. #JustDontDoit

DO bring snacks for baby AND yourself

Chey is a HUGE planner & likes to be as prepared as possible. With all of her traveling, she’s learned to not RELY on airlines to have food you may enjoy or give it to you when hunger suddenly strikes. You don’t want a famished baby relying on others for their food. When our son was 3 months old, Chey packed 2 days worth of milk & bottles in his diaper bag (again – just in case!) Then, as he’s gotten older, we are still packing ample amount of snacks for him (and ourselves) to get us through the long flights.

Some of our go-to favorites are: rice crackers, granola bars, dried fruit, nuts & fresh fruit – which only lasts for the first few hours. Side note: If your baby still requires milk, you can ask the airline employees to keep a bottle cold or even bring you warm water if necessary.

DO bring an extra plastic bag for old diapers & wet clothes

Sometimes our babies will poop, pee or make other bodily fluids at the most inopportune times. For the moments you aren’t able to get to a trash can, bring an extra plastic bag to hold trash temporarily until you can properly dispose of it later.

DO bring your stroller with you to the gate

Chey has had so many mom’s ask her whether they should BRING the stroller with them through the airport or check it. She will ALWAYS say: BRING IT! Every airplane we’ve flown on allowed has allowed us to bring it all the way to the gate. They then put it under the plane for us. It is always ready when we get off the plane to make our next layover or at my final destination. When our son was younger & Chey flew when he was 3 & 8 months old, she also brought the car seat with her on the plane. In that way, he had a safe seat to sit in (and sleep in) for the flight.

On a side note: If your baby is still under 20 lbs., ask for the baby cot! It is a GOD SEND on long flights. It’s a cot that attaches in the seat or on the airplane wall & gives your way a “bassinet” type of bed to lie in to sleep on the plane. This may even just allow mommy or daddy to catch a few winks too.

DO NOT sweat the small stuff

Your baby might cry. He might pull out all the pamplets out of the seats one by one (true story). She may puke on the person in the seat next to you (we hope not), and he may tickle the feet of the person trying to sleep on the plane. Take a deep breathe when these things happen, and just let it go. Let your baby crawl where you typically wouldn’t. Let them watch a show on your phone or eat a few too many airplane crackers. This is the time for you to relax and focus on a safe & happy flight – NOT to win the “Mom or Dad Of The Year” award.

And most of all…DO NOT forget to have fun!

Take pictures when you can – or ask another friendly mama you meet to take one of you & your family. It may feel like an experience you just can’t wait to end – but aim to enjoy it and relish in all the memories you are making.

Do you have any questions for us?

Did we miss something?

Comment below or come ask away & say HEY on our Instagram: @TheCleymans

Looking forward to chatting with you soon & sharing photos from our trips to the USA!

-Kim & Cheyanne Cleyman

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Ho, Ho, Hooold the Drama! 3 Tips to Get Through a Stepfamily Holiday Season

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” – WAIT – Are you full of holiday cheer or are you like: “hand me another beer”, with all the changes and chaos in your stepfamily schedule this holiday season?

We know first hand how overwhelming and emotional this season can be. Unlike other families, you may be having to deal with multiple celebrations, on different days, with different schedules, sibling rivalry, battles with exes over traditions and customs – just to name a few.

Being a part of a stepfamily isn’t always easy.

Where we can’t change most of our circumstances, what we can do is remain flexible, lay down some boundaries and focus our mind on the similarities in our families, rather than all the differences and challenges.

Today, we’re going to give you our Top 3 Tips that we use in order to navigate through the chaos and feel the joy of the season.

Plan In Advance

One bonus of having an arranged custody schedule, is that you know pretty far in advance what your schedule will be like around the holidays. With this knowledge in mind, take a proactive approach, rather than reactive.

Instead of focusing on all the time you won’t be with your kids, focus on the time you DO have with them. And include your extended family in on the plans. Whether you’re the only stepfamily in your extended family or not, reach out and share when you’ll have your kids with you and see if your family can be flexible in when the celebration can take place. This is especially important if there are multiple stepfamilies with many different schedules in your family.

If you don’t have a custody schedule set in place, set an intention and time for you and your co-parent to discuss the holiday schedule sometime towards the end of the summer or early Fall. Don’t wait too long – this could cause unnecessary stress and heightened emotions as the dates are quickly approaching. Come up with an agreement together, get it in writing, sign it if you feel that is best, and communicate the schedule and expectations to the kids.

Keep Schedule The Same

No matter HOW tempting it might be to change your agreement with your co-parent, we would suggest not going down that road. In our experience, and with our clients, we’ve seen it do more harm than good. Even with the best intentions, it could set up an opportunity for manipulation, parental alienation and too many compromising situations for the future.

We want you and your family to enjoy & experience peace during the holidays, not have more stress, frustration and chaos. Even though this may mean you miss out on your child’s birthday, or Christmas or New Year’s Eve with them, it’s better for you, your house and your children to have the right expectations and stability.

This may mean that you have to use the word “NO” more often and look like “the bad guy/girl” to your children. However, it is worth it in the long-term. Short term losses, for long-term gains.

*If you or anyone in your family struggles through transition days, come check out our post here where we help guide you to make this process easier & smoother: How To Make Transition Days Smoother

Celebrate the meaning, not the day

We know that custody schedules are tough. They are not always fair. Everyone looks forward to spending more time with their family and celebrating traditions around the holiday season. In stepfamilies, it’s not guaranteed that everyone in your family will always be around.

What we do, and what we’d encourage, is to make it a special day whenever you get to see your children. Whether it’s December 28 or January 3, continue to do the traditions you want, and make it your own.

In fact, you could make it a new tradition to have your own special celebration that is unique to your family. Emphasize that with your children – special occasions are more about the people you share it with, and the memories you make, not what day you do it on.

The holidays are an opportunity to slow down, reflect and acknowledge all that you have & can be thankful for.

With all the chaos that may be around you, it’s important to keep your focus on what you CAN control. When you plan in advance, aim to keep the schedule the same and celebrate the meaning of the day whenever you’re together, you set yourself up for feeling empowered and having a smoother holiday season.

There are SO many stepfamilies struggling to navigate all the ups & downs of the holiday season, so please share this so other families, like yours, can take back control of their holidays and have that peace & joy.

We were recently interviewed by a fellow stepfamily coach, Winel / Blended & Flourishing, where we go deeper in how to FLOURISH during the holidays – you can grab all our tips & insights here: Click here for interview!

We’d also love to hear your thoughts! What do YOU do to manage the chaos of this season? Which tip above resonated the most with you? Let us know below!

-Kim & Cheyanne

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New challenges brought new levels to communication in our marriage

Life is good: You and your spouse are communicating well. There’s this beautiful flow and state of bliss in your relationship.

And then – just when you think you got it – life has a way of humbling you, right?

Do you know that feeling that when you THINK you “know” something, you’re very quickly presented with a new lesson, from a different situation, which allows you to go deeper?

We’ve recently had a couple of those ‘learning moments’ to encounter.

One time was when we lost the car keys and the other time was when we lost our backpack.
For more details we gladly guide you to the Facebook Live session of January 16th 2021.

“Whenever life seems to treat us with setbacks, try to be grateful.”

That way, the bridge to the ‘why’ can be revealed as our innate “learning device” gets triggered.

This time it is my wish for you to learn from my ‘misfortunes’, so that together we can have even more reasons to be grateful.

“It is when looking in hindsight, that we know better.”

And now when I look back on these two very specific situations, I now know that I (1) had to step up like a dad and say “No, we’re not doing that”; maybe for the hundredth time in twenty days, and (2) wasn’t being a good team member with my wife. I failed the team because I didn’t involve them and thought: “I got this”. After all, I am a man.

No need to guess again there, but God made it clear to me that I DO need to ‘think again’.

Why do I feel a resistance to stepping up as a father should?
And why do I have to feel that “as a man, I got this”, while (potentially) failing the team?

It wasn’t about me. Where we were going, wasn’t about me. What we were doing, was for all of us. And because of me, we all couldn’t.

I had failed us.
Twice.

One of the things I like most of being married, is that I find myself constantly surrounded in an environment that allows me to be me, truly the most authentic me that I could ever be.
There’s absolutely no reason to fake or be-what-you’re-not or try-harder-to-deserve-love .

It is my humble opinion that we can only thrive in a situation like that: knowing that whatever we do or feel or find or think, we are loved even harder than before.

I know that I am very happy to have found my one true love after all, but I had to put in quite a lot of years of patience, trial & also error. But in the end, love is always worth all the wait.

In the time leading up to our marriage, I had plenty of opportunity to start healing old wounds.
During those years, I had time to work on the relationship I had with myself.

Now that I find myself in this amazing marriage, I now can work on the relationship I have with myself even better. I get to practice to accept myself the way I am, and even love myself through it.

This is only because the person I admire most in the world, loves me more with every hard fought step I take.

As human beings, we will always fall short.
No matter what we do, there is no such thing as “perfect”.

In fact; trying to be so, or claiming to be so, will only highlight how we are not.

It is however, to my humble opinion, the greatest blessing in the world, to learn how to ‘love unconditionally’. No matter what someone does or doesn’t do, says or doesn’t say, I will (still) love (you). I will love you through it.

               My loving you does not depend on you doing a certain thing.

To me this is a shortcut to being closer to God, for He loves us all alike.
And He does so unconditionally.

This practice allows us to lead a more peaceful life.

That’s why I always tell Chey to be “the youest of yous”.
Pure you-ness.

No fake, no fluff, no acting-better-than-you-think-you-oughta-be.

You will always be loved for who you are,
Not for who I want you to be.

So we got to find out the hard way that there are ‘Levels to Communication’.

For we may think we’re good at it because we do it all the time.
Or maybe we even did a great job for about a hundred consecutive times.

But there’s always more to learn,
and ways to get better.

To “Master the Art of Communication”, it’s not about learning complicated, advanced ‘ninja’ stealthy communication tactics.
It is more important that we remain humble and open, and keep going back to the basics.

For we all change,
and everybody does.

This means that both the person that is speaking, as the person that is being spoken to, are not the same person as they were when they last spoke about a certain topic.

Growing up, I used to think that ‘people don’t change’. They maybe ‘can’t be changed’ from the outside in, but I sure know I’ve changed (big time), from the inside out.

What a boring ride life would be if we would remain exactly the same for all our life.

At the same time it is this openness and curiosity to discovering this new amazing person that’s next to me when I wake up that keeps things interesting, even though we’ve been married for years.

The moment we think we know someone and think we can predict their behavior and even their speech, is the moment we (both) stop learning and growing.

Hence the importance of remaining humble and open-to-learn: allow yourself to fall in love with your partner all over again. Allow yourself to see their magical beauty. Allow them to rediscover themselves and fall in love with life all over again.

Not only is it important to remain open to learn from and with others, such as your spouse or your children, at the same time, we want to remain open enough to allow growth from within.
By doing this, we can keep clear communication channels with ourselves and allow imperfections to rise to the surface.
Why did I feel the need, as a dad, to ‘not say no all the time’?

What is it within me that makes me want to handle things ‘like a man’ and not share responsibilities with my wife?

What unresolved issues do I have lingering around in me and come to the surface, without my being aware of them?
Because if it weren’t for these setbacks, I wouldn’t be as aware of them as I am now.
This does not imply that I’ve reached a stage of complete healing and integration, but at least I became a bit more aware of the subconscious junk that I carry around.
This subconscious remains a mystery to me.

This always reminds me of the fish.
Do they know that they are surrounded by water, or is it maybe so obvious that they don’t see it, don’t know it and don’t even realize it?
Are they unconscious of the water that surrounds them at all time?
Hence the fish says: “Where’s the water? I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

               What is it about us that is so obvious, yet we are not aware of?

Marriage offers us an excellent opportunity to allow those unresolved issues to come into our consciousness. When we share our lives, we cannot but be confronted with each other’s imperfections, and our owns.

My wife and I would like to offer you and your family these questions that arose in our own recent conversations. We hope that by having some intentional, question-led conversations, your partnership will get even stronger and more united. We hope that they can form the start of a deeper understanding of both your partner as yourself, so that you too can develop a stronger and more intimate relationship within your marriage.

   Q1 – Where do you find yourself holding back?

   Q2 – What behavior have you stopped doing, because someone from your past gave you slack about it?

   Q3 – Would you like your spouse / partner to forgive you when you’re processing old wounds?

   Q4 – How do you define “team”? What do you expect from the ‘(marital) team you’re in”?

IF you do these questions with your spouse, let us know how it went

What did you learn….

What different questions did you both answer and discover in the process…

Please reach out and share,

-Kim

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How To Become A Healthy Double Blended Family

We know, first hand, how challenging it can be to blend two families together as one. We also know the extra challenge that is presented when you’re not only blending two families, but two or multiple cultures together in the same family.

For us, for the last two years, we’ve been blending our two families together also with the cultures from the United States and Belgium. It’s not always easy and we’ve learned a lot through making some mistakes a long the way.

It is this fact alone why we wanted to write this blog & give you some guidance and things to think of while you and your family aim to blend your families and cultures.

Your “Normal”

We all grow up in our own families, our own countries and our own cultures in which, whether we realise it or not, shape our definition of NORMAL. Any couple will tell you – a challenge they must overcome – is adjusting to and getting to know one another’s “normals.” This is no different in a blended family – in fact – there are often many more controversial and possibly “strange” normals for you and your new family to adjust to. There is the normal of your spouse to adjust to, their culture or country and then the family culture they’ve created with their children. As you create your own normal together as a family, it is very important that everyone seek to understand each other, have patience, and have some fun getting to know one another’s normals.

Language

This one almost needs no explanation of what a challenge it can be. Some parents find it hard enough to connect with their kids, especially teenagers, but it’s even more of a compounded struggle when there’s a mix of languages in the house. You may find yourself speaking 2, 3 or more languages in your house on any given day – and rest assured – it can be very difficult and frustrating. However, we would encourage you and your family to find a “common language.” As you begin to learn one another’s languages, communicate together on what words are important to you, see what tasks you can do to learn each other’s language better (Ex. take classes together, create Flashcards, download Duolingo & etc) and again, take a deep breathe, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Distance

One of the beautiful perks of family is having an automatic support system for you during the beautiful & hard times. However, when you are in a blended family with a blended culture, you may find yourself living hundreds to maybe thousands of miles from your blood family. It may not be as easy to drop your child off at their grandparents or take them to the places you enjoyed while growing up.

Being in a new culture/country, may require you to take new methods of transportation to get to and from. This was my experience when moving from the USA to Belgium where I had grown up relying on an automatic car to trying to drive stick & getting places 95% of the time by tram or bike. I would encourage to be open to trying new things and help you and your family get creative by connecting through apps and social media. Perhaps you could schedule video chats during times that work for you and your family’s time zones or take extra-long vacations there during the summer. Either way, blending a family from different cultures takes intentionality to make sure the children, especially the bonus children, get to know your family & customs, and make that distance not feel so great.

Religion

When you’re blending two families, it becomes abundantly clear from the very beginning, we all have our own thoughts, opinions and beliefs. People’s spiritual beliefs are not only very personal but what’s guides them with their decisions and actions in life. When two families come together, there will more than likely be different beliefs and ideas held that conflict with each other. In some countries, the beliefs/religion is the law of the land and the government follows the belief of that faith. Even in some families, it may be important for the spouse and blended children to follow the new faith with their customs, holidays and etc. We experienced this when I, a devout Christian, began dating Kim, who was spiritually curious & open, and we intimately discussed our beliefs and sought to come together – rather than it tearing us apart. Over time, and still to this day, we don’t always agree or see things exactly the same, but we respect one another and aim to give each other time and space to ask questions and our hearts be heard.

Politics

This may be the least fun and least popular thing yet! If there is one thing people hate talking about most – it might just be POLITICS! However, inside a blended family with blended cultures, you’re more than likely to address, whether in your house, or the extended family a different political opinion than yours. That is completely ok! As long as you can “agree to disagree” and seek to find more of what unites you, than divides you, you and your family will navigate these tricky waters. If you find yourself living in another country then the one you grew up in, you may have to respect governmental policies that you’re not used to. It will be an adjustment, however, one that can be elevated by your spouse if you open up, share how you’re feeling and have that consistent communication. Let politics be a reason you all come together – instead of tearing you apart.

Politics concept illustration. Idea of political institution.

Holidays

Holidays are often paired with different faith backgrounds, customs and history. When you have a blended family & a blended culture family, you may find yourself having a very busy December. In our family, we are celebrating my bonus daughter’s birthday, Sinter Klas, Christmas, New Year’s and 3 Kings Day all in the matter of a month! Whew! Where it can be something that’s overwhelming and exhausting, you can look at it as an opportunity to celebrate more. As holidays are very interwoven with culture, create opportunities in your house to bring the family together and learn about one another’s holidays.

Customs

In some cultures, the customs can be quite obvious and where others can be very silent and unspoken. Sometimes, you’re breaking customs you didn’t even know about! Customs are the one part of blending two families from two different cultures together that might take the most patience. Customs are something that is ingrained in a person from the time they were a baby, so it’ll take sometime for you, the new person to the culture, to learn and adjust to. It might even take your spouse some time to understand how to teach your the customs, as they will discover through your eyes, what customs are unique to their culture. It could be pace of living. It could customary greetings. It could be what days of the week you can shop on or how the school system functions. Whatever it is, involve the whole family in the conversation in how the customs don’t come naturally to you and it might take some time for you to make the adjustment.

Communication Style

Everyone’s communication style is different. You may be a big talker, while your spouse may need to think things through and be a little more reserved. Either way, it is of utmost importance that you and your spouse communicate about all of these things above. In fact, we’d even recommend you OVER communicate. In the blended culture family, you actually get to cut each other a break when it comes to communication – often because of language differences – you may be used to having to confirm you’re on the same page and make sure you’re understanding each other properly. Just GO with it! Enjoy it, don’t forget to laugh and make some new memories.

We know there are many challenges when it comes to blending families together – and that it’s only more challenging when you’re also blending multiple cultures. HOWEVER, take a chance with us and aim to see the CHALLENGE as the most beautiful and awesome OPPORTUNITY in the world. You WILL experience frustration. You WILL experience fear and have to navigate difficult conversations and situations.

However, through it all, you will be giving your family the blessed opportunity to be more united, stronger, well rounded and loving human beings. Challenge always comes before the transformation. Challenge will always be at the starting line of victory.

If you and your blended family are struggling with how to blend your multiple cultures and would like to be surrounded by positive, uplifting and encouraging families just like yours, come join our Facebook group by clicking the link below….

You don’t have to do this alone. We’re so happy we don’t anymore. We’ve discovered that not only are we doubly blended…we’re also double blended. There’s nothing we want to change about that.

Xoxo,

Cheyanne Cleyman

Feeling sidelined in your own stepfamily? Not NO MORE.

A mother’s love makes a house a home.” It doesn’t matter if you’re a biological mom or not, this quote lives on in the hearts of women everywhere. We have the desire to love our families and to love them well. 

However, in a stepfamily, this love, no matter how genuine, doesn’t always automatically transform a house into a home. This is often caused by role confusion and feeling like an outsider in your own home.

However, you don’t have to stay there, step mama.  

It’s only normal that you don’t want to stay on the sideline any longer. You’d rather get in the action as the heart of your family. Simply because, it’s where you belong. Your family needs you. 

a man and woman carrying their daughter while having fun
A mother’s love can transform a home

Life is about action – it’s in the doing that we see change and movement occur.  Want to know what you CAN do to get yourself off the sidelines in your own family? 

Well, when I was experiencing this myself during my first year as a stepmama, I took advice from some of my favorite athletes, whom have all played at the top level, and applied it to my role on my team, as a stepmother. 

And it was TOO GOOD to keep to myself. 

Here, I share with you, using sports analogies, how, you too, can get off the bench and stop watching from the sidelines. 

1. Eliminate Your Opponents

Sometimes it’s your partners well-meaning family members, sometimes it’s his jealous & overbearing ex and other times, it’s even ourselves. Wherever there are roadblocks that’s blocking you from your success as a strong leader on your team, put up boundaries and focus on what you can control.  

2. Follow Your Captain

There’s a reason why in most sports there’s only one captain at the team. He/she can’t win the whole game themselves, but, when it comes down to it, they are the leader. They are the point person. They’re also the one that takes credit for the losses. Allow your partner to be the leader, support him and trust his intuition as he leads your family.  

3. Practice Like Its The Game

If you practice like it’s the game, you’ll always bring your top effort to the real thing. Even when your step kids aren’t there, bring them up in conversation. Create an atmosphere where it supports their presence in your life. That way, when they are back in your home, it’s an easier transition for you & your partner physically and emotionally.  

Stepmama, it’s time for you to play a key role in your family’s success.

Apply these 3 plays, practice them over and over, and you’ll be well on your way.  

Love these plays, but find yourself wanting MORE? I was hoping you’d say that. For 3 more tips, come DOWNLOAD our FREE “Sidelined Stepmom: NO MORE” playbook.  

Get your copy right HERE.  

Want something that’ll guide you towards creating your own first steps in your playbook? It’ll give you your play-by-play to “win” your game & come out as a MVP.

Say goodbye to the bench, mama. Time to go score some goals,  

Cheyanne Cleyman 

NOT Doing This Will Set Your Blended Family Up To Fail – Fast

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” We’ve all heard that one before. 

But what about this one, “success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.” 

It’s one thing to plan for a certain situation and it doesn’t work out the way you thought. That’s life, and especially life in a blended family. 

However, to not prepare yourself emotionally & physically for whatever comes, is truly setting yourself up for more stress, frustration and ultimately, failure. 

When in the beginning stages of blending two families into one, there are things you need to look out for to best set your family up for success. 

family making breakfast in the kitchen
A great defense is a great offence

These are the things you should focus on first: 

A concrete focus on strengthening the relationship & having healthy communication

The two partners are the entire reason that two families are blending together in the first place. Place your focus there on nurturing a safe space for you both to grow. Co-create a respectful & loving level of communication, so that you don’t lose each other in process of becoming a family. 

A defined role for step parent & strategy for co-parenting 

When the new stepparent feels useless, they can easily start to feel like an outsider. Decide together on what kind of role they are to play at this current stage of your relationship, and set up a plan for your continued growth as a power couple. 

Making your relationship the foundation & #1 priority 

Funny enough, this is the one most often overlooked. It can be so easy to forget what brought you together in the first place when there’s all these other situations distracting you. However, don’t forget about your parent. Focus on building a strong foundation with each other first – and then, as a team, tackle the other obstacles and challenges that arise. 

Intentional boundaries set with the other bio parent(s)

It’d hard to build a strong foundation, if you’re on shaky ground. Whether at the beginning of your relationship or a few months (or even a year in), be sure to establish strong boundaries for interactions with the ex. As you come together in your new family, it’s important to put up barriers to protect & safeguard what you are building. 

Continuous self-care

You can’t pour from an empty cup. If you’re not mindful, you easily become consumed by everyone else’s needs and completely forget your own. Find ways and opportunities where you can take a step back from your relationship & new family, and spend time doing things that bring you joy and de-stress you. 

Now, you have a defined roadmap of what you should be focusing on. 

But HOW to do that? That’s a whole other story. 

-How do you decide together on the right co-parenting role each other should have -especially since you’ve never parented together before? 

-How do you put boundaries in place with an ex where there never has been any before? 

-How can you focus on your relationship, when there seems to be so many other things vying for our attention? 

-Aren’t the kids always the priorities in the beginning? 

That’s where we come in. 

Come join us at 2-hr. LIVE Play shop, where we work together, and give you a personalised “action plan” that you can put into place with your family immediately. It’s the best way to blend families – and fast. 

Sign up here for THIS Sunday, April 3, playshop. It’s just $29.99.

It all starts at 2pm EST. 

E-mail us at TheCleymans@gmail.com OR DM us @TheCleymans with any questions. 

See you there! 

-The Cleymans

Set your family up for success from the start

What Every ReMarried Dad Wants His Wife To Understand  

There’s no person that feels unable to please the most in a blended family than a remarried dad. In the heart of a man is the desire to protect, and now, he’s in a situation where he’s set up to fail in that area. He can’t always protect his children as he’s not always with them and he can’t protect his wife from the drama and stress that comes from life in a blended family.  

(In an earlier post, we dove deep into “What Every Stepmom wants her husband to understand” – you can access that post here.)  

Where every man understands that being a stepmom is NOT easy, there’s also some things he feels and experiences too that he wishes you could understand. 

Being a dad in a blended family is also not easy

Here we take the thoughts from Kim, our clients & many encounters on social media, and give remarried Dad’s hearts the space they need:  

EVERY remarried dad wants his wife to know that…. 

This situation isn’t what I imagined either.

 We know that no woman grows up dreaming of being a stepmom. But, we promise, no dad ever dreams of divorce and only seeing his children part-time.

I wish I could protect you from all the pain. 

I carry with me so much regret, pain and guilt. Not only do I have to watch the consequences of my actions affect my children, but now, also the love of my life. I am sorry that you have to deal with extra drama & stress in your life due to schedule changes, unwelcoming family members, frustrations from my ex and attitudes from my children.  

photo of family having fun with soccer ball
I want us to do this together.

I will always see my kids through the lens of love – and you would too.  

My children will always be my children. No matter how much you love them, I know we love them differently. I know to you, it may be easier to see more black or white, and have an outsider’s perspective. However, to me, they’ll always be my babies.  

I need your grace more often than I may say it.

I know I am not always right. I know I don’t always make the best decisions when it comes to my kids. I know I don’t always apply the correct boundaries with my ex. However, instead of being told how wrong I am or how I could do better, most of the times, I just need your support. I need you to listen and forgive me when I make bad decisions. I need you more in these circumstances than you probably know.  

man and woman near sea
The magic is in your continued connection through communication.

There’s no magic formula to make all of the challenges in a blended family go away. The best we can do, backed by research, is build a strong foundation in one’s marriage to navigate the challenges together. Becoming a strong & united team will allow your blended family to be successful. 

One way to get there is through better understanding of each other’s perspective. We hope this article shined a light on the husband’s perspective and allows you both to foster deeper connection and intimacy in your marriage.  

Want help navigating these challenging conversation AND create a tangible & tailored plan of how to move forward on the right foot in your blended family? Book a FREE Successful Stepfamily call with us HERE – and we will get you working on the first step in your blended family handbook.  

-The Cleymans  

What Every Stepmom Wishes Her Husband Understood

What Every Stepmom Wishes Her Husband Understoo

There’s a saying that goes that women want to be loved, and men want to be respected. Now, I am sure we can all agree, we, regardless of gender, want some of both – however, one of those may often be more important to a wife rather than her husband.  

Even while having a healthy marriage within the context of a stepfamily, there are still many misunderstandings that can happen. And there are some things, that no matter how many times we try to share with one another, that we will fully be able to understand.  

a woman crying while sitting beside a man
No couple understands each other fully 100% of the time.

With our clients, we often remind them about how their opinions and beliefs in certain situations are impacted by their perceptions of that situation. It is how we perceive that mostly determines what we believe.  

So, what do we believe about our spouse? About ourselves? And what do we, the stepmoms, want our husbands to know and believe about us?  

Listed below are very common examples we’ve collected from our clients and social media connections to share what we’d like you, dear husband, to understand from our perspective…  

We want a role, even though we’re not their mom

We know we’re not their mom, and we know you get that too. However, that doesn’t mean we still don’t want a role in their lives. We know you may offer us the “easier out” and try to handle it all on your own, but we want to help support you. We are your teammate and want to be so in ALL things. We love your kids, but also have a sense of responsibility towards them. We know you try to make so many people happy – your ex, your kids, and me – and we want to make life easier for you, but also more enjoyable for us and the whole family. We want to decide on a role with you that’ll work for our family, so I can get off the sidelines, and feel like a key player again.  

We still want time with you, even when your kids are here  

We know this is a new normal for everyone. Every person in our family is having to adjust to this new family dynamic. And even when this isn’t new anymore, it doesn’t make it easier to share your attention and love with others all the time. I know and understand your kids, especially when they’re with us, need that extra love and attention. In fact, I want you to do that. And I want you to be able to do that without feeling guilty about me either…so, let’s still find time for one another. I know it won’t be the same as when it’s just us, or us in our ours babies, and I can accept that. But, I’d still like some time with you, and connect with you, even if it’s in shorter times or different ways.  

We want you to talk to us – share with us not just how much you miss the kids, but miss us too 

Believe it or not, we often miss your kids too. It feels different when they’re not around. There’s an empty space that only they can fill. However, when they go back to their bio mom’s house, we don’t want to see you fall into a deep depression, just waiting for the next time they’re around. We want to know and be given the opportunity to have a full and vibrant life, even when they’re not here. We know you miss them, and we try to understand. We know nothing or no one will ever replace them. But, we too, miss you when you’re either away physically or especially emotionally when you’re thinking of them. We want you to come to us – share with us how you’re feeling – so we can listen. And then tackle this…together.  

man and woman looking at earch other
Come together & remember you two are a team.

Chances are, there are many other things that stepmoms want their husbands to know and understand about this sometimes-overwhelming dynamic of being in a stepfamily. However, these 3 should give you a good start to begin some conversations and offer some space of understanding for each other’s perspective.  

(It’s so important as a stepmom, that you take good care of yourself and develop a healthy mindset when it comes to your role in your stepfamily. To get a fresh start in that endeavour, download our FREE “5 Mindset Shifts to a Happier StepMom” right here)

See you next time,

Kim & Cheyanne Cleyman

Is Your Ex-Wife Threatening To Take Your Kids Away?

Children shouldn’t be used as bargining pieces.

Ex-Wife Is Threatening To Take Away Your Kids 

Is your ex-wife threatening to take your kids away from you? 

Is your husband in constant fear and turmoil, because his children’s mother uses his kids against him? 

If you just replied ‘yes’ to either of these questions, chances are you’re feeling pretty powerless. In some situations, and some ways, there may not be a ton you can do. 

However, we are here to empower you, as a couple. 
We are here to help you focus on what you can do to make a sad and frustrating situation a little better.  

1 – False Evidence Appearing Real 

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for an ex to make threats about taking the kids away. It’s a blatant way of manipulating you into adhering to their demands. Because face it: what loving and caring parent would want their children to get taken away from them? No one.

And that’s why it’s so effective, which is why it’s so popular with high-conflict, ex-wives. They could try threats to make us fear them. Our own fears want to control us, because it protects us of any unknowns.  

First & foremost, discover your rights. This may take some research & digging, but make the time and investment to do so. Most of these are public knowledge and would require no big fees to discover. 

As a dad, YOU have rights too.

If you’re still unsure about going to court, read our blog article why it might be the best thing you could do for your kids and your family here.

2- Boundaries 

Have you put up strong & firm boundaries? 
Have they been communicated and are you still not listened to? 

Speaking of – how good are you at respecting your own boundaries? 
When you draw a line for yourself – do you stick to it? 
Because if you don’t, how can you expect others to respect to do so? 
It does start with you respecting you. 

But maybe it’s time to let the law protect your rights in the setting of a court. 
Agreed, court is not ideal, but it could save you a lot of stress, pain and money in the long run.  

Maybe you owe it to yourself, your relationship with your children and even to your current spouse. 

Boundaries protect everyone in your family – especially, your children.

Ex-Wife Is Threatening To Take Away Your Kids 

3- Psychological Warfare

Sadly, it doesn’t stop at court for many. 

When disgruntled exes can’t take your children away from you physically, their next step is to take your children away from you mentally and emotionally. 

From now on you are not the one that’s being manipulated; the arrows get pointed towards the children.

They are being told tales of old that are no longer relevant at all and have nothing to do with them, yet they do succeed at putting you in a bad light. 
And sometimes they are being told straight up lies. 

If you’re lucky, your children will ask you about what they’re told, but you’ll probably catch them when they accidentally slip and say something they shouldn’t know about. 

Your kids are always watching.
What are you teaching them through your actions in how you let your ex treat you?

Now, you may feel the need to defend yourself, or maybe even talk trash about the other parent.

But for some reason, that strategy probably does not feel well and it won’t last long before we’ll regret having done so. Because, after all, that sure won’t make things easier on your kids, who always are the duped ones.

Maybe the kids are being threatened now, or ‘punished’ for ‘loving’ you.
Maybe it won’t last long ‘till your children don’t want to come over anymore, 
and THAT’s what any parent’s REALLY afraid of.

And so maybe you were better off where you began at the start:
playing by their rules???  Having your wishes and boundaries molested – but you had your kids, right? Or at least, the illusion of having your kids. 

Your kids know how much you love them not just by what you say, but by what you do.

Ex-Wife Is Threatening To Take Away Your Kids 

Questions For The Dad In This Situation

Because, let’s face it: if you feel that this entire blog post has been written for you – you have big problem. A huge one.  

You ended up in a position where you feel you’re with your back against a wall and she’s got you cornered. There’s nothing you can do and there’s no way out. 

Only, there is. 

You’re definitely not the first man who finds himself in this position. 

And this wall that you’re backed up against, is not a real wall; 
it only appears to be a wall. 

As long as you feel trapped, you’ll stay trapped. 
As long as you’re under control of the situation, you cannot control the situation. 

Or stated differently: 
You cannot control a situation that you are controlled by. 

And I’m sorry to put it this bluntly, but when you’re in a situation like this, most likely you’re going to “lose” your children anyway. 

But are you willing to let her make that call, depending on how many hoops you jump through? 

How far are you willing to go before she pulls the plug on you?
How many deaths are you willing to die before she finishes you off?

OR 

Would you rather take control in your own hands, by focusing on what you CAN control? 

No, you can’t control what she says to your kids. 


Agreed, you can’t control her when she takes away your children. 

But in the end, it is only a phase: our children WILL be adults one day, and what will SHE have left, at the end of the day?

Because your children WILL look you in the eye – whether she likes it or not. 

And what will they see at that point? 

Don’t let these sorrows nest, let them fly away.

Will they see someone that is completely broken and drained, only a shadow of the man he used to be one day? 

Or will they see a man standing straight in his shoes – someone who has nothing to hide, who always played fair ball, who always loved them through any and everything? 

Someone who was always there for his children, when they wanted him? 
Will they see a man living out the virtues of what it means to be a ‘father’? 

Will your children see someone who respects himself? 

And will your children still respect her when they come to see who you truly are? 

Hold tight to that hope & faith that your kids WILL see the truth someday.

A good first step in keeping your ex’s attacks at bay is taking control of how she enters your home and how often. If you want more peace in your home, you have to get her influence out.

Learn how to do so in our guide right HERE.

You’re not alone. We are here for you. Always.

Kim & Cheyanne Cleyman

 

5 Perks Of Being A #Stepmom

The word ‘Stepmom’ is probably one of the most dreaded words in the history of the English language, thanks to stories like the Cinderella and Snow White fairytales.

Yet, it has been said that 50% of all women are likely to, sometime in their life, live in a stepfamily relationship. In the USA & most European countrues, so called “nontraditional families” (single parents, cohabiting couples and stepfamilies) outnumber the traditional families.

We, therefore, would like to plea for a newer and better image for the overly celebrated, yet historically evil, bonus mom. Hence, the title of this post.

               #BeAStepmom

So whithout any further adieu, here are 5 perks to being a stepmom.

#1 – Being a stepmom prepares you for being a mom

Obviously, this reason only goes when you’re not a bio mom yet.

Coming into a family as the stepmom, you are presented with certain habits and normal that your new family’s been doing for some time. At the same time, you therefore get to first handedly experience how certain behavior over time works out.

An example of this could be the way their dad always puts them to bed. When this generally takes 30 minutes, the kids will demand their 30 minutes and probably go for 40, just because they’re kids. If you’re not okay with this, you yourself shouldn’t want to spent that amount of time putting your future kids to bed.

Another example could be when the kids are a bit older. What do they perceive as “normal” as to contributing to the household? Or maybe the lack there of? This could give you clues as to what responsibilities you would want to give to your future children and at what age you should start doing so.

#2 – You get to know yourself deeper

Before actually becoming a parent, you really have no idea as to what kind of parent you’ll become. In the same way, you have no idea what kind of stepmom you’ll become, until you are one.

But please do not be naïve when becoming a stepmom, because becoming a stepmom just might be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. But as with most hard things, they are the one’s worth doing most. And maybe even the most important ones of doing, because they offer the sweetest reward.

When becoming a stepmom, you will be put in a tough position where you have to face certain elements of yourself you didn’t know were there. You will oftentimes run into your own limitations and you will find out certain things about yourself that you did not know before.

But at the same time, this too is a good prep for becoming a mom yourself one day.

#3 – You get to develop character

Although this might not be appealing to many in the 21st century, because nowadays everything around us is designed to reduce discomfort. We make our surroundings warm and dry, take our car to and from work, and have a ton of electrical devices that make things clean for us. We try our very best to eradicate any germs and living organisms out of our world, take hot baths or showers, and pick our prepped meal up on the way home.

Yet becoming a bonus mom is an excellent way to build your inner muscle.

Everybody knows that you can’t force anyone to love or like you, but as a stepmom -and stepchild for that matter- you do have to like or love each other. And as a mom, all you can do is love ON them: make good food, do fun & interesting activities, clean their room and clothes, and show them that you care.  But that’s all you CAN control.

From that point on you have to let go and wait. You have to let them come to you, hopefully with love.

This reminds me of the Book of Solomon, written about 30 centuries ago. In 8:7 the book reads:
“She [Wisdom] teaches temperance, and prudence, and justice, and fortitude, which are such things as men can have nothing more profitable in life.” 500 years later Plato described these four virtues as his and went on saying that: “Happiness in life is the highest aim, and the virtues are the path.”

As a bonus mom you have to embody all four of these traits in order to have a sense of accomplishment: wise, strong, fair and patient.

And since all you can control lies within yourself, it takes wisdom to see and constrain that.
At the same time you have to be strong and courageous to do what is expected, to love on the kid no matter what the outcome. When any reciprocated love takes longer than expected or wished for, as a bonus mom, you have to be fair enough to forgive your bonus child and love them harder.
But most of all, it takes patience. A lot of patience.

And at the same time, this too is a good prep for becoming a mom yourself one day.

#4 – You don’t fail when your step child exerts bad behavior

Face it: there is nothing worse for a parent than when your child behaves in a very bad way.

We all know the kids who get a fit in the middle of the store and screams bloody murder.
I used to think that those parents were doing a terrible job of parenting, but I don’t think that way anymore. I now know that in fact they are doing a good job, because they’re not giving in to the kids demands. The easier option would be to just give them what they want.

But as a bonus mom you easily get to distance yourself from the unwanted behavior of your step child. You can simply say (or think): “I didn’t raise them that way”, or “They sure don’t get that from me” As a biological parent you can not but know that you do in fact are responsible for your kids behavior. To a certain extent they do have their own personality, but raising a kid brings shocking moments of self-reflection with it.

I am not sure how this is a good prep for becoming a mom yourself one day.

#5 – You get to practice unconditional love

We are now coming to the core of it all: loving a kid -that isn’t yours- unconditionally.

When it is your own kid, ‘unconditionally loving’ isn’t that hard, because of the shared genes.
Your kid literally is a part of you.

But as a bonus mom, this is not the case. You do not share those genes.
At best you can see your husband reflected in your bonus child, but you could also see their former spouse come alive.

So together with your partner, along comes an extra soul for you to love on. They simply come with the package. You now are confronted with a kid (or more) that you have to co raise and co take care of.

Everyone who has children, knows that they come first. When there is a situation, a problem, a challenge, everything else will have to wait. It is as simple as that. And you too have to be willing to accept this for a fact. You have to be okay with putting yourself aside for some parts of the day.

(To have some guidance, from someone who’s BEEN there, in developing a healthier mindset when it comes to being a stepmom, download my FREE guide here.)

There are many circumstances in life that we cannot prepare for, and you becoming a step mom, may be one of them. But, we want to encourage you and hope you see that you can re-write what all the fairytales say. As a step mom, you are the silent super hero. You are your own type of vigilante – you don’t always get seen by the family or credit for everything you do. This just makes you a true SUPERMOM.

You and your family can chose to see the blessing in being a BONUS mom. It won’t be easy, but it can be the most rewarding job in the world. The choice is all yours.

-Cheyanne

No more babies?

“No, babe, sorry, no more babies for me… I already have kids.”

Has your boyfriend or husband said this to you before? Or maybe you’re a man reading this that feels that way too?

Chances are, you’re in a stepfamily. And like many stepfamilies, there’s a lot of challenges & obstacles to overcome – including the decision whether or not to have more children.

To add an “ours baby”- a biological child between the new couple – to a stepfamily is a big decision and one that cannot be taken lightly.

However, what is most important is that you make this decision together.

We want to combat the 3 BIGGEST FEARS that people may experience (especially remarried dads) when it comes to adding another baby to the family.

no more babies

no, i don't want no more babies; i already have kids

Fear #1 – My kids will feel replaced 

When you’re adding a new baby to the family, you’re not replacing anyone. Rather, you’re adding to everyone. We would recommend communicating to your children that this baby will have the beautiful privilege of connecting everyone in a way you haven’t all been before… through blood. 
Now everybody in your family’s connected with one another. This baby will share their DNA. 

Where your kids may struggle to the adjustment a new baby brings, this would have been the same if you had another child with their mom. Yes, we all have to make sacrifices with a baby – for instance they have to take naps during the day, so your children will have to take this into consideration – but at the same time you’re growing their empathetic skills. And this is only in the short term; over time when they’re grown up, they’ll have another sibling to share memories of you when you’re no longer on this earth. 

As parents, you do have some control of what emotions you want to emphasize in their lives. Involve your children, share with them what’s going on, guide the way they’re thinking and actively bring your children in the world of the baby so encourage them to bond with their new sibling. 

What you also might want to take into consideration is that you can still have quality time with each child individually, so they all feel special and uniquely loved. 

no more babies

i don't want no more babies

Fear #2 – I won’t love this new child the same way 

We fear what we do not know, right? You don’t know how you’ll love this child until they are here. But because you have the gift of being a parent already, you know that intense amount of love that awaits when you hold a newborn in your arms. And any parent that has more than one child will tell you: your heart grows. You will love this child as much as you love your other kids. Even, perhaps more special, is you’ll be sharing them with the love of your life. An experience you do not want to miss out on. 

no more babies

Fear #3 – My spouse will forget my kids, and only love this child  

What kind of relationship does your spouse have with your kids right now? One of friendship & fun, or distance and struggle? Wherever things are at, it doesn’t mean that they will stay there. Work together on solidifying a strong bond between your spouse and your kids now, so that when the baby comes, it’ll be a natural transition for everyone’s heart to grow for each other. Your kids will now be siblings to your spouse’s baby. Remember that blood-tie, thing? Where your spouse may love your “ours” baby differently, it does not mean they will stop loving your children. On the contrary, now they understand what it’s like to be a ‘true’ parent, so they’ll be in a better position of understanding what it’s like to love your offspring.  

(If this is a genuine fear, let’s get on a call together and discuss these things. Nothing is beyond help!)  

no more babies

no more babies

Bonus Fear – If we break up, that’ll be ANOTHER kid in the middle of two homes  

We actually went through this one ourselves. Chey remembers when she first told Kim she was pregnant. After the initial joy, this fear creaped in. Kim already had one child go through a family break-up, and it’s something he would never ever want to put another child through. 

But just because your previous marriage failed and now your kids have to move houses every week, doesn’t mean that the same fate awaits your current family and children. 

SO, instead of this fear holding you back, use it to propel you forward, by making sure that the same thing won’t ever happen again. You’re older and wiser now, and you’ve learned from mistakes you’ve made in the past. Now you’re in a position to make sure that this marriage doesn’t fial. Now you’re in a position to make past wrongs right.  

And if you’re really that afraid of losing your family – again – then you better make sure you take appropriate proactive action, so book a call because your happily-ever-after’s guaranteed. 

no more babies

At the end of the day, we can’t make this choice for you; only you and your spouse can. 
However, it is imperative that you have this conversation – and probably many of them – so that both spouses can be heard and understood on this specific issue.  

If not, resentment could begin to build up, and you would be headed for (another) divorce. 
And you’ll have to live with the feeling of letting the love of your life slip away. 

We recommend you use the 3 FEARS we described here as conversation starters between you and your spouse. If you’re still finding it challenging to navigate the conversation, we’d love to help you along. Come book a chat with us HERE, and we will get on the same page with you both. 

“How to become a less-stressed step mom❗️”

Maybe I could more accurately call this blog topic: “how to successfully ROCK at being a STEPMOM without pulling your hair out”❗️❗️❗️

*While there may STILL be some of that, hopefully these tips will help you get off to the right start (or even if you’re a few years in, get you back on track), & bring some ease and much needed PEACE to your family.

While I’ve only been a step mama myself for almost 3.5 years, some of the extremes in which I’ve done so has fast tracked me some really important & useful experiential knowledge I’d love to share with you. First, let me paint the picture…

When I first became a step mama to my bonus daughter Billie in 2019, I…

Had NEVER met her. Her dad & I dated long distance through FaceTime after meeting at a mutual friend’s wedding. He & I got married 3 months later in the States, and I only met her AFTER I had married her dad & immigrated to her country.

-Didn’t speak her language. I actually still struggle with her native language, Dutch, but I am MUCH better than where I as 2 years ago. She still doesn’t speak my language, English, but she understands about 80% of what I say.

And then in 2020, shortly after the CoVid pandemic shut most of our country down, and I gave birth to her little brother, she moved in with us full time.

All of a sudden I found myself, a new mom, in a foreign country, becoming a more present motherly-figure to my pre-teen step daughter, who’s language I didn’t speak – during a world-wide pandemic. WTF? Even I NEED to re-read that.

Talk about feeling UNPREPARED and just OVERWHELMED!

However, here we are, 3 years later, in our little family, we are THRIVING! In order for us to get here though, there were some principles & strategies I had to put in place & my TOP 3 are below…

1- Acknowledge & OWN it that you are a parent from DAY 1

*No, step parenting is not the same as being a biological parent. It’s different. I can say that now after having my own baby boy. However, that doesn’t mean you’re NOT a parent. In fact, step parenting is arguably MORE of a challenge because you don’t get to “grow” into it & the kids don’t AUTOMATICALLY love 💔 you. Regardless, own that you are now an important part of raising this child(ren), even if your partner’s ex disagrees. Don’t rely or wait on your partner’s ex for acceptance of your role in their child/ren’s life. All you can do is control how you act and treat those children when they are with you and in your home. It will, more than likely, be the biggest act of unconditional love you’ll ever give. Fully embrace that opportunity and you will set yourself up that much better for a healthier and happier relationship with your step children.

2- Discover your PARENTING STYLE & Come together with your spouse

*”Know thyself” is something we believe in & teach our clients here at The Cleymans –The better you know yourself, the better step parent & spouse you will be. Discover which parenting style naturally aligns with your values & beliefs & then communicate that to your spouse. Discover what his/hers is too & come up with a way moving forward as a team 👫 Be sure the goal for getting on the same page isn’t to “make the other spouse” always agree with your style. You don’t want to bully your spouse into another parenting style. Aim to find the commonalities within your styles – where your beliefs and values overlap- and focus on them.

(I know – this can be a very challenging step as parenting is very personal & everyone has their own beliefs on raising kids & discipling them. This is why it’s IMPERATIVE for you & your spouse to come together as a TEAM. If you struggle in this area, download our FREE GIFT, “How To Get The Ex Out Of Your Home & Take Back Control” Guide

3- Figure out your role with your spouse & communicate that to the kids together


*It can be hard when joining 2 families to know what role you, as the step mom, play as a parental figure. Every family is different & has different dynamics in play. Come together with your spouse & decide what you’re BOTH comfortable with & then communicate those expectations to the children together AS A TEAM👥 Be sure to speak your heart clearly to your husband. Let him know the situations you’re naturally finding yourself wanting to help out with more. (This is so imperative to share with your spouse, as unsaid words and unvalidated feelings can lead to resentment towards your stepchildren and even your husband. Ultimately, worst case scenario, this all can lead to the ultimate destruction of the family – which no one wants.)

(➡️We KNOW first hand, STEP PARENTING is HARD❗️)
⚠️That’s why I put together a guide, “My Top 5 Mindset Shifts To Be A Happier StepMom,” to help YOU, the woman in the trenches & on the sideline, have a healthier & happier mindset in the middle of any chaos.

XOXO,

Chey (and Kim)