Where’s Waldo? is a popular book series that gets the reader focused and excited to find the character in the red and white stripped shirt. I have had so much fun looking for Waldo with my kids and crossing my eyes a time or two as Waldo is immersed in so much detail that it makes it hard to spot this beloved character at first glance.  

It’s funny how life often imitates art (or the other way around… I never really know which way is first).

As you may have noticed I unplugged completely from my blog, writing and social media at the end of 2011. My apologies for the abruptness and non-notification. This unplugging wasn’t pre-planned. But it was necessary.

You see I had become like Waldo. So immersed in my blogging, tweeting, writing, radio talk show interviews, coaching, and volunteering that I allowed myself to slowly get lost in the busyness of life. I had plugged my time and talents into so many areas in addition to my family (church, school, writing, social media, etc…) that my priorities were all blending together and the ones that were truly at the top of my list weren’t standing out and weren’t getting the attention they needed.

The top priorities in my life (God, my husband and six kids) were often getting a tired, emotionally exhausted and often run down me. And that wasn’t the wife and mom and stepmom I had promised nor wanted to be. Just as an extension cord or power strip can short circuit if to much is plugged into it so can we as wives, moms and stepmoms when we put to much on our plate without the right balance to carry it all.

I was clueless that I had spread myself so thin because I run at full speed and give life all that I have. Having more to do just meant sleeping less – simple enough but lack of sleep takes its toll over time. I  have a heart to serve and don’t like saying no to anyone in need or any project that requires my help. I was always home with my family and was there to serve them but I had allowed myself to be pulled in so many directions that I wasn’t running at full capacity and was often distracted.  I had to pull back and refocus energies on my husband, my marriage and my six kids.

The bottom line is that I had over extended myself. 

In the past two months, I have become my best client. In plugging completely into my husband and my family and being plugged into God, I have seen tremendous positive changes in my marriage and in my kids. The mom/stepmom truly is the heart of her blended family and when mom/smom is peaceful and bearing the fruits of the Spirit; love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control … her home sings a sweet song. I see the benefits of my more balanced approach in our home. While I felt our family was doing great before, we have bonded and transformed to a whole new level since the first of the year.

My kids seem more peaceful. I feel like my husband and I have fallen in love all over again. I’ve had such peace in my heart and I have seen that peace transferred to the kids and to my husband. Now, this isn’t to say that we haven’t had our challenges. We have six kids between the ages of 13 and 8, two ex-spouses; a child with ADD and a list of activities the kids are involved in; of course we have our challenges. But a more balanced me has brought more balance to my marriage and to my family.

Instead of thinking about deadlines while eating dinner with my family, my thoughts have been focused on what each child accomplished that day and about how my husband and I will spend our quiet time after the kids are asleep. It has been amazing to give my husband all of my time after the kids go to bed instead of “just a few more minutes and I’ll be done in the office.” A few minutes often turned into an hour or two ….my husband is a very patient man and my appreciation for him has grown exponentially. I’ve had more time to just talk with the kids and with my husband. I’ve shared stories of what I struggled with as a young teen with both my daughter and stepdaughter and have drawn closer to each of them because of it. I have learned more about video games, Boy Scouts, and basketball in connecting with the boys and I’ve had time to sit and enjoy the many impromptu fashion and singing shows my youngest daughter and stepdaughter love to put on. And they only charge a cookie or two for admission.

I have learned so much in the past two months of complete focus on my husband and marriage and my family. I have also spent a great amount of time in prayer and in self-reflection and really looking inward. Often it is so easy to see what others around you are doing wrong but holding the mirror up and taking a long hard look at yourself and your contribution to situations is tough to do but essential in making progress. We are not our past but we are shaped by it and it was very helpful for me to dissect things that happened in my childhood and young adult hood and look at how they shaped me and my current thinking (more on this in future posts).

The reality is that the world is not going to fall apart because I don’t blog or tweet for two months or four months or a year but my family and my marriage can suffer if I don’t tend 100% to it daily.

I am beyond humbled that you missed me and I apologize for any worry or concern that any of you had. I never meant to cause anyone worry. I saw from tweets that many thought something had happened to me or my husband or kids and I do feel bad if I caused you any grief.

While I missed everyone, I know it was the right thing to do and now I look forward to sharing my learnings with all of you. I’ve built this blog around being transparent about the joys and sorrows of stepmotherhood and it’s my intention to continue sharing what I’ve (and my family has) experienced these past few months and how our family is growing stronger because of it.

You are going to start seeing me again but this time you will find a more balanced me and a me that will not be online as much as previously.  I have created a life balance plan for myself to help me balance my time and talents to serve God, my husband, my six kids and the stepmoms that I love. I do love my stepmom sisters and I know that together we are stronger, smarter and more supported.

 It’s good to be back! More balanced and ready to share!

What are your thoughts on unplugging from it all to focus on your family? Have you ever had a similar situation? Please share.

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It may sound cliche but it’s true; we often have to take a step back to step forward. Unplugging from the distractions of life can help you become more plugged into your family.

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