This One Communication Shift Changed Our Marriage

“You’re just not LISTENING to me.” OUCH. If you’re married, chances are, you’ve heard this statement before. But, when you read it just now, how did you hear that in your head?Was this statement said with…Anger? Frustration? Contempt? Hopelessness? Kindness?

Perhaps you heard it the way it’s been said to you before. Or maybe, you even heard it in the tone that you yourself would say it…or maybe have said it in. 

Either way, we all know it’s not often WHAT we say, but HOW we say it, that matters most, especially to those we love most.

Research shows that, in fact, non-verbal communication (the actions, movement, tones, inflections of voice & etc) that accompany our words is far more impactful than the words themselves. 

Wow. I am going to pause there for a moment. That is profound to me. That would mean that the way in which we say it means 10000% more than the actual words coming out of our mouths. It really makes a large statement about how we should actively pursue conversations with our loved ones. 

Time for some self reflection. 

As of right now, in what ways do you communicate your thoughts & feelings to your spouse?

Do you wait until the last minute, and then you’re bursting out in anger, fear or tears?

Do you pretend things aren’t bothering you and push things under the rug so that you don’t “rock the boat?”

Or do you collect your thoughts & approach your spouse in an appropriate time to get some real good conversations going? 

There is no wrong answer. These are all realistic and honest responses. What matters most is how we choose to navigate our conversations forward. I don’t know about your marriage – but ours didn’t come with a handbook. 

Sometimes, it’s difficult to figure these things out. Sometimes, it’s very revealing and eye opening to see how we conduct ourselves in certain situations. 

It’s Not Me, It’s You

And other times, it isn’t even ourselves that makes the mistake in communication, but our spouse. In these moments, where we can’t change how they said what’s on their mind or heart, we CAN choose how we react to it. 

Take a moment, to take a breath, and really aim to hear and listen to the words your spouse is saying – no matter the tone behind it. Imagine what it is they’re aiming to communicate with those words. 

Your spouse bringing up challenging things that is on their heart is a GOOD sign. It shows that they care enough to be open and want to seek to communicate with you or repair what is broken or damaged. 

So, what’s next?

The next time you find yourself with your spouse with an opportunity for good, healthy communication, be sure to be mindful of your tone, inflections and body language. Change things up a bit. Take a breath, before you respond to something they said or did. Choose a different time or moment than you normally would for deeper communication. You could always practice what you want to say to your spouse in the mirror.

In this way, you can watch your own facial expressions and body language. For instance, you want to make sure you don’t have RBF (Resting Bitch Face) or a scowl when you’re talking with your spouse about your sex life or plans for your anniversary. A simple change of expression or open body language can make a huge difference into how your message will be perceived – and therefore, perceived.

 In marriage, all your conversations matter. It’s not just about this one, but all the ones after. Where it’s important to have all the conversations, it’s not important to have them all right now. 

Come rekindle the fire and ignite romance back in your marriage with our 3 Day Marriage Challenge here: https://view.flodesk.com/pages/6132327ed0d5896caac600f2

Practice, Practice, Practice.

Practice these things from this article and watch your intimacy grow and flourish over time. Healthy habits are like a muscle, you gotta work them, flex them, and use them continually over time to see genuine growth. 

We believe in you. You’ve got this. 

-Kim & Cheyanne 

3 Tips For Bio Parents On How To Have Smoother Transitions

Over the past decade, I’ve had many opportunities to practice my transition muscle. In this blog I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned along the way, so that you don’t have to waste time finding this stuff out on your own. It’s with honor that I share with you my top 3 tips for parents on how to have smoother transitions.

It was never my intention to become a part-time dad. That is not what I’d dream of when growing up and imagining my future family. Probably none of current the part-time parents went into this adventure wanting a broken home, because they will all agree that it is devastating. Those days that the child(ren) goes back to their other parent – that we don’t like as much as we once did anymore – remain dreaded throughout the next coming years.

So, what do you do when you’re faced with this reality in your own home? How do you handle watching your children leave for their other parents house? Many struggle with knowing how to live their lives when their children are away. There are some common mistakes that many parents make that make this process even harder on themselves – and perhaps even the children too.

If that’s you, you can surrender your guilt and fear right here. Often, there are mental shifts or simple things you can do to turn the tide in your favor. We are here to share with you our 3 Top Tips in how to make saying goodbye to your children a little less painful and how to grow in the process of missing them.

Tip #1 – Stop making it a bigger deal

In the first of 3 tips for parents on how to have smoother transitions, I can imagine that most divorced parents can relate to this situation: before you know it, transition day is still two days out, and yet, you find yourself waking up with a heavy heart. All you can think about is how you will have to say goodbye to your child(ren) in 48 hours.
Again.

For the next two days, as our children are with us, every passing minute we can feel the parting come closer. We feel ourselves slipping away into sadness. And even though these feelings are valid, does that mean that we have to give into them? The days are now spent in an overall mood of grievance and transition day becomes dreadful to our child(ren) as well. Before you know it, your child(ren) constantly live in sadness. Yet another disadvantage our children have over kids who never have to change homes.

I’ll be the first to admit that transition day IS an emotional day. I sure ain’t telling you to ignore your emotions either, nor am I saying that what you feel is a mistake. However, I’d encourage you to look at transition from a different perspective.

Smooth

Somewhere in this downward spiral sinking further into doom, it became clear to me that when WE make a big deal out of something, so do our child(ren). So then, when we would make a small deal out of it, so would our children. And when we treat something as ‘normal’, it becomes ‘normal’ to them, too.

And whether we want it to be or not, it IS going to be both their and our normal for the next several years to change home every week. So the sooner WE make this something ‘light & normal’, so will they and we can get this doom & gloom out of all our lives.

But then, how do we do this? Because my heart still is being torn apart when they leave.

Tip #2 – Don’t focus on the loss

The time we get to spend with our child(ren) is always so valuable. And it’s also always too short. When they come over, they need a day to re-adjust. Before we know it, we’re back at counting down the hours before they have to go away again.

So, we hug them one more time. Okay, maybe ten or twenty more times. We tell them how much we love them and miss them every minute of every day that they’re not with us. If only they’d know how a week could feel like a month.

This may be all well and true, but how are we then burdening our kids? When the moment of transition arrives, now our children have to leave us with a weary heart, worrying about us and wondering how we are. Would you really want your child(ren) to spend their first two nights crying for you? Where I could understand that this might boost your ego, I also believe that this is not true love. If you’d truly love your children, you wouldn’t want them to cry at all. You’d want them to go with a big smile!
But they don’t, and neither do you.

Not easy

Why is that? Not only are we setting our child(ren) up for failure, we’re also setting their other parent up for failure. Despite our own opinion about them, they still are our kid(s)’s parent and our children love them just as they love us. And they should.

And on top of that, we’re also setting ourselves up for failure. For the last 72 hours we’ve been dreading this moment, and now that they are gone, what are we to do? What is left of us? Our heart just walked out the front door and we feel worthless. All we want to do, is hug them one more time. Should we call them and let them know that we love them? How many times have you given into that?

The sun just left us and all that awaits is a looooooooooong time of doom and gloom.

Crazy

What good could ever come out of this? Because in the meanwhile, our lives are passing by. This is it, folks. This is the ride that we are on, and every minute that’s passed by, we could never re-live again.

Yes, we know this is hard. Of course, we’d rather have our sweet little angel by our side all the time. But we also have to accept the fact that for now, this is not the case. This week will go by one way or another. So, how about we focus on hugging the kids when they’re with us, and missing them when they’re not.

As crazy as it may sound, the more fun we have, the faster the week will go by;
at the same time: the worse we feel, the more this week will keep dragging on. And in the end, just like we can be sure that our child(ren) have to go away, we can also be absolutely sure that they will be coming back to us again, too. Our advice would be to focus on the day that they’re transitioning back to you.

In the meanwhile, we gain more opportunities to do the things we couldn’t or didn’t make time for when our kids were with us.

The second of 3 tips for parents on how to have smoother transitions would be to not let yourself fall into the neverending pitt of loss.

Tip #3 – Make time for self-care

“When we do not control our feelings, our feelings will control us” to me is one of those lines that changed my life. In the exact same way, discovering these 3 tips for parents on how to have smoother transitions did too. Here’s the third one.

I’ve been there many hundreds of times before; dropping off my princess at her mom’s was the hardest thing in the world to do. It would make me want to get a bottle of liquor and drown my sorrow. And to be completely honest, there were occasions that I gave into that feeling. Only to wake up feeling worse.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. What if there was a way to channel that negative energy into something positive? We would be turning that darkness into gold, like alchemists.

Untroubled

There was a time that I used to go swimming after I’d dropped off my baby girl. I’d prep my swimming gear and not allow for an instant of doubt to seep in. Nope, just dive in the water and work it all out. One advantage of being in the water, is that I could scream and yell as much and as loud as I want; no one will hear it under water. After an hour, I’d feel exhausted having had a great workout. And that negativity was gone.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s swimming or running, weight lifting or boxing, or maybe some yoga: do what you like to do and move that body. This way that heavy energy can work it’s way through you and out of your body. Now, you’re no longer holding onto it. You’re ready to release it and move on, in a healthy manner. Hard as it may sound, try doing something that will make you feel better by the time the next transition day comes around and the kids are coming to you.

You’ve cleaned the house, prepped meals, feel well-rested and are ready for a week of being on your A game, because that’s what your children need and deserve.
And not only them, but you too.

Bonus Tip: Protect Your Energy From Your Ex

There’s one thing around transition day that we haven’t mentioned in this blog. That is, until I had to write the title of this bonus section. Yes, you guessed it correctly: it has to do with your ex.

Maybe we’re glad that we don’t have to face them on a daily basis no more. Yet, the fact remains that we do have to face them from time to time. Maybe even on a weekly basis. And to some, this could be another reason to get anxious around transition days.

It’s no surprise that it might be hard to deal with someone who triggers negative emotions from our past. The hurt, the pain, the disappointment, could all come to life again when we just think of them.

If you feel that the above paragraph is an understatement, than this tip may be one for you.

Effortless

How can we minimize dealing with them in person? When we drop of our child(ren), do we have to go and talk to them? Or when they come pick up our child(ren), do they have to come in? I’d say “no” to both questions.

Can we communicate through email? Maybe we can send a mail the night before transition day, so that we don’t have to deal with it on the day itself. What information do they need to know in order to take care of the child(ren)? All the rest is obsolete.
It would be nice to have a friendly exchange. If it’s causing you to spend half a week in pain just thinking about this moment, than I’d encourage you to reconsider the way you’re doing things.

Doing so would not make you a bad parent. Whatever anyone else may say: this does not make you any less of a person. Quite on the contrary; this way you’re standing up for yourself, affirmed in your own power. This way you’re reclaiming yourself. This in and of itself may well be the greatest gift you’ve given your child(ren). Sometimes a small tweak in the way we go about things can be a gamechanger for the way we live our lives.

And just like that, I’ve shared with you my top 3 tips for parents on how to have smoother transitions. Try it, apply it, and let me know how it’s working out for you.

Always here to help you,
here’s to your and your child(ren)’s success.

Kim

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

The Biggest Mistakes Stepmoms Make On Transition Days – And How To Overcome Them

Do you absolutely dread “transition day?” Maybe you find yourself having thoughts like this: “Uh, oh. It’s here. How am I going to survive another one of these?” It doesn’t matter HOW many times you’ve been through it before but maybe you find yourself feeling upset to your stomach and stressed. The tears, the yelling, the attitudes, the hiding behind closed doors. You just wish this day could be over. Again.

And yet for you, a stepmom in a blended family, it is your normal – and something that won’t be going away anytime soon. So, how do you DEAL with this regular occurance in your life? How can you make it less stressful?

I, as a fellow step mom, want you to feel READY for these days, so that when they come, you’re prepped & empowered, to handle whatever comes at you. I promise you, by the end of this article, you will feel empowered & relieved because you will learn some practical tips that’ll prep you for transition days, and ultimately, help you have smoother & more peaceful transitions in the future.

First, I gotta break it to ya, sister – you may be unintentionally making a few mistakes that are robbing you from making these days easier on your heart and smoother for your entire household. No sweat, it’s something you can totally change and fix. Let’s go over these top 3 common mistakes, to see if you’re doing them & how you can turn them into practical choices for your good.

Wrong Expectations of Kids

I’ve been there too. You & your stepkids left on a good note, and it’s been a non-dramatic week with them at their bio parents’, and then boom. They come back to your home and everyone’s a mess. They won’t even look at you, let alone talk to you. It may feel as if you got emotionally punched in the gut.

What. Just. Happened, right? Well, more than likely, you may have had some false expectations on your stepchildren and the entire situation. Try to imagine yourself in their shoes – you go to a new home every few days, with your other parent (who may have some strong opinions about the other parent), with different household situations (ex. spouses, siblings, step siblings), with different rules and values. You’re cotinually adjusting to the way they do things, getting comfortable in that envrionment and then boom, it’s time for you to switch again. This reality would be hard for any adult – however, for children, even though it’s their norm, it’s a lot of emotions to navigate.

Having a healthy expectation that when your stepkids come back into your home, they may be a little emotionally closed-off and distant, would be completely normal and understandable. Try not to take anything they say or do personal. How they are reacting is saying a lot more about what they’re going through, then anything to do with you. Perhaps, cut them some slack on the first day or two as they adjust back to you & your spouse’s way of doing things. When you expect that they may be “off” for some time, you’re setting yourself up to be prepared for no matter what comes.

Wrong Expectations Of Your Spouse

Where transition day might be a somber or hard day for you, it’s a joyous one for your spouse. It’s the day their children finally come back. No parent wants to parent under these conditions of having to see their children going back and forth all the time. So, when they DO come back, your spouse is going to be eleated and relieved. FINALLY they get to see their babies again. This may mean that you have less time together to process your emotions or discuss situations than normal. If the children come reluctantly to your home or with attitudes, it may hurt your spouse more than usual.

Do expect that your spouse will also be transitioning back into “Daddy” or “Mommy” mode on this day, especially if you do not have any “ours” children together. There is an emotional and mental shift that takes place when the children are all around and some people, more than others, need more time to adjust. Perhaps, your spouse even needs help in doing so. Take transition day as one where you can help your spouse and elevate any extra stress or pressure on them. Ask them how they are doing, ask in what ways can you help make this day easier for them. Remember, you both are on the same team. Open Popup

Focusing too much on family’s peace & happiness, and not enough on your own

No matter if you’re a biological one or not, you’re a mom. You think like a mom. You act like a mom. You don’t just “turn it off.” Which often means, you’re putting your family’s needs before your own. Often times this is necessary, in a family, however not at the expense of your own peace. Transition days are challenging on everyone in the family (yes, even the high-conflict bioparent who may be spitting more venom on those days through calls & texts – it’s hard on them too.) Instead of worrying, stressing or taking on more anxiety to try to make everyone “happy,” take extra time on these days to do something nice for yourself. With having the right expectations, as discussed above, that these day’s may be more emotional and difficult, take a proactive approach and schedule in something special that makes you feel better.

Is it yoga? Do that. What about a walk? Grab your dog and get out. What about reading a book or taking that hot bath? Whatever it is that soothes you – do so. There’s not a lot you can control in a stepfamily, however, the one thing you can is your mindset. Choose to do something that puts you in the best possible head space for a challenging day like this. Perhaps, you also need to find a space of retreat, when it all gets too overwhelming. Whatever it is – choose you. Be selfish. Give yourself the care you need, so you can be the best wife & stepmom you can be the other days of the week.

Ok, mamas, here’s your check-in:
How do you feel?

Do you feel better prepared to handle your transition days? Just remember, all these things take time. Cut yourself some slack too. Over time, as you apply these 3 tips, and turn them into habits, you’ll be well on your way to being a healthier & happier stepmom.

If you’d like extra guidance in that, come check out our “Healthy Mindset Guide For StepMoms.”

And sometimes, we ALL need the extra support. If you find yourself wanting an atmosphere & community where you have other people who understand what you & your family go through, come join us at our exclusive FB group for stepfamiles who wanna create their own happily blended after.

We’d love to see you there.

-Cheyanne Cleyman

P.S. Did this help you? Share it & share with us HOW by writing us a comment below

How To Get Through Hard Seasons in Marriage

You know those “seasons” that people talk about in marriage that are more challenging than others? Well, we are IN one. I’ve come on here not to “air” our dirty laundry, gossip or complain, but instead to share with you the reality we ALL as married couples face, or will face, and shed some light on how we are getting through it.

I remember reading the book, The Meaning Of Marriage, when Kim & I were first dating. Kim comes from a culture that doesn’t really support marriage, and I come from a culture, and family, that celebrates it. We didn’t have the same understanding of marriage and what it all meant, so we both took the challenge to get on the same page and discover what it’s true meaning even was.

In this book, we learned a plethora of things, but one that stood out the most to us was that every couple, no matter how “perfect” for one another they were or how “in love” they are, will go through hard times. The author, Timothy Keller, shared how your spouse’s normal, is inherently not your normal, and eventually, those two realities will cause friction between the two of you.

Pressure reveals the cracks

Perhaps the most impactful piece of wisdom we both took away from that book & that season of dating in our lives is the thought that our challenging circumstances often time reveal the cracks. What do we mean by that? Keller gave the example of a large truck driving over a bridge – when that amount of pressure is put to the structure of the bridge, sometimes, cracks are then exposed. However – the pressure didn’t CAUSE the cracks, they were already there to begin with.

Lately, Kim & I have had some overwhelming circumstances add pressure to our marriage (and ourselves as individuals) that have exposed some cracks in our foundation.

On October 4, we experienced a miscarriage. I was around 12 weeks pregnant when I lost him/her at home. Then, about a week later, our entire family had lice. This was for my first time ever! We were constantly doing laundry & shampoo treatments for days.

During the midst of these weeks, we also had some unfortunate drama with my bonus daughter’s mom that added a lot of stress to our lives. Just when we thought we were getting over the worst of it, around Halloween, Kim & I both discovered that we had Co-Vid. Yep. After surviving a year & a half of the worldwide pandemic Co-vid free, we had been hit. And it hit us hard.

Now, what do we do?

Suddenly, we found ourselves home with two children 24/7, sick & barely able to move, and a business that was slowly but surely getting behind schedule as we struggled just to get out of bed.

Kim & I are both very healthy people. We spend a great deal of time & effort on taking care of our bodies and living an active lifestyle. Thus, in our almost 3 years of marriage, we had never been sick together at the same time. At least, not THIS sick.

While we both needed to rest and recover, we couldn’t. Our children still needed to be cared for, some chores still needed to be done, and we had to somehow keep moving forward. We both had moments of breakdown where we just couldn’t help the other.

For the first time, days went by where we didn’t feel like a team – at all.

It took us about 10 full days to recover from most of our Co-Vid symptoms (although we are both waiting on our full sense of smell & taste to come back), and during that time, there were some major cracks exposed in the both of us and our marriage.

We both exhibited behavior we had never done so before with one another. We both said things & did things that shocked one another. We both, in the end, gave each other grace, but we also knew, something bigger was happening.

All of this pressure from the last month was adding up and we realized, we had some cracks that needed to be healed. We had unspoken hurts that needed to come out. We had some healing, from past relationships, that was still lingering inside. We had established some unhealthy habits in our marriage. Patterns that didn’t serve us or our marriage were exposed.

Time to heal what was exposed.

Now, steadily moving forward into a new month, with Co-Vid gone & some of our biggest struggles behind us, we are actively working on repairing the cracks in our foundation. And let me tell you -it has NOT been easy. Some of the hardest cracks to fix are the ones that have been exposed within ourselves.

Marriage is the most real & raw mirror you’ll ever look into. It causes you to look at yourself in ways you never have, exposes your imperfections & the things you’ve tried to hide, & gives you the opportunity to change the reflection in your mirror.

However, this change must be done carefully and mindfully. What’s fortunate in our marriage, and we believe in other healthy marriages out there, is that when all this is exposed, we have the perfect place to heal it.

Our marriage is not just the two of us – but God is at the center. Therefore, there’s the perfect opportunity for unconditional love to hold us, keep us safe, and walk us down the path of healing.

Some of the things that were exposed to us were old, deep hurts that we didn’t realize were still there. Others, were reminders of where we’d forgotten to keep our foundation strong.

Back To The Basics

Sometimes, during the hard times of marriage, we’ve discovered that it’s best to go back to the basics. It’s not always easy working on life’s most challenging circumstances, while freshly recovering from your wounds.

But since your marriage is for life, and a commitment that is grounded in unconditional love, you can take your time. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – or your spouse.

We sure aren’t. However, we are going back to the basics…and the perfect place for us to start is with the #3DayMarriageChallenge we created.

It’s a simple 3 Day Challenge, that gives you 5-10 min. tangible lessons that you can apply to your marriage that day, to build stronger intimacy and relight that fire.

I’m happy to share it with you also today below:

And stay tuned to our social media, we will be sharing our own thoughts, mindset shifts & results from our challenge.

Hard times in marriage exist for everyone. But, it’s what you do with the hard times that matters.

Tot ziens,

Cheyanne Cleyman

3 Tips To A Healthier & More Positive Co-Parenting Experience

Come on…be honest. Did anyone else roll their eyes a little when reading that title?

You wouldn’t be alone if you did. Even, I (Cheyanne), a TOTAL optimist, was a little skeptical when I began this post. It’s not that we don’t believe in healthy co-parenting. It’s more so that we, as coaches, have heard hundreds of heart-breaking stories of challenges in co-parenting, and even experienced many of these challenges in co-parenting ourselves.

We KNOW how hard it is. We understand, that even with the best intentions, many desires to have a healthy co-parenting relationship faulter.

However, I’d like you to take a moment and pretend you know nothing on this matter. I’d encourage you to imagine that you are freshly divorced or broken-up with your ex-partner and you are just beginning you co-parenting relationship.

Take yourself back there:

-What did you hope for your co-parenting relationship?

-How did you envision it looking like?

Now, with that ideal situation in mind, I’d like to share with you 3 VERY USEFUL tips from our friend and co-parenting expert, Fiona Kong, author of Home Sweet Homes Journal.

WARNING: These tips, when applied, have the potential to drastically improve not only your co-parenting relationship, but perhaps more importantly, yourself.

Tip #1 – If you want to change your co-parenting relationship, first start with yourself.

What? Not what you were expecting? We know we’re starting off a little controversal, but when this tip is fully embraced it is extremely freeing. After all, the only person you can ever control and change in life is yourself. Instead of focusing on all the ways you wish your co-parent would change, turn your attention to ways in which you can change.

Look at yourself and ask:

-What am I bringing to this relationship?

-In what ways, can I bridge the gap between us?

-If I am defensive, why is that?

-Don’t go on autopilot here – dig deep and dare to discover your own blocks.

*If you’re a step mom, and like some extra help with developing a positive & optimistic mindset, grab our FREE guide here:

Tip #2 – Show genuine care for your co-parent

Actions speak louder than words. Empathy, gratitude – it can be VERY hard to do this – but it shows to your child how to act too. Don’t be afraid to say something good. If there’s an oppportunity to turn something around, try it. Ask how you can help your co-parent.

Side note: If you have a high conflict- ex, or a co-parenting relationship that struggles with bounadries, tread carefully here. You can speak kindly, without being used or abused by your co-parent. Speaking kindly and positively costs us nothing.

Tip #3 – If your style of communication isn’t working, change it.

This one is to the point & simple. If how you both are communicating is continually bringing about a negative result, don’t be afraid to do something different. Is texting becoming too toxic and sconsuming? Try e-mail. Do you get too emotional seeing each other face-to-face? Try Facetime or a phone call. Don’t be afraid to change things up and be humble in making decisions that will be beneficial for yourselves and your child.

We hope these 3 tips are beneifical for you and your family. If you’d like to go DEEPER into each of these tips with us and hear from Fiona’s own mouth, come watch our exclusive interview at the LINK BELOW.

We know this blended family life isn’t easy, but we also know that it doesn’t have to be how the movies portray it. We can’t do everything, but we can take a stand in how we chose to act and respond to challenging situations and circumstances.

We’re in your corner. Always.

-Kim & Cheyanne

Expat mama has meltdown on playground

“No, STOP, uhhhh, nay….don’t do that, blah!” Ok, maybe meltdown is a strong word, but in the moment, it’s exactly how I felt.

Chey here. Anyone else here living in a country that they didn’t grow up in?

All the time, I am faced with new challenges due to the fact I am living in a country, with a culture and language, that is SO different from my own.

One such recent experience is when I was at the park with my son, Mason. Where he is being raised bilingual, and I am about 70% fluent in Dutch, neither of us are 100% THERE with speaking yet. We often take our 12 year-old small dog to the park with us – and he’s quite the hit. There’s often pre-school classes there with many children just dying to pet him. However, our dog is old and small – he easily feels overwhelmed by all the attention.

And this week, when taking him and Mason to the park, another little boy asked me to help him up on the ladder. Where, my mama heart said absolutely, and I started to help him, at the same time, Mason ran in one direction & 4 kids were circling our dog in the other panic rose within me – “Oh no, I HAVE to stop these kids. Humphrey may bite them.” 

As I was trying to speak Dutch to this little boy to make sure he was ok, he demanded I stand by him and help him to the next play areaAll this was going on while I was also asking my 18 month old to stop running and share with the kids around my dog that he gets scared and may bite them. I just couldn’t get out enough words. And not enough that were correct. 

Ultimately, we made it out of the situation with the little boy safely getting down, no kids were bitten, and I was able to get to Mason before he ran too far.

However, I was exhausted and overwhelmed in my heart. Where it was one little situation, it reminded me of many others I’ve had in the almost 3 years I’ve lived here in Belgium. In many ways, I can’t be my FULL self here, no matter how hard I try. We all face this in many situations in life – where our circumstances change or we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. So, what can we do in the middle of not feeling our complete selves but needing to keep on living and showing up for ourselves & our families? 

Be kind. Let stuff go. Process internally AND externally. Open up to a friend who will just listen – and encourage you. For me, that’s my husband. If you are in a similar situation, and find yourself having no one to talk to, I’m here. Us expats gotta stick together.

Together, we get through. Together, we thrive. 

Feel free to download the FREE guide I created to help families THRIVE while living abroad:

Keep in touch & talk soon,

Cheyanne

Cleyman Family Update!

Ah, yes, because really – IT WAS ABOUT TIME!

I had to scroll back through our posts to check when our last FAMILY update was – and my jaw dropped when I saw that it was 8 months ago! December 2021!

How does that happen? All moms reading this know it’s one simple answer: LIFE!

LIFE HAPPENS, right guys? It’s why you’ll see SO many posts of mom’s posting their babies “month birthday” photos 3 weeks late & why Christmas cards (are those still even thing), will often arrive after the first of the year.

So, in saying all of that, I am cutting myself a BREAK (And I hope you will too – and cut yourself one while we’re at it), and going to do my BEST to update you on all that’s happened in the past 8 months.

First and foremost, our BIGGEST update is we MOVED! Nope, not too America or even another country. We moved 12 miles (or 20 km) down the road from Antwerpen to Mechelen, Belgium. To Belgians, that’s still a great distance. That’s kinda like saying, wow, now I have to drive to you or maybe take a train – hmmm…see ya in a few months! Ok, I may be exaggerating just a tad – but it really IS far here. So far in fact, it’s 15 km further than my husband has EVER lived from his birth place.

I am SO proud of him (and my bonus daughter) for making such a huge leap of faith & taking on this adventure with me.

We moved here in the beginning of July, and then Kim, Mason & I headed to America for an amazing 3 week vacation in Florida (Surprise, update Number 2), Billie went to a summer camp and Italy, and so we are just now all finally able to settle in some, hang up some paintings, get rid of all the boxes and enjoy our new home.

We all, yes even our almost-teenager, have absolutely LOVED our! Our house is almost 2x the size of our previous apartment and it’s set up in this amazing, cozy little street just 1 km away from the city center. There is no parking or street traffic out front, so our busy little man has plenty of space to run & we can even hear the church bells at night from the huge St. Rumbouts Cathedral.

One thing we’ve all enjoyed so much is being in Mechelen makes you feel like you’ve taken a time machine and gone back in time. We often feel like we’re living inside a painting from the Rennisance! It is not uncommon for us to walk along our neighboring streets & discover numerous homes and buildings constructed in the 14-16th centuries.

We didn’t know this until we moved here – not even my Belgian family- that Mechelen was known as a sort of religious pilgrimage spot – an epicenter for spiritual contemplation and renewal – and it is still felt in the countless churches, nuneries, monasteries and etc that still blanket the city to this day.

Besides all the medevial culture, we’ve also been enjoying the city life of getting to walk into the city center for a bite to eat, a walk along the river or even a bike ride to the local park to go swimming in a fresh water lake. For a family, it’s quite an amazing place to grow and thrive.

Speaking of growing & thriving, another update is that we have a new schedule with Billie’s mom, so we will be seeing her a little less, but it’ll give her a more beautiful balance between both homes. As we all transition into that new schedule in September, Kim is also transitioning out of teaching, and will be working from home with me full-time as we bring our coaching business & courses to new heights.

We’ve been balancing multiple jobs & family life now for a few years, and we are so thrilled & excited ot finally be able to focus more of our energy to the true purpose driven work we know God has lead us to. Working with multicultural & step families has been a dream come true – and we can’t wait to share & show what we’re working on NOW with you in the near future.

As always, we LOVE you guys. So many of you have been with us since the beginning in September 2018, and as we come upon our 3 year anniversary of meeting and being together, we thank you again for all your love, all your support & all your shared wisdom. Here’s a huge virtual hug (dikke knuffel) from us to you!

Until the next update, which I PROMISE won’t take this long (maybe), lots of love,

-Cheyanne Cleyman

Everyone marries the WRONG person.

Ever heard someone say this to you: “Ugh, I married the WRONG person.”

Or, just maybe, you’ve also heard yourself say these words or THINK them inside your head.

We’d like to radically combat that thought with the fact/thought that actually, you’re correct. EVERYONE DOES marry the wrong person.

So, if everyone marries the wrong person – what is the point of being married? How can anyone know that when they do get married or want to get married, they made the RIGHT decision?

When we were in the season of preparing for marriage ourselves, we came across this wisdom, from someone many more years ahead than us in life AND in marriage, that stated everyone marries the wrong person – because NO ONE, will ever be right or make you happy 100% of the time.

In fact, we TOO are the wrong person for our spouse. Instead of this bringing worry or pain, we hope you can, as we did, feel a sense of relief in this.

If you as a couple can come to this realization together, then you have a strong foundation to build a healthy & fortified marriage and family on.

Where no one’s spouse is going to be perfect inside a marriage, neither will you be. Marriage, not necessarily your spouse, will reveal the cracks with yourself.

Your marriage doesn’t create the cracks, but more so, REVEALS them.

THIS is confronting, challenging and can feel overwhelming. However, we encourage you to lean into those moments. Go to one another for support, and safety when you begin to discover the “not-so-great” parts of yourself.

In life, we don’t often know the innermost & deepest parts of ourselves until a challenge arises that makes us confront that part face-to-face. But the beauty & silver lining in all of this is what is then revealed can then be HEALED.

We have a mission for those of you reading this today. When you find yourself just “sick of the way” your spouse does things or “hate how you feel” after he/she does this, we have some questions we’d like you to ask yourself…

  1. What about their behavior brings something out of you that you don’t like?
  2. What unspoken expectations do you have on your spouse?
  3. How can you communicate your true feelings better so your spouse can fully understand where you are coming from?
  4. To spouses to witness their spouse hurting – how can you be a safety net of love and understanding without judgement or placing guilt/shame on them?

We know – these are HARD questions! But these are the ones that MATTER. If you can honestly answer these questions first, with yourself, and then process them openly with your spouse, you’ll witness your intimacy flourish and your healing begin.

Let us know how this blog resonated with you over on our Instagram @TheCleymans!

-Kim & Cheyanne Cleyman

How can you call yourself a coach? What do you know about coaching step families?

What qualifies someone to be a coach?

Is it a degree? A title? Hours spent in a classroom?

Only you can answer that for yourself. A coach, to everyone, has a different meaning and definition.

I don’t know what being a coach means to you, but I DO know that the biggest impact I’ve ever made in someone’s life wasn’t those who came to me over a piece of paper or “proper” qualification.

It was people who saw themselves in my story. It was people who saw the authenticity I showed in sharing my own story and from that, felt a glimmer of hope.

I have experienced this for many years as a health & fitness coach. At one time in my life, I was a vivacious 260 pound woman who wasn’t living up to her full potential. I was trapped inside a body that didn’t match the woman I was inside. I was lost in a vicious cycle of food addiction and self-loathing. However, over years of trial & error, I became victorious in losing over 100 pounds. I’ve gone on to run 3 marathons, 1 half marathon, 1 triathlon, several mud runs, star on a TLC weight loss show, host health & fitness videos for big corporations, group fitness class instructor and train countless people, on & offline, to their own best selves. ALL without a degree.

Now I have been blessed to, after several years of being in a step family (and growing up in one myself), I get this same daily opportunity as a multicultural step family coach.

LIFE truly is one of the greatest teachers. God has brought me through so much in these past 2.5 years, that it would be a SHAME to keep all the goodness He’s taught me to myself. My husband and I are blown away by the impact our story has had on other families going through very similar circumstances.

Even in my own experience with coaches in my life, the ones I’ve learned from the most came from those that I connected with in their own story.

I remember my Dad once telling me of how my childhood Pastor Ken, when he would have someone come to him with a need for help with an alcohol addiction, he would immediately call up my Dad and ask HIM to help. You see – my dad has struggled with abuse with alcohol before. He knows what it’s like to feel powerless and defeated by it. He understands the triggers. He can listen with an understanding heart and open mind in a way others cannot. He also knows how to overcome it.

Our Pastor didn’t come to my Dad because he was a therapist, counselor or someone who “had it all figured out.” He came to my Dad because he knew my Dad would help the person in need feel not alone and show them a way and hope through their mess.

We are stepfamily coaches because we ARE a stepfamily.

We are not PERFECT at it. No coach is. No family is.

I have learned within my own health journey that the message doesn’t come in the perfection, but in what you do once you fall down.

Do you get back up?

How do you take what you learned to move others & bring others along with you?

If you have someone in your life that doesn’t see your true value or worth as a coach (or just as a person), block them. Not just on social, but out of your life.

Their negetivity will bring nothing but distrctuion and turmoil.

And really, it just shows more of where THEY are anyway, and nothing about the beautiful hope, joy and presence that you bring to this world.

Your greatest impact in life will come from relating to those around you.

For years, when people have asked me, what’s my greatest tip I can give for true transformation, and I always come back to this one truth – the key to TRANSFORMATION IS IN VULNERABILITY.

Once you are vulnerable, you WILL begin the journey of healing and be set FREE.

No matter where you struggle in life, START there. Don’t wait.

Don’t ask for permission. IF you “need” it, I am giving it to you.

Be set free of judgement. Shame. Self-loathing. Anxiety. Fear. ALL OF IT.

As my husband & I continue to journey on in our stepfamily life, we continue to grow and learn. Change is inevitable in any family. You can’t control it. All you can control is you and your adaption to it all. Right now, we’re focusing on the amazing families, like you reading this, that we get the honor to impact and encourage daily with our story.

Just never forget, your story matters too. YOU matter.

-Cheyanne Cleyman