Stepmom’s Tool Box with Peggy Nolan

by Tess

Our guest today is my friend Peggy Nolan from "Stepmom's Tool Box" blog and Radio Show. She is a frequent contributing writer to The StepMom Magazine.Peggy’s mission is to connect stepmoms to the tips, tools, and advice they need to thrive in their remarried families.

Peggy's Family

My Family

What stands out about Peggy is her passion, energy and love of life. I think she gives new meaning to the idea "living out loud!" 

 How did you get so good at being a stepmom?


I don’t know if I’m good at being a stepmom but I’m pretty good at being me. I fell into many of the traps most stepmoms fall into – especially trying to be better than I needed to be because I felt like I was under the microscope and everyone was watching me. By everyone, I mean my husband, his ex-wife, and his ex-wife’s family. It was all rather unnerving, but once I realized that no one was really paying that much attention to me, I calmed down. My husband gave me the best advice a stepmom could ask for: Just be you.” I can do that – being anyone else other than me is too exhausting and too much work.

The Bold Life: This is brilliant and what stand out for me is your authenticity. What you see is what you get. What a fantastic husband you have. Who you are is a bright and shining example of energy and love. He knew if you were anyone but yourself that would be hidden. 


Can you describe your remarried life?


The short version: James Joyce once wrote, “The shortest way home is the longest way round…” In 1980 I fell in love with a boy who broke up with me six months later. Twenty five years later we reconnected and I fell upside down crazy in love with him all over again. We were married five months after we met for our first cup of coffee at Denny’s. I brought with me my two daughters, Jessica and Christina, from my first marriage and Richard gifted me with his four children, Richie, Kelly, Katie and Christopher, from his first marriage. Our children are all adults now and starting lives of their own. Richard and I are blessed and grateful that the drama and chaos that surrounds so many stepfamilies did not impact us as much as it could have. I credit our ability to reduce our emotional baggage to a carry-on, to communicate with each other with respect and honesty, and to resolve conflict in a way that brings us together rather than pull us apart.


The Bold Life:This is why you have so much to share with the stepmoms of the world. If both parties carry their past baggage into the new family there’s no room for love to grow and flourish. How wise, wise, wise, Peggy!

Respectful communication, honesty and conflict resolution will cement every relationship. The qualities you demonstrate set your family up for a life time of happiness!



What makes being a stepmom so difficult?


Based on what I hear from other stepmoms I believe we get in our own way trying to “fix” something. Stepmoms step into situations and think they need to fix it – whether it’s the relationship between their husband and their stepkids, their stepkids’ behavior, legal issues, child support issues, or ex-wife issues.


Stepmoms believe they can make things better; when in fact, they unintentionally make things worse. 


Stepmoms take on responsibilities that are not theirs – they fill in the gaps and try to make up for lax or permissive parenting. After taking on responsibilities that clearly belong to either their husband or the ex-wife, they become angry and resentful.


It’s a vicious cycle because many stepmoms will tell me, “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done.” Stepmoms create their own out-of-control merry-go-round and I offer alternative suggestions on how to jump off and do things differently.


Do you realize Peggy the peace you teach these stepmoms not only creates peaceful family relationships but ripples out and adds to peace in our world. That’s pretty amazingly awesome;)


Another thing that makes being a stepmom difficult is the complexity of stepfamily living.


Last night I interviewed Ron L. Deal, co-author of “The Remarriage Checkup” and Ron states that “complexity equals stress and stress thickens the bloodline.”


What this means is that a dad will often side with his kids, leaving the stepmom feeling more like an outsider. Ron also gave a sobering statistic: The stress level of the first two years in a remarriage with children equals the stress level of the average person during the first two years post divorce. That’s a lot of stress!


The Bold Life: Peggy, again this is exactly why I want to help get word out about what you have to offer. If stepmoms make use of the tools you offer we can change that stress statistic! That would of course reduce divorce statistics as well! This is good stuff!


What are your top tips for Stepmoms?


I originally wrote these tips for the April issue of StepMom Magazine – You can read the full article on my blog

       Believe in Yourself

       Believe in Your Husband

      or Significant Other

       Keep a Journal

       Move Every Day!

       Meditate or Pray Every Day

       Give and Receive Hugs

       Kiss Your Husband or Significant

       Other for at Least Thirty Seconds Every Day

       Create Something

       Become a Resourceful Stepmom

       Practice Self-Care

The Bold Life: Believing in your husband or Significant Other stands out for me. Because of the relationship he has with his ex I’m sure it’s easy for a stepmom to feel insecure and needy. Those feelings bay. One then becomes their own worst enemy.


You're always on the move. I can't keep up with everything you have going on…two blogs, a radio show, writing. What motivates and inspires you?


I am slowing down a bit – pruning some of my do-ings and activities. When I can’t keep up with me, I know it’s time to press pause and take a look at where my energy is going. With my husband and son-in-law deploying for a year in September, bringing my energy back to center is my top priority right now.


But back to your question! I am motivated by a burning desire to make a difference and to have a positive impact on the lives of other people. The best way I can help others is through my writing and by teaching yoga. My radio show is a mouth piece for my writing and the expertise of other published authors and experts.


I get inspiration from so many different sources. It can be from something I read; a good quote; the way dirt smells right before it rains; watching my garden grow; the way my grand-daughter giggles; my dog, Edgar, and the way he’s always in the moment; people like you, Wilma Ham, Joy Holland, SuZen, Megan Bord, Jodi Sloane, (and others!) Above all else, my husband is a huge source of inspiration and support. Not to sound cliché, but he is the wind beneath my wings. 


The Bold Life: Peggy you are making a difference, a big difference. You add peace, joy and love to the world through the work you do.


It will continue on with future generations because stepmoms have the opportunity to change and grow through your energy, work and passion! All stepchildren are lifted by your work as well…like I said future generations are blessed in advance.


Yes our blogging friends are great aren’t they. I had no idea I’d be blessed like this when I began blogging. I love that your husband is the wind beneath your wings. He had me at the “Be You” advice!


Tell us about your new blog?


My new blog,"Infinite Yoga and Reiki" is a collaborative effort between me and my workshop training partner, Teresa Thompson. I’m the Yoga and she’s the Reiki J It’s our vehicle to help promote our workshops and to bring awareness to what yoga and reiki are and how they both bring wholeness to mind, body and spirit.


The blog itself is still under construction but we will have a regular posting schedule once or twice a week and we’ll share our favorite resources that are aligned with our vision to expand possibilities and live authentically.


The Bold Life: Congratulations on your new work and please let me know if I can do anything to help. Again that energy amazes me; )


Tell us something about you we don't know.


I really, really like Zombie books – seriously – I do! I just finished “World War Z” by Max Brooks and I LOVED it! Breathers ~ A Zombie’s Lament” by S.G. Browne is also very good (and funny!) and I understand it’s in development as a movie for 2011!


The Bold Life: I’m not familiar with the Zomie Books. Leave it to you to be two steps ahead of me!


What do you do for fun?


I love to travel and see new places. Last month I was in Utah and visited Zion National Park, The Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Snow Canyon, Dinosaur Park, and a few other places near St. George. Later this year I plan to visit my oldest daughter in southern Spain.


Besides traveling, I love to hike, practice and teach yoga, read, write, crochet, and three times a week you’ll find me in the dojo practicing Thai Kickboxing and finishing my class requirements for my first degree black belt!


The Bold Life: You’re a shining example of creating a life filled with fun and adventure. I think we could get you another blog called, “Catch the Spirit!”


What’s Your Favorite Quote?


“If you are unwilling to impose your terms upon life, then you must be willing to accept what life offers you.” ~ TS Elliot “The Confidential Clerk


I’ve been imposing my terms upon life since December 2002!


The Bold Life: Like you Peggy the quote is very inspiring.


Thank you Tess! Your blog and your book have made a difference in my life! I am so honored to be here today!!


The Bold Life: Peggy you’re welcome anytime you want to visit or be a guest! Shine On!


About Peggy Nolan: Peggy is the mother of two adult children, the stepmother of four adult children and the grandmother of one. Peggy is the creator of The Stepmom’s Toolbox Blog and Radio Show where she dishes tips, tools and advice for stepmoms and remarried families.


Peggy shares her passion for expanding the possible through her yoga workshops. For details on her upcoming workshop in August, visit Infinite Reiki and YogaPeggy lives in Derry, NH with her husband, Richard and 


Ed, The Wonder Dog.


Ed, the Wonder Dog


You can follow Peggy on Facebook or on Twitter.

    { 15 comments… read them below or add one }

    Tony Single June 24, 2010 at 5:54 am

    Tess and Peggy… this, of course, was an enlightening interview. But may I be honest? I was most taken with Ed the Wonder Dog. I used to have a border collie too, and she looked just like he does. I’m a total sap when it comes to dogs! :P


    rob white June 24, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Well, I was not expecting to learn about being a step Mom today, but I am glad I did. There is a lot of worldly advice found here… anybody could assimilate this into their day: “…but once I realized that no one was really paying that much attention to me, I calmed down.” It is amazing how we all get wrapped up in thinking that we are the center of the universe. It is wonderfully freeing to realize people are too worried about how they look to worry about what I’m doing. Thanks for sharing your wisdom
    .-= rob white´s last post…Make the growth choice =-.


    Cath Lawson June 24, 2010 at 8:43 am

    This is great advice – I wish I’d read it a few years ago. My stepchildren are teenagers now and it hasn’t been easy – the fact that their mother is a compete nutter certainly didn’t help though.
    .-= Cath Lawson´s last post…7 Enjoyable Ways To Spend Less Money =-.


    Lori June 24, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Hi Tess and Peggy,
    Being a step mom hasn’t been easy, but it is full of surprising rewards, too. I have a great relationship with my three step girls — we met when they were all teenagers and now they are all through college and living beautiful lives.
    Peggy, you words are great advice and I wish I had read them ten years ago. Kudos to you, lovely.
    Thanks for the great interview, Tess!
    .-= Lori´s last post…Living Tides =-.


    Wilma Ham June 24, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Hi Peggy and hi Tess.
    I agree with Rob, the work Peggy does is not just for step moms, everybody can learn from what she offers as it is really about life and relationships and we all have those. Only in step families the issues we all have seem to be amplified and therefore more visible and more painful.
    It is amazing how it becomes clear how we assume things, that are NOT there to be assumed at all and it is great to be shown in her radio shows how ‘assuming’ can be very dangerous.
    Yes Tess, Peggy does contribute hugely to reducing self-imposed stress in step families and the stress currently is huge through ignorance.
    May we all return to peace in our lives; we are far more stressed out than we have to be and we can be far more effective if we only are willing to learn how by people who walk their talk.
    Much love to you both who walk their talk, you are important, xox Wilma
    .-= Wilma Ham´s last post…Wilma on Our ego cannot exist in ‘Heaven on Earth’ =-.


    Patricia June 24, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Thank you Tess so much for this introduction of a good spirit. I enjoyed your interview very much and learned a great deal….Just be Yourself is such powerful advice for everyone….we spend so much time covering up…and hiding…the world needs more SELFs in action and wholeness

    Many thanks
    .-= Patricia´s last post…Savannah Blues: A Novel ~Mary Kay Andrews =-.


    Tess Bold Life June 24, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    OK I have your number dogs and ducks…bark quack!

    That’s hilarious but true…people are worried too much about how they look to be bothered with what I’m doing. LOL

    Yes where was all of the advice when we needed it with parenting?!? Glad you’re sharing it now Peggy.

    You’re so fabulous…my ego gets bigger each time you visit. Yes we all obsess way too much and walking our talk I think we have a trio going;)

    Let’s imagine how the world would look if we all decided to be authentic…beautiful…Great idea!


    Peggy June 24, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Dear Everyone – Just wanted to thank everyone for your comments – being a stepmom is one of the harder roles anyone can take on – there are so many variables and the complexities are can set any person, man or woman, reeling.

    1,300 women become stepmoms every day. Either in 2010 or 2011, remarried families will outnumber first families – I can only hope that with the resources we have today we can strengthen remarriages and help prevent divorce in the next generation.

    My love to you all,

    .-= Peggy´s last post…Over-Booked, Over-Scheduled, and Over-Committed =-.


    Mark June 25, 2010 at 5:45 am

    Great interview with Peggy. Peggy gave some great advice that anyone with step children can benefit from. One of the keys is that the step parent and the parent stay on the same page and back each other up in front of the children. Children are very good at conquering and dividing parents and even more so when a step parent is involved. It is important to maintain a unified front.
    .-= Mark´s last post…Forgiveness =-.


    Evita June 25, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Hello Peggy and Tess

    Great interview! What I love most about this is that we all continue to grow and feel like one big human family. Too many people still stress to much over “blood ties” – this is just one lifetime of many – I am sure we have been “tied” to many on this Earth, many times over.

    So thank you for sharing and spreading the love as you do!!!

    And Reiki and Yoga – looking forward to checking out more of your work Peggy!
    .-= Evita´s last post…Believe Without Evidence =-.


    Sharon June 25, 2010 at 10:31 am

    I’m blessed to have a good relationship with my tween stepdaughter and reading Peggy’s interview, I realized that most of the stress that I encountered being in a stepfamily were because of my need to “fix” something. I guess that’s what the control freak in me does. I made a lot of the problems mine, when it should be left to the bio-parents. Is it realistic to say however, that we should absolutely do nothing when there are obvious things that need to be done because they will only fester? That’s something that just doesn’t sit right with me, especially because I know I will be dealing with those issues later on in life.


    Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord June 25, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Oh what a joy to read this interview with Peggy!

    Peggy, a “new-to-me” side of you was revealed today, and gosh, while I’ve always admired your energy, insights, strength, and compassion, that step mom thing just blows me away. I cannot imagine being a parent to my own child, let alone being a positive daily influence on my significant other’s child(ren). That seems to take on a whole other level of commitment, courage, and as you said, authenticity. I realized the other day that starting at a young age (like 4 or 5) I had an innate need to be liked, and would single out the one person I thought didn’t like me and try to figure out why, and then change their mind! In a step mom situation, that would probably sink me…

    Peggy, you’re just so much fun to learn about. I cannot wait to read your new blog, and still to this day, each time I do Warrior II position, I think of you. That of course makes me very happy!

    Peggy & Tess, I love you both, and am grateful for our beautiful connection!


    Hilary June 27, 2010 at 1:24 am

    Hi Tess and Peggy .. such wonderful advice .. and not being in this situation .. I picked up on ‘we try and fix things’ .. I think we all do that in life .. and we can only fix ourselves and not others – the massage therapist, who is an essential to my mother and I, explained that to me – & it sank in. I can only be responsible for myself and cannot take on board others’ ways of life or the actions they take ..

    Absolutely as you realised and your hubby said .. just be you ..

    Tess – great interview and Peggy your points are so salient to all of us throughout our lives .. thank you – Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last post…Nature in Balance and the Dark-Bellied Dew Lover- =-.


    Jannie Funster June 27, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Hey, guys — not being a step-mom myself I really never stop to consider whatt hey must go through, which seems considerable.

    The yoga blog sounds GREAT! I am starting to get int yoga, and getting hooked.

    Nice to get to know you better, Peggy.

    Thanks, Tess.

    .-= Jannie Funster´s last post…Even More Bigger =-.


    Peggy June 28, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Hi everyone,

    Normally I would have kept up with your comments, but last week my sister lost her 27 year old son to a tragic accident. I spent the last week disconnected from the cyber world and concentrated on things closer to home.

    Much love,
    .-= Peggy´s last post…Over-Booked- Over-Scheduled- and Over-Committed =-.


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