Upon the stepmom's entrance to the dark side, a husband needs some effective strategies:
To keep your family together and avoid more courtroom controversy:
1) Let stepmom leave. If she's frustrated, upset, sad, moody...let her go. Let her go somewhere else. Let her see friends, take a walk, and leave the family activity. Let her hide out in the bedroom. Bring her what she needs, check on her with kisses randomly, and remind her that a bath is a nice treat. Accommodate, in other words.
2) When she's upset, remove her cell phone. Displace it for a while. Who knows what could come of it if it remains in her possession. Or, remove its battery or cancel service if she's too smart for the displacement trick. Unless she just calls friends....But she can use your phone for that anyways. Or a computer.
3) Distract! Provide distractions for her to tide her over. A spa gift certificate is the best possible option, but have a number of more affordable options up your sleeve. - Promise of dinner at her favorite place the night after the kids leave, OR get a babysitter and make it happen tonight or tomorrow night. - Flowers (remember those?!?) - Gift certificate to her favorite place - Or, simply, a glass of wine or a margarita (or in my case, a martini). Bonus: The act of making it for her is a two-in-one: She doesn't have to go to the effort and is given a treat, while she's also being sent the discrete message, "It's time to chill."
4) Find another task for her to do, away from the kids. Walk a dog, get something elsewhere, or take a small trip to pick something up...Anything to give her time to let out fume and recompose herself.
5) Buy her a kitty or a puppy (from a shelter!)- if you don't already have a house full of them. Her own little pet to cuddle with and care for is so comforting in times of stepkid "you're-not-my-mom" turmoil. Plus, they're very soft.
6) If there's a Facebook war, turn off WiFi or take her somewhere else. Dinner, fun, ice skating, movie, hike, mall...Pick anything. Literally anything. An activity of fun is all she really needs. Because nobody wants to be in a Facebook war anyways.
7) Book a trip to some island. Show her pictures and proof of purchase. Then ask her to research spas, outings, and restaurants for the trip. And this better happen, or expect Divorce 2!
8) Have the kids make her something, whether it's a physical "thing" or a drawing or baked good. All of it is absurdly touching. But keep in mind: The effect from this will last a very short time...Especially if they loudly whined while doing it.
9) Put on her favorite movie. If the kids complain, give them laptops/mobile devices and headphones with some other movie.
10) Probably the #1 most effective way to handle a stepmom who's losing it? TAKE THE KIDS OUT. Somewhere, anywhere. Take care of them. Feed them. Whatever. Make it last.