Oh the topic of step-kids and chores.
The issue is a hot one among stepmoms, mostly the stepmoms who aren't on the same page as their husband when it comes to how much the kids should chip in around the house.
If that happens to be you, I just have to say this. If you're trying to enforce rules and responsibilities that your husband (and his ex) don't agree with, well, I raise my glass to you fellow stepmom and wish you the best of luck... because you're in for one hell of a ride.
One that one that, for the record, will mostly likely leave you looking like the evil stepmom.
It's tough when you're not on the same page with how to parent the kids. Especially when, at the end of the day, the other parent can (and sometimes will) trump you in a second.
Getting on the same page as your husband when it comes to the kids is a loaded topic. One that I'll save for a different day... but in short I'll say this
Ideally you find a way to get on the same page.
You have conversations and come up with rules and responsibilities that work for you both
You pick your battles
You "let it go" and try not to sweat the small stuff...
and sometimes, you take the "not my circus not my monkeys" approach and remind yourself that the issue isn't worth having ongoing turmoil in your relationship
(that's what I've done anyways)
[In fact, click HERE to learn how my biggest stepmom lesson came from a lunchbox brownie]
Almost 5 years in, my husband and I are finally on the same page with when it comes to the kids. Well, about 75% of the time.
What about the other 25% of the time you ask? I've learned to just let that go! (Remember what I said about compromise and picking your battles? For me, it's just not worth the time and energy)
5 Years in, here is how we handle chores in our home!
1. THEY DON'T HAVE "CHORES"
We've tried the chore lists.
We've tried to divide responsibilities amongst designated days
We've tried the check lists and allowance for rewards.
It didn't work. It wasn't for us.
With our week-on-week off access schedule, and nights jam packed with competitive sports, we struggled to stay consistent and on top of the list....
and well, we all know when parents aren't consistent, the kids sure as heck aren't going to follow through
2. THEY HAVE A MORNING & AFTERNOON ROUTINE
While we don't have "chore list", per say, we have a morning routine that we expect to be completed each and everyday, It's actually pretty simple, you have to make your bed and tidy your room.
At the end of the day, when they come home from school, they hang up their bag, empty their lunch and put their stuff where it belongs.
The consequence for not following through? No devices.
In our minds, if you can figure out an iPad or an iPhone, you can figure out how to clean up after yourself.
3. WE ASK THEM TO HELP OUT AS JOBS ARISE
If the dishwasher needs to be emptied and I haven't had time to get to it, I'll ask one of the kids.
When the basement needs to be tidied, we ask them to tidy it up.
If there are zero socks in the house, I ask them to tackle the sock basket.
You get the drift.
People always ask how we get the kids to say "yes" without groaning or moaning.
Truthfully, I have no idea. All I can do is raise my glass to my husband and their Mom, because they were like this when I found them
AND, on the rare occasion that there is pushback, a simple reminder of the dreaded chore list is enough motivation to get back on track.
4. WE REMEMBER IT'S NOT WHAT YOU SAY, IT'S HOW YOU SAY IT
I'm not a drill sergeant. Well at least I try not to be.
When I ask the kids to do something, I don't order them to do it.
I ask them politely, and also tell them how much their help, helps me!
I'll often say to the older ones,
"I'm really overwhelmed with jobs right now, is there any way that you guys could give me a hand"
Knowing that they are needed, appreciated and noticed goes a LONG way!
5. MY HUSBAND HANDLES THE BIG JOB REQUESTS
If I think that the kids aren't going to be wild about helping out with something, I have my husband make the request.
I find it is received better... and I don't want to be perceived as the nagging stepmom
6. WE EXPRESS APPRECIATION
This one should probably be more at the top of the list.
When the kids help out, whether the job is big or small, we tell them how much we appreciate their help.
We tell them just how helpful they were.
I know some parenting experts may disagree with that, but it works for us.
I always say,
"Thanks so much that was a huge help for me"
"I really appreciate you helping out with that"
"Wow the kitchen looks great! Thanks so much"
"You guys are awesome!"
As always, every stepfamily dynamic is unique and what works for one family, may not work for another! BUT, 5 years later, that's how we handle the chore situation in our house!
So far, so good!