When I first think of a stepmother asking her stepkids to do chores, I think of the evil stepmother in Cinderella! Not a good first impression is it!?
Fairy tales really have a lot to answer when it comes creating beliefs in our mind about stepfamilies.
I bet a lot of people's beliefs about stepmums and stepfamilies are mostly inaccurate actually.
But do you know what one of the main reasons for second marriages with children failing?
It is when the stepmum feels overworked, under appreciated and like the servant in the household. It is when she is doing everything for everyone, with little in return.
At the time of writing this, we are in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, when all our lives have been thrown up in the air. We are spending 99% of our times locked up in our houses and so there is added pressure on families right now.
Most probably, all kinds of parents are going to have less patience for a messy house right now. I know personally that I am definitely a tidy room, tidy mind kinda person and it gives me anxiety when my house feels messy or out of control.
Does that resonate with you?
The thing is, it is hard to ask your stepkids to help out around the house. You have to have your partner (the biological parent) on board. It is more than likely that your stepkid isn't going to appreciate you asking to help hoover the house, when your partner says they don't need to.
We really don't need to hear 'You're not my mum, I don't have to listen to you!'
Luckily I have never heard those words, and my stepkids have been pretty good in helping me out more around the house. For the past two sundays, we have cleaned the house from top to bottom! I feel very grateful that they did it with no complaints.
But it may not even be your stepchild complaining, maybe it is your husband?
So what are some of the reasons your partner might not want his kids to help out with chores around the house?
He may not want them to stop coming over or not enjoy coming over. After all, he doesn't have the full amount of time with them in most cases.
He has a big case of Divorce Guilt - something so common when parents split up.
He wants the kids to enjoy their time with him, he doesn't want to be seen as a moaning father
He doesn't want the kids to not like the stepmum, or them feel she has created new rules too quickly in the house
All of these are very common, but actually not getting the kids to help out around the house, can be detrimental to the marriage and also health of the stepfamily.
Life is so different to what it was 60 years ago. In my opinion, something is missing and has gone wrong in our society over the past decades.
In the old days, homemaking was considered a valued and significant position, and the Mother and Father gave the child things chores to complete and they were strict rules to abide by. Manners and respect were expected and taught in all families. Manners and respect is something that a lot of stepmums feel is missing in their home.
Do you also feel that manners and respect is missing in part of society nowadays?
This seems to have been lost in society now I feel. Now I am not saying lets all go back to the 1960's and have all the women working at home, whilst the man goes out to work. I have an entrepreneurial mindset and I love working! But I do feel we can take some of what used to be taught, and try and implement that back into our homes. I feel it would have a massive benefit on kids as they grow up, as well as the strength of a family.
Here are some of the benefits to getting your stepkids to help out around the house:
So how can you get your stepkids to do chores if they aren't already?
1) YOU HAVE TO GET YOUR PARTNER ON BOARD
There is no point trying to get your stepkids trying to do chores around the house, unless your partner also agrees (or semi-agrees!) with them. Stepfamilies work best when there is a male and female head of the household, and both of those hold equal value in the decision making. Remember relationships are 50/50.
Remember stepmum, you have a say in what goes on in your house and you get to put your needs and wants across too.
It is totally ok to (after a period of time settling in) want to create structure in your home.
It is best to sit down and speak to your partner about the benefits for both the kids and yourselves in them doing chores. Always speak from the heart and look him in the eye. Don't tell him this is what has to happen, say to him you would like his support on this.
Think of the end goal. You want your relationship and family to thrive, not just survive and you just putting up with things because you are scared of speaking up or changing the status quo.
Stepfamilies do not function the way a first family does. When we learn the rules, we have a better chance of creating a happy, healthy life for all involved.
It may be hard at first to delegate chores. I felt for a long time that it was easier to do it myself, but once I got my stepkids involved, I was suprised how well they did. I really didn't have anything to worry about.
One of the first rules to learn is, stepkids should really do chores!
2) SIT DOWN AND CREATE A CHORE CHART TOGETHER
The best way to do this is to both grab a pen and paper, write down all the chores in the house that each of you feel needs to be done, and then compare your lists.
Come to a middle ground and compromise on what you both feel is acceptable. Remember that the male and female of the household are not the servants, it is completely ok for the kids to help around the house.
Then divide the chores up between the children or assign to just the one child if there is only one.
Make sure the chores are age appropriate and also doable by the children.
Also agree on rewards and consequences for doing or not doing the chores - this will be completely up to the family on what they feel is appropriate.
Make sure you stick to the rewards and consequences as remember it isn't the children's fault if these are not upheld. Children feel secure when they know what is expected of them, the same way adults do knowing what role they play at something.
The idea is that we create a win-win situation for all of the family.
3) THEN SIT DOWN THE KIDS
Any kind of discipline should really always come from the biological parent.
Now this isn't really discipline as such I know, and it also completely depends on how comfortable the stepmum feels asking the kids to help out around the house.
It is best to always start with 'Your father and I'.....or 'Charlotte and I'....
That way, the couple look like they are a team and there can be no blaming from the stepkids that the stepmum is forcing them to do something their dad doesn't want them to do.
You may feel pangs of guilt as I did at first, but remember that creating structure is beneficial to children. Chaos and unpredictability creates low self-esteem in a child, and children from divorced homes need as much structure as possible.
Too often us stepmums think we need to be everything to everyone. I don't know where this idea of us needing to be perfect came from.
Why do we feel guilty asking the stepkids to do things we would ask biological children to do without batting an eyelid?
We expect so much of ourselves, and too often our partners expect too much of us.
Please give yourself a break, you're doing an amazing job. You are allowed to ask for help and you're allowed to say no. You're allowed to create structure in your own home.
You are a valid member of your family, don't ever put yourself in the background.