CHORES! There are as many different ways to tackle this subject as there are ways for kids to avoid doing them. Chore battles are not unique to blended families, but they can become a battleground of “your kid – my kid” if you don’t handle with care. Unless you live in Cinderella’s home, I’d like to believe that no step-parent is purposely trying to distribute chores unevenly. However, in most homes despite your best efforts, kids will perceive the distribution as unfair.
My caution for blended families is to watch out for the little things… the little ways in which we might give preferential treatment to our “originals”, or side with our kids on even small matters that should be presented by the parents as a united front.
I’ll give you an example of a situation in our kitchen the other night. Remember, these are “little things” but hopefully it illustrates how easily these things slip through…
We rarely eat out; therefore we have a lot of dirty dishes. The dishwasher is in a constant state of loading, running and unloading. Somehow though, none of our boys seem to notice when mountains of dirty dishes are stacking up in the sink. And somehow none of them feel like they had any part in creating the mess.
Wednesday morning I washed all the dishes before leaving for work, so when I got home to a sink full of dirty dishes I was a bit annoyed. The dishwasher was full and clean, just waiting for someone to unload it. As the mom, I have a pretty good idea who eats what and it was obvious from which kid most of the dirty dishes had come (and yes, he happens to be my step-son). As soon as he arrived home and started gathering food for his next meal I asked him to unload the dishwasher. A request that was received with an eye roll and reluctant compliance. His dad, who hadn’t seen the eye roll, immediately named off another son (one of my originals) and the fact that one of the dishes in the sink had been his.
Here’s the point of this story… in that one sentence my husband reinforced this boy’s belief that unless EVERY dish is his, he shouldn’t be tasked with washing or loading/unloading them. By adding the other boy to the conversation a simple task became a “your kid – my kid” subtle jab.
I’m sure there are other moms out there who know all too well what was playing in my head… “Who cares whose dishes they are?! I wash everybody’s everything all too often and you ALL need to learn how to clean up after yourselves!” However, I did not start raving like a lunatic (this time). I just took note to make sure that all is fair in love and chores. So yes, when the other boy arrived home I asked him to load up the dishes so that the chore was fairly divided
How do you handle chores at your house? I’d love to hear your suggestions for smoothing those waters!