Chores for stepkids

(27 Posts)
Riri1980 Mon 25-Mar-19 14:03:20

Just a question to feed my curiosity really. Just wondering if you have your step kids do chores if they don't live with you ? For example if you have them eow and then some holidays? If so what do they do? I don't mean chores around the house really I mean more picking up after themselves or tidying their own room?

OP’s posts: |
Bluebell9 Mon 25-Mar-19 14:20:51

My DSC are 7 and 9. They are responsible for keeping their rooms tidy and for putting away their clean clothes.

They also help with other jobs round the house when asked but they don't have set jobs.

They do stuff like emptying the dishwasher (they also put the stuff they use in the dishwasher), sorting clothes into darks, colours etc for washing or if they want to help when I'm cleaning, I get them to clean the skirting boards and doors/frames!

ItStartedWithAKiss241 Mon 25-Mar-19 14:24:22

Yes my dsd’s do chores.... very light stuff as they are 3 and 6 but I expect them to clean up after their own dinner, tidy up their own messes and they like to help me cook or lay the table. Sometimes they help wash up. I have children too who are doing chores so it’s just what we do in our family. It’s not a “chore” it’s just seen as normal x

DeRigueurMortis Mon 25-Mar-19 14:30:59


We have "house rules" that everyone is expected to comply with.

Simply, basic things.

- making your bed
- keeping your room tidy
- putting dirty washing in the washing baskets according to colour
- putting clean/ironed clothes away nicely
- putting plates/glasses you've used in the dishwasher
- sitting down for dinner when asked (and not saying "in a bit" and letting dinner go cold thats been prepared for you
- saying please/thank you
- nice table manners

So hardly anything unreasonable or onerous. I certainly wouldn't have a set up where one child is expected to comply with the above and another not.

Riri1980 Mon 25-Mar-19 14:35:01

Oh right! My dsc don't do any of that and I thought it was the norm as when I brought it up with DP he said he doesn't want the little time they spend here to be cleaning up. I did think cleaning up after yourselves was the main thing they should be doing

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DeRigueurMortis Mon 25-Mar-19 16:20:10

The items I listed above do not take huge amounts of time and they are basic activities you would expect to see children do at home. Depending on age I'd also help e.g making the bed with a 5 year old.

You can chat whilst loading the dishwasher for's not hours of solitary graft is it....

Your house is either their home (admittedly one of two homes) or it's not.

If it's not then they are guests and as such would be exempt from the items I list above.

Does he want his children to be guests in what should be their home?

Or does he want them to experience family life and teach them age appropriate life skills and behaviours?

If you have other children in the house does he also think it's fair to have either a two tier system of expectations or alternatively be part of a household where children are not expected to make the most basic of contributions to running it with the added long term expense of failing to prepare them to be self sufficient and independent in the future?

Riri1980 Mon 25-Mar-19 16:35:20

@DeRigueurMortis it's an excellent way of putting it. It's just difficult to bring it up with DP as I never wanted to sound like the evil step mother really, even though his kids adore me and we have a great time when they're down. Do you have any suggestions on how I can bring it up with him?
We have a DS at home but he's a baby but I would absolutely expect him to do some chores when he is old enough

OP’s posts: |


ladybee28 Mon 25-Mar-19 16:43:29

@Riri1980 –I introduced this stuff slowly, over time, and VERY CHEERFULLY.

"Everyone done with eating? Great - DSS, can you grab these plates with me, and DP, maybe you can wipe down the table? Let's get this sorted quick so we can get out and enjoy this sunshine – DSS, you pick the music, and then do you want to wash up or dry?"

"DSS, I noticed your clothes are still on the floor in the bathroom – will you quickly dash and put them in the washing basket, please?"

Making it clear it's a team effort and acting like it's totally normal and "no big deal" worked for me far better than anything that smelled like I might be criticising either DSS or DP's parenting, at least in the early days.

DeRigueurMortis Mon 25-Mar-19 16:49:30

I'd personally bring it up in the context of your baby.

As you will expect your DS to do basic tasks as he grows older you need to agree these household rules now - not in 5 years when step children have got used to a set of behaviours they are now expected to change.

Equally in the context of your DS, you can't have a set up where he (and any subsequent siblings) get treated one way and their half siblings another - unless your actively trying to create an environment that's trying to build resentment and have no desire to facilitate a positive relationship between all the children.

This has to also mean that household tasks are not put off on the EOW your SC's are with you - effectively leaving double on the alternative weekend for the rest of the household.

It sends a message that the household is totally run around the SC - which isn't healthy for anyone.

I can understand why he's saying what he is, but he's not thinking about the long term consequences.

Being a parent isn't always about doing what makes your children happiest and that can be very hard when you're not the resident parent.

Time with them is precious so arguably it's even more important when they are with you to set good expectations of behaviour and age appropriate responsibilities as opposed to providing the equivalent of a bi-monthly holiday environment.

DeRigueurMortis Mon 25-Mar-19 16:54:58

I'd also agree with lady re: the cheerful chivving grin

Just make it normal and not a big deal because the truth is, it's not.

Most children are expected to do these very basic tasks at home and as per my pp - it's either their home or it's not and contributing to the home is actually part of making children feel rightly that they belong there.

Riri1980 Mon 25-Mar-19 16:58:42

@ladybee28 I could try that. I guess my fear is that no one would listen to me!
@DeRigueurMortis when I have brought this up (briefly) before he has said that when they are here for a week or so then he does have them do their rooms and because it takes him 5 mins to do it then he doesn't mind doing it when theyre only here for the weekend. Which I kind of understand but I think he may be over reacting, it will only take them 10 mins or so which is not a lot of time out of the whole day. I will try to bring it up which I have done multiple times but he just tells me not to clean the room and he will do it.

OP’s posts: |
NorthernSpirit Mon 25-Mar-19 17:00:39

Two DSC - 10 & 14.

They don’t do anything at their mums but me & my OH didn’t want them to treat our home as a hotel and we’re keen to teach them life skills.

• Only clothes in their wash baskets get washed - we don’t wash anything left on the floor etc
• I don’t pull dirty knickers out of leggings / jeans
• They are responsible for keeping their bedrooms tidy (I don’t mind cleaning it if it’s tidy)
• They make their own beds
• Strip their beds when asked
• Put their clean clothes away (I would like to say nicely but most of the time they are thrown into the drawer
• My OH has just taught the 14 year old how to iron (apparently not allowed to do it at mums as it’s too dangerous)
• Lay the table
• Get the family drinks for dinner
• Put their dirty dinner items in the dishwasher
• Just taught the 14 year old how to use the toaster and make toast (not allowed to do it in mums house). I shit you not.

TBH at the age of around 13 I was doing my own washing and cooking dinner at least once a week so I don’t think any of this is unreasonable.

Your home, your rules and you don’t run a hotel.

ladybee28 Mon 25-Mar-19 17:32:03

he just tells me not to clean the room and he will do it

At this point I think that's fair enough – as long as you're not either sitting in a pigsty or being expected to clean up after them, maybe just leave it for now.

When it comes to your own child, that's a different matter - but you'd hope that by the time your DS is old enough to be doing chores, your DSC will be old enough to at least be doing some of this stuff automatically (assuming that their other parent at least is teaching them to be self-reliant humans).

I'm a big believer that kids benefit hugely from feeling like they're able to contribute to the family unit besides being 'the little darlings' – having things to contribute and roles to play and achievements to be proud of is a big part of being a person, and a big part of being in a community.

Denying them the chance to help with the house robs them of the pride and connectedness inherent in participating fully in family life – they may not feel it when they're elbow-deep in dishes, but it adds up over time.

BUT not everyone feels like that, and I've had to learn to let those people get on with it.

DeRigueurMortis Mon 25-Mar-19 17:41:49

The thing is "him doing it" isn't helpful.

If it doesn't take him long to do then neither does it take the kids long. Tbh it would be a step up if he did it with them - you can chat whilst folding clothes, making a bed etc.

It sounds like such a small thing, but it's not.

I would expect they do these things at their mothers house because it's their home. Does he want to create a different dynamic that underlines them being treated as guests when with their Father? Albeit unintentionally that's what he's doing.

Again - if he wants to provide a "home" it has to feel like one and that means doing all the things you do at home, not just the "nice" bits.

Riri1980 Mon 25-Mar-19 17:52:18

I see his point about telling me if it bothers me then not to do it because he has never ever asked me to do their room I just automatically spit as I'm home most of the time anyway so I just do theirs while I clean the rest of the house. I've told him that they at least need to put their dirty clothes in the wash basket and start turning their clothes inside out as I kept having to go around their room and pick up all the dirty clothes for washing and he agreed that because I do all the washing that it wasn't fair on me (though I think he's been picking them up and putting them in the basket rather than them). But I will do everything else, the mess left in communal areas or washing up and doing the kitchen. I usually do all this while he takes them back home. But not sure if I should say anything, as @ladybee28 says by the time DS is old enough to do this they will be well old enough to hopefully be automatically doing these things anyway

OP’s posts: |
Riri1980 Mon 25-Mar-19 17:53:18

Do it*not spit

OP’s posts: |
ladybee28 Mon 25-Mar-19 18:20:10

I just automatically spit grin that was almost the next 'snapped and farted'!

DeRigueurMortis I get the sense the OP agrees with what we're all saying – but her saying it and it being gratefully / received / acted upon are very different things...

And OP – don't pick anything up while he takes them home. Reading that last post of yours really got me annoyed on your behalf.

Stop picking up after them at all. If your DP wants to do it, let him do it. All of it. There's no reason for you to be in their rooms, let alone picking up their pants. And if the mess is annoying you, pile it all up in one place and leave it there for him.

Not your monkeys.


glitterdayz Mon 25-Mar-19 18:22:18

How old are they?
I think you should leave it and let him decide what he wants his dc too do and if that's nothing, then he needs to be cleaning up after them.
You said you have a lo, so you don't know the guilt he may feel that he doesn't have them more or adding chores may cause a negative effect on them.
Basic chores are normal in normal environments, but the fact they have learnt not to do them and you dp doesn't want them too, you need to find another option to tackle it.

Bookworm4 Mon 25-Mar-19 18:23:23

What age are these lazy kids?

DeRigueurMortis Mon 25-Mar-19 18:33:07

Lady I'm very sympathetic tbh.

It's difficult when your partner can't see the woods for the trees.

I'm sure in his mind he's doing his utmost to keep his children happy and importantly happy to come and be with him.

In that context what the issue with a messy room, untidy beds, not helping clear up after mealtimes - it can all be sorted.....

Arguing with that mentality is bloody hard because the default repost is always going to be "don't you want them to be happy here?"

Then as a SM you feel backed into a corner because you do want the SC to feel welcome and be happy.

The only way I see to counter that is that they should be happy at home, doing what children at home do - treating them in an age appropriate way.

If he refuses to see that I think options are pretty limited tbh as trying to encourage responsible behaviour isn't going to work if your partner is undermining you.

Riri1980 Mon 25-Mar-19 18:37:32

Thanks for all the advice. First time being a step mum so just don't know how to tackle things.
They're 5 and 7

OP’s posts: |
glitterdayz Mon 25-Mar-19 18:38:58

You must of known them for about two years, why is this suddenly an issue? What has change for you?

ladybee28 Mon 25-Mar-19 18:41:00

@DeRigueurMortis I know you were – I'm really sorry if my post sounded like a dig at you!

Riri1980 Mon 25-Mar-19 18:45:53

I guess I just thought of it as normal up until recently which is why I thought to ask this forum as I'm quite new to Mumsnet

OP’s posts: |
DeRigueurMortis Mon 25-Mar-19 19:22:51

Tbh I'm not sure there is a "normal" for a blended family.

There are so many variables (age of children, how effectively the ex partner and your partner co-parent, locations, finances etc).

As a SM all I've found is you have to work bloody hard to navigate the seas of step parenting as best you can.

That sometimes means backing off and picking your battles and at other times standing your ground come what may.

You'll hear a lot about putting the children first and in general there's nothing wrong with that - most parents do, however as a SM it's all too easy to "lose" yourself by accommodating everyone else's wants at the expense of your own needs and this is something you need to be wary of.

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