Tackling Chores as a Blended Family

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No one wants to be seen as the wicked step-mom of fairy-tale proportions, having the step-children scrub the floors in rags while the biological children eat bonbons and go to parties. Maybe it’s partly because of that age-old stereotype that chores in blended families can be such a touchy subject.

The truth is, chores are a valuable parenting tool. They not only teach kids how to do certain jobs around the house and help instill a sense of responsibility, they also reinforce the fact that every single one of you is part of the family.

Here are a few tips to help navigate the minefield of assigning chores in a blended family.

Talk to your partner first.
As a step-parent, you are coming into a family that had its start with an entirely different parenting partnership. Therefore, your step-children may have grown up in a house with different expectations than what you have. It’s important to communicate with your spouse and make sure you are on the same page before assigning chores.

Even better, talk with the other parent as well, and come up with a chore plan that works for both households. This keeps things consistent for the kids across the board. If that’s out of the question, just aim for consistency in your own household.

Set up a chore chart with clear expectations and consequences.

This is a great time for a family meeting, talking with all the kids at the same time. You can make a list of chores as simple as a sheet of paper, or you can download an app, such as Chore Pad Lite (free on iTunes) to help keep track of who is doing what.

Assign chores based on time in the house.
While expectations should be the same for all kids, the number of times a chore gets done might be different. For example, if one chore on the list is to make your bed each day, the kids will be expected to make their beds every day they’re in the house, even if for some that means they’re making their bed more than the other kids. If the chore, however, is to do the dishes once or twice a week, then don’t have the kids who are just there on the weekends do the dishes every weekend. Set up a rotation that seems fair to everyone.

Once everybody starts chipping in, things should start running a little smoother around the household. If nothing else, you’ve given the kids something to bond over as they grumble about you to each other while doing their assigned jobs.

Karen Alley lives in the Triad and is proud to be part of a blended family.