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Mean Stepmoms: Who Cleans in Blended Families?

Mean Stepmoms: Who Cleans in Blended Families?

Cleaning is just part of life. It has to be done. But in a large or blended family where the members have varying schedules due to work or visitation requirements, not to mention differrent definitions of the word clean, keeping the physical household spic-n-span often isn't at the top of the to-do list.

It's not unusual to hear step-moms say they still do the bulk of the cleaning.

"It seems like every day I wake up and tackle the house cleaning and by the time I'm close to being done everyone comes home and well ... undoes everything I just did," writes Dawn T., a member of the Large or Blended Families community.

"I work 40 plus hours a week, my husband does as well but in the end, I still have to do everything," laments Jennifer N.


Her two biological sons - ages seven and nine - are responsible for cleaning their rooms and taking their clothes to the laundry. Her expectations for her 18-year-old stepson are no different. But his of her are. Jennifer said he expects to be paid for doing dishes and putting his laundry in the washing machine.

This dilemna is one Tami V. also understands. There are five children in her household: two older stepdaughters and the three biological children she had with her husband. Getting her older daughters to help just isn't happening, she reports. "At the ages of 14 and 10, it should already happen since they've been with us for six years."

This struggle over household chores isn't unusual for blended families, which parents and children typically enter into with divergent perspectives regarding cleaning and chores.

Kate is a member of the Mums Over 40 ... With Children of All Ages community. She's also a stepmom, blending three of her own children with the three children her husband brought into their marriage.

"We don't seem to agree on children doing chores or cleaning up after themselves," posts Kate. "His kids never had to clean up after themselves."

From leaving dirty dishes lying around, to wet towels on the floors and toothpaste all over the bathroom, Kate believes her step children are corrupting her biological children's sense of cleanliness, and lowering their sense of responsibility.

"Now ... my kids don't want to do any chores or their everyday cleanup because his kids don't have to," she writes.

While kids normally don't want to do chores no matter what therir family structure, the dynamics of a blended family can certainly work against keeping order. This is especially true when the custodial home includes a stepmom who is trying to curtail the mess left behind by family members who do not accept her legitimacy as an authority figure.

"How do I avoid being the mean stepmom?" is a question posed by Gina W in her search for answers on how to engage her stepdaughters in household chores. "It's killing me and making me feel like the mean stepmom when I have to reprimand them."

It may be best to set aside the titles and just focus on keeping the home clean for all who live in it.

That's the advice of Richelle T., a stepmom who also posted in the Large or Blended Families community.

Her stepson visits on the weekends, and she reports, "I make him clean up after himself when he is here because he still needs to know that no matter where you are at, if you make a mess, you clean it up. Remember, you are the one that runs your home. Not the kids."

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Join The Conversation
Karen-Kachelmeyer Karen-Kachelmeyer 5 years
I don't mind being "mean mom". My house, my rules. Our dudes live with us full time, and they clean up after themselves and do any other random stuff we ask them to do. If they don't, then they stand in time out until they choose to do so. The main thing is this, though. My husband and I are on the same page. If you aren't, then he's teaching them to disrespect you and your home.
JaniceVillarreal JaniceVillarreal 5 years
I have two stepdaughters 1/2 time (ages 10 and 15) and my biological daughter (their half sister) who is 3 and a half. I have to remind our older girls to clean up affter themselves all of the time, and often remind them that their little sister learns from them. If they put their things away, they are less likely to lose them to their little sister AND they have learned to remind her to clean up after herself as well. When I struggle with them listening to me, I tend to say something like, "Ok, since neither of you are doing the dishes now...whoever does them DOES NOT have to clean up the dog doo in the backyard tomorrow. Then they race to do the dishes so they dont have to do the les desirable task. :) I know I make it sound eay, and I must admit...I am blessed with two wonderful step daughters, so they make it a lot easier than it could be.
I love this!! I have two children and my husband has three and then we had one together.. Yes 6 kids and they r all boys! We get his children every thur night and every other weekend but they know that when they r at our house they have to pick up after themselves! I don't think they do alot of cleaning at their mothers house because I find myself having to remind them everytime to put their clothes in the dirty clothes hamper or put ur plate in the sink or pick up the toy u got out earlier... And so on... My husband and I have been married for a little over 2 years now and it is still something I have to remind them about everytime they r here. Our older 2 boys which r both 11 have chores like take out the trash clean their bathroom and their room. My oldest step son is still expected to do these things even though he isn't here all the time. I don't think it's mean I believe it is teaching them responsiblity we have 6 kids and although I used to might be able to say I was super mom I now know that Im not! 6 boys is alot of work especially with our youngest being only 8 months old! I feel that it is important to have the children do their own chores. I'm not a crazy woman but I'm not super woman either!
rebeccasimmers rebeccasimmers 6 years
The only way to avoid a mean stepparent is for you and your co-parent to actually CO-Parent. Until you as the leaders of the household agree on what needs to be done about chores, etc...nobody has to abide by your rules. YOU are the parents. Act like it. Your kids aren't in charge, they don't have the right to tell you no until they're 18 and gone. And if your husband won't stand beside you, HE is the one causing the problems. Get on the same page, or get divorced if you can't.
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