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Step-Parenting Ask other step-parents your questions about being a step mom.

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Old 02-09-2006, 05:43 AM
kbd_11's Avatar
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How to get them to just pick up....

Okay I'm back at it again. HELP! I have 2 soon to be step-kids (Ages 9 and 11). I am marrying their father. We have them every other weekend and every Wednesday. I do not agree with allowing them to sleep in the living room. One on couch and the other on the floor. His 9 year old is a girl. She is scared of her own shadow and if it's even brought up to sleep upstairs in a bed provided for them, she starts crying. She is afraid. So my fiance allows his kids to sleep in the living room. They DO NOT pick up after themselves in the morning. Pillows, blankets, and dirty clothes is what I have to see. I feel that a 9 and 11 year old should pick up after themselves. I feel like telling them if they want to continue sleeping in the living room that they HAVE to pick up or else..they will have to sleep upstairs. My fiance thinks it's too harsh and they are just kids. I do not live in the household but will soon and I can't keep picking up after them. My fiance continues to tell me that I am over reacting and it's hard enough just to get them up, brushed, and clothed in the morning. I told him to have them go to bed earlier and wake up in enough time to pick up their mess. But he thinks I am wrong. What should I do?
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Old 02-09-2006, 12:20 PM
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It's one thing to leave your bedroom messy, but when you're sleeping in a living area....that's a problem.

It sounds like Dad is having a hard time being the Dad. Maybe he doesn't want to have to discipline them, because then he will be the Bad Guy. He probably wants to earn their affection by letting them do as they want.

You COULD invest in a couple of nice "basket hampers" or something, that won't look totally out of place in the room, and when the kids are awake, their stuff has to be in there.

At ages 9 and 11 they are big enough to pick up their own messes. But the grownups have to follow up on that. Most kids that age won't clean up voluntarily.
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Old 02-13-2006, 03:14 AM
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Happy face Finding a solution that works for YOU

The answer you are seeking is the solution that works for YOU because you are not going to get the problem taken care of just by asking ~ in the beginning.

You need to have their messes picked up quickly, easily and with a minimum of aggravation to you. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound as if either of these two kids or Dad are going to be part of the solution. Okay, so work this from your vantage point.

You need to pick and choose carefully your battles, and which battles you're willing to "go to the mat" on. Making them sleep upstairs isn't one of them ~ yet. Getting rid of the clutter is.

Purchase two large DEEP plastic bins with 2-part flip over lids, put the children's names on one each and put the bins in a spot in the house somewhere close to or even in an unobtrusive spot in the living room. When you find the bedding and dirty clothes not taken care of, without comment, simply dump or roll the offending objects into a wad in the container marked with the child's name. Do not waste time by folding any of it neatly! Close the lid, and go on without making even one comment.

Sooner or later, someone is going to need that bedding and hopefully you aren't the one making up the beds for them! If you are, stop now! Either your intended or the children need to be responsible for that. When they have to unwad the bedding, they are going to realize (eventually) it wouldn't have been that difficult had the job been done right in the first place by them. If their dirty clothes odors stink up the bedding, then so be it.

The dirty clothes need to stay in that bin until the children want them and when they begin to beller about their clothes not being clean and ready for them, you can quietly state that dirty clothes need to be put in such and such a place for laundry purposes, not left in the bin. Those kids know those clothes are in the bin so leave them there because they are testing your will and your boundaries of authority. If Dad says something to you about the clothes in the bin, then say the same thing to him.

If the bins get totally full of dirty clothes and the bedding gets thrown on top, let it all climb up the wall, but don't say a word. Eventually Dad will find his voice and begin to exercise his parental authority, and the problem will be handled, but in the meantime, you aren't being vexed by the bedding and dirty clothes all over the front room.

In raising teenage foster children as well as my own, I found this solution to work beautifully but the secret is not losing my patience in the process in order to try to hurry up the solution, which was to do it my way in the first place. In dealing with messy teenagers, I found the answer was to deal with their clutter left in communal places of the house in only one way ~ pick it up once, confine it in one spot, and wait for the complaints to starts.

For me, it was a very large spotlessly clean plastic garbage can and lid for each kid. It was labeled with their name, put in an out of sight spot in the house and each of them knew where it was. If I found their "stuff" laying about (other than in their room), it went in their personal "retrieval bin" (garbage can). When they couldn't find something where they left it, my answer was always the same: "Check your retrieval bin."

I had a collapsible hard plastic rectangular bin of my own which was very easy to transport from one spot to another as I picked up the clutter. All of it went into my bin, then out to the spot where the "retrieval bins" were. And into each appropriate bin it went, and there it stayed!

The principle here is for YOU to only have to pick it up once, deal with it once, get it out of your sight and your way, and then forget it until the bellering starts. When it does, quietly make your point: "That doesn't belong where you left it so when you need it again, check here."

It took awhile until all of us were on the same page, which was be responsible for your own belongings, but eventually, it worked!

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Old 02-13-2006, 04:23 AM
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Becoming a step-parent is tough. The best thing you and your soon-to-be dh can do is to present a united front. Perhaps the two of you could sit down and talk about what you will expect the two children to be responsible for and what the consequences will be if they do not follow through. They are certainly old enough to handle a few chores such as picking up after themselves (putting away their dirty dishes, laundry, toys etc.) But the biggest thing is that he has to be the one to handle discipline. They are his children. Despite the fact that the two of you will be married and become a family, they already have a mother. They can learn to love you and they should respect you, but their father is the one who will have to be in charge of discipline. Remember, he chose you, they did not but must live with his choice. You do not want them resenting you. One idea, as well, is to talk with them and ask them what they think would make it easier for them to remember to take care of their bedding and belongings. Giving them some say in how things are done might give them more incentive. Ask them if they want big bins or a separate hamper or new toy bin or whatever. Giving them some say will also make it feel more like their home even if it is only part time. I hope things work out for all of you. Just remember, you and your fiance need to present a united front. He needs to step up to the plate. Let him know he can be a parent and enforce rules and his kids will still love him.
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Old 02-13-2006, 06:25 AM
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Remember that once you are married, more problems will come to surface. So, make sure this is what you want.

I remember taking these child development classes when I had a day care center when I was young. I learned one thing from them that worked ever so well with my kids. I told them to only pick up the toys and things that they wanted to keep. Only make their beds if they wanted to sleep in the sheets and blankets the following night. Then, when I was doing housework, I would take a box and pick up sheets that were not made and toys that weren't pick up. THey would cry and beg for them back. Then, I would make a deal with them. If they kept their rooms clean for 2 days (or whatever you think is fair) then they could earn 2 toys back. This helped make my kids responsible as well. If I picked up their messes, then they were mine. If may sound harsh, but after a short period of time, we didn't fight anymore. All I had to do was say, "I about to clean house." They knew they'd better take care of their business or I would. Good luck!
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Old 02-13-2006, 08:14 AM
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All of the advice given, especially ronsan's, is excellent. The bins are a great idea.

I highly suggest that you work through this with your fiancé before you marry him. If he won't buy into the bins idea, you have a problem ahead of you.

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Old 02-13-2006, 05:38 PM
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Location: Greensburg, PA
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I'd put it simply...
You want to sleep in the living room? You are responsible for the clean up. If you don't want to clean up the blankets and pillows, sleep in the bedroom.

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Old 02-14-2006, 06:15 AM
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Thanks for all the reply's on my problem. My fiance is all for setting up a box for the things they don't want to pick up. My mom suggested this to me about 3 weeks ago. I have the box set up downstairs and from now on bedding, clothes, toys, etc..that aren't picked up will be downstairs. If they want it, they can get it downstairs. My fiance and I had a little talk about stepping up and he sat them down and told them what the "new" deal was. They aren't thrilled and probably think I won't go through with it...but guess what..there are already some things in that box Thanks again to all!
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Old 02-14-2006, 07:36 AM
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Good luck kbd_11. I know how important it is to have your fiance's support.
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