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A better weekend with the stepkids

Step-parenting is a whole different ball game. I know -- I've been one now for almost 10 years. I've learned a few things in my tenure.

Here's my list of things NOT do to with your stepkids on your weekend. (Now, my ideas may irritate custodial parents, but at my house we don't want to waste the few precious hours with the kids on things that aren't fortifying our relationship):

* Don't make them clean their room or take out the trash or mow the grass, etc. My reasoning: They don't LIVE here. Why should they be cleaning up MY mess. We do, however,

abide by this simple rule: Clean up after yourself.

* Don't let everyone do their own thing. This is a tough one at my house.

With kids from 17 to 17 months, it's hard to find something for everyone to do. Sometimes, we just end up all running errands or going out to dinner -- just so we can all be together. (Other times, the 12-year-old ends up in front of the TV, the teen on the computer, and me and my husband chasing after the toddlers.)

* Don't nag about grades or homework or procrastination, etc. (especially if you're the step-parent). If there's an issue with grades or boys or honesty or curfews -- discuss it in the car on the way to your house and then drop it. Do you really want your child's 48 hours with you to be filled with a constant barrage of negativity?

Hey, my family isn't perfect. In fact, we could use a lot of improvement in this realm. And because their weekend is also OUR weekend, we sometimes get so caught up in our to-do list, we forget to stop and enjoy the children. Hopefully this list can help you -- and me -- get on track.