Friday, September 14, 2012

Cleaning House

If you've read any of my blog, you've read at least one reference to the fact that I am NOT a good housekeeper.  That's why, when I had a chance to get an advance copy of Cleaning House by Kay Wills Wyma from Waterbrook, I jumped.  I was also feeling a little irritated with my whiny, non-helping-around-the-house-as-much-as-I-thought-they-should children.

Kay did an experiment at her house, on her children (which the twisted mom that I am thinks is awesome), to see if she could fix the whole youth entitlement attitude.  Now, she has five kids, ranging in age from 14 to 3.  And she spent a year carrying out her carefully controlled tactics, with a different, additional variable each month.

I loved the intro.  I was nodding my head and cheering.  And secretly panicking about behaviors I catch myself in.  We unintentionally enable our children to feel entitled when we do unnecessary life skills for them. There are other ways to show our kids we love them than cleaning up every mess they make.  Then they just expect it and never learn to do it on their own.  Hmmm, sound like society?  Yep.  I love her words on pages 26 and 27, "Being overserved leads to atrophy of personal initiative.  No wonder our kids opt out rather than dive into responsibility-laden opportunities. ...  We aren't really helping our kids when we race in to help.  Sure, by doing things for them, we accomplish the task of the moment and make their lives easy.  But in doing so, we deny them the character-building opportunities that come only through encountering resistance.  In the long run, our well-intentioned assistance weakens both their bodies and their spirits."

That was a lot to soak in, and I recognized so many things that I was doing that could grow into bigger problems if I continued.  My 8 and 6 year olds didn't even know how to make toast.  Ugh.

Kay decided on twelve things she wanted her kids to know before they moved away. (paraphrase following) How to:
1 - keep their bed made and room clean
2 - cook and clean the kitchen
3 - yard work
4 -  clean a bathroom
5 - get a job
6 - laundry
7 - handy man type things
8 - host a party
9 - teamwork
10 - errands
11 - service (putting others first)
12 - manners

She shares the good, the bad and the ugly.  The things that did and didn't work.  Ways in which she had to stretch herself and make her own changes (we are the example right?).  She also gives stories from other moms about things they do that work... different approaches, parenting styles, etc.  The best part:  She appplies Biblical principles.  Examples God gave us on how to parent.  Reasons that we need to honor the way God designed a family to run.

I really liked this book.  After reading, I started making changes in our home too.  Kay's book inspired me to begin setting higher expectations for my kids.  I ask more from the kids and am teaching them how to do things that they need to know. The earlier you start, the better.  But it's never too late.  And this book can really help!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.


  1. Those are great things that every child should be taught. And re: the service one - - I think that is taught best by example!

    1. She did such a good job of explaining her approach. I loved the fact that she was super open and honest about the challenges. And I agree, kids have to see us set the example!