Cleaning House, Book Review

Cleaning House:
A Mom’s 12-month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement
by Kay Wills Wyma

When I was a kid, my mom took the time to teach us how to wash dishes, clean the bathrooms, do laundry, cook, buy milk at the convenience store, find the best deal at the grocery store, and  pump gas—among other things.  She pushed us out of the nest, in a way, urging us to become more independent and capable over time.  We got up with our own alarm clock, fixed our own breakfast and packed our own school lunches.  It probably would have been easier for her just to do everything for us, but she made sacrifices so we could learn.

Kay Wills Wyma discovered that her family of five kids was growing up feeling entitled. They were perfectly willing for their mom to handle everything for them, to assume their burdens, and handle their problems.  So, she embarked on a 12-month “Experiment” of teaching her kids things like: Laundry, cleaning bathrooms, meal management, service to others, household repairs, outdoor chores and more.  She covered pretty much all the lessons my mom covered in her own family “curriculum.”

I loved her honest, humorous style and her willingness to talk about successes as much as failures.  It made me more aware of how I smother my own three daughters with “help.”  From my husband’s perspective, this book was just basic parenting—what we all should be doing anyway—no need to write a book about it.  But, since I’m perfectly content picking out the clothes my daughters wear everyday, I found myself more challenged by Wyma’s ideas and inspired to make some changes.

My only complaint is that so many of her ideas rely on financial resources that we just don’t have. Sure it worked for her to give each of her children (did I mention she has 5!!) $31 at the start of every month as incentive to keep their rooms clean and beds made.  However, I can’t afford over $150 in the monthly budget to goad my kids into action.

Nor can I afford for them to shop at the grocery store and replace my strictly managed budget with a free-for-all with my debit card.  I can’t afford to pay a teenager’s salary because he’s too young to actually get a paycheck.  I can’t afford to have a team of lawn care professionals keep my yard neat and tidy.  I can’t hand each of my children $50 and tell them to plan a party. And, unlike her friend who had to trim her own budget, I don’t have the luxury of cancelling my two-day-a-week cleaning help.  Yup, shocker, I know, I clean my own house.

I’m glad such monetary incentives and programs worked for her family, but they absolutely don’t fit our tight budget and made me at times shake my head at her impracticality.  I wish she had given other possible ideas so that this could work for any of us.  What can I use instead of money?  My mom didn’t pay us for learning all of these same tasks, so I know it’s possible.

We’re a society unfortunately struggling with entitled youth, high school students whose moms do their home work and college students who expect their moms to fight their professors over grades.  Adult children move back in with mom and dad at the slightest whim and allow their parents to pay their bills, fund their vacations, cosign on their houses, and watch their kids. It seems like most of us probably need to do some house cleaning and focus on training up independent, confident and capable adults.  This book is full of ideas to help us do just that.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

One thought on “Cleaning House, Book Review

  1. vickie smith says:

    This brings back many memories and current day observations for me. This “entitlement” mentality is very much in existence today and it amazes me at the amount of young people who have never run a vacuum until they came to me to be educated.
    As for my own offspring, I truly believed my job was to make them independent and responsible people – which I can now say that they are all hard working, responsible adults. My philosophy was if you are a member of a family, then you have certain jobs/chores – with no allowance. It is expected. You help dirty, you can help clean. I didn’t get paid to clean our house, cook meals, etc., why should they? We’d crank up the stereo so music was blaring throughout the house, and everyone would be working and singing. Dare I say, it was (almost) fun?! Money was earned by doing jobs above the normal day-to-day. When there wasn’t money for that, then the incentive may have been earning time to do something fun. For example, my kids had to earn time to play Nintendo. Chores had to be done first, as did reading, practicing musical instruments, and homework. Even if they earned time to play Nintendo, their time was still limited on how long they were permitted to engage in it. I also made a point of promoting “family time.” Friday nights were usually free from sporting events and church events, so we would make homemade pizza, or put puzzles together or crank up the stereo and play board games – all after a brief devotional. I think this all promoted a feeling of family togetherness and working as a unit and it was done without spending a lot of money.

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