I’m Robbing My Kids

Recently I started reading “Cleaning House, A Mom’s 12 Month Experiment to Rid her House of Youth Entitlement” by Kay Wills Wyma and I’m inspired. I’m only a few chapters in but I wanted to get started in September so I’m jumping into my own 12-month experiment without yet knowing the end-game.

But here’s the gist: Most kids these days walk around with a sense of entitlement. I have literally heard from one of my cherubs, after I asked him to clean up his dishes, “But you’re the mom, that’s your job.” Yeah. Now, I am not someone who has always done everything for my kids. I am the kind of mom who works to train up independent kids who can do for themselves. My teens do their own laundry, budget their money and buy their own clothes, pay for their cell phones and monthly charges, etc. I don’t do homework or projects for my kids. I only help them if they really need help and then I only help, I don’t do it for them. Our home is not one that revolves around the kids and while they know they are loved, they also know they are not the center of the universe. Still…there is some amount of laziness and entitlement that resides in their precious little hearts.

This is what Kay Wills Wyma had discovered in her children as well and she set out to do something about it. I identify with her in many ways. She’s a self-proclaimed, “mother of five, a recovering enabler, finagler, procrastinator, and charter member of the Women’s Auxiliary for the Organizationally-Challenged.” Yeah, I totally relate. I think I’m all those things (except the mother of five part…I’m a mother of four).

In a car-pool epiphany she realized her children didn’t know how to do basic things like thoroughly clean a bathroom, change sheets, and make (and clean up after) a full meal. She realized it was her job to teach them these things rather than do these things for them. And most importantly, she realized that by doing too many things for her kids (often because it’s easier and with better results) she was robbing her kids of the satisfaction of knowing they were capable. She was subconsciously telling them, “I don’t think you can do it.”  Wow. That really hit me. How many times do I step in and do things because I can do them better and quicker? What message am I sending my eight yr. old when I take over his task because I’m in a hurry? Ouch. I am robbing my kids!

I had never looked at it that way before but it’s very accurate. And I’m not doing it any more. I’ve been very conscious of it with my younger two, since reading about Wyma’s epiphany. It takes a re-training of my brain but I’m going to change my approach because I want my kids to know that they can tackle tough challenges and I don’t want them to work at something half-heartedly while waiting on a rescue from me!

So this month is the first of our 12-month experiment. Here’s a picture of the 12 things Kay Wyma decided to focus on with her crew. Mine may look different but I’m starting with bedrooms, just like she did.

Excerpt from pg. 11 of Cleaning House by Kay Wyma

This month, each of my kids will get a jar in their rooms with 30 one-dollar bills in it. (You can amend this to the ages of your kids, by the way. I won’t be paying for anything for my kids, they will have to use their newfound money to buy snacks, movie tickets, etc. so I don’t mind shifting that money from my budget into this “program.” But you could do quarters for small kids, etc.)

The focus for September is simple. Before they leave for school, their beds should be made and all clutter off their floors. If those things are not accomplished, I will take their dollar for that day. (They don’t get to spend their money till the end of the month, btw.)

Next month is on cooking and cleaning the kitchen. The kids will be responsible for cooking on a few nights a week. They will have to plan for their recipes, shop, cook and clean. This will be in addition to still keeping their rooms clean so if they don’t keep up with both tasks, they will again lose their daily dollar.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten. I don’t know what the rest will entail but I’ll keep you all posted on our progress. And I hope some of you will join me. Let me know if you’re going to take the 12-month challenge with me! 

I, for one, am actually very excited about this. I feel like it gives me tangible ways to be a better mom and I can use all the help I can get! Thanks for reading!



Updates – Further posts on the Twelve Month Experiment:

 –True Self-Esteem

-One Month Down

-Mom Gets an F

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  1. Just purchased this book-can’t wait to get started! Thanks so much for the recommendation! This will be a great investment!

  2. Pingback: Books I LOVE | Rebekah Ruth Rambles

  3. I’m in! Running out to get my copy of this book today. Our house needs a revolution and this is perfect! Thanks for sharing!

  4. I just want to say a whole hearted THANK YOU! I just finished reading this blog post and your recent post True Self Esteem.
    Something cut me to the gut of my spirit when I read about the “creative, control freak, want to do it perfect” mom….for it describes me. And the other part about being to lazy & too much of a perfectionist to let our kids do chores and responsibilities. I know this is a lesson God REALLY needs me to learn, so I am in! I am going to start this 12 month journey, the book you read, & would also love to read your book as well!
    I saw you posted on the blog my sis & I share on – so popped over to see who you were….and I was sooo blessed today! So again, THANK YOU! I am ready for a challenge and don’t want to stay stuck in a rut. Thank God he puts the magnifying glass over these areas in our lives so we can clearly see how yucky they look. I get excited though when I finally see the yuck clearly, because I know God is really good at helping us rid ourselves of it!
    Have a beautiful day!!

    • Hi Cindy,
      I’m thrilled to “meet” you! I’m constantly hopping to new blogs from comment sections on favorite blogs. (As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure that’s how I found your site!) So I’m so happy you clicked 🙂
      I love how God can use something like a blog to reach us right where we are and point us to where he wants us to be.
      Thankful you’re joining me on this journey. I’ll be updating our progress so please keep me posted on yours!
      ~rebekah 🙂

    • Oh! And I should probably say: Thanks for wanting to read my book! I hope you do and then please let me know what you think 🙂 (It’s available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and most eReaders.)

  5. I’m in Rebekah! I love the idea of reversing that allowance concept! It sounds like a brilliant idea!!! I’m running to get my book….just after they go to school tomorrow!!

    • I’m so glad you are inspired. The book is fabulous and I’m excited to dig in and use her ideas to create some more order in our home and to grow closer to my kids!

  6. Oooh. Me! Me! I want to join you. Must get this book. I’ll let you know when I start. We have commission charts for them to keep track of certain household tasks that we pay for, but there are certain things I just expect them to do without pay and it’s kind of a struggle some days. I like having goals for what we want them to be able to do when they launch. Will your little boys be cooking dinner?

    • Yay! Glad you’re going to join me Sarah! Yes, keep me posted. I know you’ll love the book! And yes, my youngest is 8 so I will let him cook…but I’ll be his helper 😉

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