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.
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: