Mom gets an “F”

I really wanted to be able to give you a glowing update on our 12 Month Experiment to Rid the Home of Youth Entitlement. Our first month went so well. I had high hopes for month number two: In the Kitchen! (Click here if you want to catch up on what I’m talking about.)

But October started with Bill and I away on vacation. I had organized a bit and given them each some kitchen jobs to do but without me here to supervise…not much happened. Then I gave in to teen apathy. My younger two did a stellar job again this month on keeping bedrooms picked up. As a matter of fact, they both kept every dollar! Not one day slipped by without them making their beds and keeping rooms clutter-free. But the teens? Not so much. I’m sure it’s a combination of simply being teenagers, having busier lives than their little brothers and well…laziness. But whatever it was, I let it suck the wind out of my sails.

I thought, “What’s the use of organizing kitchen jobs and meals if they won’t even make their beds and pick up their laundry? If they won’t buy into A, they’re certainly not going to buy into B. 

I wallowed in self-pity for a little while. But I’m over it now. I think I’m back to an “As long as you live under my roof…” mind-set. I am going to adjust how I introduce new tasks. I still want them to do task A as they begin to work on task B, but for now, I’m not going to make their dollar dependent on it. I want them learning each new skill and I guarantee that if their bedroom is a mess, they will feel like there’s no point in doing the new thing since they won’t get their dollar anyway.

Eventually, I’ll get back to the point of layering the jobs. But for now, for the sake of moving forward, I’m adjusting my plan. So if they don’t pick up their rooms daily, it won’t sabotage the newest thing we are doing. It will just mean they live in a mess until the weekend when I make them clean it. “As long as you live under my roof…” yet again. I’m sure they will complain but I don’t really care. I have a bigger picture to look at. I can battle once-a-week. I’m up for that. (It’s called the, “You don’t have to do anything I ask and I don’t have to let you use the electronics I own. Your choice…” plan.)

I read the following today in Kay Wyma’s book (the whole inspiration for this adventure…thanks Kay ;)) in reference to her teens complaining about having to clean the bathroom:

Maybe that’s part of the equipping thing too. Not giving in to the inevitable bucking. I guess a child is kind of like a wild stallion, desperately trying to ditch the uncomfortable saddle of responsibility. Yearning for freedom to roam the range. But carefree wandering is not reality for most adults. And if at some point in their lives, my kids decide to walk the vagabond way, at least they will know how to clean a service-station bathroom.  –Cleaning House pg. 123


Amen sista! I want to know that I did everything I could to teach them the skills they will need as adults. I won’t force them to do anything but I can make life very boring for them if they choose not to do as I ask. Thanks for the pep talk today Kay! (That’s the cool thing about books, isn’t it? The words keep reaching people long after the author’s fingers stop flying across the keyboard.)

So while I take responsibility for what my teens would call an “Epic fail” on my part in the month of October, I won’t let it happen again. I’m back on task and looking forward to getting things done this month. And just for fun, I’ve chosen to make this month, “Clean the Bathroom” month. Kids…get your toilet brushes ready!

How about you, friends? I know many of you started this journey with me. How’s it going? What’s working? What’s not? Please share. We can all learn from each other. 🙂



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One Month Down…

This is what my youngest’s room looked like almost every day in September without me having to say a word. Wish I had started this with them years ago!

Hey friends!

Today is an update for my 12 Month Experiment to Rid My House of Youth Entitlement inspired by Kay Wills Wyma’s book “Cleaning House.” If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click here to read my original post.

Well, I have to say I’m impressed with my youngest two. You would have thought they would be the ones to struggle with daily making of beds and de-cluttering of floors. But no. As a matter of fact, “Eight” and “Ten” each missed only one day (not counting the day that I completely overslept…past the bus arrival and everything! I gave a freebie on that day. My bad, after all.)


And the score is…Little kids kicked big kids’ butts!

The teens…well…they were another story. “Seventeen” started off strong. As I mentioned in a previous post, she was up at 5:40 a.m. on the first day of school to make sure she had her room clean. Impressive start. And she did well for a while but fell off the wagon two thirds of the way through. “Fifteen” had a slow start…strong middle and then fell off again until the last day of the month when dad saw his pig-pen…I mean bedroom…and suffice it to say that Bill’s scary eyebrows made an appearance and I passed the message along. It went something like, “Tell Fourteen that if he wants to celebrate his fifteenth birthday tomorrow, I’d better be able to see his floor when I get home from work tonight.” And as if by magic…it was clean by bedtime. I was waiting to let the money (or lack thereof) do the talking. But Bill’s scary eyebrows did the trick.

In the end, the youngest two have made bedroom maintenance a habit. The older two are working on it and probably didn’t like their brothers getting significantly more money than they did this month. And I have to add that even on the days when Seventeen didn’t get credit because her bed wasn’t made or there was laundry on the floor…her bedroom was cleaner this month than it’s ever been and that is a success story, even if it doesn’t show up on the chart. (Nice job darlin ;)) Now we are on to Kitchen month.

They still need to keep up with bedrooms but now we are adding kitchen jobs. I chose 4 after-dinner jobs that I wanted them to work on and I will rotate them through-out the month…one job for a week then switch. Next week we will add meal planning and prep to our tasks. The first time they each make a dinner, I will partner with them. The next week they will be teamed up (Seventeen with Ten and Fifteen with Eight). The third week I’ll let most of them do it solo. Should be interesting and I’ll keep you posted.

I know a number of you are doing this along with me so please feel free to update us on your progress or share any ideas you have!

I’m off on a 4-day get-away with hubby (long over-due and greatly anticipated!). Fall foliage…here we come! I’ll check in when I get back. In the meantime, hope you’re enjoying crisp fall weather, pumpkin spice lattes and maybe even some football (or at least the football snacks…that’s what I show up for ;))



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True Self-Esteem?

Fourteen and Seventeen on the first day of school..and the first day of our 12-Month Experiment
Ten and Eight…first day!









So apparently, getting rid of youth entitlement strikes a chord. My post from September 1st called, “I’m Robbing My Kids” has been shared more on Facebook than any other post from my blog.

I think this hits people because we see it everywhere. From the grocery store to the middle school to Facebook…we see the result of years of being told we need to instill self-esteem in our children by telling them how wonderful they are. We need to tell them they are special and amazing and unique. And while those things are good things…telling children these things while doing everything for them sets them up to feel like fakers. I think of the times my mom helped me with school projects. She was trying to be helpful…but she’s also a creative, control freak and wanted it to look good. Looking back, I’d have to say she helped too much (sorry mom!). I know the intentions were good. But when I got a great grade, I felt like I didn’t deserve it. I felt like a faker. (As a result, my poor children rarely get any help with their homework. And you know what? They are all great students!)

Understand, I’m not saying our sense of worth should come from what we do. Not saying we should feel that we have to perform to gain love and acceptance. I don’t believe that. But the opposite of that…doing nothing and being told you’re amazing is also harmful. Because kids are excellent “BS” detectors. They recognize that something doesn’t add up. When we praise them, all the while stepping in and doing their work for them because we can do it faster and better, we are sending mixed messages and we are setting them up for a rude awakening once they leave the protective shell of home sweet home.

I think most of us instinctively know that the system we grew up in is broken. So most of the people I know are not the over-coddling, do-everything-for-your-kids kind of parents. They are somewhere in between the old “self-esteem boosting” system and the place where they want to be. Because they know something’s wrong. They try to instill all the right things in their kids but at the same time, they often feel guilty making their kids work. (Or they are control freaks and would rather do it themselves than take the time to teach their kids how to do it properly because that takes waaaay more patience….GUILTY).

When I read the first half of Kay Wyma’s book, Cleaning House…A Mom’s 12-Month Experiment to rid her home of Youth Entitlement, it was like a lightbulb went off. I wasn’t in the camp that felt guilty making my kids work. I knew it was good for them and I’ve always made them do chores. But as I’ve admitted above, I am a control freak and I want to do it right. I don’t want to have to take the time necessary to teach my kids how to do certain things because I’m impatient. So while they have always had to do a number of chores, I kept it very simple. I rarely let them do harder things because, honestly, it required more work on my part. So the epiphany was that by doing the harder things for my kids, I was telling them I didn’t think they were capable. How unfair is that when I never took the time to help them become capable in the first place? 

That’s why I’m so excited to be doing this 12-Month experiment. Because I feel like this gives me a purpose. “Seventeen” will be graduating this year and there are still things I can teach her, it’s not too late. And “Eight,” “Ten,” and “Fourteen” are still young enough that I have time to help them gain true self-esteem. The kind that comes by satisfaction in a job well done. The kind that comes by mastering a skill by putting in hours and hours of practice. The kind that comes from pushing through the hard parts and achieving victory rather than sitting down in frustration and waiting for a rescue. These lessons are more important than my control issues. I’m learning to relax. To let them make mistakes. To be fine with imperfect progress.

Now it’s the 7th of the month, but we are only on day 4 because we started on the first day of school. For the two days before school started, bedrooms were in complete flux. My sister moved out, so the easy road would have been for “Ten” to have moved back into his bedroom (he’d been sleeping on the couch in the basement. Don’t cry for him. He didn’t mind. That’s where the 55-inch television is!). But that’s not what happened. “Seventeen” decided she wanted a smaller room. So she asked for “Ten’s” old room. “Fourteen” took her old room and “Ten” was psyched to get “Fourteen’s” room because it has a restaurant booth in it. “Eight” is my steady, organized one and he never even considered asking for a different room so he stayed put. But, he did get a gazillion Legos for his birthday and they were strewn across his floor the night before school started.

So considering all the room swapping going on, you would have thought that no one would have been ready for the first Dollar Day where they would keep the dollar in their jar if their beds were made and clutter was off the bedroom floor. But “Eight” stayed up an hour later  on Monday to make his room spotless. And “Seventeen” got up at 5:20 a.m. on the first day of school to get hers in order. Yes, you heard me, 5:20 a.m.! I was duly impressed. And they have kept their rooms clean.

“Fourteen” has yet to earn his daily dollar. His room is not finished from the swap. He still has boxes and bags all over and therefore cannot earn the money. He’s aware and he worked on it today after school. But the great thing is that I don’t have to bug him about it. He’ll eventually get it done because sooner or later it will bother him that his sister and brothers are making money while he is not. No stress for me. No struggle. I just take the dollar and close the door. 

Many of you have told me you’re going to do the 12-Month Challenge with me. Keep me posted. Let me know how it’s going! Let’s encourage each other along the way, shall we?



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