Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Book Review: Cleaning House

I was very happy to have the opportunity to review Cleaning House, by Kay Wills Wyma.  My husband and I had recently been talking about the entitlement attitudes that are so prevalent among kids today (including our own!) and about how we don't want our kids to grow up expecting that things will always be done for them--that it is their right.  So this book came at the perfect time and was very inspiring!

The author introduces Cleaning House by explaining about her own epiphany--realizing that her kids had this entitlement philosophy, and that she needed to do something about it.  So she embarked on a year-long "Experiment"--every month she had her kids tackle a different area of responsibility.  One month it was clutter control, another month they had to take turns making meals and cleaning up the kitchen, other months included things like laundry, gardening/landscaping, handyman jobs, and hospitality. (Each chapter covers a month of the Experiment.) While her kids were somewhat reluctant at times, they learned so much during the course of the year, became more confident in their own abilities, and discovered the satisfaction of a job well done.  Even more than that, they learned the joy that comes in serving others.  I think my favorite chapter may have been the one about service--where they spent the whole month coming up with ways to give to those in need.  I was convicted that I really need to focus on this with my own kids--living in a comfortable home and having plenty of food and toys, they just have a hard time comprehending that there are so many others in the world who are less fortunate.  They can't picture extreme poverty or the fact that millions of children go hungry every day.

I also realized through reading this book that I struggle with some of the same things that the author does.  Namely, my wanting to do pretty much everything for my kids because I can "do it right" and also do it more quickly than they can!  But how is that helping them learn?!  I have realized that I need to be willing to let a lot of things go and not get done "right" so that they will gain experience and confidence in their own abilities.  I see in my almost-five-year old how proud he is when he does a job without being told, and it brings joy to both him and me when I praise him up and down for his work.  The same goes for my older kids.  And the more I jump in and do things for them now, the less they will want to take initiative as they get older.  Wyma specifically points out how the Experiment was met with greater resistance from her older kids than her younger ones, and I can see why, even though my children aren't teens yet.  Which is a very good reason we need to start NOW! :)

I gained lots of ideas and inspiration from Cleaning House, and have been slowly adding in more responsibility for our kiddos.  I want them to be go-getters . . . to see a job that needs doing and just jump in and do it.  I also want them to be well-equipped for life on their own someday.  So I'm making a conscious effort to stop being an enabler and start being a better equipper.  My husband is totally on-board with this, and is actually better at it than I am, which is really helpful because he reminds me to step back and let them do things themselves. Hopefully together we will be able to prepare them for life in the real world.  I definitely recommend Cleaning House, and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

**I received a free copy of this book in Kindle format from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to give a positive review, and all opinions expressed are my own.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Carrie ~ I really loved reading this review! These are all things I have been becoming more and more aware of and really trying to focus on with the kids....the way you described yourself, is me....what you said about your hubby, that is my hubby....I think it is because we are the Mom's and so used to doing you said, we know how to do it, and can do it quickly, but we've got to get past that to help our kids learn initiative and responsibility!!! It has been neat to see how the kids react when they realize they can do something, and do it well, and that it is being helpful! It sounds like a really neat book, I might just read it too!!! :-)