"Cleaning House" by Kay Wills Wyma (book Review)

Victoria Stankus

4 Stars

June 18, 2012

Youth Entitlement. It’s becoming more and more prevalent these days. What is the reason for it? Author Kay Wills Wyma believes it is due, in part, to parents who would rather do everything for their children instead of teaching them how to do it themselves. It’s the parents way of either “protecting” their children from failure, or just wanting to do things themselves because they believe it should be "done right." This, unfortunately, leads to children never learning how to learn from their mistakes, or how to become capable and responsible adults. This is what led Kay, a mother of five children ages 4 to 14, to write her new book called, “Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12-month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement.”

This book isn’t specifically a “how-to” book, or a step-by-step manual that tells us exactly what to do and how to do it. It is more of a journal, of sorts, from a mother explaining what SHE did, how her kids reacted, and about the obstacles they faced. She spent an entire year teaching her kids, from the youngest to the oldest, how to do various chores, tasks, and services by choosing one thing each month to focus on. Things like:

Making beds and keeping clutter off the floor Planning and cooking a meal, cleaning up kitchen Working outdoors Making income Cleaning the bathrooms Laundry Small maintenance/repair jobs around the home Hospitality Working as a Team Running errands Service to others Good manners

There are several Scripture references mentioned through-out the book. One I especially liked came from Matthew 22, and was mentioned in chapters 11 and 12: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This, I believe, was the basic premise of the entire book - to teach our children to think of others rather than themselves. The author says in chapter 12, “At the core of today’’s youth entitlement problem is a generation of kids and young adults convinced - dare we admit, trained to believe - that the world does, in fact, revolve around them. The simple remedy: teach them to consider others ahead of themselves.”

While I found myself to be a little bit ahead of the author in the chore-teaching areas, I still gleaned a lot of helpful ideas and insight from her. For example, taking an entire month to work on one new task sounds like a great idea. And, I really like the idea of taking time to teach each child (one-on-one) how to cook an entire meal and clean-up after themselves in the kitchen. We have done a little of this in the past, but I want to make it a more consistent thing. Doing laundry is another task I want them both to learn how to master. So, I am pretty sure we will be adding these things to our agenda this coming school year. In the meantime, there are some projects I am working on around the house this Summer, and am trying to get the kids involved as much as possible. One thing my son and I recently did was hang a tomato planter (on my birthday, of course, since I LOVE fresh tomatoes and just didn't feel up to planting an entire garden this year).

Another project was sanding and staining our picnic tables. I did the sanding myself, as the power sander really is too big and powerful for my kids to handle at this point; but my 9yo helped with the clean-up process, and at least they both saw how a do-it-yourself project can be satisfying work, as well as economical.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. It had a humorous tone to it while giving me helpful insights and suggestions. But, most of all, it reminded me that I am not being a "slave driver" by teaching my kids how to work and survive independently in this world.

NOTE: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for review purposes only.