Cleaning House, Book Review

By October 11, 2012Book Reviews

My mom probably had a lot in common with Kay Willis Wyma, the author of Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement.  When I was a kid, she took the time to teach us how to wash dishes, clean the bathrooms, do laundry, cook, buy milk at the convenience store, find the best deal at the grocery store, and  pump gas—among other things.  She pushed us out of the nest, in a way, urging us to becom

e more independent and capable over time.  We got up with our own alarm clock, fixed our own breakfast and packed our own school lunches.  It probably would have been easier for her just to do everything for us, but she made sacrifices so we could learn.

Kay Wills Wyma discovered that her family of five kids was growing up feeling entitled. They were perfectly willing for their mom to handle everything for them, to assume their burdens, and handle their problems.  So, she embarked on a 12-month “Experiment” of teaching her kids things like: Laundry, cleaning bathrooms, meal management, service to others, household repairs, outdoor chores and more.  She covered pretty much all the lessons my mom covered in her own family “curriculum.”

I loved her honest, humorous style and her willingness to talk about successes as much as failures.  It made me more aware of how I smother my own three daughters with “help.”  From my husband’s perspective, this book was just basic parenting—what we all should be doing anyway—no need to write a book about it.  But, since I’m perfectly content picking out the clothes my daughters wear everyday, I found myself more challenged by Wyma’s ideas and inspired to make some changes.

My only complaint is that so many of her ideas rely on financial resources that we just don’t have. Sure it worked for her to give each of her children (did I mention she has 5!!) $31 at the start of every month as incentive to keep their rooms clean and beds made.  However, I can’t afford over $150 in the monthly budget to goad my kids into action.

Nor can I afford for them to shop at the grocery store and replace my strictly managed budget with a free-for-all with my debit card.  I can’t afford to pay a teenager’s salary because he’s too young to actually get a paycheck.  I can’t afford to have a team of lawn care professionals keep my yard neat and tidy.  I can’t hand each of my children $50 and tell them to plan a party. And, unlike her friend who had to trim her own budget, I don’t have the luxury of cancelling my two-day-a-week cleaning help.  Yup, shocker, I know, I clean my own house.

I’m glad such monetary incentives and programs worked for her family, but they absolutely don’t fit our tight budget and made me at times shake my head at her impracticality.  I wish she had given other possible ideas so that this could work for any of us.  What can I use instead of money?  My mom didn’t pay us for learning all of these same tasks, so I know it’s possible.

We’re a society unfortunately struggling with entitled youth, high school students whose moms do their home work and college students who expect their moms to fight their professors over grades.  Adult children move back in with mom and dad at the slightest whim and allow their parents to pay their bills, fund their vacations, cosign on their houses, and watch their kids. It seems like most of us probably need to do some house cleaning and focus on training up independent, confident and capable adults.  This book is full of ideas to help us do just that.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Author Heather C King

Wife, mom, Jesus-follower, fan of tea, chocolate, books, old movies and sweaters. Author of “Anywhere Faith “and “Ask Me Anything, Lord” and writer about God, faith and everyday life at Room to Breathe

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