Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cleaning House Review & Giveaway!

Cleaning House: A Mom's 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement by Kay Wills Wyma has been pinned on my to-read board for months! I was thrilled when I was offered this book for review and for the chance to ask my sister what she thought about it over Christmas.

Doesn't that title just make you feel empowered to whip some youngsters in your home into action?! Kay draws from a year-long experiment in her home and with some close friends to share ideas of ways to teach our children to be self-sufficient when they are grown. In many cases, parents are enabling their children to remain dependent on them by taking away their ability to fail and succeed plus learn basic life skills.

Things I liked about this book:

* Easy conversational style to read. I seriously laughed out loud a number of times which is fabulous when reading a book! Kay's writing is easy to relate to and we've all been in many situations she describes - so we laugh out of understanding and a knowing.

* Practical. I like the way it seems like Kay wrote each chapter in stages. It actually feels as though she wrote their goal and then penned the paragraphs about what happened as they were actually happening - it felt real and plausible with this kind of style.

* Motivating. Kay's no-nonsense voice comes through in the good, the bad and the ugly of the reality of this experiment in her home. It isn't sugar coated about how perfect it went - but it is downright motivating to want to institute some experiments of my own.

* I could identify with Kay's self-realization of how much she has tried to make her children's lives easier. And, how this realization kept getting bigger. I see myself in that. In some different ways and some of the same ways.

* Re-readability. I can picture myself whipping this out again and again when I need encouragement to keep at it. I love the idea of looking at the end goal - what do I want them to know before leaving our home? And, working backwards by incorporating those things into our home. I thought it was great that her children were given the opportunity/assignment to do so many varied things that will serve such wonderful life lessons and life skills.

* Personal connection. This is a small thing but I found it interesting and fun to note that one of the moms participating with Kay helps run a marketing firm that provides lots of books {including this one!} to me to review and giveaway on my blog. I just appreciated making that connection!

Things I didn't like:

* How she talked about her husband on numerous occasions. I had several *ouch* moments reading comments she openly shared about her husband in all of this.

* I found it hard to relate to the idea of having house/child help two days a week and a seemingly larger budget to fund paying her kids a hefty amount {by my standards} to participate in this experiment each month. We offer our children an adequate $1.50/week {$1 for spending money and 0.25 each for saving and giving} compared to her $35/month wages. But I do also realize that my children are younger and of course that each family has to decide what is best for themselves. 

A few other thoughts:

* Recently I was talking with a certain young lady in our home about her responsibility to keep her room clean. She bemoaned the fact that, "she didn't have time!" because she'd been so busy having a play date a friend's house that day. Ahem. I think my blood pressure went up a few notches as I semi-calmly reminded her that if getting together with friends was ever a problem in getting her school or house work completed - we could easily arrange more time at home.

* I have required certain things of our children since they were probably too young to be expecting things out of like making beds and cleaning up. Recently something that has been working for us is chore sticky notes each morning. It's a super simple concept but has actually been working well. Get ready: get a sticky note and write a few bullet pointed chores on the list. Post and enforce! For example, I require all three of my children to do what I call "3 Morning Chores" each morning after breakfast. They are: get dressed, brush teeth and make beds. So an example of a sticky note at our house could look like this:

* Three Morning Chores
* Fix water bottles for CC tomorrow
* Put clean clothes away
* Set out clothes for ballet


* Three Morning Chores
* Wipe Bathroom Sink
* Empty Bathroom Trash
* Put CC bag by the door

* For kitchen help, I've enlisted an idea that we use when we gather for Christmas. With so many females present, we have organized a notebook with menus and kitchen duties assigned to elves. We also have male elf jobs like emptying the trash and keeping wood {if applicable} stocked for the fireplace. This notebook has affectionately become the Elf Chart! I made my own Elf Chart for kitchen duty at our house. It helps me not have too much help in the kitchen on any one evening and evenly distributes the fun and work.

Here is our Elf Chart:

The set up/cook elf gets to help fix dinner and is also required to set the table. The clean up elf does just that. Clears the table, wipes it off, helps wash dishes, puts away leftover food and sweeps the floor if needed.

* An area that I need to work on organizing my little helpers in is our garden. Still pondering how to work this out! Another thing I need to seriously ponder is how to handle the clothes issue. We have a little fashion lover in the house who loves to proclaim what her style is and also loves to go shopping and point out things she loves. We seem to have some disconnect between need vs. want, how to pay for desired fashion and how to manage money. Sigh - struggling with this one.

Want to win a copy for yourself? Please leave a comment on this post sharing either one area that needs addressed with your children or perhaps even one area that is working well - inspire us! Comments will be open until Friday at 10pm EST.

** Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review here. All opinion share is my own. A complimentary giveaway copy was also provided.


Lisa said...

I have three children who are pretty good about picking up, but then I have one who is not. We are still struggling with this, but there has been progress. I think the act of putting something away when we are done using the item helps tremendously. This sounds like a neat book, and I would love to win a copy!

Becky said...

I'd love to read this book! I have 4 children, and have found that fancy charts and sticker systems just don't work for my Type B personality. I'm better off just scribbling the kids' lists on a piece of notebook paper each morning (like your sticky note idea, only not as cute!). My biggest challenge is consistency and the "I can do it faster myself" syndrome!

LynnMarie said...

Our kids are grown with kids of there own but we did something like this as well? We had every day of the week and every week of the year all organized in a 3 ring binder. We kept it in the kitchen. They liked looking up what was on the list. As they got older we has role reversal weeks where our daughter would learn how to change a tire, replace a fuse or some other "male role chore and our son learned to iron clothes, food shopping complete with coupon shopping. Meal planning and other "female" roles. Our son made pizza money in college ironing clothes and helping other plan a budget! It served him well? Keep it up, they really do need these skills.

kate tolson said...

I love the kitchen elf idea! We have started to work on chores and allowance, hoping to teach our kids about responsibility, giving, and money management. The hardest part for me is enforcing it and remembering to check in with them on their chores. It's worth it, though! I would love to read this book and get some more ideas! Thanks for the giveaway!

Kim said...

I too would love to read this book as I have 4 boys still at home. My daughter was always a great help, and the boys are too. We could use some "new" ideas and motivations.
I have given the boys each a room to clean: pick up stuff, dust, and sweep. We also have all the boy's clothes in the laundry room. This is a huge help. They help me fold their own clothes and put them right away. No more clothes laying around in their rooms.

becka said...

My children are grown now but the best thing we ever did in regard to clothing was to give them an allowance to cover clothing purchases starting in junior high. This soon made them realize that one unwise mall purchase could wipe out their entire monthly budget. Both daughters learned to sew and have become adept thrift shoppers.

Unknown said...

Since my children are just 1 and 2, I don't know how much this book would really apply to me yet. But I would love to have a copy to share with my Mom who still has children at home and has shared some of the struggles she's had.

Tracy N said...

I'm fairly certain I've tried 3 or 4 different approaches to chores and not one has stuck. Each of my 3 have 1 chore they know is theirs each day but beyond that I don't really know what to do! I'm curious about this book!

Lisa @ Simply Things Family said...

My son is wonderful about keeping his area clean and uncluttered. My girls need help in this area. They don't like to part with anything. I would love to read this book!

Kate said...

I have three children ranging from 18 months to 12 years. I struggle with the thought that it will be quicker if I just do it myself, even though I know that's not best in the long run. I could really benefit from reading this book :)

flachsbluete said...

Hi Monica, loved your post.

Wondered about your little fashion lover in two different ways: Maybe she would like to set up a young ladies' style journal with inventory, tear files etc. to channel her wants creatively and give good overview for planning, gift suggestions etc.

Maybe the three of you (incorporating another young lady for probable hand me downs) could start a family style council, planning outfits, setting a budget, stewarding closets (appliances, swaps, hand me downs, donations) Could be fun and a great way for motherly teachings.

Maybe its time for her to get creative and learn some needlework, crochet, knit, to channel some wants creatively as well. ;-)

Lisa said...

We have "responsibility charts" that the kids use after school. These charts include homework reminders as well as chores, such as "study for spelling test" "straighten up your closet" "empty the dishwasher" and "go to soccer practice". Each day is different. It took some work to organize it, and the charts change depending on the season, but it works really well b/c this way they can check items off the list and I don't have to nag. I'm always looking for fresh ideas though, so I would love to win this book :)

Julie Ball said...

I would so love to read this book! I have 2 messy little boys and 1 messy husband! I love them dearly, but they just aren't bothered by messes (and I am!). I also like your elf chart - I'm sure my boys would much rather think of it as "elf help" rather than "chores." I will have to try that! :)

(Sorry if you get this twice... I'm having some computer issues this morning!)

Lauren (in Savannah) said...

My sister has found a thrifty way of shopping when she wants a new fashion. Not sure if it would work for your daughter or not. If she sees an outfit she loves in a store or magazine she goes home and sorts through her closet to see what she has that looks similar and then looks for the one missing item she may not have at the Goodwill.

Unknown said...

I heard Kaye Wyma on Focus on the Family and immediately put a plan into action for my sons (12 & 9). They are now responsible for cleaning their room and bathroom weekly. It has been 3 weeks and the plan is working like a charm. I let them have ownership and I'm only there to oversee them, not do for them. They haven't complained yet.

Ami said...

I have trouble "inspecting what I expect." I also get frustrated with one very absent-minded messy son. Last problem area - all the gifts and stuff lavished upon us all.

I've been wanting to read this book, it looks so interesting!

Becky said...

I have three young children who are still in the phases of thinking helping is fun. We reward with stars on a chart and money at weekend with how much they have accomplished. I plan to have extra money chores for things not in the norm that they can do for extra money. ie washing cars, ironing, wash base boards. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

I would love this book. I have 2 daughters who are not good about helping out at home. They rotate days of doing dishes, carrying out the trash, etc... They also have a hard time keeping their rooms clean. Thanks for the opportunity!

Angela said...

I have a 15 year old boy. I wonder if this would work for him? He is in college prep classes and does sports until 7:30 at night so I tend to let him slide... a lot. He will be leaving home in 3 1/2 years and I feel I am not doing him a service. Would like to correct. : ) Angela

angie said...

This book seems to be talked about everywhere I turn, so I know that I must read it.
My kids have a weekly chore chart that I got from simplemom.net several years ago. One child is better at checking off the list than the other, but it is a good place for me to list reminders as I think of them. If you find yourself writing some of the same chores each day, you may want to list those core chores for each child on a chart and then highlight which need to be done on a specific day. It may speed up the process for you.
For meal help, we mostly alternate between prep and clean-up. Because they have different activities on different days, it is a loose rotation of one doing prep and the other helping with clean-up.

joeandkris513 said...

We're trying to figure out all of those things at our house too...chores, allowance, attitudes, values, and priorities. I'd love to win a copy!

Rachel said...

I have been wanting to read this book and would love to win a copy! A few months ago we began using My Job Chart with our boys. MJC is a free, online system for keeping track of the chores our boys complete. My husband & I assign each chore a point value and the boys can use their points to purchase prizes from a 'store' list that we create. Prizes include things like trips to the park and wrestling with Dad as well as larger prizes like Lego sets which they can save up for.

Annie said...

My kids (6 & 8) are really good about doing chores if I remind them and (remember to) follow-up. However, their rooms are disasters - as was mine at that age. LOL Thanks for the chance!

Hoopster said...

This sounds amazing- I'd never heard of it!

My husband and I have been talking recently (looooong conversation just last night, actually!) about how we need to get better at helping our big boys not feel a sense of entitlement as much as being a member of a family/team, and being grateful for what you have, and the sense of satisfaction that comes after some hard work is finished.

This book would be a great help in that area, I think- especially with three others coming up right behind them! :)

Thank you!

*carrie* said...

Glad to read your review, which is similar to my own opinions.

I don't have a daily chore plan in place--something to keep pondering.

Heather said...

I've got three little ones and I'm constantly working on getting to pitch in and have good attitudes. We expect certain things (bed made, getting dressed by self if physically able to, teeth brushed by 4 year old, clear table, etc) and sometimes I find the line or what to expect vs. what they can do to be challenging. But as we move to a new home I know we'll be figuring it all out again and I'd love to hear this mom's take. And yeah, $35/month will never happen at our house!

Anonymous said...

I believe one area that needs to be addressed is their bedroom-I really need to get it organized so they can stay on top of it better.

Rachel said...

I gleaned a lot from this book, but still need to work on implementing lots of the good ideas I had hoped to use. We did start in August and switched their allowance to something that was directly tied to their work around the house. I agree with you, $30/month just to keep rooms neat is beyond what we feel is necessary or affordable. We used the idea, though, and fill up a jar with 30 quarters at the beginning of the month and they lose a quarter for that day if they fail to pass their room check (bed neatly made, floor completely clear so that I could vacuum without picking anything up, and bathroom counter and floor tidy). This has been a great motivator for them and now we are at a place to implement another daily responsibility. I'm not sure we will take it to the extent she did, though, since I'm admittedly a control freak in some areas (meal prep, laundry, etc.). I need to teach, delegate and inspect work more often and make better routines. Your list of meal helpers is a great idea!

Karen said...

I just got this book from our library - can't wait to read it.

One thing that I have to work on: I'm actually more sentimental about some of their toys than they are. When we go through their room & toys to find things to give away we generally come up with quite a few things they no longer play with or want but I find myself wanting to say, "Don't you want to keep that?" far too often. I'm working on it. ;)

Anonymous said...

hi monica....thanks for the giveaway opportunity! another book called LIFE SKILLS FOR KIDS: EQUIPPING YOUR CHILD FOR THE REAL WORLD by christine field is a good one as well. she's a christian and a former homeschooler!

my idea involves practicing an instrument. both my boys (9 & 12)take piano lessons, and i felt i was constantly asking if they practiced or nagging about when they were going to practice. so, after many attempts, i finally found a working system. i keep one of those little free calendars (from hallmark or the bank)on the piano. i highlight in yellow the days they have lessons and which sundays they are playing in church so they are aware of the schedule. after they practice for the day (they practice mon-fri plus sat if they are playing in church that sun), they put their initial in the square. they also have a theory page to complete for their lesson, so they put a "T" by their name once that is done for the week. this way, they are keeping track of everything themselves and i just have to check the calendar to see their progress. no more asking or nagging!!

Shaybplus3 said...

I would love to read the book! We have chores and we have requirements. Chores help pad their pockets and their savings and the giving jars. Requirements are what we do because we are part of a family and we love each other.

gerlachfamily said...

The lack of training our boys to help out around the house is because I have had misplaced priorities. I have valued getting tasks done fast over teaching my boys how to help. I have valued successful tidying over allowing my boys to learn by making mistakes. It's so hard for me to let go - I am setting myself up - I need to encourage our boys while they are young that our family is a unit and we All need to pitch in to help life run more smoothly. Thank you for this giveaway!!

Katy said...

I'd love to give this a read! :)
I have a working-chore-chart-system going with the children that does well for us....the biggest problem is me remembering to always check that chores have been completed fully and well. We don't pay our children though...we feel that we all have responsibilities in life that we don't get paid for...it's part of working together and being part of a family. :)

Christy Stanton said...

I am trying to implement a chore system myself so would love to win a copy of this. Thanks: ) Christy

hisartistaj said...

My oldest is a few months away from two, so chores are new. He does love to help. So he helps me transfer the clothes from the washer into the dryer. Helps sweep the floor. and we put away our toys at night...sometimes though they get promptly dumped out after being put in the bin. But he is learning. :)