A few months ago, I found myself scurrying around the house picking up toys, an over-tired baby fussing on my hip, and the “big” kids playing contentedly in the other room. I couldn’t help but think that each toy I put away was really hurting, rather than helping my kids.
We had gotten in a bad rut.
One of the expectations in our home is that when you finish with a toy, you put it away. But you know how life goes, and sometimes rules go lax. I found myself in a sea of toys and stuff day after day.
“I’m surprised at the lengths to which I’ve gone to make life easy for my kids … None of us want needy kids. We want them to be equipped to conquer the world rather than waiting for it to serve them” (Kay Wills Wyma Cleaning House).
Rather than addressing expectations and responsibilities, I just started doing! Most days, I wanted the house cleaned up and I wanted it cleaned up quickly. For the sake of efficiency, I would jump in and take care of … everything.
I don’t think I even realized it until that afternoon when I found myself exhausted and wondering why I was the only one cleaning up messes that weren’t my own!
The more I did, the more the kids didn’t and very quickly became one of those unspoken expectations. Happens fast, doesn’t it?
I didn’t see our situation as entitlement, but that’s really what it was. I was communicating to my kids that they didn’t need to clean up their toys after playing because Mommy would do it for them.
Prior to that afternoon, my pastor had preached a whole series on entitlement in our culture, so when a few weeks after I was given an opportunity to review a book on youth entitlement, you better believe I jumped at the chance.
Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement, written by Kay Wills Wyma, is all about one mom’s journey to be intentional about teaching her children well and equipping them for life outside the home.
After realizing that she was doing exactly what I described above, Wyma decided on the top 12 lessons she wanted her children to learn before leaving her home. She then tackled one lesson per month as part of this “great family experiment.”
“With the greatest of intentions and in the name of love, we have developed a tendency to hover, race in to save, protect from failure, arrange for success, manipulate, overprotect, and enable our kids. Freeing their schedules for sports, school, and increasingly important time with friends, we strive to make our children’s lives easier or to make success a sure thing by doing it all for them. … Instead of communicating ‘I love you, so let me make life easy for you,’ I decided that my message needed to be something more along these lines: ‘I love you. I believe in you. I know what you’re capable of. So I’m going to make you work.'”
In this book Wyma is honest, funny, and insightful. The Wyma family took on one new challenge a month, and each chapter chronicles how the month went, from introducing it to the family to how it was nearly mastered and carried on throughout the year. I appreciated how candid Wyma was, and not only did I learn a few lessons, I really enjoyed reading this book.
Since my children are young (all under 5), I wondered if the message would be applicable to me. I can give a resounding Yes! I feel like I have been warned of pitfalls, encouraged to begin healthy patterns early, and on a number of occasions, I found myself identifying areas where I have already been enabling my kids, and I hadn’t even realized it!
I came away with practical ideas, new insight, and encouragement for the road ahead.
If you’re interested in checking out Wyma’s book, click here: Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement.
Question for You:
In what ways do you get your kids involved in meaningful work around the home?
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah’s Blogging for Books blogger review program. I was not required to write a positive review.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.”