Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book review: Cleaning House- A Mom's 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement

I don't read a lot of non-fiction books, and I read almost no parenting books (so all parenting mistakes are my fault and only my fault).  Fortunately, I was intrigued enough by the description of Cleaning House: A Mom's 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement to make an exception for this book. And I am so glad I did! As I told my husband last night when I finished it- "this is one of the best books I've ever read! I love it so much!"  Here's a bit about this wonderful book, from the publisher's website:

Do your kids think that clean, folded clothes magically appear in their drawers? Do they roll their eyes when you suggest they clean the bathroom? Do you think it’s your job to pave their road to success? As parents, so often we hover, race in to save, and do everything we can for our kids—unintentionally reinforcing their belief that the world revolves around them.

When Kay Wyma realized that an attitude of entitlement had crept into her home, this mother of five got some attitude of her own. Cleaning House is her account of a year-long campaign to introduce her kids to basic life skills. From making beds to grocery shopping to refinishing a deck chair, the Wyma family experienced for themselves the ways meaningful work can transform self-absorption into earned self-confidence and concern for others.

The timing of this book's arrival in my life was perfect, as I've entitled this summer the "summer of independence" for my kids.  Even though they're only 4 and 3, we're working on them learning to do as many things for themselves as possible and also on learning how to entertain themselves (without whining and fighting!) when Mommy legitimately is busy.

I loved Mrs. Wyma's perspective in this book. She freely admits that the habits and attitudes of her kids are thanks to the things she and her husband allowed to happen as parents.  But she decided to change that and made some creative efforts to help her kids realize independence and self-confidence.  The family worked on independence in a number of areas- everything from making beds to laundry, cooking to party planning, running errands to yardwork and serving others (to name a few).  I appreciated all the stories she shared- both the positive experiments and when things didn't go quite right.  I also really appreciated her honesty about her own failings and the challenge that it was to her to stop doing what was "easy" and start doing things that might require more time and effort from her, but that would teach her kids more in the long run.  

My brother and I were definitely raised to be independent and self-sufficient, but even though I grew up with those ideals, it's still sometimes challenging to think on those terms as a parent.  The stories and suggestions in this book gave me a lot to think about.  Just this morning, instead of inwardly whining about having to unload the dishwasher again and doing it quickly alone, I asked my kids if they would like to help. They both ran to the kitchen and had a great time helping me out. Even though it took a little longer and wasn't as efficient as if I had unloaded the dishwasher alone, it was great to have their help.  I can't wait to put many more of the suggestions from Cleaning House into practice as my kids grow up!

This is an excellent, excellent book for anyone who is raising kids, and  I will be definitely recommending it to all the parents I know!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book to review for myself. I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions posted here are mine and mine alone.