Cleaning House by Wills Wyma

Remember back when we had to walk to school, uphill both ways, with no shoes, in the snow and everyone said “Ma’am” and “Sir”, and not a single instance of back talking ever? I do. It was in my grandparent’s dreams.

Cleaning House
A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement
By Kay Wills Wyma
WaterBrook Press
May 2012

All jokes aside, there is an issue with kids “these days” (Ugh! I’m not old enough to say that!) It’s called entitlement.

Maybe our parents, (I’m Gen X,) wanted to do for us better and more than their parents did for them and now we want to do more for our children than was done for us. It comes from love but even though our intentions are good and our efforts are made out of love we have somehow gotten off point. Our kids aren’t just more loved, but more sheltered; not just more cared for, but more spoiled.

Wyma’s moment of clarity came when her teen son wondered aloud whether or not he would have a Porsche or a BMW for his first car when he turned 16. Where would he get this car? From Mom and Dad of course. With no effort on his part, unless you count living 16 years. So Wyma decided to do something about this unrealistic sense of entitlement: she would put her children to work.

This isn’t a book about how we can utilize our children to get more chores done. This is a book about preparing her children for the real world, teaching them responsibility and self confidence based on reality: you are awesome because you do awesome things, not because “Mommy loves you!”

Wyma takes readers through 12 months of her life as she moved from basic skills like cleaning their room and picking up their clothes to ever more complicated tasks through getting a job. Her monthly goals were achievable, malleable enough to fit the age of each of her children (4-14) and just hard enough to inspire a true sense of accomplishment when the child completed the task.

The end result? Confidence based on real achievements, self respect and respect for others, creativity unleashed, and a family bonded tighter than ever. This book was so inspiring that I’ve chosen to adapt several of the steps to my own system of reward/punishment at my home (which was similar to some of the systems shown in the book, where there are stars given for completed tasks and stars removed for incomplete tasks, then a tally is done at the end of the month which determines cash payout.)

The only down side to listening to the book, available at ChristianAudio.com, is that I found that I really wanted to make notes and refer back to them. This is a book about planning and doing, which may not fit well with the audio book format. If you aren’t a big reader, or you listen to books in the car then this one is well read and a good choice. But all things even, the paperback is the way to go in my opinion.

A great idea book, written in an engaging way, this book is highly recommended.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on Christianity, Zombies, and anything else he wants to.

This audio book was provided by the publisher, ChristianAudio.com, as a review copy.