Today begins my journey through Cleaning House, A Mom’s 12 Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement, by Kay Wills Wyma. While the title may suggest that I have some serious issues to address with my children, this book is actually for me, too. In my quest to live a more full and balanced life, I am learning that the habits we create play a critical role in determining whether extremes will be the exception or the norm in our lives.
Cleaning house is definitely one of those extremes for me. I’m usually either all in or all out. When I clean, I clean like a mad woman, but when I don’t, I DON’T! Over the years, this roller coaster approach has created a ton of undue stress on our family. I like to think that it’s because I have three growing boys who are constantly making the messes and never cleaning up after themselves; or that we are a family of creative minds who can’t be consumed with too much structure, because the creativity may not flow! (How’s that for a total crock?)
Just like any other parent, I want to teach my boys healthy habits now, so they, too, can experience a full and balanced life filled with personal accountability, a strong work ethic, and a propensity for putting others first. (And yes! So my house can be cleaner, too!) This book seems like the perfect guide to help me in this endeavor.
So let’s dive in!
Chapter 1. Operation Clutter Control–Starting Simple: Beds and Clutter
“…my real responsibility as their mother is to teach, not handle tasks for them. I need to help these kids tackle their tendency toward untidiness before it becomes a permanent fixture in their lives.” Kay Wills Wyma
(For me, I am breaking my own tendency toward untidiness while steering my boys in a better direction.)
Maxwell Maltz’s research determined in the 1950s that it takes 21 days to establish a new habit. New research suggests that it takes up to 2 months to establish a new habit. For the sake of beginning our journey, our first task of beds and clutter includes a month of rewarding ourselves daily, with the expectation that we continue the task even after the month is up.
Wyma suggests placing 31 dollar bills in a jar for each child (And me…hey, don’t judge. $31 is a cute pair of sandals for the summer!) For each morning we make our beds and have the clutter picked up in our rooms and bathrooms, we get to keep a dollar. If the beds are not made and clutter is not picked up in bedrooms and bathrooms, a dollar is taken out. So we all have the opportunity to make $31 by the end of the month.
On this first day, I am happy to report that we all got to keep our dollars!
Some may be wondering why in the world I am writing about this, but Wyma suggests consulting a friend, and while I have some amazing close friends to rely on (who will likely be reading this), I like to think that I’m not the only one with this battle. So why not just share the crazy!
Your Word says in Proverbs 22:6 to “Point (our) kids in the right direction—when they’re old they won’t be lost.” (The Message) Please bless our family endeavor and help us to point our boys in your direction. Amen.