Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Running a Smooth Household

I recently was asked to review the book Cleaning House by Kay Wills Wyma and while reading her Epiphany I had my own. Crazy I know, but I got the real sense that I wrote that section. That was my life. My kids are wonderful blessings from God and I adore them to the ends of the earth, but in the society we live in material possessions, selfishness, money and having the next great thing drive our children and sadly too many adults as well. My kids had lost the value of money, hard work and being team players.They had started to nag, complain, fight back, and buck the mom system. don't get me wrong, my kids are wonderful little complicated blessings.

My daughter is 13 and has a servants heart that is beautiful to watch, sadly though that heart does reach her family often, but outside forces instead. She is a believer and loves teaching AWANA, helping in the nursery, youth group etc. She is messy, there is no other way to say it. it drives me, the neat freak controlist, crazy. She is content in her pig sty.

My youngest, is a fireball of high emotions that he has yet to learn to control and has some entitlement issues at 6 already. Mainly this is due to his dad always saying he is too young to clean, to help out, to pick up after himself, etc.He is a believer and loves to tall you about Jesus and prays the loudest and does not like to hear you pray, just him. Once again entitlement even in prayer. s*ighs*

My eldest, 18, is my non-believing child, but he is also a hermit. He goes to church with no enthusiasm, but will help out in the nursery and with the kinder kids when asked without complaint. He believes staying all day in his room disqualifies him from participating in any household chores or day to day activities. He is content to never leave his room except to eat and bathe. His idea of watching his youngest siblings is handing him off to my daughter since "shes good with those things." He feels video games, x-box movies and music are free for the taking and expected because I love him and want him to be happy.

While reading this book, I was struck with the notions that my kids are not prepare to enter the world. I have coddled them, manipulated them, begged them, yelled, cajoled. and finally thrown in the towel and done it on my own, the correct way. Yeah, I have some control issues if I didn't mention that one yet. I realized my kids needed a hard lesson in life and that would mean I would have to learn one right along with them. I do them nor myself any good picking up after them and playing maid, cook, bank account, entertainer all day long after I have also worked. Being a single mother is already hard, but i was making my life harder by not allowing my kids to learn to do things on their own. What it came down to is I want to raise well-rounded children. Children who will grow into adults that will serve others, be able to find solutions to their problems, and get the work done that needs to be done-even if its not their responsibility to do so.

Top Twelve Things a Kid Should Know Before Flying the Coop

1. how to make a bed and maintain an orderly room
2. how to cook and clean a kitchen
3. how to do yard work
4. how to clean a bathroom
5. how to get a job…outside our home
6. how to do laundry
7. how to do handyman jobs
8. how to host a party
9. how to work together
10. how to run errands
11. how to put others first through service
12. how to act mannerly


Wow, i read that list and was kinda blown away. I started checking things off. Ok my kids got numbers....hhhmm, i am not so sure they had any numbers down really. Touched on, yes, done to a degree, yes. Mastered..not even close.

I decided to follow along with Kay in her book and take control of my life. The first step was Operation Clutter Control. HEHE Anyone who know me knows I am a bit of a neat freak. Everything has a place and there is a place for everything. it drives me bonkers to have things not put up in their logical place. My younger two could care less, my eldest thankfully is like me in this department. So my task was to teach my youngest 2 how to declutter their lives. A clean house calms my soul. when I have worked all day and come home and the house is trashed it sets my mood and its not pleasant. I cannot stand clutter, a little mess, ok, but clutter, no.
Studies show it takes 21 days of consistently doing something to make it a habit, a permanent mental shift. So following along, we made tidiness out first goal.
We started with the bedrooms and bathrooms. First, I needed a plan though on how I was going to make tidiness a habit!

Step 1: Know What You Want
I wanted my kids to make beds and loose the clutter

Step 2: Make a List of the Benefits of the New Habit
  • It will teach them responsibility
  • It will make them better roommates, spouses, guests
  • It will build self-esteem
  • I wont have to do it myself or look at it anymore!
  • Mom sanity!
Step 3: Commit to the Habit
Follow through is important, daily. In a loving and caring tone set the example first then let them know this is not negotiable. You are the parent, they are the child and they hopefully desire to obey you  and respect you.

Step 4: Set Your Own Goals, and Reward Yourself
I took the idea Kay mentions in her book from her friend. I placed a money jar in each of my kids room that they could not touch till the end of the month. Each day if their room is clean they keep the money, if it is a mess or not to my satisfaction i take a dollar away. At the end of the 30 days they can keep what is left. It did take my actually breaking down and taking money away for this to really set in. That was the hard part, not letting them slack, but setting the high standard from the beginning. So far, so good. yes, this is ALOT of money with 3 kids and only my income, but I stopped buying the little things inbetwen for them. No more Slurpee's, eating out, trinkets etc. I told them they now have to earn their money for their material items. now my kids do get an allowance as well, but sadly I borrow from them to pay bills and never pay it back, so I am not really counting this. :(

Step 5: Start Slowly
This was my challenge. I wanted to implement the whole house and all my "to do" at one time on them, but realistically it would have been overkill and it would have set us all up for failure and done the exact things I am trying to prevent. Plus I want to build my kids up, not tear them down. One project at a time till mastered then onto the next. Patience is a virtue, so I am told.

Step 6: Go for Consistency Rather Than Performance
For me this is simply making sure things are not piled into corners, under beds, or in closets, but  a effort was made to pick things up and put them in a location.

Step 7: Consult a Friend
What ever you do, don't go at it alone. this is probably the biggest mistake you can make. We all need someone to bounce things off of and for support when you are feeling weak and about to cave back to old habits.

Step 8: Even After the Goal is Hit, Keep It Up
Dont move onto the next goal and let the first one take the back seat. Keep it going adding positive changes slowly to your lives. Your kids do not exist to be served by you as their personal maid. Teach them to take control and let them keep it! help them when  needed, definitely, everyone needs help, but dont take their control from them. Most important,dont gloat or degrade your kids for making positive changes, even if it is not 100% to your standard. God made us all unique, let those unique attributes shine.

How’s your family faring so far?

Next Month: Kitchen Patrol. Stay tuned.
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