Cleaning House: Youth Entitlement

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Check out that puppy!

Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12 month experiment to rid her home of  Youth Entitlement by Kay Willis Wyma.

Amy Sullivan and Steph from Only Here, Only Now have organized bloggers and readers to discuss this book.


Today, I’ll write about the book in general. Next week, I’ll cover a chapter we’re actually good at…

Which means the rest of the chapters… are a challenge to say the least. The worst part of that is our kids have always done chores, but that still has not ceased the endless whining, complaining and push back of doing so. Anyone else struggle with this?

My kids are active and creative. They are always “creating” which means toys and paper trails and experiments and inventions litter the landscape of our house.  Leaving these creations to do something as mundane as chores ALWAYS brings cries of dismay.

kids can press

My husband and I were both summer camp counselors. When we got new campers each week, we always noticed there were certain kids that did not know how to sweep the cabin during clean up time. They simply had never had to work before and when faced with the challenge were completely clueless about how to do so.

I’m thankful that my parent taught me work. My brother and I used to do the dishes with an elaborate story line about the inner working of a diner and its patrons. I babysat starting in fifth grade, worked my summers away selling go-cart tickets and giving out redemption prizes and I cut up vegetables in college. My husband grew up on a farm and work was weaved into everything they did. I have to admit I have not done the best instilling the same principle in my kids.

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Grandpa’s and Grandma’s are good at this stuff!


Kay set out to reverse the trend of youth entitlement in her own family of five. The results will encourage and challenge your family.

I do not have it all together as a Mom. This is where I struggle…

It’s easier to just do it for them, or in other words enable. Sometimes, I get tired, my husband travels a fair amount for work. Sometimes to conserve my energy… avoiding the arguments and push back that occur… I throw the clothes down the hamper, I make the beds, I cook dinner, I sweep, I pack the lunches etc.

Other times I enforce chores, especially when Kris is home. The inconsistency is killing us.

Everyday I need to remind myself that this is important and worth the emotional energy:

  • Our family becomes a team and we are all responsible for the state of our home
  • They learn to work in a way that will benefit them in future jobs when they are grown
  • We show them we trust them and believe in their abilities
  • Kids rise to the expectations we give them. They are more than capable!

also, be kind and patient with yourself and your kids. Habits take time to be established. Change does not happen overnight. Be consistent and change will come.

These are the experiments the author tries with her family: clutter control, kitchen, outdoor work, working for a living, dirty jobs, laundry, home repair, hospitality, team work, errands, service and manners.

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What has worked for my family:

  • We approach school like work: getting up, doing our best there, completing homework and going to bed on time. The kids earn points that they apply to practical categories; things we might buy them anyway for example clothing, art supplies, books, room accessories. With the points earned they can choose their own categories and items. 
  • We do a small allowance for certain chores completed each day. Some chores they do each day just because we are a family.

Disclaimer: There is still ranting, on the ground tantrums and diatribes about how no one else does this stuff! 

  • We try to teach them all jobs, but help them build confidence by doing ones they enjoy and are good at. Those jobs are mopping,  pushing the garbage can to the road and magic erasers! 

Our Goals:

  • Keep reinforcing what they are good at. 
  • Keep teaching them new skills.
  • Be consistent! I hope it can be so ingrained in our daily lives that it seems normal eventually.

Win a copy of book by leaving a comment! 

What is your biggest challenge when teaching your kids chores? What systems have you used that work for your family? What are your kids favorite chores? 

31 thoughts on “Cleaning House: Youth Entitlement

  1. I’m reading this book along with you, and I’m enjoying it, too. I agree that Kay’s points about the benefits of working together around the house really resonate with me. Work builds us up, and makes my children feel like they are capable and important. Yes, they fuss and whine, but ultimately, the work gets done. I believe that it is good for them, and Kay is motivating me to keep at it!

  2. I am soooo glad to see someone else such crafty creative kids… boy the paper (and other mess) is overwhelming some days… but I don’t want to tell them to “not make a mess.” I just need to work on the “clean up after” part. 🙂

    I posted today as well, that although we have always had the kids doing jobs around the house (as soon as they can stand up), this has NOT curbed the groans completely. However, when I am most consistent there is definitely LESS groaning!

    I tend to have the kids focus on one type of chore for several months, to get good at it, and make it more automatic. Then I let them change. Lately I have been choosing the changes, to make sure everyone is learning how to do everything (eventually. My 8 yr old can’t do all of the things my 14 yr old can obviously).

    • Geesh, crafting is crazy, and a messy, messy business. For everything I don’t know about crafting, my kids make up with by turning toilet paper rolls into elaborate gifts, but the messes they create? Beads, glitter, and glue everywhere.

  3. I have this book already! But I haven’t read it:) I think I’m intimidated to read it because then I’d have to be intentional about all this:)

  4. My biggest struggle is the complaining. I feel so powerless to teach them to stop complaining and have a happy attitude about work. I suppose part of that comes from my modeling …. I don’t exactly jump up and down about laundry 🙂 I also “enable” a lot….to avoid to complaining. Whoops!

  5. Oh boy! Just had this argument last night! Lots of tears! Yup, I an enabler for sure. So much easier to just do it myself. But as they get older I’m learning that probably wasn’t the best approach. 😉

  6. Such a challenge — all of it. One of the biggest factors I find is keeping the kids motivated to want to do the chores. A couple of mine are motivated by money, a couple aren’t yet… can you relate? I have to use creativity, and sometimes I run out of ideas! 😉

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