I started my reading marathon with Antiques Knock Off by Barbara Allen.
The next book I picked up was The Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA, again the cover grabbed me plus this one was endorsed by our FRIEND Lisa Kudrow so I thought this one would be a winner for sure- WRONG!! By chapter 2 I had already witnessed several affairs and had read every 4 letter word the alphabet has to offer so I decided to shut this book for good.
At this point I am a little panicky because it is only day 3 of my vacation and I am already done with 2 of my 3 library books plus I am caught up on my bible study so it is just the Self-Help book left. I vow to read the last book very slowly. This one I chose at the recommendation of a couple of ladies in my Sunday School class so I thought it was probably a safe bet- What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.
It was wonderful! Very entertaining and even inspirational plus it took place in Australia so I found myself reading in an Australian accent, well… Confession: at first I thought they were somewhere in Great Britain so I read with a British accent but then when they mentioned Sydney I immediately switched over to Australian- woman of many talents I am. Anyways, despite my best effort I could not put the book down and was finished by late the 4th night.
So at this point I had 2 days left of vacation plus a long car ride home so I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer. I had to turn away from the fictional characters and start looking at myself with the last book in my suitcase. I had ordered this self-help book from Amazon months ago when I saw a friend had pinned it on one of her pinterest boards.
Cleaning House by Kay Wills Wyma, chronicles one woman’s year long experiment to rid her home of child entitlement. She does this by introducing one new chore or life skill a month in an effort to teach her children the value of hard work and to help shift the household responsibilities from parent only to a more even distribution between all family members. Her monthly challenges ranged from meal preparation and bathroom cleaning to tackling home improvement projects and finding outside employment (all children over age 14).
Now I am all for teaching my children the value of hard work; and I want my boys to understand and appreciate all the ins and outs of what it takes to run a household; and I would even be the first to tell you I would LOVE some help keeping Sister presentable and clean BUT I was nervous about trying to implement her suggestions in my home. The issue was not with the kids. Sure, I knew they would moan and groan about the extra responsibilities but over the years I have built up such an immunity to whining that I can block it out quite effectively. No, the real reason I was hesitant to give the boys more responsibility was that it would force me to give up some C!-C!-CONTROL! As a recovering OCD/DRS sufferer I like my home cleaned and kept a certain way- I can’t help it! So I am that Mom that remakes the boys beds after they already made it themselves. Plus I find that I don’t ask them to help out much around the house because I know that I can get the job done better and faster if I just do it myself. Terrible! Terrible! For Shame, For Shame! I KNOW!!!! Sooo while Sister might look all prim and proper I could potentially be teaching my boys: a.) It doesn’t matter how I do something because Mom will come in and fix/rescue it/me. Or worse b.) Mom doesn’t think I am capable of getting the job done. OUCH! Plus, I feel it is my responsibility to make my boys as marketable as possible to their future wives (not plural wives- one for each of them). This need was brought to my attention the day my eldest was cleaning his room and casually mentioned being glad he was a boy so that one day he would have a wife to do all his cleaning…… Let the cleaning challenge begin!!
I broke the news to the boys on our loooong drive back home from vacation. I summarized the 12 challenges mentioned in the book, and told them we were going to slowly implement most of them in our home. They were less than thrilled (reference the family picture above to get an idea of the look I received from my 9 year old). Now don’t get me wrong, the idea of chores is not completely foreign to my boys. My husband who does not have even the slightest trace of OCD is GREAT about putting the boys to work, so they already have a daily list of making their beds, taking out the trash, clearing the table, and taking care of Cooper on their chore chart. So I decided the first 2 life skills I was going to add to their list (and partially off of mine) was LAUNDRY and MEAL PLANNING/PREPARATION.
Up first- Laundry. Because I have an uncanny knack for making all things more difficult then they have to be I started this challenge out by working WAY too long on this cute Laundry Schedule for the boys:
To make things easier for the boys I splurged on the fancy laundry power packs vs the on sale powder or liquid detergent I normally buy.
Confession: I am terrible/horrible at laundry. It makes my mother cringe but I only have two categories for laundry- clothes and towels. No lights or darks or delicates are sorted in this home. If you wear it, it is classified as clothes; if you dry or clean with it, it goes in the towels category- although underwear can go either way depending on when it is needed. I also have done away with washing anything on warm or hot; EVERYTHING gets washed in cold- the little water temperature knob has not turned since I got the machine. With that being said my boys will be trained in my current method (my apologies to my future daughter-in-laws).
Each boy will have a designated day to do their own clothes from washing machine to folded and put away and a day they do the family towels. It is my responsibility to help remind them of their laundry day and then to stand back and let them do it themselves even if the towels are not folded to Martha Stewart standard.
So far they have done GREAT!! My oldest even remembered to add Cooper’s blanket to his batch of towels. My 5 year old, so far, thinks working the washing machine is fun and is completely fascinated by the lint trap in the dryer.
With Laundry under control we next looked at Meal Planning/Preparation. This challenge asks that each boy take one Friday night a month to plan a menu of their choice; make sure the ingredients are accounted for or added to my weekly grocery list; and then prepare their meal to serve to the family; and finally help clean the kitchen after dinner. The boys were actually really excited about this challenge.
Boy #1 chose his favorite: Chili and Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread for dessert. It is currently in the dead of summer but hey we went with it. Luckily I had stocked up on some cans of pumpkin last Thanksgiving.
The meal was oh so yummy! And I think my son found a new appreciation for all the hard work that goes into putting a meal on the table every night.
The next Friday night son #2 got in on the action. He chose his personal favorite: Taco Pot Pie and we had just picked some fresh blackberries so he chose a Blackberry Cobbler for dessert. He took his role as chef very seriously, even insisting on wearing a real chef hat. While I am proud to say I was completely hands off with the 9 year old, I was more involved with the 5 year old. I browned the meat but he spread out the crescent rolls and added the ingredients to the skillet and stirred. He even made menu’s to place at each seat at the table.
Pay no attention to the black smudges on his nose. It was cow appreciation day at chick-fil-a and this was a remnant of his costume.
The whole family raved at his culinary masterpiece but I couldn’t help myself from asking my little chef how he would have felt if we had all sat down to his meal and started whining “I don’t like this meal, I want something else.” Clearly not picking up on the lesson I was trying to sneak in, he declared he would tell us to “go eat a brick.” Hmmmm not sure where he learned that one, but I might try it next time someone complains about a meal I have cooked.
So far I am happy to report the Cleaning Challenge has been a huge success. Not only has my load been lifted but by me relinquishing some control my boys have gained a greater confidence in their own abilities. In fact, just this morning I caught my oldest starting a load of laundry without being asked (not even on his designated day) because he was running out of clean underwear. Huge! Just 2 months ago I swear he thought clean underwear just appeared in his drawer and now he is making the connection that if he wants clean underwear someones got to wash them AND that someone ain’t gonna be Mama!! Happy Dance!!
And just think, if they thought the lint trap was exciting, wait until next month when I introduce them to the toilet wand!!!