No Namby Pambies In Our House (and a book inspiration)

Talk to the hand

I will not raise namby pambies. I want my children to know work. To grow-up to be independent, contributing members of society. To have common sense. And to understand that no one is entitled to anything in life; if you want something (anything, really), you better be prepared to work for it. This mom won’t coddle her kids forever and have a 30 year-old child still living at home someday. Nope.

My problem was always how to put this into regular practice. Sure, the girls help out here and there but I want to integrate this concept into everyday life, When we (gulp) decided to embark on this commuter family journey, I knew that it was a golden opportunity. At 7 and 9, they are the perfect age.  And Chris being away was the perfect (if sad) excuse. The fact is, the kids need to pitch in if we are going to make this work.

“By making them pitch in, you’ll be helping them much more than you’ll be helping yourself,” my mom says.

As usual, I think she is right.

I was already in this mindset when I found this book, Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12 Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement by Kay Wills Wyma. Excited to read about the experiences of a like-minded mom, I downloaded it on my Kindle Fire and read it right away. And boy, was I inspired!


“With the greatest of intentions and in the name of love, we have developed a tendency to hover, race in to save, protect from failure, arrange for success, manipulate, overprotect, and enable our kids.”

Amen, sister.

“We shower them with accolades, proclaiming how wonderful they are – yet we rarely give them the opportunity to confirm the substance of that praise.”

Uh huh.

The author embarks on an experiment to require her 5 children(!) to perform duties around the house. There’s a different theme each month but the message is consistent – empower your children by requiring more from them. Yes! Exactly! There were so many good ideas in this book.  I decided to put a few into practice right away as part of my no-namby-pamby crusade:

  1. I have started small.  Making beds each day, bringing out recyclables, feeding the cat.  That makes sense to me.
  2. Like the author, I agree that the kids’ good effort should be rewarded.  She suggested an allowance jar.  At the start of every month, a set sum is placed into the jar for each child.  Each day, she checks to see if the day’s tasks are completed.  If they are, the money stays in the jar.  If a day’s tasks are not completed, then a fraction of the money is removed from the jar.  At the end of the month, each kid gets to keep what is left.  What a terrific idea! I am altering this a bit, since my kids are a bit younger.  We’ll be doing the jar on a week-by-week basis.  Each girl will start out with $7 (one for each day of the week) and $1 will be removed on any day that the tasks are not completed. We’ll be starting this on Sunday.
  3. There are so many other thoughts in this book that I just love — working together, serving others and equipping kids for errands.  I will be gradually adding these to the mix later.

“Mom!  Why do I have to do EVERYTHING?!” moans Allison.

I ignore her.

“Do I haaaaaavvvvveeee to do it nowwwwww?!” whines Lindsay.

La la la la … I can’t hear you.

I will definitely report back on the no-namby-pamby project :-).  In the meantime, do you have kids or kids in your life?  Do you worry about instilling independence and a good work ethic in them?  How do you do it?  Do you have any comments on this post?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!


9 thoughts on “No Namby Pambies In Our House (and a book inspiration)

  1. I love it Susan! Good for you — I always thought your mom did right by you guys and instilled a great work ethic. And now you’re doing her proud with your own children. The allowance jar should provide a good opportunity for a lesson on saving $ too. Good luck and stay strong!!!

    • Thanks, sister! My mom is always my inspiration. To me, a good work ethic is crucial because without it, you won’t get anywhere in life. I haven’t even mentioned the fact that both of my children will get a job when they turn 16. No exceptions, no excuses. This does not seem to be in vogue here but I couldn’t care less. My girls will not be part of the “me generation.” I won’t allow it.

  2. I couldn’t agree more and now I have to read this book. We have a ticket system but I like the idea of moving to a money jar which may actually be a better incentive at their age. Even at 10,9 and 6 we have already begun talking about jobs they will get during their teenage years to help pay for school, car and other things.

    • I’ve had a job since I was 13. I had to get an official job when I was 16 to help pay for school clothes, etc. But I was never mad about it. I liked having money to buy things that I wanted. It made me feel good and taught me the value of a dollar and how hard I had to work to get it. And that is what I want for my kids. I am glad to hear that we think alike:-). I would lend you the book but I only have it on my Kindle.:-( Thanks for reading and commenting, Deb!

  3. My kids are 9 and 12 (almost 20 – ha!). I started a little late with Kyle but he makes his bed every day and is now putting his clothes away. I haven’t instilled an allowance YET but if he wants WII/play time he needs to make his bed in the morning first. For Callee, my oldest, she now does her own laundry, folds it, puts it away. Also, the last few summers she works at the family dairy farm 2 days a week. Not full days, but nonetheless, trying to instill a strong work ethic. I know we have a long ways to go. My husband is not on a different coast but is gone a lot. I’m trying my best!

    My mother too instilled in me a VERY strong work ethic. I wouldn’t be able to work from home without it or be praised by co-workers for being “a diligent, hard worker”. I so agree with what you are doing here. SO MANY kids think that they should just get what ever they want without “earning it” albeit even if it’s just small tasks like vacuuming, putting their clothes away, etc. Good luck Sue! I’d like to get this book too for ideas. Thank you for sharing.

    • You are one of the most diligent people I know, Melanie. That trait will get you far. My mom always says that kids learn what they live, so I am sure that your kids pick up on your wonderful example. Your mom was the same way. Thank god for our moms! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  4. THANK YOU for Sharing! I agree that it “takes a village” at times to raise our families. As the old favorite kid’s movie of Callee’s would say “We are all in this together”. Keep posting and sharing these great ideas!

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