Would your kids notice if Mom went on strike?

A mother of three girls stopped cleaning up after her kids to show them that they needed to help.

From Yahoo news:

“(Jessica) Stilwell went on strike when she noticed that her girls, twins, age 10, and her oldest, age 12, were not picking up after themselves and seemed to have the expectation that Mom or Dad would do it. Stilwell reached her breaking point one night when her husband, Dylan, was out of town. After a typical weekend of running errands and taking the kids to various sporting events, Jessica sat down around 11 p.m. on Oct. 1. That’s when she noticed the mess and knew that it had not been created by her or her husband…”

“Unfortunately, it took the kids a while to notice that the house was in total disarray. Stilwell began detailing the mess first on Facebook, then on a blog called Crazy Working Mom. On day one, dirty plates and clothes were piling up around the house. By day two, she wrote, “cereal left sitting in milk in the bowl begins to stink much sooner than one would expect.” On day three, her kids began to take notice of their unkempt surroundings. Stilwell’s 10-year-old daughter Quinn broke down in tears as she asked her mom to help clean the house.”

“Stilwell took her daughter on a tour of the home, pointing out that none of the mess had been made by the parents. On day six, the strike was officially over. Stilwell got an apology in the form of her daughters cleaning while she relaxed.”

This is essentially my approach with their rooms but they never seem to be bothered by their mess. My threshold for messiness is reached long before their threshold is, and then I yell at them to clean it up. I’m not sure the approach would work for the whole house since it doesn’t really work for their rooms.

How long would it take for your family to notice you were on strike? Would your spouse support the strike? Would it matter? Would your kids learn a lesson about cleaning up after themselves?

48 comments Add your comment

A reader

October 11th, 2012
6:18 am

When I go on strike I hit my daughter where it really hurts — food. I stop fixing her meals and stop cooking. She is on her own to scavenge in the fridge and freezer. It usually lasts 2 days before she begs for relief.

A

October 11th, 2012
7:26 am

Why are you yelling at your kids? Maybe that’s part of the problem?

cobbmom

October 11th, 2012
7:28 am

With two working parents, a teenager with a part-time job and a younger child in the home along with various pets it doesn’t take long for the clutter to accumulate around our house. Unfortunately my husband and children don’t mind clutter and the dog revels in it because she can find food in untended plates or bowls. I can’t stand the mess and will go on a “rampage” as my family calls it and make them clean up. I have also gone on the no cooking strike, they just ordered take out.

Jeff

October 11th, 2012
7:46 am

I have a modified version of that. I refuse to pick up after them, then when they can’t find anything, they have to start looknig for it. It works really well with clothes. If they’ve refused to put them away, I don’t want to hear you crying that you can’t find that shirt, or you don’t have anything to wear.

If you want to refuse to do any organizing work on the front end, you can put the effort into the back end when it’s time to find something. Your call.

Jeff

October 11th, 2012
7:47 am

But, you’re right Cobb, the food laying around is non negotiable. They will pick it up or they don’t get their next meal.

motherjanegoose

October 11th, 2012
7:50 am

I grew up with a Type A Mother who was a nut case about neat and clean. We sisters cleaned the entire house, as she dictated. We could not even put up the Christmas Tree correctly. Thus, I do not like to put up the tree as it equates with bad memories. Luckily, this is my daughter and husband’s job.

My husband came from a house that was almost always a mess. His Mom was very casual about cleaning . As an adult, I did not want to be that MEAN WIFE/MOM and so I was not as diligent. Our house is clean but it is mostly me who does it. We do tend to have clutter and then it gets put away, when I do a once a week purge. My daughter is neat but my son not so much. I am now in a hotel room and joke that my house would be neat if it were just me, as I am neat in the hotel room and leave everything in a little pile.

I once told my husband about these
HOUSE RULES:
 If you drop it – pick it up;
 If you sleep on it – make it up;
 If you wear it – hang it up;
 If you spill it – wipe it up;
 If you turn it on – turn it off;
 If you open it – close it;
 If it rings – answer it;
 If it whines – feed it;
 If it cries – love it.

He actually thought I made them up. REALLY? As I am out and about, I find it fascinating how different families can be. We usually have nice paper napkins ( sometimes themed for the season ) but my husband’s family typically bring a roll of paper towels to the table and you just tear one off. To each their own.

motherjanegoose

October 11th, 2012
7:53 am

@ Jeff…long ago I put a set of scissors, tape, markers, sharpie, paper punch etc. in a small box for me. I kept in a private place. We also had a family set. If their’s got lost…oh well!

I do not ALLOW food to be hanging out…that is YUCK!

Voice of Reason

October 11th, 2012
8:08 am

My kids are pretty good about cleaning up after themselves in the common areas.

Their rooms, on the other hand, are always a mess. Usually it comes down to me threatening to shut the family dog up in their rooms while they are away at school. The dog will shred their stuffed animals and turn their toys into fertilizer. Mwahaha!!!!

PS

October 11th, 2012
8:12 am

At this point, my kids are only 5, so I doubt they would notice. However, we have a strict rule about making them clean up their mess before they go to bed. Bedtime is 8:00, and at 7:30, the TV gets shut off and the clean-up begins. Hubs and I help, or in the very least provide guidance (especially when one gets distracted and starts playing with the toy she’s supposed to be cleaning up!).

I also have the same rule as my parents had with me – you are not allowed to eat anywhere outside the kitchen unless the entire family is doing so. That includes snack time. Maybe that’s being a little too strict, but it keeps the house from becoming a wreck. So, that keeps the food being left out issue from happening. Ick.

catlady

October 11th, 2012
8:12 am

I would never have let it get that far! Good grief, even toddlers can help! Parents who “take care of” their kids this way are handicapping them for real life.

Mayhem

October 11th, 2012
8:30 am

I can’t stand food in bedrooms. I have a steadfast rule too, like PS. We eat at the dining room table, or once in a while, as a treat, in the living room.

My biggest “complaint” is leaving dirty dishes in the sink, unrinsed. Drives me C R A Z Y. I put post-it notes, with arrows pointing to the dishwasher on the counter. My oldest daughter is notorius for leaving dirty dishes on the counter. Lazy. So, I starting putting them in her room, on her bed. That behavior stopped within a week. She has an “apartment” in the basement and once the bugs started coming in, she stopped that real quick.

As long as the “common areas” are clean, I’m good. If they want to keep their rooms messy, then close the door. That was my mother’s philosophy. I don’t have to look at it.

xxx

October 11th, 2012
8:37 am

Having to stage infantile strikes proves you are not in control of your own house and no one respects you. Simply tell your kids what is expected of them and have consequences if the don’t follow through. Works everytime in our house.

Roberta

October 11th, 2012
8:48 am

Seems to me the best way these days to motivate pre-teens to do anything is to take away their cell phones.

JOD

October 11th, 2012
8:51 am

Hum. I have more success with the 4 year old cleaning up after herself than Hubs. Other than her playroom looking like a bomb site from time to time, she is amenable to putting her dishes in the dishwasher, throwing things away, helping with certain chores, and keeping her room picked up. No complaints here (yet).

Hubs, on the other hand, drives me nuts. Dirty clothes on the floor, clean clothes in the dryer, dirty dishes on the counter or in the sink (when the dishwasher plainly says ‘dirty’), shoes and stuff wherever he leaves them. It’s not just the mess…it’s “Where is my x? I’m going to be late!” Really, put it away and you’ll know where it is. I do go on strike of sorts with him sometimes (meaning I let his stuff pile up and clean around it), and refuse to do his laundry anymore (I do the house stuff, mine, and DD’s) since he won’t even fold and put away. Sorry, just because I work from home doesn’t mean I’m your housekeeper.

@Mayhem – I would try that with the dishes, except that it’s my bed, too!

Wow, sorry, vent!

A

October 11th, 2012
9:00 am

I think TWG lost control of her kids a long time ago. There doesn’t need to be yelling unless a kid is in imminent danger. Seriously, stop the yelling and let the kids know what’s expected of them and what the consequences are (no TV, video games, whatever) if they don’t comply. Yours are old enough to know what they need to do around the house.

lakerat

October 11th, 2012
9:02 am

Kids are gone now, but back when, I did not mind keeping the main part of the house clean – but their rooms, they were a mess and it was their responsibility to either maintain it “as is” when friends came over or they could clean up – fortunately we had a cleaning crew that cleaned their bathroom every couple of weeks…

FCM

October 11th, 2012
9:06 am

My father would go find the plate the we had not taken care of and stand there with the “new” meal food in spoon and say you apparently think this ready again. We learned fast to clean up.

Not so much my kids. They don’t like the clutter (I know this because of the complaints) but they do not do anything with it either. I took out the garbage and put the can at the curb yesterday and went to work. I get home and the can is still at the curb (empty). I asked Older Child why….she said “I am not going to bring it back up the drive every week!” I said ok, I will remember that when you want to go some where this weekend…I am not taking you places every weekend. (And then of course I have to not take her this weekend).

Dirty clothes are another one that drives me nuts. I finally said 12 & 10 you are old enough to know to bring the laundry to me when I am doing the wash (and even to run the washer with me there to make sure you don’t turn everything pink/grey or snug). So if they do not bring me their clothes and I have to look for them, I only wash the ones that I know they hate. They do now help more with laundry.

I may have to resort to my dad’s trick on the dishes though.

Sk8ing Momma

October 11th, 2012
9:49 am

My kids can and do clean; BUT, it’s the constant reminders for them to do so that send me over the edge….ACK!!!

My children, 13yo girl & 10.5yo boy, have *long* been responsible for their own laundry, cleaning the kitchen, their bedrooms and their bathroom in addition to keeping common areas tidy. They can also prepare/cook breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. They clean common areas and the kitchen on rotating schedules. Schedules work great in our house…There’s no bickering over whose day it is to do what.

I was raised in a house where if one was physically capable of doing something, it was expected that she did it and where ALL members of a household contributed to its success. I’m raising my kids with the same philosophies.

One of the few occasions where I’ve run into problems was solved with a little creativity on my part. My kids sometimes have the habit of leaving their shoes at the bottom of the stairs instead of putting them in their closets…Ugh!! “Shoe Service” has helped solve that problem. Whenever my kids leave their shoes out and I have to carry them upstairs, I charge them $1.00/pair to carry them upstairs for them. That’s what we call, “Shoe Service.” At the very mention of Shoe Service, shoes are put away in a flash. :)

dc

October 11th, 2012
9:59 am

Baffling to me how so many women think it is their right to “set the rules” in the house. Seriously, they believe that they alone are the arbiters of what is right? Wow, what arrogance.

I especially love the “house rules”, laid out as if they are from God. And then, when others in the house don’t perform exactly as the rules have been decreed, she runs around behind everyone making beds, cleaning, and haranguing, and complaining about how stressful her life is.

So many times I want to point out that much (most?) of this stress is self induced….but sadly she usually feels its all the fault of others, who aren’t living up to her decreed rules.

DB

October 11th, 2012
10:05 am

I am not a terribly good housekeeper — I’m clutter challenged. Doesn’t bother my husband or son, but it drives my daughter nuts, she likes things organized just so. Food doesn’t really go anywhere, but I’ll find empty drink glasses almost anywhere in the house. I have to admit, my son’s future wife will probably hate me. I used to be really, really organized and neat, but honestly, my husband couldn’t care less (unless he needs a clean shirt or can’t find something), and after the kids were born, things started to fall apart. The health department isn’t going to be coming around, but neither is Home and Garden. *sigh*. I think it’s a reaction to my mother waking me up at 7:30 every Saturday morning — I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything until my room was clean, all the dusting and vacuuming was done, and the yard was cut. Juvenile, I know . . . but there it is. The kids learned how to do their uniform laundry early on, to make sure they had a fresh uniform for school each day. I just asked that they put their clothes in the wash — I took it from there. Strangely, though, I love to iron clothes — love that sense of accomplishment. Why a rack of freshly ironed shirts can get done and two weeks work of bills can lie scattered on the counter can’t get organized is one of those mysteries . . .

Mom of Two

October 11th, 2012
10:10 am

If you teach your kids responsibility from the time they’re little, it will never come to a parent having to go on strike.
One child loads the dishwasher (I hear “Moooom, why’d you do that” if I put anything in the dishwasher since I apparently put it in the wrong place!), the other puts dishes away. One kid wipes of the table after meals, the other wipes off the counters. One sweeps the kitchen floor, the other takes the garbage out. The younger child assists with his laundry (gathers, sorts, empties pockets, puts away, etc.), the older child (young teen) is wholly responsible for doing his own laundry from start to finish. They both contribute age appropriately to meal prep – the older one will (happily & willingly) prepare meals start to finish.
My kids have each always had age appropriate responsibilities around the house. There’s never any arguments or fuss – it’s just the way it is. Every family member contributes to the household.
The mother in the original article certainly isn’t a hero for going on strike. It merely shows she hasn’t bothered to teach her children responsibility from the get-go. She’s been the maid, not the parent.

Mayhem

October 11th, 2012
10:16 am

I do ALL the laundry. Every Sunday. I love doing laundry. To me it is so theraputic and I enjoy it. The hampers are put in the laundry room Saturday night. I’m a very early riser, and will have 4 loads finished by noon. I like to “fluff” everything out on the back of the sofa, and when the NFL pregame shows come on, I’ll sit and fold/hang up everything, so when the actual games come on, it’s all finished. Then I can start cooking…..

@dc – you sound quite bitter. Maybe YOU should make the rules. Or find somewhere else to live. If you don’t like the current situation, then change it.

PS

October 11th, 2012
10:33 am

To all these people calling TWG to task for “yelling” at her kids: can you honestly say you’ve never raised your voice to your children? EVER? If so, I am calling BS.

Mayhem

October 11th, 2012
10:42 am

I yell. Sometimes it’s the only way to get their attention. But as a last resort…When I’m totally frustrated and overwhelmed. And they are older, so it’s not like I’m hurting their self esteem….

A

October 11th, 2012
10:43 am

I probably have raised my voice to my child, but honestly I can’t remember the last time. Maybe it’s because I have only one who is generally cooperative. But if he’s not doing what he should be doing, I can’t imagine yelling will help the situation.

PhotoMomof4

October 11th, 2012
11:04 am

My kids are responsible for their own laundry, cleaning their rooms and various household chores. Their allowances are dependent on how many of the chores are completed and how well. They started doing their own laundry when they began playing on multiple sports teams. Trying to keep up with all the pieces of their uniforms was so stressful to me. When it comes time for a baseball or football game, it is their responsibility to have it all cleaned and together. So, in the effort to bring up independent children, we started gradually teaching them about doing laundry and it then became their responsibility. I do still assist with stain removal on those lovely white baseball pants, but it is assist, and not take over.

Mayhem

October 11th, 2012
11:17 am

My oldest will throw EVERYTHING into the washing machine at one time. I can’t stand that. It MUST be sorted. That’s why I do the laundry.

catlady

October 11th, 2012
11:17 am

And I think children should not just clean up after themselves, but should be given a role in keeping up the house, in general. Because ALL of us live there. It’s not “helping Mom” because it’s not mom’s job to do it all. And don’t get me started on PAYING a kid to do his/her share!

Jeff

October 11th, 2012
11:18 am

It’s actually pretty simple. Find out what each child values more than life itself, and put it at risk if they don’t follow the BASIC rules.

It is our job as a parent to raise these children to have the skills it takes to be a responsible adult.

FCM

October 11th, 2012
11:23 am

@DB…I love to polish silver! I get that same sense of pride and accomplishment you described for ironing. I however hate to iron :)

@dc deoends on what you consider “women think it is their right to ’set the rules’ in the house. ” I expect that I can walk up the stairs and down the hall of the house without navigating mine field of crap left by others. I expect that if you ate out of it, you can put it up not leave it where you finished eating as if the magic fairies come get it. I expect that if I put clean and folded laundry on your bed, it will be put up not thrown on the floor. ALL of these are current challenges to our house. I also expect two tweens to clean their bathroom. If that means I make all the rules fine, I make all the rules.

@ Mom of 2 mine did MUCH better at cleaning/helping when they were little. Now it is taking away phones, computers, etc that gets them to clean. I am not sure how old yours are but I have one about to be a teen and she has every sterotypical teen trait of messy room, yell at mom, etc. I have heard comes with that. The 10 yo is starting to show it too. Doesn’t mean I put up with it, hence the consequences of no phone etc.

@PS I probably yell more than I should. Mostly b/c my voice bounces in the open area of the house so darn well and I have some hearing loss so I don’t actually realize how loud I am. I am actively working on changing that behavior.

mystery poster

October 11th, 2012
11:25 am

@Mayhem “As long as the “common areas” are clean, I’m good. If they want to keep their rooms messy, then close the door. That was my mother’s philosophy. I don’t have to look at it.”

That was my philosophy with my kids’ room, too. I figured their rooms were their space to do with as they pleased.

mystery poster

October 11th, 2012
11:26 am

I read a story in Readers Digest a few years ago. The writer’s mom served everyone a plate of hay for dinner one night. When they all questioned it, she explained that she never got comments, feedback, or compliments on dinner so she figured it didn’t matter what she served.

After that, the family started to notice and appreciate her nightly cooking (so the story went).

Jessica

October 11th, 2012
11:29 am

Tell your kids to do something once, and don’t mention it again until it’s almost time to drive them to some extracurricular activity. Then, mention that you aren’t leaving to go to soccer practice / the mall / their BFF’s house until that chore is done. Suddenly, the tasks they have put off for two days will be done in ten minutes.

K's Mom

October 11th, 2012
11:38 am

I threatened my husband with a strike several weeks ago. He was very inconsiderate about something and I had spent the entire Saturday afternoon doing his laundry, ironing his clothes, caring for our children (one of whom was sick) so that he could go play. I did not follow through, but I told him if it happened again he was on his own for 2 weeks so that he could see that he had it pretty good.

I am with PS and mayhem about food all over the house. It does not happen here. I also am a firm believer in kids doing their part. We also have clean up time in the family room each night and if my 2yo makes a mess, he has to help clean it up to the best of his ability.

If my kids become bratty about helping out when they get older, I will ABSOLUTELY go on strike and let them see all that I do. But I hope that if we set the expectation that everyone cleans up after themselves and everyone chips in, we will not get to that point….

K's Mom

October 11th, 2012
11:46 am

@Sk8ting Momma, Shoe Service is BRILLIANT! I will have to remember that one. I also like the idea of the box that gets your kid’s valuable items that are left out and they have to do a really unlikable chore to earn it back.

@dc I do not think any of the women here feels like they get to make the rules in their homes over their husbands, but I certainly get to make the rules in my home over my kids. I am their parent and if I want the home that my husband and I pay for and make comfortable for our children kept a certain way, then I can absolutely set the expectations for my children. One day the will have a teacher/boss that does not love them like I do. I hope that the home training they receive prepares them to accomplish tasks that are expected by others who make arbitrary rules that they must follow or fail school or lose jobs.

cgatlanta

October 11th, 2012
12:25 pm

You set expectations, have rules and enforce them.

You give children (and in some cases your spouse) direction and you hold them accountable. As they mature, they will need less direction because you have created good habits.

Parenting isn’t that hard, don’t try to make it seem so difficult.

Mayhem

October 11th, 2012
1:40 pm

Parenting isn’t that hard????? WTF???? How many kids do you have?

Parenting is THE hardest job on earth. You are responsible for raising ADULTS to go out one day into society…..Don’t give me that crap….

aon

October 11th, 2012
2:16 pm

I’m a fan of organized clutter. As long as the kitchen is clean and the bathrooms are clean I am learning to let other stuff go (has not been easy). I visited my college student several weeks ago and after staying up until 5:00am to celebrate his birthday with friends, he got up at 8am to clean the bathroom and the “den” where we would be spending the night. As a trade off I closed my eyes when I walked through the kitchen. Proud mom moment :)

Actually, Mayhem...

October 11th, 2012
2:16 pm

…it is not that hard, unless you want to be an involved parent, since we all know that when you tell kids to do something they always do it because you are the parent and know best and they ALWAYS obey – it is only when they question you about “why”, which most kids NEVER do, that it may become more difficult – LOL

Mayhem

October 11th, 2012
2:24 pm

jarvis

October 11th, 2012
2:24 pm

@Jessica, I completely agree except for the team sports. The teammates didn’t leave your kids crap out, and they don’t deserve to either play a man short or play with a teammate that hasn’t practiced.

dc

October 11th, 2012
3:05 pm

Not bitter at all, just find it interesting that someone thinks their way is gospel.

I have enjoyed doing one thing lately though…and yes, I think of it as a “told you so”. I now take the opportunity to “pick up after” my wife..meaning put her stuff away that she leaves on counters, couches, etc. It’s seriously funny to see the reaction when she can’t find one of her things…. I think it’s actually starting to sink in that my kids and I have actually had a valid complaint about her doing this all these years.

MotherOfTwo

October 11th, 2012
3:26 pm

I went on strike this year, when I had my now 9 month old daughter. I have a 17 year old “who” (use to do absolutely nothing for herself); by the way she is off to college next year. I have recommended she seeks a room-mate who is messy; no one would want to live with her.

I admit that all of it is my mistake for washing, cooking and cleaning for her the last 17 years. She doesn’t do dishes, cook, clean or take out the trash; unless I demand it.

I will not do the same with my 9 month old, she will start picking up toys at 1 year old. I have a saying now ( even a toddler can do it).

aon

October 11th, 2012
3:26 pm

@dc. that is funny! The mess my kids make irritate me but my husband picking up after me makes me nuts because I can never find anything. My son put it all in perspective. He said, “Dad sees an empty spot so he puts something there, he never considers whether or not it makes sense.” Now I understand why getting a roll of paper towels from the garage always involves a ladder and a broom, and we go through a lot of paper towels. Me? I would simply store them by the washing machine on the lower shelf and would save the top shelf for, say, old paint cans!

motherjanegoose

October 11th, 2012
8:31 pm

A roommate my daughter had, her first year in college, would step out of her clothes and simply leave them on the floor….including underwear. She might be perfect for your daughter MotherofTwo.

cgatlanta

October 11th, 2012
10:57 pm

Mayhem- I have two kids, 12 and 9. I make a good living, drive the kids to/from school, shop/cook virtually all meals (I ran a restaurant years ago), I coach sports, work with both on music (they like playing my guitars but they have their own).

I’m rewarded with two great kids and a beautiful, hardworking wife.

It’s not that hard to be a good parent.

Kat

October 12th, 2012
3:57 pm

Once I realized that I told my kids to clean their rooms, but didn’t show them how, and didn’t tell them why, etc. I explained what organization was about, why it was helpful and so on. I want them to understand the system and be able to be organized when they leave home…eventually.

Cathy

October 13th, 2012
4:22 am

I was a mother on Strike. back in 1997…. Kudos for me… But you totally don’t win..
As we had two homes at one time working fulltime and then maintaining a rental house out of state.
I had two teens and both were involved in many of activities out side of the home with school . Yes a bit Stressfull when you don’t have a compainion to help assist you with the utterly disaster you have to clean out of your home out of state but yet to come home to a disaster after 42 hours of cleaning aimess from renters. Who left trash on the deck which stunk up the house of chicken guts which came in through the vent of the dryer. Which the renyers left on the deck which connected to the vent to the dryer outtake. Talk about wanting to gag. Then left glass on the back deck that was shattered all over.
I called for my hubby for reinforcements and didn’t get a great response.
So I did what I had to do. Take the reigns and go with it. I did all the cleaning and it took me over 42 hours by myself to steam clean all the carpets and clean out the fridge and appliances and clean the mess that the renters left. So that it would be in shape for the next renters or ready to sale. to inform you this was a 10 room home I cleaned alone.
Then to come back home after all that work to a house built not only 6 months old. With Trash of pizza boxes and pop cans. Dishes in the sink and what not to say to myslef I had enough….
I Quit ….
But funny enough it doesn’t work that way. Kids and llazy spouses will make do with what they have. They will figure out to rinse out what they need and only live off of that.
Strikes don’t really work. Been there done that.
As you even said that you seen a slight inprovement but didn’t meet your standards. Well guess what no one will ever meet your standards except for you.
I cooked all the meals, did all the housework and yard work and maintained a house out of state and in state. Plus worked an outside job and took care of 2 children with one heck of a lazy husband.
Strikes don’t work only appreciation as the children grow they will find out what you have done and want to run the same guidelines for cleanliness you tought them.
If they don’t see that once they move out then they are the only ones that have to deal with the mess and clutter of their lifestyle..
Plus once the children move out you don’t have to deal with all that mess. So either be paitient and let them grow and be an at home parent and do all the wonderfull things you can do for your children and let them participate and learn responsibility. Or just put up and shut up….
That is your choice….