On days when the kids make a mess of the house (every day), stack up dishes in the sink (three times a day) and then expect Mom and Dad to double as the cleaning service and pick up after them, it’s very tempting to go on strike. Sit back on the sofa sipping wine when you would normally be on your hands and knees picking up sticky rice grains from the kitchen floor. But would you really? Could you live with the pig sty that would become your house over the course of a week as it all went south, and quickly?
One Calgary mom did just that and has become a cause celebre because of it. On October 1 Jessica Stilwell decided enough was enough and stopped cleaning up after her three daughters. To motivate her from giving in to the piling up laundry and souring cereal bowls, she started blogging about it, with photos to illustrate disgusting things like used tissues wadded up on the ottoman. The Huffington Post began following her story, and now Stilwell is in New York for an appearance on the Today Show.
While many moms have been in awe of her tactic (the strike ended on Day 6 when the daughters couldn’t take it anymore — they cleaned the house on Day 7), some bloggers have shown Stilwell no mercy, claiming her blog proves she’s a “sucky mom” because she raised slobs who should have been cleaning up after themselves long before the ages of 12 (the twins) and 10.
By the time I was 10 I’m pretty sure I was clearing my dishes, loading and unloading the dishwasher on request, helping with some meals and cleaning up my room. But now that I have kids, I see how easy it is to do stuff for them that they should be doing themselves. We’re more time strapped and it’s faster if Mom helps pick up the toys and sweeps the floor. At seven and five, Avery and Bennett are too young for some chores, but Stilwell’s blog steeled my resolve to get them doing more around the house — as I was expected to do. Besides, if you start them early, the logic goes there will be no need for drastic measures like a strike later.
What do you think, Moms? Would you ever go on strike, or have you trained your kids from an early age to pick up after themselves?