If you’ve been following along, you know I’m working through Kay Wills Wyma’s book Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement. (Read why here and read our first update here.) We have skipped ahead to Task 2: getting kids to help with dinner preparation.

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So did I mention that I went hog wild and let the girls start eating off our everyday china? (Please stop laughing at me.) Til now, they’ve used divided plastic plates and bowls. I hate the plastic because of the cupboard room it requires and because it never dries in the dishwasher. Now, not only are the girls using the china, they are handling it while it’s wet. I rinse the dishes, hand them off, and one of the girls loads the dishwasher.

On Meg’s night, she was actually upset that there were so few dishes to load. So I hand washed and she dried. Just as Wyma experienced, my kids take pride in their work and keep asking if they are doing a good job (the 7-year-old equivalent of fishing for compliments).

Meg actually asked to do some of the hand washing. I really didn’t want her banging pots and pans into my ceramic sink, so I did those. But I saved her lighter-weight and non-breakable things. She popped up on her stool and did the job. She was pretty proud of wearing my washing gloves!

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As predicted, Grace totally took to dinner prep. She actually asked to be dinner helper for every night that is not Meg’s night. Not surprisingly, Meg was less into dinner prep, but not difficult about it. She just has 14 thoughts going at a time and had trouble staying focused. She definitely learned less, but that is less my goal than converting the girls to willing helpers.

Our meals also have been really good. The girls have chosen Mexican Goulash with Corn Salad, Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans, and Baked Ziti with Green Salad. Not having to think of what to have for dinner may be my favorite part of this experiment.

I wanted to know if the girls were just excited about prepping food or if their good attitudes would extend into less fun tasks. Asking the girls to pick up their room is typically met by whining and arguing. (Are your kids’ arguments completely stupid? Mine fight about who walks upstairs first.) Now, in the interest of full disclosure, they were motivated by a friend arriving for a sleepover. But, that would normally (1) not stifle the whining and fighting, (2) result in my threatening to cancel the sleepover and (3) Don giving me a hard time for not following through on my threat. This time, honest I swear, the girls flew upstairs and picked up the room properly and to my satisfaction. I didn’t ask them to re-do a single thing.

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The house is far from perfect: we still have Christmas toys on the floor. I’m not sure yet where they should be put away, so this one’s on me. We did a big toy giveaway before the holiday but I just haven’t decided where the new items go. Sounds like another task, and maybe one I need to ask the girls to help make the decisions on. I have high hopes.

Back to parties on Thursday — please join me then!

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