Striking mom an internet sensation

2012-10-13 14:36

Calgary - Canadian mom Jessica Stilwell let the crusty dinner plates pile up in the kitchen and left the stinky laundry scattered on the floor to teach her messy kids a lesson.

After six days, she declared victory in her "mommy strike" and gained worldwide attention for her comical blog detailing the struggle.

"Could I ever have imagined this? Absolutely not. It's very overwhelming," Stilwell said on Friday following an interview with TV talk show host Katie Couric in New York.

The 37-year-old social worker appeared earlier in the week on the Today show and got a high-five from host Matt Lauer for her parenting experiment. She's off again next week to do a show in Los Angeles.

Her story has appeared in newspapers from New York to London. Her blog has attracted comments from other mothers as far away as France and Finland.

Stilwell said the strike worked for her family and she encourages other overwhelmed moms to launch their own boycotts.

"I think we all learned that despite us being a really busy family, we can't let it slip. My girls have responsibilities," she said.

Stilwell's blog - called Crazy Working Mom: Diary of a mother on the brink of snapping! - details how she got fed up with her three daughters and decided to go on strike 1 October.

She quickly let her husband, Dylan, in on the plan but they didn't tell the girls - twins Olivia and Peyton, 12, and 10-year-old Quinn.

Gross game

The couple cleaned up each plate and fork they used for themselves but left the girls' dirty dishes untouched. Stilwell wrote that the plates slowly stacked on top of each other like a gross game.

Mold and fruit flies gathered. One pet dog licked clean the dishes that made it into the dishwasher when the door was left open. "Which begs me to question," wrote Stilwell, "if the children will think it's actually clean and proceed to use the dishes in the morning?"

She also posted photos of the mess, including one of another pet that got stuck in a backpack as the pooch tried to get at a rotting school lunch bag.

When the girls didn't clean out their lunch sacs, their parents packed their school meals in the only other containers they could find - dog poop bags.

Stilwell said she had to summon super-mom strength to fight the urge to clean up. She turned to getting her nails done, sipping red wine and venting on her blog.

"Olivia continues to tell me that the kitchen is disgusting. At last count she had made this statement 17 times today alone."

Day 4

Her youngest girl cracked on Day 4.

"My little love broke down in the kitchen tonight as she was trying to rinse a glass to use and began to cry. Through her sobs she said, 'I don't wanna eat out of pooh bags anymore. I don't want paper plates or beer cups for breakfast. Can you please help me clean up?'"

Stilwell said she refused to fall for the tears or cute dimples. She tried to negotiate, but it took two more days before all three girls realised they had created the mess and apologised.

They spent the next two days cleaning the house as a family.

  • sxp - 2012-10-13 14:54


  • MakaAmah - 2012-10-13 14:56

    i think i'm gonna try this at my home... they r so messy and dependent on me

  • christoffel.nel - 2012-10-13 15:02

    Good for you, now I have a plan.

  • Rudluv7 - 2012-10-13 15:03

    cool story bro...

  • joesty214 - 2012-10-13 15:04

    i salute u, u r a good mom. ill copy ur method.

  • lemby.lekganyane - 2012-10-13 15:37

    The little things we do for our love once are usually regarded as nothing. The fact that someone cleans after you with a smile should say they Love you.

  • Bfoq.Za - 2012-10-13 15:42

    Could this be a case of (an) obedient parent(s) having enough? If the kids were obedient, this didn't have to happen.

  • phiwo.gasa - 2012-10-13 16:27

    I like!

  • roarscurrin - 2012-10-13 17:13

    I was making my own school lunches in around Grade 3 already. If we wanted clean clothes we put them in the washing machine and hang them to dry ourselves. If we didn't was the dishes then the next night it was twice as many to wash and my parents didn't take pity on us. I can't understand parents these days doing everything for their kids till the age 18 or 19. I think I turned out pretty good and appreciate what they did for me before I was able to do all that by myself! Well done to this mom now lets see how many follow!

  • carolyn.dewrance - 2012-10-13 17:17

    Now thats the way to do it. what a good laugh I had.

  • carolyn.dewrance - 2012-10-13 17:17

    Now thats the way to do it. what a good laugh I had.

  • lisa.reuck - 2012-10-13 18:46

    way to go Jessica, I salute you, now I think I must try this method too.

  • Stewart Croucamp - 2012-10-14 10:28

    Excellent. Children must not be allowed to turn their parents into slaves. Human rights organisations have got it all wrong. I hate the children who are so lazy to do anything for themselves or for the elderly.

  • ndimphiwe.luhabe - 2012-10-14 13:54

    Lol! Jessica is lying.........Mums hve so much love n more

  • Reynardt Badenhorst - 2012-10-15 23:36

    This should not be heard of in South Africa. This was a strike for love and discipline, not violence and self gain!

  • mthambeleni.nekhumbe - 2012-10-16 08:34

    Dirt frustrates me,this is one thing i can never find myself doing!I salute her for the courage to live in dirt,dog poo and dust mites and flies everywhere!Amandla Nkosikazi!

  • p.borchard - 2012-10-18 08:01

    This is what happens when one spoils kids and discipline is just a word in the dictionary. How many parents say "pick up your clothes and put it in the laundry" every day for years and years with absolutely no cooperation from the kids - and even less repurcussions for ignoring the parent? Especially boys grow up believing that they are excused from doing "women's" duties and grow up expecting their wifes to carry on where mom left off. A woman I knew got so fed up that she dumped her hubby's dirty clothes in a box and only when he had no clean clothes in his cupboard, did he realise what was happening. That put an end to his little boy attitude to taking responsibility for your own dirty habits.

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