The best way to help prepare a young man for a mission is to stop doing his laundry, cooking for him and cleaning up after him.
So says a Mormon cleaning guru who's built a successful career on correct cleaning principles.
Don Aslett, a former bishop in the Marsh Creek Ward in the McCammon Idaho Stake — who at 74 has more than 50 years of experience teaching people to clean efficiently and well — said it does missionaries no good to be babied.
"One year before their mission, quit doing their laundry, cooking their meals, clipping their toenails. Cease all tending to their every need. The worst thing you can do is protect and insulate them," said Aslett, who served in Hawaii as a young man and in Boston with his wife as a senior couple. "Change the meaning of CTR to 'Clean The Room.' Instead of 'Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel,' make it 'Keep Your Shoulder to the Wheel.' Don't be a Litter-day Saint."
Aslett said he's found that those who are sloppy in their habits tend to be sloppy in their keeping of commandments. Those who keep their physical house in order keep their spiritual houses in order.
"The Holy Ghost doesn't want to stick around where it's messy and dirty," Aslett said. "There's a huge carryover from clean to conduct."
Aslett said Mormons with their big families and busy lives need to de-junk and take individual responsibility more than anyone, from childhood on.
"If you're big enough to make a mess, you're big enough to clean it up," he said.
Aslett said he's seen too many young men (and young women) arrive in the mission field with a sense of entitlement but without manners.
If they are taught from childhood to be responsible for themselves, they have much more successful missions and marriages, he said.
"Part of our role was to inspect the missionary apartments," he said. What he and his wife found was often disconcerting and often disgusting, especially among the elders.
He thinks back to Elder Dallin H. Oaks' recent conference talk where Elder Oaks emphasized loving one another without accepting deplorable behavior.
"Teach your children 'I am responsible for my own outcome in spirituality, finances, health, everything,' " Aslett said. "And don't believe they can't change their behavior. They can if the consequences are weighty. Look at how fast they can learn in the military."
Aslett said LDS people may think because they have large families and many obligations that cleaning can take a back seat. But that's not true or good.
"We're busy. We have all this stuff to do," he said. "We're also a church of collecting stuff."
Aslett suggested making it easier to keep homes and apartments clean by limiting the junk and creating easy ways to keep everything clean.
Put cleaning supplies in every bathroom. Keep a used vacuum on every floor. Put up shelves. Have a place for everything.
"If it's easy to do it, they'll do it," Aslett said.
Teach family members the concept of taking care of things "Now!"
"A spot is on. A stain is forever. It takes one minute now, hours later," he said.
Don't assign cleaning as a punishment, and teach cleaning by example.
Do the cleaning in the morning when there's energy to spare.
Avoid "warrior cleaning" (especially on a beautiful Saturday when everyone wants to be outside) and keep the cats and dogs out of house.
"Cleanliness really is godliness," he said.
He suggested accepting help from friends and family when situations become overwhelming.
"People say, 'Can we help?' We always say no," Aslett said.
For more about Aslett and his myriad cleaning tips, visit DonAslett.com
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