The Toughest Job

It is often said that parenting is the toughest job and at times it can feel that way, but I love my salary of hugs and "I Love You Mum"s.

Mummy, You Are Pretty...


I was putting some make-up this morning and my three-year old came into the bedroom. "Oh Mummy, you are pretty. You're pretty just like me".

I think I would have been more flattered if she wasn't covered in chocolate aero at the time (a stolen and half-eaten Mothers Day present! LOL

The Tidy Up Ladder


What is it with kids? Why don't they like to keep things neat?

You and I both know it's got to be better to know where that hairbrush is, or that new DS game, or that overdue library book! But kids don't get it, kids don't see why their rooms should be tidy. I understand that, I really do, I hate tidying up - it's boring! There are things that I would much rather do than tidy, and so, my house is in a permanent state of organised clutter. To some it looks messy, but I know where just about everything in my house is.

Except for the missing hairbrush, a new DS game and that overdue library book!

So, just how do you get your kids to tidy? Do you bribe them, threaten them, take away all their stuff, lock them in their rooms until it's done? 8| Or do you try all of those with no success until one day you have an epiphany. Supernanny meets the Queens of Clean! Oh yes - I thought up the TidyUp Ladder and it worked - even better, it still works.

4 children, 3 bedrooms, one and a half hours and the rooms were spotless! You see the kids don't see the point in tidying, they don't understand the importance in dusting and vacuuming but they do understand races and they do understand sweets - okay, sweet bribery may not be everybodies cup of tea but I rationalise it by calling it a reward for a job well done.

To get the tidy up ladder to work you will need a timer (one that does 5 and 10 minutes), a stack of cards (I used the back of old business cards), blue tack, a tv showing short cartoons, a bowl of sweets and a tube of sweets (or other reward) - notice the emphasis on sweets here !!!! - Oh and you will also need a load of enthusiasm!

The idea behind the TidyUp ladder is that on each card you write something that needs tidying up and stick them up the wall (using the blue tack) to form a 'ladder'. At the top of each ladder you have a card with the childs name and their reward. They are timed to complete each stage of the ladder before the timer goes, if they complete the stage in time they get a sweetie, if they don't I get the sweetie. ;-) However, you always give them enough time to complete the stage! When they finish all the stages they get their reward.

The TV is another useful tactic - the sooner they finish that bit of tidying the sooner they get to see more of the show! This works really well with my children as they take it in turns to complete a cleaning stage. Doing it this way means that I only have one or two children upstairs at any one time and they are much less likely to interfere with each other and get distracted from the cleaning.

So, why does the TidyUp Ladder work? Quite simply, the children get rewarded for spending a few minutes playing a game! They like it. Having their Momma brimming with enthusism saying "come on, come on. You can do it. Get all the cuddlies on the bed before the timer goes" and then they get a sweet (or whatever) for beating the timer - that's cool!

Admittedly, sweets aren't everybodies cup of tea for reward incentives, and I know that my younger daughters would happily fill a card with stickers and have a bowl of strawberries as a reward, my son would happily earn extra computer time, but my 11 (going on 25) year old daughter... Sigh... she's the tricky one, but boy does she have a sweet tooth and it's easier making sure they're all earning the same rewards - less scope for "it's not fair" arguments.

Ways to make the TidyUp ladder work for you. Keep cleaning sessions short - no more than 5 minutes if possible - kids get bored easily, make sure they have equal time on and off - if they tidy for 5 minutes let them watch their cartoon for 5 minutes (perfect time for the next child to do their bit!). Keep instructions clear, simple and concise (put dirty clothes in basket, tidy under table, etc.). Limit the number of cards you write out (5 for younger children, I have 12 for the older ones).

Remember - Rome wasn't built in a day and if your kid's room is a complete tip then it won't be tidied in an hour or so. Break it up into 2 or 3 tidy sessions, more if necessary, by the end of the weekend it should be done! Then they can trash it during the week and do it all again the next weekend!

Posted by at Saturday, March 07, 2009 5:10 PM