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Parenting Tips: encouraging your children to tidy-up at the end of the day

organizing tips

Welcome to the Friday Club Carnival, a weekly carnival held here. This week’s Carnival is all about parenting tips and you’ll find links to other fab parenting tips at the end of this post.

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My parenting tip this week is a simple one but one we use every day.

For me, the most depressing bit of domestic chaos is the carpet of toys that is always present. By the children’s bedtime, I want our living room to be tidy so that Matthew and I can enjoy our evening in a grown-up room which doesn’t look like it has been the victim of a nuclear-bomb-inspired toy explosion. The rest of the house can do what it wants (except maybe when I go up to bed, exhausted after a long day, and find someone has been having a very convoluted game of Lego in our bed, using all the smallest bits of Lego know to man) but the living room needs to be tidy, for my own sanity.

So for half an hour before suppertime the children get ‘golden time’ (named after the same privilege at school). During that half hour they can do whatever they want which generally means watch a DVD, play on the computer or play the Wii/DS – things they are not normally allowed to do during the day. Before they get to do it though they have to do their homework and tidy up all their toys.

It’s amazing how quickly and effectively the house can be tidied doing this. I have to supervise closely otherwise I find the seven year old, wise to our little deal, pushing toys under the coffee table with his foot to ‘tidy up’. I do a quick walk-through their rooms and the sitting room and if the worst of the mess has been tidied up, they are good to go.

So by suppertime I have a tidy house and four quiet, occupied children while I cook (bar a bit of fighting over anything they have to share).

If they behave well during the day they can gain five minutes of playtime. If they do something naughty (hitting, kicking and so on) they lose five minutes of playtime.

The children do have to do chores around the house at other times and these are not linked to this play time, they have to do those chores for the good of our community, but for the quick daily clean-up we find this works really well for all of us and I can get their meal cooked in peace. I now burn fewer things because I don’t keep getting called away to deal with the latest crisis de jour. And I sometimes get a moment or two on Twitter while there is a little lull in proceedings ;)

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Here are the other entries in this parenting tips carnival:

Chris at Thinly Spread gives us her Secret to Relaxed Parenting. Nova at Cherished by Me shares her tips in Encouraging Children to Read. Maggy at Red Ted Art shows us how Baby Can Draw!. Gemma at HelloitsGemma’s Blog gives us her working mum tips in This working Mummy’s guide to life. Cass at The Diary of a Frugal Family shows us how she teaches in America Day. Mummy Beadzoid gives us some Parenting tips for the NICU/SCBU parent. Helen at Cheeky Wipes gives us her tips in Fussy Eating. Kelly at Domestic Goddesque shares her advice in Terrible Twos: tips for dealing with tantrums? Blue Sky at Looking for Blue Sky gives us some teenage tips. Merry at Patch of Puddles shares her parenting tips in If you are right, you are almost certainly wrong. Tiddlyompompom shares her weaning tips in her oh so helpful guide to weaning. Mymumdom shares her tips in Parenting Tips (Me Over The Edge). SouthoftheRiverMum tells us her plans to set up a Reward System at Home. Not so single mum at Diary of a Not So Single Mum shares her advice on doing what you feel is best for your child and your family. Jax at Making It Up discusses behavioural issues in a quandary in search of a tip. Bod for Tea shares her advice on finding a ‘helper’ in Bunny says. Hayley at Simply Hayley tells us about Hugs and Love. Make Do Mum shares her stickability scale in Know Your Enemy.

What’s your favourite parenting tip?

Top photo adapted with thanks from: oh sk

26 comments… add one

  • Jacq February 11, 2011, 4:56 pm

    I’ve always known Golden Time works well at school, but have never thought about trying it at home. What a great idea!
    Do they have different lengths of GT or is it an all or nothing deal?

    • ella February 11, 2011, 6:01 pm

      They all get 30 minutes (roughly the time it takes me to cook) but they may have to swap around if they all want a go on the Wii as I can’t spend two hours for 4 of them to have a go on the same thing!

      After a few initial sharing difficulties it works quite well now.

  • Cheeky Wipes Helen February 11, 2011, 6:08 pm

    I like it! At the moment I find the best way to keep the house tidy is for us not to be in it (!) so if it is tidy and I want it to stay that way for a particular reason then we go to soft play…

    Seriously though, we’ve just started having a cleaner (with baby no4 due next month and no sign of maternity leave for me, something has got to give) and I’ve found that knowing she’s coming to CLEAN is an incentive for us all to tidy.

    Hope your poorly children feel better.

    • ella February 12, 2011, 10:15 pm

      That’s so true. When we had a cleaner, we had to tidy up first!

  • notsosinglemum February 11, 2011, 6:28 pm

    Sounds like a great idea to me! My daughter used to have golden time at school before we moved to Spain, so maybe that’s a good way to get her tidying up here as she loved it at school.

    • ella February 12, 2011, 10:15 pm

      The fact that it is like something they do at school definitely encourages my lot!

  • midlifesinglemum February 11, 2011, 6:42 pm

    I wanted to send something in but couldn’t think of anything interesting. However, these posts are great – I worked my way down the list. Thanks Ella.

    • ella February 12, 2011, 10:16 pm

      Thank you :)

  • Domestic goddesque February 11, 2011, 8:11 pm

    I’ve never heard of Golden Time but I like your strategy…once I get done with the tantrums thing, it might be my next battle!

    • ella February 12, 2011, 10:16 pm

      When you get past the tantrums thing, you’ll find everything else a breeze ;)

  • tiddlyompompom February 11, 2011, 8:22 pm

    I am just starting to introduce tidy up time with Big M (3). Having a reward/golden time is a fab idea. Peppa Pig may be ours :)

    • ella February 12, 2011, 10:17 pm

      Peppa Pig has her uses :)

  • CherishedByMe February 11, 2011, 9:43 pm

    What a great idea, I’m trying to think of ways to use that here. I fear it may be too late. My children clear up the playroom, it looks fantastic and then I open the cupboard. I have learned not to open that cupboard, I’m just grateful it looks tidy at quick glance! ;)
    I’m enjoying reading everyone’s tips on so many different subjects. x

    • ella February 12, 2011, 10:18 pm

      Oh good point, we don’t have a big store cupboard at the moment and I had better make sure we don’t end up with one in our next house ;)

  • Cass February 12, 2011, 12:52 pm

    I love this idea, anything that helps tidy the house on a night is a good idea in my eyes lol.

    • ella February 12, 2011, 10:19 pm

      It’s the last thing they (and I) want to do in the evenings but this helps!

  • Domestic Goddess Wannabe February 12, 2011, 8:47 pm

    I have been enjoying reading your blog and have given you a Stylish Blogger Award! Check it out at http://karenandnigella.blogspot.com/2011/02/precious-paella.html

    • ella February 12, 2011, 10:19 pm

      Thank you so much!

  • Pants With Names February 13, 2011, 8:48 am

    We do exactly the same thing. They have to tidy before they can turn the TV on. Works well most the time!

    • ella February 13, 2011, 12:03 pm

      For us it’s the excitment of choosing what screen time they want to do, I don’t think TV would cut it for my lot unfortunately.

  • Cara February 13, 2011, 6:35 pm

    Oh, I could kiss you! What a fantastic idea. Golden time at school is something my 6YO is familiar with, but I have never thought of replicating it at home. Does it also help in a morning to keep them focussed in getting ready?

    Sorry I haven’t joined in of late, I have very best intentions, but we are always at a play group Friday mornings & I never get organised enough to do it the night before. I love reading these (& everyone else’s) posts.Would you consider posting an upcoming schedule of a few weeks topics for Friday Club?

    • ella February 13, 2011, 10:13 pm

      Thank you Cara, what a lovely thing to say.

      I don’t use it in the morning because the rule in our house is if they are late for school THEY have to go to the headteacher and explain why. We are never, ever late! Or at least, not because of them :)

      There is usually advance notice of Friday Club carnival topics here:
      http://notesfromhome.com/2010/11/12/the-friday-club-friday-carnivals/

      I’m suggesting participants post on Thursday (or Wednesday) to make it a bit easier, it also makes it a bit easier for me to coordinate the posts as it’s getting to be quite a large carnival each week now. Hope you can join in again at some point, not every week will appeal to everybody, but hopefully there will be something in the forthcoming weeks which you could join in with if you want to, I would love that :)

  • Tanya February 14, 2011, 8:28 pm

    Great tip, one I will bear in mind once LLC is old enough to tidy up herself (though I am trying to make a game of placing toys in her toy bin at the end of the day)! I too feel much more relaxed once the toy carnage of the day is packed away.

  • mummy February 15, 2011, 1:12 pm

    This is a great tip! And it validates the 30 mins watching the Bod DVD (of course) that DD gets to have while I make dinner :)

  • JMJast March 28, 2011, 8:29 am

    don’t know about golden time (my daughter is only 2), but since we introduced tidying up BEFORE her daily dose of Peppa Pig (DVD) there has been much less fuss in getting her to tidy up her toys at the end of the day.

    Ps. Ouch! Just realised I’ve missed this Friday Club Carnival. I’ll have remember to always chack your blog for new announcements

  • Kevin April 3, 2012, 1:06 pm

    Good advice. It is good to teach the kids good habits like this so that when they get older they don’t even think about putting away their belongs, they just do it instinctively.

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