Mum’s Prison Box…

Now that’s a bit of a title for a blog post isn’t it? What am I talking about? 

I recently have become very frustrated, with something to do with my children, and as a result, I have instituted a new thing. It’s called Mum’s Prison Box.

Let me start off with a tale of when I was a child. I was very messy, and I wasn’t very good at listening to my mother, or tidying up stuff. It used to drive her mad. One day, she told me that if I didn’t tidy up, when asked, she would removed items that were left out, and lying around and I would not get them back. I didn’t believe her. 

But, my mum didn’t make empty threats and the next time I left a mess and didn’t tidy up, she swiftly removed the items in question. I can’t actually remember what they were, but I know at the time, they were toys and things that were of some importance to me, and the removal of these items was a bit of a shock. I was pretty upset. Of course at the time, I felt my mum had been very unjust, because they were MY toys and things. She kept them for a good few weeks, and I soon realized that no amount of whining would induce her to give them back to me. I realized that she was pretty serious about my listening to her and about keeping my things tidy and tidying up and putting things away. She did eventually give me my things back, and although I never became a paragon of tidiness, I did learn to be more careful and to tidy when she asked and if she commented about stuff lying around I would swiftly put it away. 

Back to now. I have two children, who seem to have inherited their mother’s lack of tidying skills. I get incredibly frustated when I find stuff lying around, things not put away, and stuff just abandoned, waiting for the magic fairy (aka Mum) to tidy it up. 

Well, this week, the Magic Fairy got fed up of asking for things to be put away, and of being treated like the maid, so Mum’s Prison Box was born…

I remember feeling very upset when my mum took my toys away for not tidying, but now, looking back, it was a good lesson for me to learn. My mum needed to be listened to, and her wishes for a reasonably tidy and clean house and to be respected and for me not to just expect someone else to tidy my stuff away. So, taking a leaf out of her book, I have started “jailing” items that are left lying around, that aren’t tidied away, that I have asked, and asked to be put away, or where they belong. I have taken to scooping up items that fall under my gaze that should be tidied, or not left in random places for me to fall over (ie the stairs, the hall, the bathroom) and they go in my box. Reparations have to be made, for said items to be returned and my demands are strict. 

The children laughed when I told them about my plan. I think they thought I was joking. 

However, when the can of hairspray, hairbrush and comb that have been sat on the stairs (seriously) for three days, and not moved or tidied away – ahem, the tween, vanished into my box, and the box of colouring pencils that has taken up residence in the bathroom – ahem, the small boy, and the book that is supposed to be in a school bag, but has been left in my bedroom all week, despite reminders of it’s proper home – small boy again, and the shoes that are continually abandoned in the middle of the kitchen floor, despite the fact that in order to get to the kitchen, you have to walk past THE SHOE RACK, where shoes live when not on feet – the tween again, all made it from the places they weren’t supposed to be and found themselves in my special box, notice was soon taken. Wails of protest ensued and claims that I was the meanest mother in the world were cried out. 

I am hard hearted though. Sick of my house looking like a mess. So I stood firm. Reparations have to be made for said items to come back. Certain tasks have to be done, and done in a way I approve, over a period of time, before items are returned. A bit of grumbling has happened, but I think they realize that mum has had enough of the mess, not listening to requests of tidying up, and is to be taken more seriously in her cries of “I am not the maid”. 

Some items have been returned, some are still being held captive until full repayment in kind has been made. The children are still grumbling a bit but when I ask for things to be tidied up, the reaction is definitely a bit quicker and more efficient now. I have started a daily sweep of the house and things that are left untidy or not put away or not where they should be, despite requests, are popped into my box. 

I thought my mum was terribly mean, to take away my toys, all those years ago. But as with most things, when you are a parent yourself, you see life in a new light and you realize that perhaps your parents weren’t as bad as you think and that sometimes they did things that you hated at the time, but actually worked. 

Mum’s Prison Box… helping me not to loose the plot and yell when I fall over an abandoned pair of shoes, in the  middle of the floor, again… 

Posted in Family Life and Parenting and tagged honest parenting, I am not the maid, keeping it real, Mum's Prison Box, parenting.


  1. Precious! I did that, mom did it… I think my daughter does it now. PROVEN PROCESS! My mom used to take 1/2 our Christmas gifts and put them away until summer… SURPRISE! New toys! Thanks for the great reminder… hold fast!

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