Sussex Mum Makes Kids Sign Cleaning Contracts And Risk Fines For Breaking Rules
Picture the scene: you’ve had a tough day at school/work, so as soon as you get home you fling your shoes across the room, crack open a can of Fanta Lemon and head to your room to chill out.
Except rather than chill out as you intended, you get slapped with a £5 fine because your mum has made you sign a contract banning you from drinking fizzy drinks in your room.
That’s the reality three teenagers in Horsham, West Sussex, face after their mum, 36-year-old Katrina Neathey, made them all sign ‘cleaning contracts’ to ensure they followed her rules to the T.
You can watch Katrina enforcing her rules below:
The frustrated mum, who runs a cleaning business with her twin sister Natalie, has spent the past two decades cleaning up after her children, Hayden, 19, Joshua, 18, and Olivia, 13 – and has had enough of it.
The last straw came when Katrina found mud on her new £1,200 carpet, just a few weeks after she’d had her entire upstairs refurbished. Enter: the contract.
She called the three teenagers into the dining room and presented each of them with their very own tailor-made contracts, which banned them from leaving their dirty washing on the floor and eating in their rooms – to name just a few of the rules.
All of them signed their contracts, with the two eldest agreeing they would be fined £5 per rule break. Olivia, on the other hand, would have her phone taken away for a day per infringement.
So what exactly do these contracts contain? Aside from not eating in their bedrooms and having to put their dirty washing in the wash basket (not forgetting the ban on fizzy drinks), the teens must also make their bed everyday, hang up or put away all of their clothes, and keep their rooms tidy.
They also have to put their washing up in the dishwasher (and empty it if it’s full), put their shoes away after wearing them, and put their bags away. Olivia is also banned from putting make-up on in her bedroom.
The mum said her ‘harsh but fair’ parenting has whipped the kids into shape, and she has only pocketed £20 so far. So it seems like the contracts are working.
Katrina initially attempted to set up some ‘basic ground rules’ when the teenager’s messy habits had got out of hand after the £4,000 refurb, but ‘after a few days they were falling back into old habits’.
They’d hide dirty clothes or plates at the back of their wardrobe when I told them to tidy up. It’s as if they forget I’m a cleaner. I know exactly where to find things.
We had a talk during the family meeting and I knew something needed to be done. When I first mentioned it to them they just thought it was hilarious.
But I thought the only way they will listen is if I fine the older boys with money, as they work, and for Olivia to lose her phone. I know the boys are only on apprenticeships and don’t earn that much so they’ll notice when £5 has gone out their pocket.
Katrina said while the contracts might sound ‘heavy’ to some, it’s time for her children to give back after she has looked after them all their lives.
The mum, who runs a cleaning business with her sister, said:
I just think it’s time they learn the hard way. When they started school they were really good because I encouraged them to put all their toys away in their rooms. They never ate upstairs because I was controlling that as the adult.
It was when I started the business and begun working longer hours that things started to creep in. They started getting into football and dance so all of us were rushing in and out of the door.
As they grew older and technology and phones came into play, they would just prioritise chatting to their mates [rather] than helping out with the housework. Plus I started doing it for them.
Countless time I’ve told them I wasn’t their slave, but that was always short-lived and they would hide things instead. The worst was when I found a used chopping board in the wardrobe. I’ve also found other things like forks, bowls and milk bottles left to go off, all tucked away somewhere in the hope I wouldn’t find it.
Josh, an apprentice carpenter, has received three fines so far – all in one day for two food wrappers hidden in a shoe box and down the side of his bed, and for clothes thrown into his wardrobe.
Olivia has only had her phone confiscated once, after Katrina found a wrapper in her room. ‘She still got to take it to school for safety reasons, so I just banned it for two evenings in a row,’ she explained.
Hayden, an apprentice plumber, has so far only received one fine for not making his bed, with Katrina stating: ‘I think he was testing his luck because I was going to London for the day, which means I’m usually back really late but on this occasion I actually got home before him’.
The mum said that because she and husband Gareth ‘work hard to give them the best [they] can’ as parents, it can become ‘easy for them to take advantage of [their] generosity’.
Regardless, Katrina said she is ‘really pleased’ with how it’s going as it’s making her life ‘so much easier’. Even better, she said she doesn’t have to nag, which is ‘great for everyone’.
Hey, if the system’s working and the teens are learning how to clean up after themselves, I think she might be onto a winner here.
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CreditsTwinkle Cleaning Duo/Instagram
Twinkle Cleaning Duo/Instagram