A reward plan has always been one of the most popular methods used by mums to ensure their little ones remain on their best behaviour. No matter how well laid out they may be, however, they just never seem to work out just right, do they? For those intending to try the technique out for the first time, you might want to prepare yourself with our guide.
1. Reaching boiling point
You've had enough of the boldness, the screaming, the tantrums and the pulling of hair; something needs to be done. Suddenly, the light bulb goes off in your head, and your years of watching Nanny 911 finally come in handy - time for a reward plan!
2. Perfecting the ultimate bribe
If the kids won't be nice to each other and to you out of the goodness of their little hearts, there is only one thing for it - bribery! You get so into this plan that you construct a reward chart, you lash out the gold stars and you stock up on their favourite treats and toys. This will be foolproof, you tell yourself.
3. The debriefing
Once you manage to sit your kids down at the table and get them to listen to you for long enough, the rest is pretty simple. You explain that for every good deed/ early night/ A+ they put down, you will gift them with a very special surprise. Then you sit back and wait to reap the rewards of your genius plan.
On the kids' behalf, of course, but you're pretty smug with yourself too. The kids are over the moon (because being on your best behaviour sounds a hell of a lot easier than it is) and are already picking up their toys and speaking to each other in loving hushed tones. Time to put your feet up with a cuppa and a biscuit - you've nailed this parenting thing.
5. The first hiccup
You've run out of gold stars and your youngest is now bawling the house down in fear that she won't get her Frozen doll at the end of the month. As you comfort her, you want to tell her that these stickers mean absolutely nothing - but that would put the entire plan in jeopardy. Not so foolproof after all, eh?
6. Exhausted resources
Your kids get so good at this 'being on their best behaviour' lark that they start to question you and daddy. You can't so much as utter a complaint without getting a sideways glance from your eight-year-old. Meanwhile, they've perfected the game so well that you're running out of resources to keep up with all these good deeds. While you'll never admit it, secretly you're just praying for a good old-fashioned paint fight in the playroom.
You don't need to pray for too long, because all it takes is a simple disagreement over the remote and it's gone beyond Peppa Pig versus Ben 10 - this is all-out war, and every ounce of that bad behaviour that they have suppressed over the past fortnight comes rushing out. It ends with you retiring the reward plan (in secret relief) while they sob in two of the room's four naughty corners.
8. Quiet reflection
As you sit down at 11 o'clock, after begging and pleading with your little ones to stay in bed, you smile as you reflect back on those few perfect days of peace and harmony. As you soak up this precious quiet time and prepare yourself for the inevitable tears and tantrums of tomorrow, you wait for the next bright idea to strike!