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After School Routine For Keeping Tidy


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I wonder if some tidy Childminders could share their afternoon routine with me please. I've sent out questioniers to parents and one of the after-school parents came back with an answer to the question, 'what would you like to change in the setting?'. They answered that they think the kitchen is cluttered and toys and things in walkways are a hazard. I feel awful!


OK! I'm not the tidiest person and I don't have much familial support in that area, but I seem to be able to keep things in a safe and hygenic condition during the day. But things really do get out of hand in the afternoons and when parents turn up early they find me stacking the dishwasher and the benches and table covered in plates and the floor covered in food. Meanwhile the chldren are starting new activities without me on hand to keep it together, and also they seem to move all their belongings around so they can't be found when the parents arrive. I know it looks really bad. and I hate it, but I don't seem to be able to get it together at that time.


I serve a cooked tea at 4.30 which I'm simplifying next term to use fewer utensils and have more pre-prep. I though there should be full provision for the half hour or so after tea. Am I wrong? I hear that other childminders pack all the toys away before home time. Do the children not really rebel?


I often have six or seven for tea including two of my own.


So...All constructive advice gratefully appreciated.





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Hi Honey

I'm not a child minder but just looking at your situation I would get the children to tidy up before they sit and have food. Then when they have finished could they not put their own things in the dishwasher with you supervising. Maybe its because you have your own children but you seem to be going from childminder mode to mother mode. If you get my meaning. As mothers we tend to say "come on lets clear up" and you end up doing the work yourself but at Pre-school I say "let's clear up" and the children do it while I supervise. Maybe at the end of the day you are just trying to get things done but don't forget that you are their to teach the children to be independent. Also thats quite alot of children to feed and clear up after so start letting them do some of the work for you and you supervise.

Good luck


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:( Honey - I think all childminding settings are like that!!!!!


Sometimes at home time the parents have to pick a path through the toys to get to their child :(




we do have a few simple rules: -


we leave all bags, coats etc in the hallway when we arrive home, so they're ready to pick up and go when parents arrive


everyone has to tidy away what they were playing with before they wash hands and sit at the table


the older children set the table and help the younger ones put on aprons before eating


everyone takes their empty plate, cup etc through to the kitchen when they've finished


anything they get out to play with after tea has to be put away when their parents arrive unless someone else is still using it


This seems to reduce the chaos in the house but as for the garden..... :o that usually gets left for hubby to sort when he gets home as I'm usually off driving darling daughter to music lessons straight after work :(


The more you expect the children to help, the more they'll rise to the responsibility.


In essence, TEAMWORK!!!!!




(plus I'd expect the parents to be more concerned if there were no activities out or evidence that the children were having fun... they'd be pretty bored sitting in a showhome - at least that's my "excuse" xD )

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Hi there,


Don't despare! When I used to childmind it was often 'chaos' at that time of day especially with mixed age groups.


I used to get as much dinner prepped in the afternoon after lunch while the big ones were at school. If the preschoolers didn't sleep they had half an hour or so quiet time, with puzzles and books or cbeebies to recharge and also let their lunch go down. In this time I would peel potatoes etc for later.


How big is your hall way? Mine wasn't huge, but they all found their own 'space' to put their bags, and used to get upset if someone else put their bag there! The little one's were kept in my kitchen as I found I often had their daily diaries there, their drinking cups, bibs etc. So I would gather all that up from my kitchen and keep it with their bags. School childrens were in the hall in their own 'space' (ie one on the chair, one under the chair, one by the radiator etc)


I used to give the school children a time limit, telling them how much time they had before dinner. The crafty ones would then say 'can I make this?' and sometimes I would have to advise that no, there was not enough time to undertake that projcet this evening because we had been to the park for example, but I would plan to come straight home from school the next time so that they could do it then. They still need boundaries, and often don't have any regard for time spans unless we tell them.


The bulk of tidying would have to be done at my 10 minute warning call, and the rest after dinner - often they went quite quickly after dinner and if we didn't do it before it would indeed be left to me and my children which wasn't fair on them. The ones I then had until 6pm would usually have small world toys such as cars, action figures out, but no more craft projects or huge role play performances would be undertaken as parents just wanted to get their children and go, not hang around while they got changed back out of dressing up clothes and tidied up. Small world bits could just be scooped up and popped back into the box by myself if need be.


HTH, don't be afraid to instill some ground rules, and dare I say it, the ones that have been at school all day are often happy with half an hour tv at the end of the day for some down time



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I agree with what most people have been saying here. There really isn't a great need for full provision in the half hour after tea, you're providing it the rest of the time so they aren't missing out. This should be time when they are helping to sort out the tea things (if they are older) or putting away toys they have been playing with earlier and tidying up. They would be expected to help with these things in a nursery or school so please don't feel that just because they're in a house setting this shouldn't be what they're doing.


As for starting new activities in this time all children need boundaries, especially regarding time management. They just don't seem to realise how long things are going to take them and part of growing up is about learning this skill, sometimes they just have to be told 'no sorry, there isn't time'. If they are occupied with tidying up, or engaging with quiet activities (books, small jigsaws etc) after tea instead things will go much smoother for everyone, including for the children who aren't stressed out by suddenly having to leave something they are in the middle of when their parents turn up and aren't getting told off by a parent who's in a hurry to get away.

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Thanks so much All,


I can see I am just going to have to get MUCH tougher. I can get the little ones to help out, but some of the the bigger ones are just so mouthy, I find it near impossible. The mouthy ones seem to get such a hard time from their parents that I hate telling them about poor behaviour. Incidentally - the same parents that have got me all anxty.


I have simplified the menu for next year's teas which may help. And I can see a nice 'teatime' rules sign will help, but want to wait till they come back so that they can be involved. Will have some very clear ideas in advance though.


My hall is large enough, but this one parent sends clothes for hers to change into and no matter how hard I try, the chn want to change somewhere else and the piles get mixed up and school clothes somewhere else. And then they want to get something out of their bags and mix the piles up again. Aaaggghhh!


OK, onward and upward,


Thanks again,



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Presumably these children who are getting changed are of school age? This means that at school they will be expected to change into their PE kits, take responsibility for their own clothes and then change back again. Maybe you need to get a bit tougher about changing, they should be able to all put their own clothes into a bag after they've taken them off, and stay in one place whilst they change (even if that's the bathroom or something). This is what my class do at school (5 year olds!) when they change for PE and if they lose anything my answer is usually "tough, go and look for it" (or nicer words to that effect! :o) They soon learn to sort themselves out! (A "nothing comes out of your bags after tea" rule might work well too if possible, especially if it's only half an hour during which they have to tidy up and get changed anyway, nothing can possibly be that urgent that they 'need' it in the last 5 minutes of the day!)


Also don't be afraid to clamp down on poor behaviour! If it's unacceptable, tell their parents or bring in your own set of rewards and sanctions, if you don't you're just setting yourself up to look like a pushover and you don't want the little ones following suit, or even your own children getting ideas! Easier said than done though I know!

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  • 2 weeks later...


I caught onto this quite quickly when I started minding. My problem was finding myself at the end of the day, kids all gone and toys etc everywhere!!! Another half an hour for me to clear up!


What I now do goes like this (most days...)


3.50pm get in from school run, all children play in the garden if weather is good.

4-4.30pm structured activity on offer indoors linked to weekly theme.

4.30-4.50pm free play in or out while I cook dinner (pre-prepared veg etc) bit of CBeebies/Baby tv

4.50-5pm ALL children tidy all the toys, into bags and boxes, cupboard etc till carpet is clear.

5-5.30 ish children eat dinner. (Plates, pans etc into the sink as they finish)


After dinner, all that I put on the carpet out are puzzles and books. As the children are picked up between 5.30 and 6pm at different times, I gradually put the books and puzzles away too. By the time the last child goes, my house is clear of toys!


So then I get half an hour to myself to eat my dinner with my husband if he's in.

After that I tackle the washing up!


Previous posts have good ideas too. just see what works for you!

Regarding behaviour, I insist on good manners and older ones helping and 'training' little ones to tidy toys away where they go.


Best wishes



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Guest jane707

I have a good routine that all the children learn and we stick to pretty much every day.


When children come in their bags, coats, shoes etc go on a big set of shelves and that's where they stay. They don't get messed with.


If children get changed I supervise them to make sure clothes etc go back on their shelf.


10 mins before tea we have a big tidy up session and everyone joins in. I put on music for the less enthusiastic ones and we bop and sing as we tidy.


After tea the TV goes on and children can quietly read books but no new toys come out because I am busy stacking the dishwasher and cannot supervise.


The older ones help me carry plates, clear the table etc in a rota which includes my own children.


I hope that helps you! :o

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