'UK’s strictest mum’ only lets her kids watch TV once per week

Elena Leeming says she is the UK's strictest mum. (SWNS)
Elena Leeming says she is the UK's strictest mum. (SWNS) (Lee McLean / SWNS)

The ‘UK’s strictest mum’ says she only allows her kids to watch telly once per week, never lets them eat sweets, and throws away any toys that they don’t put away.

Elena Leeming, 39, says she believes that being a strict parent is the best way to ‘prepare kids for life’.

The business analyst from York and her husband, Darren Leeming, 54, share two children, Clive, 6, and Violet, 5, who have both been assigned household chores since they were three years old.

She says her kids have ‘never eaten Haribo’ and she only allows them to watch TV on Sundays.

"I like to see the children learning in everything they do," she explains. "It's important for them to understand what they need to eat and do.

"They are healthy, happy, and have a good sleep routine as a result. I think parents become a bit loose and don't really discipline their children now – but this way I'm preparing them for life."

Leeming adds that both she and her husband were brought up without being taught life skills like cooking and housework, which is why she doesn’t want the same for her kids.

Now, Leeming says her son sets up breakfast before she comes downstairs in the morning "rather than sitting there screaming and waiting for breakfast, they can do it themselves".

Leeming will throw away toys if they're not put away. (SWNS)
Leeming will throw away toys if they're not put away. (SWNS) (Lee McLean / SWNS)

The kids also can load the washing machine by themselves, and they help out with the gardening. Leeming also teaches them about nutrition, ensuring they eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and drink at least one litre of water.

Which is also why they are not allowed processed foods or snacks like sweets and crisps. They can only pick one sugary food a day from a pre-approved list such as a yoghurt, ice cream, or biscuits, and they are not allowed fizzy drinks.

"They've never had a Haribo in their lives,” Leeming explains. "They're not allowed to eat foods with no vitamins or nutritional benefits.

"When they're given sweets they say 'no thanks, they're not good for me' and they put them in the bin."

The kids have tablets, but these are only to be used for 'educational games' such as spelling challenges.

"With screentime, it's like an addiction. I don't want them to develop that addiction," Leeming says.

The kids also aren’t allowed to move onto another activity before clearing up the first.

"One time I was on a call and they turned the house inside out," Leeming says. "I gave them five minutes to tidy up and they didn't get it done in time.

"So I put the toys in a black bag and took them to the charity shop the next day regardless of how new or expensive they were. For the weeks after, the books were on the shelf and the toys were tidied up – they learnt from it and I never had to do that again."

Leeming is keen to enforce a sense of discipline into her children, and is willing to go to many lengths to stop them from doing ‘silly things’.

Violet and Clive started doing chores when they were three. (SWNS)
Violet and Clive started doing chores when they were three. (SWNS) (Lee McLean / SWNS)

"My daughter tied a knot on her rucksack that was really hard to untie, so I made her untie it standing outside in the rain so she wouldn't do it again," she explains.

"We have reward charts and they lose stars if they don't go to the toilet before leaving the house and then need it while we're out."

Leeming says her approach is the best one for her family. "Everyone is allowed their own opinion and they can raise children how they want," she adds.

"But mental health is on the rise, and people have no resilience skills nowadays. I want my children to grow up [to be] strong leaders."

One YouGov study from 2015 found that strict parenting has become more relaxed with newer generations.

It found that 43% of people born between 1991 and 1997 said that their parents were not very strict, or not at all strict, compared to just 16% of respondents who were born in 1955 or earlier.

However, across all age groups it was agreed that strict parenting was the most beneficial form, with 82% of the adults surveyed saying it was better for parents to be strict.

Strict parenting could have an impact on children’s mental health however, as a study from 2023 conducted by researchers at the University of Cambridge and University College Dublin of 7,500 Irish children, found that those who were subject to more ‘hostile’ parenting conditions at age three were 1.5 times more likely to have mental health problems by age nine.

Additional reporting by SWNS.