A New Home

After sitting in front of yet another person (a homelessness officer this time) and bitterly cursing the unfairness of it all, I got the news I had been waiting for:

“We have a place for you, but…”

Oh please, please not more “but”s! I need someone to give me a “yes” here!

“…I’m afraid a 2 bedroom flat is all we have available. Would you be prepared to take it?”

Afraid? Afraid?! I was over the moon! When I arrived at the flat to get the keys I was even more pleased. The place is massive!

Of course it’s not without its faults – there are a few bits that need repairing and it is completely unfurnished. I had to pay the previous tenants debts before being able to put money in the gas meter but at least we haven’t ended up on the streets.

The children love it so far. Mattresses on the floor haven’t lost their novelty yet, nor has the lack of toys.

While they are sleeping soundly I am applying for housing online and organising myself for the following day.

When will this stop feeling like a holiday to them?

Alarming Organisation

There are many reasons why I’m addicted to my smartphone but lately I’ve been making use of a feature I’ve been ignoring for years.

At the moment I have 9 alarms set on my phone. There are alarms reminding me to take the boys to/from playgroup, give/take medicine, tidy the living room… basically an alarm for anything I forget to do. (That is almost everything then!)

Some tips for helping the alarm system to work:

  • Don’t just set loads and hope for the best. If you set ones you don’t need you’ll just get into the habit of ignoring your phone.
  • Set different alarm tones for different things. Again, variety is what you need.
  • Get to know what feature you can use. There is almost no need to download an extra app as long as you experiment.
  • If you can, set alarms for the days you’ll need them. For example, the boys go to playgroup on the same 2 days every week. I don’t need alarms for the other 5 days.

What do you do to keep yourself organised?

He Stole My Heart

When Caden woke up crying I knew it wasn’t just the cold sore on his lip.

I hadn’t told him we were leaving and yet he knew. He cried when Martin left for work. He cried some more at bedtime. He cried after his brother went to sleep.

No, he didn’t want to sleep in his bed. No he didn’t want to sleep in my bed. No, no, NO!

I got him into my bed and cut my finger on a chipped mirror while fumbling in the dark.

“Did Daddy do that?”

Children don’t forget.

I put on a plaster and got into bed again. I checked my emails, knowing he would be distracted by it. It worked.

I looked at him in the glow of my phone’s backlight, his features highlighted perfectly. He took my breath away.

“You are such a beautiful little boy, Caden.”

He smiled and shook his head.

“OK, you’re a beautiful big boy.”

He shook his head once more and said:

“No, you are.”

And with that, he went to sleep.

The Great Toy Sort Out

This time of year, my house is always overrun with toys. It doesn’t matter how much I think I’ve sorted before Christmas – by the time Santa has finished his rounds I am usually waist deep in board books, tiny cars and Play-Doh.

With three children, the sight of it all can be quite overwhelming. I usually spend January hiding myself away from it. This year, however, I have resolved to be more organised – putting the Great Toy Sort Out at the top of the list. You can read more about my New Year, New Me linky here.

Sorting out the toys is such a big job, only a list will do.

Step One: The Chuck-Out (Phase One)

Methodically work drawer-to-drawer, room-to-room. Put everything broken or with missing pieces into a bag. If you can’t fix the items or find the missing pieces, throw them in the bin.

Step Two: The Chuck-Out (Phase Two)

You should be left with nothing broken or with missing parts. Now we have to suss out what’s played with and what else can leave. Do this without the children there because they will want everything they see. Bag up everything they never seem to play with and keep out of sight. Wait a week, then sell/give to charity everything they haven’t asked for.

Step Three: Finding The Homes.

Everything you have left should be things they play with or perhaps some sentimental toys. You could just throw it all in some toy boxes but in my experience, it’s better to put different items in different places. First take everything you kept for sentimental reasons, put it in a box and put the box away somewhere. Then find homes for all the other toys/books. Think about new storage solutions if you need to – could some of the messier toys (such as Lego) live in the bedrooms rather than the main living space?

How do you keep y0ur child’s toys organised?

Cleaning Up – When You Just Can’t Be Arsed

Are you unwell, stressed or just plain lazy? This is a note to myself the post for you!

  1. Delegate. Give everybody at home a job to do – including children. Encourage younger ones to participate by giving them lots of praise and doing it alongside them, or try a reward chart for the older children to earn pocket money.
  2. Limit mess making. Don’t give the kids spaghetti bolognese for tea if you’re not feeling well enough to clean up, or if you’re too busy. It’s a recipe (sorry, I had to) for disaster!
  3. Relax. If you’re run down stressing out about the housework is going to make things worse. You have to look after yourself to be able to look after others – that includes houses – so just chill out, do what you can and don’t beat yourself up about the rest.
  4. Keep to the 5 minute rule. It won’t hurt to do a little at a time. Even if you just do a quick pick up in the ad breaks you’re still helping to make sure you’re not left with so much to do that you just can’t face it. Just do the low-energy stuff or do it in short bursts.
  5. Get into the mood. Put on some music, get some energizing smells in the air and just go with it. It helps if the stuff you’re cleaning with smells divine!
  6. Hide distractions. Put away the phone and laptop and if you’re really determined, get a babysitter! You’ll be surprised how much faster things will get done.
  7. Treat yourself. If you’ve done something well then reward yourself for it – you’d do it to everyone else! Whether it’s some “me” time or something a bit more tangible, you’ll feel much better knowing there’s something nice at the end of the tunnel.

Knitting Project: Cup Cardi/Cup Cosy/Mug Hugger

Remember when I made a bucket list and decided that one day, before I turn 30, I would pick up my needles long enough to finish a knitting project? That day has come!

Ok, it’s not the stuff of legend, the point is I finished it. I cast off all the stitches and even managed to “sew” in hook-and-eye thingies. It’s FINISHED. And machine-washable. Therefore, I am a domestic goddess.

Here’s how I did it. Note to knitting addicts: you may want to look away now. Precision has gone out of the window.

  1. Gather up your favourite (empty) mug, some pretty wool and some needles. (I used size 4)
  2. Cast on and keep adding stitches until you reach the desired length. Determine this by holding needle vertically to mug and guessing.
  3. Knit a row.
  4. Purl a row.
  5. Keep knitting and purling. Wrap your creation around the mug/cup every so often until you more or less reach the handles.
  6. Cast off and weave in tails.
  7. Using darning needles and more wool, sew in the hooks and eyes. Measure up against the mug to make sure you don’t put them where the handles will go. If your wool has bobbly bits like mine, it’s easier to sew without them so take them off.

So there you have it: not a very precise pattern but a quick, easy make. If you don’t yet know how to knit, here is a good place to look.

Household Superheroes – Newspaper

Far more than just a daily catch-up with events, the humble newspaper can entertain you for hours – after you’ve read it there’s the Sudoku, the crosswords and the comics. Don’t forget to mention the hours you spend worrying about your horoscope – is true love REALLY just around the corner?

Once you finished being entertained by it, there’s loads more you can do with it before it hits the (recycling) bin.

  1. Pack wet shoes with them and leave overnight to dry out.
  2. Wash windows with it.
  3. Use it as an insulator.
  4. Do some papier-mâché with the kids!
  5. You can double wrap your food scraps with it rather than buying bio-degradable bags.

Household Superheroes – Bicarbonate Of Soda

Famous for its uses in the kitchen and for making awesome volcanoes, bicarbonate of soda makes the last item of my list. It’s extremely versatile and has already been mentioned in other lists but I haven’t exhausted it just yet!

  1. Sprinkle over your carpets and leave for a few minutes before using your vacuum cleaner to leave your carpets smelling as fresh as a daisy.
  2. Add it to water and give your veggies a soak before scrubbing them to helps get rid of some of the stubborn bits.
  3. Use it with a damp scourer to get rid of burned food.
  4. Use it to make baking powder if you happen to run out.
  5. Use it to draw out stains.

Household Superheroes – Natural Yoghurt

It’s delicious mixed with fruit or with a curry and everyone knows it’s good for the tummy. Hey, that sort-of rhymes! I’m quite good at this writing malarkey!

Anyway, here are my 5 reasons to always have it in the fridge:

  1. Eat it when you have thrush or apply directly to the area for speedy relief. Try not to use sanitary towels, breast pads or tampons for the application as these can make it worse. Cotton only!
  2. Use it as after-sun, preferably straight from the fridge.
  3. Mix with food colouring for some non-toxic and extremely edible messy play!
  4. Use it as a low-fat substitute for sour cream or cream cheese.
  5. Use it as a cream cleanser.