Show your kids love with interior decoration

Showing your kids some love with interior decoration

Interior decoration is a big part of our lives. The way we dress up our private, familial spaces has a lot of impact on the way we feel and how much we love our homes. And when you’re decorating a new place, or you’ve decided to redecorate the living room after staring at the same wallpaper for 10 years, a lot of thought is going to go into your new interior. 

You’re going to make decisions over what looks good, what will brighten up the space, what would be a good backdrop for a feature wall, etc. And if you have kids, you’re going to want to choose colours that don’t show the dirt, and make your children feel as comfortable as you do!

And to do that, you might just have to include them in your interior design planning.

After all, you can show them a lot of love with the choices you make – here’s a few tips on how. 

 

Build them a hidey hole

Kids love places they can squeeze into and hang out in, without an adult being able to follow them. It’s why tree houses are so popular – a private space out in the garden, high off the ground, where your kids can play and draw and chat to their heart’s content. It’s a lovely little way to encourage rights to privacy and respecting boundaries in your children, so why not think about making them a little hidey hole of their own inside the house? 

The house is a family space, of course, but there’s a lot of kids out there who like being able to withdraw from time to time. They don’t have to leave the room completely, but they are able to sit inside a pillow fort or a castle made out of cardboard boxes and catch their breath. 

When these things are part of the interior design of the house themselves, they won’t get in the way or take up the spare room you need for something else. So it doesn’t have to be any skin off your nose! That cardboard castle could double up as an interesting bookshelf, and that pillow fort could moonlight as an extra bed for when there are guests staying over. 

 

Hang up their art

Kids love to create, don’t they? They’ve got an imagination the size of the universe itself, and they’re always playing make believe or rabbiting on to an imaginary friend of theirs. So, why not put this untapped and unlimited creativity to good use? You’ve got some walls to decorate, and they love to draw pictures for you! 

Get some large sheets of paper out, or invest in a large canvas. Set a protective cloth down on the floor, and then give them some paints, pencils, pens, and brushes. Then, let them get to work! Let them throw colours around and draw all kinds of flowers and animals and shapes, and let them put together a composition that only they could really ever understand. Even if they tell you the cows and the pigs they’ve drawn are friends out in the meadow, it’s a good chance they don’t look like much more than blobs of inky colour to you! 

Then purchase some A3 frames, let the work dry and set, and then hang up these new art pieces onto your walls. Your kids are going to love coming home from school or waking up in the morning to see a work of art of their own creation hanging up in the living room. It might just put a perky spring in their step. 

 

Let them mix and match!

Kids love to be colourful. They love to have wild and wacky colour schemes in their drawings and paintings, and they love to piece together flower crowns made out of all kinds of mixed and matched weeds. So, why not encourage the same freedom inside your own home?

Of course, in the living room, one bright red wall and one half and half blue/green wall might be a bit much. But inside their own bedrooms? Let them go for it! No one is going to see it but them, and you can always paint over if you need to. All in all, letting kids choose the colours they want to live in day by day can really help them to trust the family home. 

 

Interior decoration has a lot of elements to it, but when your kids have ideas of their own, let them out! 

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

Perfect simple flapjack recipe

Simple and classic flapjack recipe

Flapjacks are one of my favourite sweet treats.

Nerys loves them too and will often ask for one when she sees them in the shops when we’re out and about.  I hadn’t made them at home for awhile though, so last week I stocked up on oats and golden syrup and made a batch.

These flapjacks are simple and classic and delicious, so keep reading for the recipe if you want to give them a go yourself.

 

Ingredients:

  • 125g butter
  • 125g brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 250g oats

 

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 and line a 7 x 9 inch cake tin with greaseproof paper
  2. Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup into a pan and melt it all together over a low heat
  3. Once all the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved, take the pan off the heat and stir in the oats
  4. Mix everything together really well so all the oats are coated in the buttery, syrupy mixture
  5. Tip the mixture into the lined tin and press it down really well with the back of a wooden spoon or a spatula
  6. Bake at 180 for 18 minutes
  7. Leave to cool for a few hours, or even better, over night
  8. Cut into squares and enjoy

 

Flapjacks are one of those things that seem like they should be foolproof but so often they don’t come out quite right.

I know I’ve made them a few times in the past and they’ve ended up not coming together properly and crumbling everywhere.  Other times I’ve let them bake for a bit too long and they’ve been hard and crunchy when I really want them softer and chewy.

 

The best advice I’ve found for getting flapjacks right is:

  • really make sure you press the mixture down well into the tin
  • bake them until they’re just golden and still feel a bit soft when you take them out of the oven
  • leave them to cool and set in the tin for as long as possible, ideally overnight, before cutting up and enjoying

These flapjacks are classic and so tasty just as they are.

But if you want to you can jazz them up with different seeds, raisins and/or chocolate chips.  You could also add a layer of melted chocolate to the top once they’ve cooled in the tin, then leave that to set as well before cutting into squares.

best herbs to grow at home

Start your own herb garden with these three plants

If you like to cook and want to start using more fresh ingredients then herbs are a great place to start.

You can buy small plants from the garden centre and either keep them on a sunny windowsill in your kitchen or plant them out in the garden.  Either way you’ll love having fresh herbs on hand to add to your recipes.

These three herbs are a great place to start if you’d like to create your own mini herb garden.

Basil

Basil is a great plant to start with if you want to build your own little herb garden.

It does really well in a plant pot on a sunny windowsill but will also thrive planted outside in your garden.  If you can, try planting it alongside some tomato plants.  Apparently doing this can improve the taste of your tomatoes!

Once your plant is growing well you can harvest the leaves by snipping a stem just above the point where two large leaves meet.  Try to do this before the plant flowers, otherwise you can just pinch off the parts of the plant that start to flower.  Getting rid of the flowers makes the plant put all its energy into growing the leaves that we want.

 

Basil is a great herb to have on hand ready to use in salads, sandwiches and paninis, on pizza and in tomato sauces.  It’s also amazing to have around for making your own fresh pesto.

 

 

Rosemary

Like basil, rosemary needs a lot of sunlight to grow well, so keep it on a sunny windowsill or plant it out in the garden.

You also need to make sure that it can drain well if you’re growing it in a plant pot.  And general advice is to water it when the top of the soil starts to feel dry, but without letting it dry out completely.

 

Rosemary is perfect for making infused oils and flavoured butter to use in cooking.  It’s also adds amazing flavour to roast potatoes and is great in simple dishes like baked Camembert.

 

 

Thyme

Thyme is a Mediterranean plant that does well in dry, sunny conditions.

It’s a low-growing plant and tends to spread out quite well, so find a warm spot in the garden with space for it to grow in to.  Thyme tends to grow well when it’s planted along with strawberry and tomato plants.

For the best flavour you should harvest the thyme just before the plant flowers.  It’s worth keeping in mind that the more you trim a thyme plant, the more it grows.  Regularly cutting the plant back will also help to encourage a more rounded shape.

 

Thyme goes really nicely with lemon to add flavour to a roast chicken.  It’s also great with roasted potatoes and carrots.

 

This brilliant infographic from Trago has great advice on the best time of year to plant and harvest these herbs and a few others that you might want to add to your herb garden.

 

You can pop over to their website for even more information on growing herbs, along with other great gardening tips to help get your garden growing beautifully.

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

Use this trick to work out what your toddler wants

Work out what your toddler wants with this little trick

A friend of mine was at my house the other day, and she was talking to Nerys about how when she was just a toddler it was hard at times to understand what she was saying.

We were laughing about all the times I basically had to act as a translator for her; deciphering what Nerys was trying to tell her.

I know that I was pretty in tune with the way she spoke and, for the most part, I knew what she was saying.  There were times though that even I couldn’t make sense of the scribble coming out of her mouth.

And this stage where communication is so hard can be incredibly frustrating for us as parents and for our children.  There is one thing you can do though to make life a bit easier when you’re trying to work out what your toddler wants and what they’re trying to tell you.

 

Make everything easier for both of you by asking close-ended questions.

So instead of asking what your hungry and frustrated toddler wants to eat as a snack, take them to the kitchen and ask them “would you like this?” about each snack you can think of.  Now I know this sounds tedious, but honestly it’s so much better than you both getting wound up when you don’t know that your child saying “dices” means that they want apple slices!

 

If you’re at the park and they’re getting upset, if you ask them a simple “why” then they might not have the vocabulary to explain it to you.

So asking them questions that need just a “yes” or “no” answer is a better option. 

Ask questions like “did you hurt yourself?”, “are you having trouble climbing up to the slide?” and “is it hard waiting for your turn on the swings”.  It might take a while to get to the right question, but it’s generally less frustrating than trying to understand the garbled ramblings of a frustrated 2 year old.

 

On a side-note, this strategy of avoiding open-ended questions with toddlers is also great for things like getting them dressed in the morning.

It’s much easier all round if, instead of asking “what do you want to wear today?”, you ask them do they want to wear the blue top or the green top today.  They still feel like they’ve ultimately made the choice and been in control, and you don’t have to wait for ages while they pull all the clothes out of the cupboard and mull over all their options.

 

Hopefully this little trick will help make things a bit easier for you while you’re in that developmental stage where communication is a bit tough.

Although you do need to accept that there will be times where, no matter what you try, you just won’t be able to work out what your child is trying to tell you.

When Rhys was younger he used to talk about ‘bisser car’ and honestly it took me weeks and weeks to work out he wanted his toy Mator.  Turns out he had heard the words ‘disney pixar cars’ on an advert for the film and held on to the ‘pixar car’ bit as a name for Mator.

Yeah.  I was quite proud of myself when I finally worked that one out!

 

Do you struggle to understand your child or are you generally quite in tune with them?

Have you tried using this ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question strategy when you can’t quite get what they’re telling you?

Feel happier at home

5 things to do to feel happier at home

I’m quite a homebody at heart.

I really love spending time at home.  Lazy days spent pottering around in the house are quite often what my introvert-self needs.

There are times though when being at home isn’t as relaxing as it should be.  Normally when the clutter has started to pile up again and things aren’t as clear and calm as they could be.

If you find that being at home isn’t quite as relaxing as you’d like it to be, here are 5 things you can do to start to feel happier at home.

 

1. Don’t go too minimalist

There is a big trend at the moment for quite minimalist homes.

And I’m all for a good decluttering session and getting rid of things that we don’t use or love.  But I’m also a firm believer in keeping things in our homes that have sentimental value to us.  Those things that spark happy memories when we look at them.

Studies have shown that experiences tend to make us happier than material possessions, and this is mainly thanks to the whole journey of enjoyment that we get from experiences.  We enjoy the anticipation of planning.  Then we have the fun of the actual experience itself.  And after it’s done we have the joy of remembering the experience.

Having things in our homes that remind us of these experiences, and time spent with loved ones, is a great way to feel happier at home.

 

2. Make your bed

If you only manage one thing each day to make your home a happier place to be then make it this.

When Gretchen Rubin wrote her book ‘The Happiness Project‘ she found that “the number one most impactful change that people brought up over and over” in terms of feeling happier, was making the bed.

It seems that doing this one little thing, and feeling the satisfaction of seeing a neat, made bed, then prompts us to be more productive as we go about the rest of our day.  And having a clear, relaxing bedroom to head to at the end of the day is definitely a plus.

I like to leave our bedcovers pulled back for a while in the mornings to let the bed air, but I know that on the days that I make a point of going back and making the bed later that the whole room does just feel so much neater and more inviting.

 

3. Reset the room

This sort of goes hand in hand with my tip to never leave a room empty handed.

It’s all about trying to keep on top of the tidying so that our homes feel calmer, and we feel calmer and happier in them.  The idea behind this tip is to take a few minutes to quickly tidy up and reset a room before you leave it.

Now I’m not saying every time you leave the lounge to pop to the bathroom or make a cuppa you need to tidy up before you go.  More like when you head out of your bedroom for the day after getting dressed, do a quick whizz around and put the room back to ready.  Make your bed, hang up the clothes you decided not to wear, grab your water glass and take it down to the kitchen with you.

The same goes in the evening when you turn off the TV to head to bed.  Take any cups and dishes out to the kitchen, stash all the rogue toys in a basket, and put the throws and cushions back nicely on the sofa.

 

4. Get into the things you can’t get out of

There are always jobs to do around the house that need to be done even though we really don’t feel like doing them.

The trick to cracking on with them is to do whatever you can to get into these jobs that you just can’t get out of doing.  Make up a playlist to listen to while you whizz round the house with a duster.  Get mindful when it comes to washing up and try to actually enjoy the sensations of the warm water and the bubbles.  Catch up on your latest Netflix obsession while you do the ironing and fold the clean clothes.

These jobs need doing anyway, so we may as well try and find a way to make them as enjoyable as possible.

 

5. Do nice things, just to be nice

Assuming you’re a parent reading this, living with your family, then make a point of doing nice things around the house for them without expecting anything in return.

If your partner normally takes the bins out, then do it for them one week.  Make them a cup of tea in the morning.  Sneak a special treat into your child’s lunchbox.

The key here is to do these nice things purely for the sake of being nice.  It’s not about earning brownie points or getting one up on your partner.  Like in The Good Place when Eleanor tries to earn more points to stay, then realises she can’t because her motivation is wrong.

We need to do these things with the simple motivation of wanting to do nice things for the people we live with.  This way, they feel good and we get that nice warm fuzzy feeling from having done the nice thing.

 

So, there you have it.  5 things you can try to feel happier at home.  How many of these things do you do on a regular basis?  Which do you think would have the biggest impact on how you feel about spending time at home?
Hide your chocolate stash

The trick you need to know to keep your secret chocolate stash hidden

There’s a joke I’ve seen a few times since I’ve become a parent, about how our children can’t hear us when we ask them to put their shoes on 15 times but they can hear a chocolate wrapper being opened from the other side of the house.

If you find in your family that your supplies of chocolate are constantly being raided by your children (and most likely your partner) then this sneaky trick is for you.  It’s an idea for the perfect hiding place to keep your stash a secret.

 

Get your favourite chocolate bars and stash them inside the packaging of a really healthy food item that your children will never voluntarily open up.

I’m thinking things like the box of Ryvita in the cupboard.  Or tuck the chocolate behind the veg in the fridge.  If you like your chocolate frozen then you can hide it in an empty bag of frozen vegetables.

 

Of course if your children are little health nuts then you might want to find a different place to hide your secret pile of chocolate bars.

Or maybe you’ve been rumbled and need to find a new spot.

In that case here are some ideas for other places you can stash your chocolate:

  • In a container tucked away with the cleaning supplies
  • At the bottom of a box of cereal that the children don’t like.  Think Beth hiding the piles of cash in Good Girls
  • The back of your underwear drawer
  • Under your bed
  • At the back of your filing cabinet/with all the boring paperwork
  • Bottom of a tissue box
  • Behind the books on the shelf, or get a hollow book to hide them in

 

The important thing here is to hide things well enough that your children don’t find them, but not so well that you forget where you’ve hidden them.

 

Do you ever hide treats from your family?  Where’s the best hiding place you’ve come up with?

Quick cleaning tips busy parents need to know

Quick cleaning tips for busy parents

I have come to accept over the years that I will never be a domestic goddess.

I’ll never be a member of the Hinch army and my home will never be pristine and spotless.

What I would like though is to feel just that bit more on top of things when it comes to keeping the house clean and tidy.  If you’re like me and want some quick tips on having a cleaner home without worrying about keeping up with the Hinchers then this post is for you.

 

Here are some of the best cleaning tips I’ve found to make things easier for busy parents.

 

1) Work from top to bottom

This is such a logical thing to do, but something that we might not always think about.

The thing with cleaning is that you want to be as quick and efficient as possible, and you really don’t want to end up needing to do a job twice.  So start at the top of the room and work your way down.  Dust all the shelves and wipe down surfaces so that any dust falls on to the floor.  Then hoover the room last to pick it all up.

Another tip like this is to start in one corner of the room and basically work your way out.

 

2) Clean as you go

This is something I’m really trying to get in the habit of doing.

Instead of leaving jobs to pile up I’m working on tackling them as they come up.  For me this means taking 2 minutes to wash up the board and knife I’ve used to make a sandwich and wipe down the kitchen worktop before I sit down to eat lunch.

It can also be things like putting the junk mail in the recycling as soon as you pick it up from the letterbox.  Putting the dishes straight into the dishwasher after a meal rather than putting them down on the counter.  Hanging up clean clothes as soon as they’re dry instead of putting them on the bed to hang up later.

You see the idea here.

If the job will take just a few minutes to do, then do it there and then instead of leaving if for later.

 

3) Find a routine that works for you (and then stick to it)

If you go on Pinterest you can find so many different cleaning routines that you can try.  As well as advice on how to create your own routine that fits perfectly with your life.

The beauty of a routine is that once you get into it it takes most of the thinking out of cleaning.  You don’t look around the house wondering where to start or what task to tackle next.  You just follow the routine.

I’ve recently discovered The Organised Mum Method and this is the routine I’m planning on following for a bit to see if it suits me and my family.  It’s a really popular routine created by a busy mum and is designed to be nice and quick to complete each day.

If this routine isn’t the one for you, then Clean Mama and FlyLady are also worth a look to see if their methods suit your lifestyle better.

 

4) Put on a playlist and set a timer

There’s a rule that says work expands to fit the time we allocate to it.  So if we allow an hour to clean the kitchen then we’ll take that long to do it, but if we give ourselves just 30 minutes we can most likely do it in that time too.

So set yourself a timer, find an upbeat playlist of music to listen to it and get going.

 

5) Let the children help

If you have young children chances are they’ll be really keen to get involved and help you with the cleaning.

And yes, it’s not always all that helpful when they join in but there are things they can do so that you can tackle other jobs.  They can put their toys away while you dust the shelves.  They can help you load the washing machine.  You can give them a damp cloth so they can wipe the kitchen cupboard doors while you do the washing up.

Going with the flow and letting them help is generally better than trying to do it all yourself with them under your feet.

And studies have shown that children who are allowed to help with these sorts of things when they’re really little are more likely to keep pitching in with household jobs as they get older.

 

6) Stash first, sort later

If you want the house tidied in a hurry, go round each room and stash anything that doesn’t belong in there in a laundry basket.

This clears up the space so you can actually see the floors to hoover them, and clears table tops so you can wipe them down.

Later on when you have another spare 10 minutes you can go and put all the items back where they belong.

 

7) Let your cleaning products work for you

First of all, find a good multipurpose cleaning spray that you can use on all the different surfaces around the house.

Then make sure you let it do as much of the hard work as possible for you.

So when you’re cleaning the bathroom, spray the cleaner all round the bath and sink, then leave it while you clear up the clutter, empty the bins and so on.  Then when you go back to the bath and sink they’ll be much easier to clean down without needing to scrub too much.

 

8) Never leave a room empty handed

This is more of a tidying tip than a cleaning tip but it’s a useful one to keep in mind.

Each time you leave a room have a quick look round and see if there’s anything that needs to be taken where you’re going.  For example, take your coffee cup with you when you go from the lounge to the kitchen.

It doesn’t take any extra effort to do it, but saves you having to return lots of things in one go later on in the day.

 

 

How many of these tips do you use on a regular basis?  Do you have any other quick cleaning tips that I’ve not mentioned here?

I’d love to hear them if you do!