Wednesday, May 23, 2012

practical tips for your home I am loving right now

home inspiration: practical tips for your home

Store your wrapping paper in plastic bag holders from Ikea found here

CD racks to store tupperware lids found here

For meal planning have the ingredients for each meal of the week in a basket ahead of time found here

Baby's room door muff so you can open and close your baby's door without making a noise found here

Insert a tension rod under your kitchen sink to hang spray bottles on

Use a plastic tackle box with multiple sizes of openings to hold your batteries, grouped by size found here.

Add a lego shelf to the kids room to show off those wonderful creations found here

Use ice-cube trays to store jewellery found here

Make a cute lost and found laundry collector for those lost socks found here

Hope you enjoyed them and can try them out in your home!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mum, what did you do all day....nothing?

Keeping a house clean every day can be extremely depressing. It is often monotonous work and becomes even more so when you have a family who does not appreciate or notice what you do each day. With a house full of many cherubs there is always a lot of work that needs to be done and even though my kids help me out, they still don't realise just how much work around the house I actually do. 

A lot of the work I do happens when they are asleep so I really can't expect them to be thankful when they have no idea what I have been up to! But Hey! They are kids...they simply don't notice everything that is going on around our house when they spend so much time playing and having fun. I want them to have fun, I want them to play but I also want them to appreciate what I do. 

Lucky for me, we had a little lesson is appreciating Mum recently and I don't think it is a lesson that will be forgotten! A couple of weeks ago as we came home from school, walked in the front door, a certain child walked up to me and asked... 

"Mum, so what did YOU do today?"

Before I could answer, the said child proceeded to look around the house and announce...

"Looks like nothing!'

I smiled to myself and decided this was the perfect moment to explain exactly what I did do during the day. 

We went off to the bedroom to have a little chat and I informed the said child that tomorrow Mum would be taking the day off from doing all of her jobs. Then I explained that waiting for the said child would be a list of jobs on their pillow of all the things that I did not get to do during the day. 

The timing all worked out wonderfully for me as I had a Mother's Day event at the school and then went off to watch another child run in the District Cross Country Race. By the time I went to pick my cherubs up from school I had been out all day and had done none of my normal jobs around the house. 

When we arrived home my cherubs asked where the afternoon snack was. I simply informed them I was taking the day off and they had to find one themselves. Insert stunned silence! Then I took the said child into the bedroom and shared with them the list waiting for them.

Job items on my list included: the dishes, sweeping, washing and putting away clothes, vacuuming, cooking dinner, tidying each room, mop the floors, clean the toilets and food shopping to name a few.

I then asked the said child to take over doing my list as I was taking the day off. Insert more stunned silence! Unfortunately for me, the said child is a little too young to take over doing all of these jobs on my list but I did let them sit in silence for a while pondering over the magnitude of taking over Mum's list before I informed them that I would be helping out. 

I had a delightful day taking time off from doing my normal jobs around the house and after this little adventure I am thinking it needs to happen more often! Needless to say, I don't think the said child will be asking me what I did during my day and then pronouncing nothing anymore. Since this time I have been receiving a little more appreciation and love and the lesson was totally worth it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How to make a family rules chart

How to make a family rules chart

I don't get crafty very often but when I do I really like to go all out and try to make something that will last a long time in our home. I have always wanted to have in our home a family rules chart...or family principles chart as we call it. I have seen some really awesome charts on other blogs and decided to try to create one that would fit with our family and what we believe.

Here is how I created our family principles/rules chart:

1. I talked with the family about creating a personalised chart for our home. We decided to call our chart the 'family principles' chart because we believe in teaching our kids correct principles and letting them govern themselves. We all talked about what we wanted to have on our chart and what would have the most meaning to us. The principles needed to be simple and easy to understand as we still have many young members of our family.

2. We wrote out a list of what the principles would be and then talked about what they mean to us. We made sure that each family member was happy with the principles and then felt ready to start creating.

3. I just happened to have a spare board/canvas that I knew I could recycle and thought it would be a perfect fit for the chart. It was simply a hard board backing to a poster that was hanging in one of my kids rooms. I wiped it down and headed off to the craft stores to get some supplies. You could use any size canvas or board that you like to make the family rules chart.

4. To decorate the chart I used:
craft paper/scrapbook paper
stick on letters
stick on flowers
stick on sequins

5. The first part of decorating was with the craft paper. We selected what colour we wanted to use and then ripped/tore the paper according to what width we wanted it to be on the chart. We did not worry about measuring it exactly, we just had fun and tore the paper until we had enough to stick together to cover the width of the board. We then glued the paper to the board and started the process again with the next colour we selected. We did try to stick to colours we knew would match together and would match the decor of our home. Remember to have enough rows of paper to match the number of rules you want to have in your list for your home.

6. After sticking down the paper we then picked out ribbon that we felt would make the chart look bright and fun. We cut the ribbon to length across the width of the board and glued it over the top of the connecting paper lines. We chose some colours that would be contrasting so that they would stand out when the board was hung up on the wall.

7. When the paper and ribbon was dry we then picked out what order of words we wanted to have on our chart. We selected what colour stick on letters we wanted to use and simply stuck them on to the paper in the rows. You could use a font that you like on your computer and print out the letters on paper and then cut them out and stick them on but we went for the easy (but more expensive) option.

8. When the words were all stuck on we added a few extra flower/diamond/sequins to add a little more of fun look to the chart. You can play around and add as much as you want to decorate it or simply leave it plain. 

9. When all of the above is completed your family rules chart is ready to hang and admire. For our chart I picked up this second hand frame for around $40 and it fit wonderfully.

I created this chart with my daughters and we had a great time making it. The chart hangs in our lounge room and we receive so many comments from visitors about how lovely they think it is. I love referring to it as a mother and reminding our family that we are trying our best to live good principles in our home. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

When is Enough, Enough?

As a woman I find myself asking more and more: 
When is Enough, Enough?

Today is one of those days where I want to scream out loud....ENOUGH!! Not to anyone I know, not to any single person or any group or association but to myself. To wake myself up, to slap myself around and to just tell myself to let it all go. 

As a stay at home mum I find I often feel dissatisfied with what I have accomplished during my day as there is always so much more to do. At the end of each day my to do list seems never ending: the housework, the homework, the washing, the bills, the emails, the sorting, the de-cluttering, the affection, the attention, the school notes and the gardening are all tasks that never seem to end.

I fall into bed asking myself if I did enough during my day. 

I spend my days rushing from one event or one experience to another hoping I have everything we need, hoping that my cherubs know that we love them and hoping that I have done enough around my house to keep it in order through the whole process.

When I leave the house I ask myself if I have done enough to be able to relax and enjoy where I am going.

I work hard and through it all hope that my cherubs feel that I am pulling off this parenting gig in a good way. I have days where I feel worn out. Downright tired even. I get to the stage where I can't go any further, I can't do one more task no matter how much I push myself and I know it is time to rest and to listen to my body.

I feel exhausted but still ask myself if I have done enough.

There is always so much happening in our house and I try to keep up with it all the best I can. Just like any other woman or mother would do who has a family or who works or does both. I try to run an organised home and battle with the pressure I place upon myself.

I start to see that you can never do enough. 

I start to question my version or vision of ideal. I have become so busy that I no longer determine when the time has come to stop, to rest and to let the to do list go. I shift my focus and determine my own self acceptance of what enough means. Enough at the end of each day becomes not too little yet not too much.

I start to wonder why I was waiting for someone to tell me when enough, is enough.

My version of enough = a sleep deprived, unhappy woman who spends her time pleasing others and trying to reach a level of living where she forgets who she is. So I start to say No, I start to cut back and I start to allow myself to rest. I create a new version of what enough looks like.

I start to tell myself at the end of each day that I have done enough. 

Deciding when enough is enough each day is a personal decision and a difficult one as each day is unique. Some days we need to do more and others we can pull back. Knowing when to stop and when to say, 'you know what, that is enough!' will help give us a healthy rest/work balance in our lives. I am becoming better at seeking that balance and am becoming more satisfied with what I have accomplished during my day. It is not perfect but it is enough.

How do you determine when enough, is enough?
Do you push yourself to your limits or are you good at knowing when to stop?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

10 natural play tips for children

Guest Post from Fiona Robbe

“Access to outdoor natural play spaces is critical for a child’s healthy development and overall wellbeing. Creating a more imaginative and natural environment within the home space is easy and inexpensive. There are plenty of ways to create a fun, imaginative play space for kids in your garden, your backyard or inside the home to suit any budget and any child.”

10 tips to encourage creative and natural play for children:

1. Place plants and sensory objects around your environment. Immerse your child in plants, and include plant choices with as much seasonal variety as possible such as deciduous plants, plants with pods, flowers, fruits, herbs, scents and barks that shed. Give your child the opportunity to take care of plants by watering, feeding and weeding. Collecting herbs or freshly picked fruit or vegetables for family meals is a joy to most children. Remember to include sensory stimulation in your play areas. To encourage smell, touch and sight senses use scented plants, interesting textures, seasonal plants which can change colour. For the taste sense, plant orange trees or tomato vines and use wind chimes to encourage hearing.

2. Provide a play props box. It’s great to have a play box full of balls, ropes, nets, racquets, bats, marbles, hoops, cones, outdoor toys, spades, buckets, watering cans on hand for children to play with. This box or shed should be readily available for use.

3. Provide a smooth area on which children can draw. Chalk boards, white boards or large sheets of paper are a great way for kids to express themselves. If you have an outdoor pavement area where chalk can be used, encourage outdoor games such as handball and hopscotch that can be regularly drawn and then played. This also keeps them active while using their imagination.

4. Include ephemeral elements in the play area. Adding elements that can be changed or frequently transformed is very important to sustain and hold children’s interest in playing in a space they know well. Place ephemeral elements such as a collection of shells, bark, pine cones etc. in an open basket which the child can freely interact with. Keep swapping materials for play.

5. Use natural materials and encourage loose natural objects. Provide as many natural materials in the space as possible such as grass, sand, water, mulch, ropes, rocks, timber and plants. The more variety, the better. Provide loose natural items that children can manipulate and build things with. These may include sticks, stones, sand, water, leaves, petals and ropes for kids to work with in any way they like.

6. Provide children with a scrapbook to record their outdoor adventures. From an early age it is invaluable to reinforce what is important to children and why. Provide scrapbooks and paste pictures or photos of their garden, animals, outdoor play and adventures in these books. Doing this together reinforces the value of play experiences for children and often gives them an extensive vocabulary and emotional reference to nature. Include photos of your child playing with other children to really place value on friendships and moments of play.

7. Challenge children’s balance and co‐ordination. Challenge children’s physical prowess and development with items such as swings and slides or provide access to things they can climb, such as a tree with a knotted rope to get you up to the first branch. Challenge their sense of co‐ordination and balance with logs and stepping stones.

8. Stimulate imaginative play with creative play settings. Stimulate imaginative play by providing open‐ended play settings where children ‘complete the scene’ you have set using their imagination. Some examples include draping a sheet over a tree branch to make a cubby on, making a sandpit an interesting shape like a boat and suggest your kids “go on an adventure and sail in your boat.”

9. Provide challenges that stimulate problem solving. Provide challenges that stimulate cognitive connections and problem solving i.e. ask your child “how many snails are in the veggie patch – can you count them?”, “how about you make a house for your teddy” or “what does this plant need to grow?” In addition, provide items such as tree branches or balls to encourage children to spontaneously invent games and activities which involve problem solving and creativity while being active.

10. Provide social opportunities for children to play with other children or with adults. For many children, play is a social experience so the design of their play areas needs to accommodate groups of children and needs to be sized accordingly. For example, a sandpit should be big enough for about five children, rather than one. A cubby should be spacious and allow for at least two children inside. This allows kids to share their special play moment with another person, doubling its value. Children also benefit enormously from the comfort, suggestions and inspiration that a caring adult can bring to play, so include seating, edges and internal spaces in cubbies or tunnels to accommodate an adult.

Fiona is an authority on natural play spaces and has specialised in the design of outdoor children's environments. Fiona's commitment to design of quality playgrounds includes daily advocacy for the rights of children of all ages and abilities to play outdoors safely, regularly and imaginatively. She is also an ambassador for The Natural Confectionery Company and worked with them on a project to inspire imaginative play with the Sydney community of Blacktown to rejuvenate the Kookaburra Playground at Nurrangingy Reserve. 

I hope you enjoyed Fiona's tips and it will inspire you and encourage you to have some more fun in your own backyard!