Tag Archives: home

20 life hacks for stressed out mums

1 Clothes pegs to keep boots together

If your cloakroom/under stairs cupboard is a riot of wellies and waterproofs and things your other half has “tidied away”, like mine, I find pegging boots together an absolute sanity saver.

2 Ikea pockets

In the same kind of vein, little feet tend to shed shoes all over the house and who has time to hunt for them? Especially when you’re already late for school and they’re knocking lumps out of each other. I hung up an Ikea pocket hanger on the back of the door so now I can *almost* always find a matching pair per child.

3 Newspaper at the bottom of your bin

Simple really, soaks up all the liquid that comes from who knows where and makes changing bin bags slightly less disgusting. I mean it should really be a blue job…

4 Crocs by the back door

Once you get over the shame of actually buying them, you realise they cost the same as a large Starbucks and prevent little dirty stockinged feet traipsing mud into your carpet. They can also usually put them on without help.

5 The sacred comb

If, like me, your kids have unruly wavy hair and risk being dispatched to nursery/school looking like ragamuffins, you need a sacred comb. It lives downstairs in a nominated cupboard and never shall it be moved. Ever.

6 The 5 minute menu

Here’s a two-for-one life hack. Do your grocery shopping online (saving the list in “favourites” saves even more time each week) then as you unpack it, scribble down the use-by dates. Voila. Menu for the week.

7 Stock up on yoghurts

They’re usually on special offer so just buy more than any human could possibly consume in a week. Then, when they throw your painstakingly made lasagne at the wall or turn their noses up at that thing they loved last week, you can stuff them full of Yeo Valley. Also very useful for disguising any medications.

8 Use the time delay

One of my kids is such a light sleeper he’ll be up if a mouse farts, so I can’t do washing after 8pm. The machine’s time delay – a new revelation when we moved house – means I can load it up at night and set it to come on at 6.30am and if I’m REALLY organised, hang it out before we go to school. Just make sure your other half doesn’t hit the off switch in a fit of fire-safety smugness before he goes to bed. Sigh.

9 Embrace tupperware

I mean don’t go to a party or anything, just buy tonnes of matching ones from Ikea or B&M so that ALL THE LIDS FIT.

10 Have a Sharpie handy but for god’s sake out of reach

Mine lives above the oven and is used for just about everything in the world from naming clothing to marking those tupperware to signing parents’ slips.

11 Buy this stamp

12 Put a lock on your bedroom door

Enough said.

13 Invest in a good quality vinyl tablecloth

Not a £3 stretch of cow print plastic from eBay that neither covers the whole table nor withstands sharp pencil points, but a proper, huge, maybe even £15, tablecloth. Then tape it down.

14 Have a no-banana rule in carpeted rooms

When it dries in, it looks like shit.

15 Always carry wipes

Even when your kids are out of nappies, hell, even when you’re going to a business meeting, carry wipes for snotty noses, grazed knees and that moment when you realise there’s banana (or is it shit) on your suit sleeve.

16 Get one of those magic erasers for walls

They’re pretty good on scuff marks and not-too-aggressive colouring pencil. On pen and on tantrum-induced expressions of rage, not so great.

17 Teach your kids to pair socks

Turn it into a massive game and sit back and watch while the worst chore of them all is taken care of.

18 Find 5 good babysitters who drive

Save their numbers on your phone and don’t share them with anyone. Pay them well and leave them brilliant snacks.

19 Double up

Sometimes, hell quite a lot of the time, you have to throw money at a problem. If you’re constantly transferring things – shampoo from shower to gym bag, car seats between cars, the good water bottle from the school bag to the weekend bag – just buy more. Use Gumtree or Ikea or whatever but seriously, make life easier for yourself.

20 ALWAYS KEEP THE IPAD CHARGED

Add your own life hacks in the comments and let’s save our sanity together x

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Playroom renovation COMPLETE!

A year ago today – exactly – we moved to Edinburgh. To mark this anniversary, we can FINALLY say our house is finished! The boys have a new playroom and we have a whole new room in our house.

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I am SO EXCITED about picking up the Wee Man from school – he’s going to burst. Then we’ll have the best job ever of filling it with toys!

It’s been a fun journey – here it is in pictures.

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So my top tips based on our renovation?

  • Get good tradesmen and pay them promptly – the plumber must have been back and forth five or six times, but he was always very obliging because I transferred the money for his bill the same day each time.
  • Take advice even though you had a pretty fixed idea in your head
  • Shop around online – I ordered the staircase myself and saved hundreds of pounds. Of course, I didn’t tell the joiner until after he’d put it all together. He actually said: “You’ve just risen in my estimations”
  • Make lots and lots of tea and coffee and always buy the good biscuits
  • Make “how could I save a bit of money on that?” your default phrase – even when you’re in CarpetRight and everyone’s listening and the assistant is getting more and more pissed off as their commission shrinks before their eyes
  • If you don’t understand what your tradesman’s on about, say you’ll get back to him and Google it. I had to tell the painter about PVA for sealing brickwork – he thought I’d have to buy a specialist substance at £50 per tub.
  • Use PVA for sealing brickwork
  • Make sure your plasterer wears safety goggles – mine didn’t, even though he was doing ceilings, and had to go to the eye hospital leaving shite all over the place for two extra days
  • Humour people. No matter who you have in, they should have been in before the last guy. Just agree and offer more biscuits.
  • Offer lots of praise and then swiftly remove it when they’re not up to scratch – I’ve found it makes them much more eager to please. Yes I know this is coldly calculating.
  • Order wallpaper online. Never buy it from a shop. Ever.
  • Be prepared to get involved if it keeps everything on schedule. I was painting skirtings the night before the carpets came.
  • Locks. Put locks on as many doors as you can, especially if you have young, curious trouble-making children.
  • Be super nice to your neighbours throughout.
  • Make sure there is a spare key with a neighbour at all times.
  • Save everyone’s mobile number into your phone. Seems simple, but honestly saves your sanity.
  • Don’t let your husband do a dump run in the middle of any renovation, ever.
  • Take photos of every stage
  • Have fun with it – it can be a huge pain in the arse but it’s so worth it!

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Edinburgh renovation project

Day 3 in the Big Other house…

My eyes are burning because I’ve been bleaching for the last two hours.

The noise of weeds being scraped off the driveway has mysteriously stopped.

I plunge my Marigolded hand into the oven to scoop out the first layer of dissolved gunk. I make a mental note to buy another can of oven cleaner.

I rinse the cloth, scoop a few more times then decide I really must find out where my driveway weed scraper has gone.

I step outside into the sunshine, hear voices and look over the saggy fence to spy Rod sitting with our 97 year old neighbour.

“Don’t lean on that fence!” she warns me as I drape my yellow hands over it and fix Rod with a look. He’s unrepentant. He and his new pal have been having a grand old time chewing the fat. “Er, I really must get back to the garden,” he eventually says.

Mummykimmy keys

We got the keys three days ago after the 3rd longest 9-month period of my life. I’ve already had two driveway specialists in to quote and Marc has roared in. Remember Marc? So far he has stripped the wallpaper in two rooms – this one:Mummykimmy dining room

and this one:

Mummykimmy toilet

Today he called in some guys he knew and suddenly a builder is coming tomorrow to create a door where there was previously wall. A new patio door has been measured and ordered. He knows a driveway guy. I swear, this man has superpowers. I’m so so happy he’s my project manager and painter and decorator and joiner and designer and entertainer.

He came later today so Rod and I got on with the clearing and cleaning. The kitchen is now spotless and I’ve bleached the tiles in preparation for a coat of white tile paint. The bathroom is sparkling, the driveway is merely crazy paving, and we’ve figured out that a ratchet should remove the railing the previous owners installed for an infirm family member.

I found three sets of rusted shears in the tumbledown shed and managed to get one of them to cut back some of the overgrown bushes in the back. We’ve decided to rent a small digger to level the garden and are trying to figure out if we can afford artificial grass. Rod saw a huge roll of the stuff in B&Q today and we both got quite excited until he decided he quite likes mowing grass so maybe we’ll get turf instead.

I got to choose some wallpaper today which was fun. I’ve been really stuck for our bedroom. The one I wanted was £110 a roll from Matthew Williamson:

mummykimmy peacock wallpaper

The one I got was £12 a roll from B&Q:

mummykimmy feather wallpaper

The toilet downstairs was very bright and quite blue. I would rather it were very chic and black and white. So I’ve bought awesome striped wallpaper, a minimalist mirrored cabinet and some new taps. Together with black lino, black splashback, black skirting and a black radiator it could become my favourite room in the house.

Considering we bought the house after one viewing – you have to move fast in Edinburgh – it’s been full of wonderful surprises. Gorgeous wooden floorboards under the carpet; high quality thermal underlay under stained carpets; wooden internal doors on the fitted wardrobes which precisely fit the four doorways we needed new doors for (mirrored wardrobe doors are much cheaper); treasures in the shed; a Smeg hob and a cupboard under the stairs which even Harry Potter would be happy to sleep in.

Mummykimmy understairs cupboard

I think the aspect that makes me happiest is the fact Rod has finally seen the potential and even got a little bit excited about the house. I had to really twist his arm to buy it and then reassure him for weeks that we’d done the right thing.

If you’re interested how our wee renovation project unfolds then click FOLLOW up there in the top right – or on mobile scroll down to click Follow – thank you!

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In which we make a new home

It happened in the space of 12 hours.

I viewed it. I chatted to the owner for an hour. I scrutinised the home report. I sent Rod round to view it. He chatted to the owner for an hour. They shook hands.

Thank God for old-fashioned values. “My word is my bond” does still work, you know, otherwise we wouldn’t have our house.

In the crazy, offer-7%-over-the-asking-price-and-be-prepared-to-go-to-closing, property market in Aberdeen we were very very lucky. We are now the proud owners of a three bedroom bungalow in a lovely part of the city. When I picked up the keys in mid-June the overwhelming feeling was relief. We could move out of the shoebox we were renting. We could unpack our boxes.

But first there was a transformation to mastermind.

The house would have been beautiful in 1995. In 2013, however, the cherry skirting boards and round-the-bed storage cupboards had to go. The carpets were gaudy, the walls were marked and the candy stripe curtains reminded me of the Brady Bunch. I called in Marc.

He roared up from Glasgow in his SUV and gleefully started destroying cupboards and ripping down curtains. Then he switched gears and painstakingly filled in holes, sanded and papered. Every day we went to B&Q. People asked his opinion in the paint aisle. Assistants jumped to attention. A young guy was left scarlet and speechless after Marc demanded: “Where are the knobs?”

Marc in action

Marc in action

I was happy to play his assistant. I cleaned things and painted things and made his lunch and dinner. By the end of the five days we’d agreed I’d be his PR consultant. This man needs his own show. Here is what we achieved:

BEFORE: Bedroom

BEFORE: Bedroom

AFTER: Bedroom

AFTER: Bedroom (the walls are grey, not pistachio, as they look here!)

Kitchen: Replaced ironwork handles with wooden knobs and painted all the doors pale blue

Kitchen: Replaced ironwork handles with wooden knobs and painted all the doors pale blue

BEFORE: Living room

BEFORE: Living room

We ripped up the carpet, painting the skirting white, repaired the holes behind the TV and painted the walls "Wishing Well" grey

We ripped up the carpet, painting the skirting white, repaired the holes behind the TV and painted the walls “Wishing Well” grey

With a new carpet and sofa, it now looks like this

With a new carpet and sofa, it now looks like this

The trouble with starting is that you have to finish. I now want every piece of wood in the whole house to be painted white. I am tackling this one doorway at a time. I’d quite like a few more carpets to be replaced. We’ve started jet washing the decking (a much bigger job than anticipated) and gardening (we have no idea what we’re doing and keep pulling out plants instead of weeds). But we love it. It’s our home and every brushstroke makes it feel more like ours. If you’re ever in Aberdeen, pop in.

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The lesson of the Big Blue Sack

We don’t have a laundry basket, we have a big, blue Ikea sack that sits on the floor of a walk-in cupboard in the bedroom.

When we’re tired and lazy we fling our dirty washing at the bag and don’t much care if it goes in. If one of us has put a towel in the sack we don’t even aim. The pile annoys me for a few days until I finally get round to hauling it out, hunting for all the socks and pants and separating the whites from the darks.

Rod likes his work shirts washed separately and there are usually those towels and bits of handwashing left over, but occasionally the bag is empty and I see blue. I open it out as far as it will go and put it back in the cupboard, wondering if this time we’ll keep it all tidy.

Going to bed with the knowledge there’s an empty sack in the cupboard is a good feeling.

When the fridge is empty and I’m tired, I do a small shop at the local Spar, knowing that eventually I’ll need to sit at my computer and order the big online grocery shop. When my car gets messier and filled with more stuff, I grab a few empty water bottles on my way out and make a mental note to hoover it at the weekend. When business is busy and childcare is limited, I hit the deadlines and answer the emails knowing that one day I’m going to have to organize those receipts, file those papers and get back to the business plan.

The joy of the full fridge, spotless car mat and organized office is sweet and brief because I know, soon, it’s going to start up all over again. I’ve decided that’s OK.

Short cuts are supposed to be hard. If they weren’t, they’d just be The Way. And as we all know, it’s not about the destination, it’s the journey.

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