Sunday, 10 May 2015

How to avoid a 'Mummy Meltdown'?

This week has been a bit of a....roller coaster for me and for (mostly ridiculous) reasons that I won't bore you with, I had a 'Mummy Meltdown'.  I'm a real Mum, not a superhero and it happens to us all! 

Whatever kind of Mum you may be it is us that in most families must take on the role of 'Family Manager' (regardless of the other jobs you may already have), it's a huge role and a massive challenge that you may have no previous experience for!

So from the planning of the family holidays, food shopping, restocking the children's wardrobes and planning birthday parties, to handling illness and check ups, arranging days out and managing all becomes our responsibility and has to somehow fit in around our other full time commitments! Argh!

So its hardly surprising that every now and then (when we least expect it) we take a moment to think about the things we need to do that day and it unwittingly spirals into being swamped in a sea of ALL the things we are in charge of AT THE SAME TIME! Big mistake! 

A Mum should never try to think about all her responsibilities at once (inevitably due to the sheer volume) or the panic will start to rise, the palms sweat, the choking out of control feeling raises it's ugly head and WHAM a full on wobble attack will hit from nowhere! 

Depending on your personality type this will either result in serious floods of tears, slabs of chocolate being eaten, a bottle of wine for one or furious tantrums and shouting. I'm my case i'll admit it's often all of the above! So how do we avoid it? 

Rule No 1 
NEVER try to think about your to do list as a whole, it's way to big to handle! Take a few deep breaths. Then release the tension by whatever healthy means necessary, a walk, the gym (loud music helps me) and move onto rule 2.

Rule No 2 
Break down the stress into things you need to do today, tomorrow and things that can wait. Focus only on today and maybe tomorrow for now.  Grab a pen and paper and write a list (or multiple lists if you like) and include key dates that things need to happen. You will feel better once you have had a brain dump at the very least.

Rule No3
Embrace technology! Move your usual lists to your mobile phone or tablet so you can add things on as they pop into your head. Add the key dates to your calendar and set up reminders so you don't have to remember yourself. 

Rule No 4
Delegate where you can, you are not superwoman!

Rule No 5
Don't beat yourself up when you have a bad day.  A good melt down is actually good for you and releases all that built up tension to make you a better Mum.

I personally have constant rolling lists for food shopping, gifts, party planning, school projects, holiday packing, DIY plans, generic things to do, really anything goes! 

Get yourself an in tray and spend just 15 minutes or so each day checking the calendar, dealing with the contents of the tray, adding dates and reminders to the diary and looking to the week ahead. It's amazing what a difference this makes. 

I set reminder alerts for just about everything from taking medicine to remembering to leave for the school runs! 

All this organisation won't stop the occasional wobble but it will help you feel calm and in control at least some of the time! 

So whats your secret?  How do you do to avoid feeling overwhelmed?? Any tips are welcome!

photo credit: <a href="">the death of created life</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

Thursday, 7 May 2015

CHEESY SALMON PASTA: A realistic 15 minute dinner for a busy school night

Now I'm definitely not an amazing cook but I do try and family life has taught me that sometimes you need to be clever and be able to come up with a family dinner in 15 minutes flat.

I don't think I have mentioned before but I am a SAHM who also works part time in the evening so our schedule can be a little crazy some week nights.  It's a tag team affair but dinner has to be simple and above all fast!

I thought I would begin to share with you some of our everyday family favorites that are budget friendly, can be whipped up in no time and always give me smiley happy kids (and Daddy) with full tummies.

I'm telling you, ANYONE can make this meal, its very easy and is done in 15 minutes flat.

Salmon and Cream Cheese Pasta (aka 'Cheesy Salmon Pasta' in our house)

What you will need:
2 Salmon fillets
About 250-300g of pasta shapes
A 200g tub of cream cheese with garlic and herbs
Around 150ml of milk
Green vegetables, ideally broccoli and green beans
Dill (optional)

First things first, I whack on the kettle to boil the water for the pasta.  Pop it in the pan to cook as soon as the water is boiled as the rest will be ready by the time the pasta is done. About half a standard 500g bag or so should do and we use twists or shells but it doesn't matter.

Next I chop a head of broccoli into a microwaveable dish and add a handful of trimmed green beans or sugar snap peas (or any other green veg).  Add a tablespoon of water and cover with cling film ready to steam for 2.5 mins in the microwave on full (ours is 800 watt).

Then I grab a pan and add a few glugs (maybe 150ml) of milk and a whole tub of garlic and herb cream cheese.  I use a light Aldi variety but any would do.  Careful, as this is the tricky (ish) part.  This needs to be warmed on a low to medium heat so that the cheese melts into the milk.  Please don't let it get too hot or boil or it will split and look bad (still tastes good though)!

Now put 2 Salmon fillets into a microwaveable tupperware (with a lid) along with a tablespoon of milk and a sprinkle of Dill (if you have it).  Microwave on full for 1.5-2 mins (yes that really is long enough) with one corner of the tub slightly open.  Being totally honest I think those tubs you can get with Chinese takeaway in work best for this.

Grate some cheese, about 100g I think and add half to the cream cheese sauce, remove it from the heat and stir in until it has melted.  I also add some black pepper here.  The rest of the cheese is what my kids refer to as 'sprinkle cheese' for the adding at the table.

Finally drain off the veg and snip into small pieces with scissors.  Drain off the pasta and mix with the veg back into the pasta pan.  Pour over the cream cheese sauce and mix.

Then pop your cooked salmon fillets out onto a board, gently remove the skin (trying not to burn yourself) and chop up.  Add this to the pasta pan and give it one last stir.

Now call the hungry troops to the table, you're done! 

This feeds our family of 2 adults and 2 children with a leftover portion to go into the fridge.

I made this last night and we happened to have lightly smoked salmon fillets (as they were on offer) and I have to say it was really lovely and a must try, plus a also added a handful of sweetcorn to the sauce to mix it up.

I also have to make a teeny apology for the pictures as I took them of our leftovers the next day and not our initial dinner (due to the need for speed factor on the night I forgot).  The actual dinner is very saucy and creamy and gorgeous but as with all pasta dishes the leftovers loose a bit of their sauce factor.

I hope you give it a try and let me know how you found it.


Monday, 4 May 2015

How to clean your bathroom without actually spending time cleaning your bathroom!

So my inspiration for this post is purely my absolute hatred of having to clean a dirty bathroom.  It's the one job I totally put off until I wish I hadn't put it off that long and its then really hard work if you let it get gunky!  It is also one of those jobs that, if you leave it you're bound to get a visit from Grandma or your Mother-in-law and be left totally embarrassed at your lack of cleaning prowess.

Well I have good news and will happily admit that I no longer have to make time to 'clean' my bathroom (as such) and it isn't dirty!  No really!

So what is my trick, well its not a trick really just something that has developed as a habit since having my little monkeys.

My secret is ... bath-time!  I will inevitably be spending a good 10-20 minutes in my bathroom with the mini's most days and a good portion of this time is spent doing nothing other than dodging the water splashes (and the odd bath toy) and reminding my toddler to sit down and stop drinking the water (eww right)!

I also found that I sit there making a mental to do list, thinking eugh I really need to scrub that grout or noticing the dust or some horrible soap slime starting to build up somewhere that I'm itching to wipe.  So now I do!  Every bath-time I choose a couple of bits to do like give the toilet a wipe around and put cleaner inside, wipe over the whole floor, clean all around the sink, organise the towels, tidy the toiletries, clean the mirror and tidy the cabinet, clean the blinds, clean the shower screen...and the list goes on.

This way all I have to do is give the bath itself a quick wipe over after the kids get out and ta dah!  Constantly clean bathroom with virtually no effort.  I'm not even as strict as to keep a stock of bathroom cleaning wipes at the ready at all times.  Sometimes I just use baby wipes (and it still works).

The only other job I need to do is to attack the grout and that plastic runner thingy at the bottom of the shower screen (that collects all the gunk) with an old toothbrush and a mix of bicarb and vinegar once a month.

And before I get slated for not watching the children or joining in bath-time play, I still do that too!  We have a small bathroom and I just clean and chat and play at the same time.

This one little change means that I no longer have to have the dreaded 'Clean Bathroom' constantly on my to do list and it is now much cleaner than it ever was before.

I'm totally at ease with the bite-size bathroom clean (so it might actually get done) and I feel like I'm really making the best use of my time too.

I hope this little cheat of mine helps some of you to keep on top of your bathroom nemesis too.

photo credit: <a href="">59/365</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

How to avoid a runaway toddler?

Our little 20 month old monkey is VERY crafty and has taken to making the most of every opportunity to climb, escape and generally put himself in harms way.  This is new territory for me as my daughter wasn't this way inclined at all! 

So what are we doing? Well, following his latest escape attempt which resulted in Dad running down the street after him in a teeny tiny towel after jumping out of the shower, we have implemented a few simple extra security measures:
  • Lock your doors and remove the keys as it doesn't take the crafty ones very long to work this out.
  • Consider fitting a latch if you are worried you or someone else in the house (aka partner or absent minded siblings) might forget.
  • Use window locks.
  • Keep garages and sheds locked up if the children are playing outside. 
  • Safety gates can also be useful to keep them away from open doors or other temptations.
There are also a few tricks and games that I have picked up along the way to help keep control of everyone.

I would highly recommend using reins in busy places and car parks, even getting into and out of the car at home if you don't have garden gates and live by a road.  I know some people find them controversial but believe me if you have more than one child to hold onto and a few things to carry while trying to get into or out of the car they are essential.  There are so many cute styles these days too, some with little back packs and soft toys but I go with the bog standard plain variety and my little boy loves them!

Explain your expectations to your toddler before you leave the house or car.  For example 'You need to stay with Mummy and hold my hand while we are in the car park'.  You might not think they understand yet but you might be surprised and this is a good routine to get into anyway.

Get your little one to sit down on the doorstep while you lock the door.  Its usually just enough of a distraction so they don't run off before you are ready to run after them!  Try and give them something to carry back into the house to make them feel important and avoid any de-tours.  If you have multiple children with you get them to hold hands and stay together, keep hold of the littlest or most likely to wander.

Teach them the 'Stick like glue' game in car parks so you know where everyone is at all times.  This is a really basic game we started while trying to get everyone in the car.  When a grown up shouts 'stick like glue' everyone has to keep a body part stuck on the rear car lights (or any other bit of the car that works for you) and if they let go they are 'out'.  You can shout out new body parts every 30 seconds if you want to keep them engaged or are taking longer than you thought.  We do Hi 5's at the end and it works a treat especially if you are enthusiastic.

As they get a little older we play the 'stop-go game'.  To teach older toddlers to follow instruction and allow them a little freedom we started to play the stop go game in parks.  It's another simple idea where they have to stop or go according to your commands and if they mess up they are out and have to come back but if they do well they get to be the leader.  Its especially good to practice when they are on scooters and could zoom off.

Discipline them for not coming to you or stopping when called and for running away etc. I'm just talking a stern face to face chat with them here so that they know it is just not acceptable.  Don't forget to reward them for doing well, just a little enthusiastic praise will do the trick.

Give your littlest plenty of chances to run free where it is safe.  Don't be tempted to use reins or harnesses for ease when you are at a park or other safe places.  I know its tempting if you have a runner but its not great for them and they will struggle to learn to be independent and follow your instructions.

Make sure you explain to them the places where they should always stop and wait for you, for example road curbs, shop exits, lifts, escalator etc and why.  Have a little family chat about it and get them to come up with ideas of places too.  The older they are the more they will understand but start to tell the little ones too.

When you are out and about (and have time) let them decide if it's safe to cross the road.  The good old green cross code can't start early enough if you ask me and this way they will be much more aware of the danger.

 So this is what we do to try and contain their crazy urges to run away and I hope it gives you some new ideas and inspiration but I'd love to hear any ideas you have or tricks you use to keep everyone safe so please do comment!

photo credit: <a href="">22 January 2012</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

Saturday, 25 April 2015

The mystical cleaning powers of baby wipes, bicarb and hairspray!

I don't know about you but I am not particularly skilled I in the art of 'home making' and unlike Martha Stewart I seem to muddle my way through most problems via the somewhat mystical cleaning powers of my 3 hero's, baby wipes, bicarb of soda (or baking soda as they call it in the US) and hairspray!

Ok, so I know it might be cheating a little but there aren't many problems that I can't fix with one of these 3 little gems, they are truly amazing tricks!

The humble baby wipe is cleaning way more than just bottoms and sticky fingers in my house.  Here are just a few of the little jobs I use them for.

Removing marks from just about anywhere:
  • Pencil and crayon
  • Face paint and makeup
  • UPVC black scuff marks
  • Baby sick or milk from carpets (followed by bicarb if it's bad)
  • Grubby fingerprints off walls, doors light switches etc 
  • Removing sticker residue
They also make great cleaning companions for:
  • Dusting the house plants
  • Sprucing up plastic shoes 
  • Cleaning your car interiors
  • Spot cleaning floors and carpets
  • Added to a Swiffer for a shinny clean floor
  • Spot cleaning clothes (especially school uniform)
  • Cleaning up plastic or wooden toys or dolls
  • Cleaning down outdoor toys or furniture
  • Leather cleaner
  • Cleaning your skirting boards
  • Bathroom surface or floor cleaner
  • Shower screen cleaner
  • Cleaning computer screens and keyboards
  • Fridge cleaner
  • Microwave cleaner
  • Blind cleaner
  • Removing sticker residue

Bicarb is my best friend No 2 and will literally get bad smells out of just about anything (even the really bad ones)!

  • Sick odor remover (amazing)!
  • Fridge freshener
  • Litter box freshner
  • Mattresses freshner
  • Stinky bin freshner
  • Stinky drain cleaner and deoderiser
  • Bathroom mould remover and grout cleaner (when mixed with vinegar)
  • Boosts your laundry detergent as a freshener, degreaser and washing machine cleaner
  • Dishwasher cleaner and deodoriser
  • Polishes silver (in a paste)
  • Cleans the microwave, hob, oven or burnt on food pans (in a paste)
  • Cleans smelly sports wear and gym bags
  • Shoe deodoriser
  • Carpet cleaner
  • Preserves cut flowers (when added to the water)

And finally, my go to girl....Hairspray:
  • The biggie for me is the removal of ink (inc permanent maker) stains!
  • Lipstick and grease stain remover
  • Stops ladders from forming from nicked tights
  • Removes sticky glue residue (if baby wipes fail)
  • Preserves cut flower heads (spray on rather than in the water)
  • Lint remover
  • Artwork fix (for anything loose, glittery or chalky)

As long as you have these 3 secret weapons in your cleaning cupboard you'll be able to tackle most of the challenges family life throws at you.  OK, so maybe you should also add superglue and plasters to that list but you'll be on the right track!

Now I can't be the only one making the most of these little tricks and many more I haven't yet come across so I would love to hear any that you have to add that might help me along the way?

You Baby Me Mummy

Scuttle Bug - Tried and tested review

Assembled Scuttle Bug
First things first, this isn't a sponsored review I just wanted to share what I thought was a great little product with everyone!

We ordered our Scuttle Bug as I wanted something for my 19 month old Will to use while we were out with our 6 year old Faye on her scooter.  He was getting very frustrated that he is too small for a scooter and didn't want to ride his trike as he can't peddle it yet.

We ordered ours from amazon while it was on offer for £24.00 which I thought was very reasonable for what you get.  I loved the cute animal designs and chose the grasshopper for Will.

I was surprised by how small the box was when it arrived and it also says 'adult assembly required' on the front (que internal groan).  So I was pleasantly surprised when we opened it up and it was just stored in its folded down position. All I had to do was click out the back wheels and steering column and it was ready to go, bonus!

Folded Scuttle Bug

It is just as easy to fold away to with obvious release buttons so no faffing about at all.

Will absolutely loved this toy, I think because it has a little face and was very easy for him to get the hang of straight away.  

Because the Scuttle Bug is very slim it is easy for him to get on and off and he soon got to grips with steering.  Its also very lightweight so easy for him (or Mum) to carry around which he always wants to do with these things.

Do you think he likes his new Scuttle Bug?

We are using ours indoors and outdoors at the moment which is working great as the wheels are narrow so they don't pick up dirt and it keeps Will happy if the weather isn't good.  He is a little slow riding on the street if we are off to the park but if you have a little patience he really enjoys the trip.  I also used a  harness while we ride on the footpath so I have hold of him if he veers into the road unexpectedly. He handles the steering very well though so it hasn't been an issue yet.

The box says this will be suitable until he is 20 Kgs or 3 years and since his sister is also very keen on it (and very upset to find she was too big) I think it will be getting very well used at our house.

Hope you enjoy yours as much as we do if you are off to buy one!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Easy Oreo pops and truffles: quick and easy treats for any occassion

So you need to come up with some treats for a children's party, afternoon tea or a baby shower type event and don't have a great deal of time (or lets face it the skills)to bake up a storm.

I always seem to have one of these occasions pop up where you would love to make something really cute that everyone will love but end up buying something from the supermarket (and feeling a bit rubbish about it).

No I'm not advocating 'competitive mothering', you know the kind of Mum who its obvious have spent an entire week creating a professional 'Bake Off' worthy offering in order to keep up with the Joneses but I do like to at least look like I care and made an effort.

If this is you then next time you should try one of these two little gems and voila, problem solved!  You really don't need to do a lot with these two REALLY easy no bake treat solutions I promise its mainly melting and dipping!

Oreo Lollipops


What you will need:
Lolly sticks
Oreo's (or the Aldi version that I used is fine)
Chocolate or candy melts (any kind is fine)

Choose the chocolate and sprinkles that fit your theme.  I went with white chocolate and multi-coloured sprinkles but anything goes.


Step 1

Open your Oreo's and gently insert your sticks a good way into the biscuit to make sure they are secure

Naked Oreo pops ready to coat

Step 2

Melt your chocolate in the microwave in short bursts, stiring in between until fully melted.

Step 3

Coat your Oreo pops in chocolate, holding them over the chocolate and turning to allow the excess to drip off and lay them out on greaseproof paper.

Lollipop drying station

Step 4

Sprinkle with whatever you like and leave to set on the paper.  All done (told you it was easy)!

Tip:  You might want to wipe any excess chocolate from around your pops before they set if you have a lot of excess chocolate pooling as they dry.  Just make sure you twirl over the chocolate bowl for a little longer to stop this happening with the next one.


Oreo Truffles


What you will need:

3 packs of Oreo's (or the Aldi version that I used is fine)
1 pack of Cream Cheese
Chocolate or candy melts (any kind is fine)

Choose the chocolate and sprinkles that fit your theme.  I went with white chocolate and pink and blue sprinkles as this batch were for a baby shower but anything goes.

Step 1

Blitz up your biscuits into crumbs.  Either in a food processor or in a frezzer bag with a rolling pin and bash away.  I blitzed in 3 batches in the food processor in small 2 second bursts and they came out like this:

Oreo crumbs
Step 2

Mix together with a full pack of cream cheese until it forms into a dough like so:

Oreo truffle dough

Step 3

Form into small balls in the palm of your hand and put into the fridge to chill for 20 minutes

Truffle balls ready for the fridge

Step 4

Melt your chocolate in the microwave in short bursts, stiring in between until fully melted.

Step 5

Lower your truffle on a spoon into the melted chocolate and turn until coated.  Remove gently and place on greaseproof paper.

Tip: If you would like to make your truffles appear like cake pops then use a pretty wide drinking straw pushed into the truffle as the stick.  Pick up your truffle by inserting your straw and  dip it into the chocolate to coat.  Then place your truffle pop upright in a glass to set.

Step 6

Sprinkle with your chosen decorations or some crushed cookie to finish

This recipe does make quite a large batch of truffles, around 30 or so but they are sooo good that really isn't a problem!