Having children comes with its fair share of challenges, for me one of those daily battles is keeping a tidy house with two young, very active, excitable children. Their toys could probably furnish a small play school.
Having a child of each gender and a three-year age gap in-between, the toys in our home range from 99 Barbies jostling out of their storage box (usually naked with one shoe on) and noisy racing cars of all types, sizes and colours. Being somewhat obsessive about keeping my house tidy and clutter free, it’s certainly not a walk in the park. Never be fooled by anyone’s picture perfect home on Instagram. It takes a lot of effort and time having young children and running a household to any sort of presentable standard. You may be completely happy allowing the toys flow into your living room and perhaps do a big tidy up at the weekend and that’s wonderful! As long as the kids are happy and you feel like you’re getting some down time, that’s really all that matters. My problem is that I can’t truly relax in a cluttered environment and I like to have a place for everything that can be accessed quickly and easily at the end of the day so that come that glorious bedtime hour for the children, my space is as Zen like as possible!
If possible, I like to have most of the children’s toys stored in their own bedrooms. Luckily, both of our children have rather spacious individual bedrooms, but this is of course more difficult if your children share bedrooms or they are on the smaller side but we can get to that later. I like to have the toys arranged in some sort of category/order where they can easily be found. I have the majority of their toys in canvas storage boxes arranged in white shelving units. Ours are from The Great Little Trading Company. I love their style, durability and array of designs and colours. You can have these mixed and matched but I chose to have them all in the same colour and style.
Their storage boxes are made of canvas and are collapsible and also bend around the edges to make it easy to carry around the house. The children regularly carry their boxes downstairs to play and when they grow bored and want something new, we scoop the toys back into the boxes together and swap for something fresh.
My daughter has an abundance of tiny little toys such as Shopkins, Num Nums and baby Hatchimals. Fellow mummies of little girls can sympathise (and they bloody hurt if you stand on them!) These canvas boxes are perfect to store away these pesky little pieces out of sight and make tidying up a doddle!
The children also have a toy box each. I use these to store toys that are bulkier, brightly coloured plastic tat if you will! Sofia’s toy box is home to her larger toys such as her Barbie campervan and boat as she plays with these every day. Her toy box was made by a store which I discovered on Instagram called dreambox.toyboxes They make so many beautiful products and made this toy box to my exact specification. It has so much space inside as well as being crafted lovingly and of good quality. I think it just completes her room!
Leo’s toy box is packed full of his favourite larger dinosaurs that wouldn’t fit in a small storage box. They’re always accessible for him and easy for him to tidy away afterwards. Leo’s toybox was made by beausandbuttons but he is due to get a larger one soon from the same store that made Sofia’s as I am simply in love with the style and cushioned seat! I have their toy boxes placed underneath their windows as a focal point and a little window seat.
The children’s books can mount up too. My children love to read, especially Sofia and we have always had an abundance of books. As we all know, reading to our children is so important and I love to create a cosy little reading corner for them to enjoy. Make a feature of their books by having them on shelves on display. Leo loves to sit on his bean bag and cuddle up with a blanket after his bath for his bedtime story. His shelves are from The Great Little Trading Company and they have different colours too to add a little pop of life to your child’s bedroom.
Being a little older, Sofia has her books stored in a pretty little bookcase shaped like a dolls house. It holds all of her books easily which is quite something as she has quite a collection. This was also from The Great Little Trading Company however it was quite some time ago, but similar products are available.
Both of my children are very crafty. By that, I don’t mean sneaky (Or maybe I do!), I mean in the arty sense. Playdough, glue, paints, crayons and glitter – it can get out of control! I like to store every day essentials in a little caddy. The Great Little Trading Company have some gorgeous designs to fit your theme. They’re compact and easy to carry downstairs to the kitchen table for messy play fun and look great in their bedrooms.
If you are short on space, here are my top tips to keep the toys out of sight!
*Get a beautiful ottoman for your living room. It could be a luxurious crushed velvet design, sitting proudly beneath your window, but secretly it could house all of that multi coloured plastic!
* Invest in a unit with some storage boxes to match your lounge décor. Ikea has some fantastic options! Imagine how easy it would be at the end of the day to quickly scoop up the toys from the carpet and pop inside. Try to keep them in some sort of order for example cars, barbies and books. It will encourage you to keep on top of the tidying.
* Store bulkier items on shelves in their wardrobes. We have Ikea wardrobes which allows you to choose the depth of your shelves. We have a deep shelf on top of both the children’s wardrobes which is home to large items such as my son’s farm and wooden castle.
* Store toys in your garage, if you have a one of course! Invest in some Perspex boxes such as THESE We have lots of these stacked in our garage and these house toys that we only occasionally bring out such as playmobil and board games. It’s nice to have some toys completely out of sight. Our kids get excited when something comes out of the garage, like it’s a brand-new toy!
* Get a storage bed! There are so many amazing children’s beds these days. My daughter’s bed not only has another single bed hidden underneath, it also has three large drawers which are perfect for toys and books.
I would like to point out that this post is not sponsored by The Great Little Trading Company, I just love their products!
I’d love to hear what your storage solutions and tips are. Let’s get organising!
I don’t claim to be an expert. I’m certainly not a photographer, but it doesn’t take too much effort to transform a lacklustre image into something pretty special. I’ve only recently purchased a ‘proper’ blogging camera as I grew tired of being disappointed with the quality of the photos on my iPhone 6s. I hear the 7 is much better equipped for photography and I think the iphone8 can probably take your photos for you and cook the dinner along with it! But for now, I decided the best move was to invest in a quality camera. I went for the Sony ILCE5000LW I’ve only just starting using this for images on my Instagram page and will keep you in the loop with what I think of it. For now, I’m loving how easy it is to take an image and transfer it to my phone with ease, ready to upload for instantly!
When I look back at photos on my feed, even from 18 months ago, I cringe at the quality. I’ve learned a lot in this past year about making my images look sharper and more professional and you can easily do this too, just with the tools available on the Instagram app.
Firstly, your image is nothing without good lighting. It’s much easier to get a beautiful photo in natural daylight when it’s nice and bright outside. On a dull day, it’s tricky to capture that image. I see so many photos taken with poor lighting that otherwise could look wonderful. I try to avoid taking photos with the flash on my phone, opting for either natural daylight or putting on bright lights around my house for the shot. I find the flash alters the photo in a stark way that doesn’t appeal to me. The images below show just how important good lighting is.
If you’re taking a selfie, ALWAYS have the light in front of you and never behind you. I always do my insta stories facing the window too, it’s just so much more flattering when the light floods your face. If the window is behind you, your image will be much darker and poorer quality. Lighting is everything.
Now the first thing I do when I upload a photo is go to the EDIT options. It’s important to do your editing before you choose your filter because it’s clearer to see what the original image needs.
Firstly, I increase the sharpness. Never too much though, depending on the image. This can really help with the quality particularly if you’ve used your phone to capture it as it may be at times be a little more blurry than you’d like.
Below is another edited shot which looks warmer and brighter than the original underneath.
Next, I adjust the brightness. This is the option that can make the biggest difference to your image. However, if I’m taking a photo of a candlelit bath for example, sometimes I lower the brightness. This helps to truly reflect the atmospheric surroundings which can get lost in the image. Although if I’m trying to achieve that look I often increase the brightness and lower the shadows.
Photographs taken in front of a window are always dull. This image below popped as soon as the shadows were decreased.
Then, I lower the contrast. It helps make your image appear softer and prettier. The only time I ever up the contrast is if I’m photographing an item with sparkle. Increasing the contrast helps bring out the delicate features and makes anything sparkly really pop!
Sometimes I adjust the warmth but not often. As my house is mainly cool tones, the warmth option can give the image a yellowish tone. I do sometimes use this option when photographing areas of my home with warmer tones such as my kitchen and the study.
The last option I use, is shadows. I increase this to rid of any unwanted dull or dark tones. Again, I may lower this if I’m photographing an image in the evening with delicate candlelight but you do need good lighting in your room already on the image for this to work.
I never use the other options in EDIT. They just don’t work with the theme of my photos.
The final thing I do is choose a filter. I always use Valencia. Previously I used different filters depending on what I thought suited my image but boy was I wrong! This can give an untidy and disjointed look to your feed. Using the same filter on all your Instagram images gives it a clean, uniformed theme. You can adjust how strong you want to filter to be. Valencia is like magic. It can completely transform your photo giving it a cosy and homely feel.
Remember, people are generally looking for beautiful images. If you’re photographing a new candle, set it on a tray with a book by its side on a luxurious blanket. It’s all about how you present the image rather than the actual item itself. Make your image stand out from the crowd.
For every photograph you see on my Instagram feed, I’ve probably taken several before I’ve chosen the perfect shot. Take your time, assess whether you’re happy with it. If not, try again and move things around until it looks perfect.
Photographs are a beautiful little snapshot of our lives. It’s a moment that somehow, you’ve decided you want to remember and keep forever. Make the most of your shot and in years to come you can look back and remember just how special that moment was.
Although it’s hard work. There’s nothing more satisfying than having your entire house cleaned from top to bottom. From day to day, my house is generally clean and tidy and you can find my daily cleaning routine HERE. But my deep cleaning routine involves getting stuck into all the nooks and crannies that are easy to forget about. And it’s impossible to do this with the kids around. I usually do a deep clean once a month at the weekend. My husband happily escapes off to soft play with the kids for the morning whilst I get to work. I find it easier to deep clean room to room, completing one before I move onto the next. Otherwise it can become overwhelming and seem like you’ve just pulled everything out and made more of a mess.
Invest in a little cleaning caddy like this one (LINK) You can easily carry all of your favourite products around and move from room to room with ease!
As always, I start with my kitchen. To me, nothing else seems to be accomplished unless my kitchen is clean. It’s also the biggest job for me. The first thing I like to do is deep clean my oven. Although I’d be lying if I said I do this monthly. As much as I love a shiny, clean oven, it’s a horrible job. I probably do this every 6-8 weeks if I can get away with it! I remember paying for a lady to come and clean my oven a few years ago. She claimed to have it looking like brand new again and I was excited! She came and took most of the oven parts away overnight and I spotted that she was simply using Oven Pride (LINK). A mere few pounds for this magical product and I realised that in the future I could easily achieve the same result without the hefty price tag. It is so satisfying to watch the dirt and grease simply drip away from the racks into the handy bags which come with it. I also put on some rubber gloves and scrub inside the oven with the remaining cleaning solution and a sponge, just make sure you use gloves and this stuff is potent! When the dirt and grease has gone, I use window/glass cleaner and an e cloth (LINK) to buff the glass up to a shine. Then it really does look like new and I don’t want to use it again! Takeaway anyone?
I also clean inside my microwave. I get a bowl, fill it with warm water and a good few drops of dish soap. Then I put this in the microwave for around 2/3 minutes or until it starts to steam. The steam will have loosened all the dirt and grime and it is easily removable with a damp kitchen sponge. You can also add some baking soda to the bowl to act as a deodoriser to rid of any lingering food smells. When it’s clean, leave the door open and allow it to air dry. I also use glass cleaner and an e cloth to get the front door glass shiny.
I then like to empty my fridge and clean it out. It sounds like common sense but I try to do this the day before our big food shop so I have less to empty out! I lay all the contents on the table and throw away anything out of date or that I’m unlikely to use again! Remember that jar of relish that you bought a while ago and used it for ONE recipe? Bin it! I then take the glass shelves out one by one and wash them in warm soapy water. Whilst they’re soaking in the sink I clean the inside of the fridge with fridge wipes. I also use a scrubby sponge soaked in water and baking powder to rid of any odours. If there are any stubborn food particles grab a butter knife to chip it off and also to get into the cracks where there may be some crumbs. I then dry the shelves with some paper towels and slot back inside. When my fridge is lovely and fresh I want to fill it with colourful peppers and fruit!
The next big job in the kitchen is the cupboards. It’s crazy how much dust and crumbs can accumulate in such a short space of time! From time to time, empty them and wipe the insides down with some warm water and dish soap. I also like to get a wipe (my favourites are the Asda apple wipes) and clean the outsides the rid of any finger prints, marks or grease. It’s nice to stack your crockery, glasses and tins back in neatly to help you keep on top of it!
Then I move onto my bathrooms. All four of them! My absolute favourite bathroom cleaner is Flash bathroom cleaning spray. It smells so clean, almost like a swimming pool! I spray this over everything from the sink, the bath, the shower base and the toilet (inside and out). I let that soak for a good five minutes and then wipe down.
I spray my taps and shower with Viakal (LINK). It removes limescale and gives a beautiful shine finish. It also leaves a barrier that prevents watermarks and limescale build up.
After scrubbing the toilet clean, I use mint toilet duck (LINK) and a generous pouring of bloo toilet powder (Don’t bother with the pink scent, the blue is by far better!). I also place a toilet block in the cistern. I love the pink ones! Your toilet will look spotless and smell beautifully fresh.
Keeping your glass shower door clean is a mission! I use my bathroom cleaner to soak off the soap scum. But the key to getting it to shine it to use glass cleaner and an e cloth. It takes a bit of elbow grease but you can maintain it by spraying the doors with water to prevent to soap building up and then using a daily shower spray such as this (LINK) After a shower, apply a light mist then simply walk away. You’ve just ended the tedious rigmarole of rubbing, scrubbing, rinsing and squeegeeing in the pursuit of a sparkling bathroom suite!
Lastly, I fill my sinks and bathtubs with hot steamy water and a capful of zoflora! Did you know that Twilight Garden is back? Make it permanent Zoflora!
Once your bathroom and kitchen is out of the way the hardest part is over! The bedrooms, living room and hallways are mainly about tidying for me as opposed to cleaning.
However, my worst job by FAR is dusting and cleaning the skirting boards! Some rarely need cleaned, like my living room. But the skirting in my hallway and bathrooms drive me crazy! There’s not much to it other than rolling up your sleeves, getting down on your hands and knees and scrubbing at them with hot soapy water and a scourer sponge. I sometimes wipe them over with a baby wipe to rid of most of the dust first. I hate doing this, but what a difference it makes when it’s done!
I also take a flash eraser (LINK) and go over any marks or finger prints on the walls, banisters and doors. Everything looks so white again! You can only use these on painted walls and it can strip the paint. But I don’t mind that as I have a pot of paint in the garage for touch ups. If only they invented something to erase marks from wallpaper!
I then wash all of the household bedding and vacuum. I finish off by mopping my floors in Zoflora. Not only does it make my tiles sparkle, it leaves them smelling gorgeous!
Once it’s done I have a lovely long bubble bath to reward myself and stepping out to a sparkling clean house is a huge reward! Light some candles and enjoy your fresh, clean and tidy home!
My cleaning routine. If only I had a pound for every time I’ve been asked to share this with you! This post is all about my daily cleaning routine, not my deep cleaning which I tend to do once a week and I will detail that in a further post – keep your eyes peeled!
Cleaning is a dirty job. There’s not many of us who enjoy it. I think of it like dieting. It’s not particularly enjoyable, but the benefits are thoroughly rewarding. And the more you do, the more you want to maintain. I wouldn’t say I particularly enjoy cleaning, but I do find it therapeutic if I’m worried or stressed. Which is often, perhaps that’s why my house is so clean!
As documented in my tidy home post (link) I always aim to go to bed with a clean and tidy house. Tidying and cleaning are very different for me. If my home isn’t tidy, I don’t have the motivation to clean. It’s important to have a relatively tidy home before you start to think about cleaning. You can’t wipe down your work surfaces if they’re cluttered with dishes.
Despite my home being lovely and clean first thing in the morning, the chaos of getting Sofia and Leo dressed, fed and watered in the morning turns my neat, sparkling house upside down. All in the space of an hour! After dropping Sofia off at school, it’s home to get some breakfast and tidy up the aftermath.
The first thing I do in the morning is open the blinds and windows. I can’t bear having these closed during the day, even in winter. I want my home to be bright and I love fresh air. Next, I switch on my electric wax melts to fill the house with fragrance. I use Scentsy. I change the melts every couple of days. It’s so easy to do, I simply pop a knife around the edge and out it comes ready for a fresh scent.
After scraping the coco pops off the table and sweeping the grated cheese off the floor, I load the dishwasher. It looks like I’ve fed an army instead of two young children. When my work surfaces and kitchen table is clear, I then spray them down and wipe clean. I always dry them after with kitchen roll so I’m not left with water marks.
Then I’ll tackle the hob if I’ve not cleaned it thoroughly after dinner. I usually spray on some Zoflora, leave for a moment and then wipe clean with a kitchen sponge. When it’s clean I then buff it up to a shine. I love to use window/glass cleaner with an e-cloth (LINK). If I’m really going to town, I’ll buff it up with a smidgen of baby oil and a soft slightly damp household cloth.
The next big job in the post breakfast kitchen is to sweep the floors. Generally I use my cordless shark (Link) You can save 10% off using PINKPEONYON10 however soggy cereal and cheese is definitely a brush job! I then mop my floors with my JML Whizz Mop (Link) and the kitchen and hallway is done. These are the first areas of the house you see when entering and I like to tackle these first.
I’ve usually loaded the clothes horse before bed and they’ll generally be dry and ready to be folded away or ironed. I pile them into a basket to deal with later. I always iron in the evenings when the kids aren’t around. I watch some TV or YouTube to make it less tedious.
Next, I give the kid’s bedrooms a quick blitz. Firstly, I open their curtains and windows, tidy their toys and books away, make their beds, switch on their scentsy warmers and give the carpets a quick vacuum. I quickly go over their surfaces such as desks, radiator covers and shelves with a cleaning wipe. I love the ASDA floor wipes. They are just huge wipes saturated in an apple scented cleaning solution which smells delicious.
Lastly in the morning, I give the living room a quick once over. It’s usually still tidy from the night before but I like to fluff the cushions and fold the blankets. If we’re staying at home that day (which is rare) Leo will bring some boxes of toys downstairs and spend time playing until it’s time for lunch.
After lunch I tend to give the kitchen another clean to prepare for cooking dinner. If we do arts and crafts I lay a huge plastic mat down to minimise the mess. You can even buy party table covers and cut them down! I always have wipes nearby too.
We then pick Sofia up from school and I tend to try and prepare dinner whilst they are playing upstairs. I try to tidy as I go, binning vegetable peelings straight away, wiping work surfaces whilst dinner is in the oven and load the dishwasher.
The post dinner mess is the worst of the day but my husband and I share the load. We take turns bathing the kids whilst the other blitzes the kitchen once again and then I give all the rooms a quick vacuum with my Shark (LINK) You can save 10% off using PINKPEONYON10. You may think vacuuming every day is excessive, but if I don’t I’m left with crumbs everywhere! It just makes me feel better and it’s good exercise – especially if you have a three floors like me.
The last thing I do before I sit down in the evening is pop some Zoflora and boiling water in the sink. The scent fills the entire house. At the moment I’m loving Bluebell Woods.
Little and often is key. My house would be in chaos if I left all of my cleaning until the end of the day. If you make cleaning a routine, you’ll becoming quicker and more efficient.
I hope that gives you a little insight and feel free to share any tips you have below.
I love my bedroom. Located at the very top of my house, as it was an attic conversion, it’s a little haven of tranquillity to retreat to at the end of a hectic day. The windows look out above the rooftops of the surrounding houses and I feel somewhat in my own little piece of heaven.
I designed the layout which was going to work best for us. We had a great size to work with and the result was more than I could have possibly wished for. The bedroom of my dreams. One evening per week, I like to treat myself to some pampering. I have a long bubble bath, hair and face masks, do my nails and then I do my weekly tanning. They’re usually tanning Thursdays, preparing me for the weekend ahead. I like to light some candles in my bedroom afterwards, watch some TV and relax up there completely alone whilst the kids are asleep and my husband has peace downstairs to watch Narcos.
To be able to have a special place to relax, it’s important to keep on top of keeping your bedroom clean and tidy. You won’t enjoy that time if your husband’s socks are strewn across the floor! If you need some tips and advice to create that beauteous bedroom then this is the blog post for you!
Make your bed a statement
Big beds are on trend! Whether you choose a bedstead or a divan, you can give your bed the ‘wow factor’ by choosing a sumptuous base or a huge eye-catching headboard. If possible, have your bed in the centre of the room facing you as you walk in. It should be your main focal point. Our bed is the Elise in French Grey. Our latest addition is this gorgeous Morris bench from House of Brissi. There’s currently 20% off too!
You can create layers to make your bed look inviting as well as beautiful. Drape a throw over it. I love to mix textures here, so if you have some sparkly cushions, I’d choose a luxurious faux fur throw to contrast this. If you have it all glitzy it can become a bit too much. You want your bed to look comfortable too! Choose a bedding that compliments your bedroom theme. Try and stick to a palette of colours that appeal to you and mix well. I’m a huge fan of calming neutrals, especially in the bedroom. Choose silvers, greys, beiges, golds, creams. No matter what colour you opt for, crisp white bedding will always work well. I love this gorgeous Next bedding but it has since been discontinued despite its huge popularity! Bring it back Next!
Try and look for bedding with the highest thread count. Thread count refers to the number of horizontal and vertical threads per inch. The higher the thread count, the softer the bedding. A good sheet will tend to be numbered between 200 – 800, but you can buy over 1,000! Have you ever wondered why the beds are so comfortable in hotels? They tend to use the highest thread counts. This includes pillow cases too!
If you’re putting your bedding on straight from the packet, remember to iron out those awful crease lines where it has been folded. They’re my pet peeve! Ironing your bedding is a tedious job, so I do it when its already on the duvet! I remember watching the presenter doing this on 60-minute makeover and I thought GENIUS! I simply plug the iron into the socket behind my bedside tables and lightly run over it to keep it looking fresh.
I do love a good puffy duvet, and beautifully laundered bedding makes the whole thing feel and look special. I also like to give it a quick spritz of some linen spray. I also spray my pillows with This works deep sleep pillow spray. It leaves the most relaxing, delicate lavender scent in its trail and I swear by it, it really helps me sleep. (The plus version is even better!)
You want to look forward to slipping into the sheets at night. Isn’t it funny how the one thing we hated doing as children, becomes one of life’s simple pleasures in adulthood?
Buy for the biggest sized bed you can. One of our biggest regrets is buying king sized when we had plenty room for a super king! On the weekends when are rudely awakened by two excitable children who insist on jumping in beside up to watch Paw Patrol at 6.30am, we always grumble to each other in a fog of sleep ‘why didn’t we buy the Super King?’ Do not buy a smaller bed just because it’s a little cheaper – instead think about all that stretching out you can do when being forced to watch Cbeebies at dawn! Priceless.
Choose a good quality mattress
I remember reading a quote which said
‘Invest your money in your shoes and your mattress, because if you’re not in one, you’re in the other’.
How true! When we chose a mattress for our brand-new bedroom, I knew that I wanted to spend and invest in comfort and a good night’s sleep. We went to our local Next Home store on a quiet afternoon and made sure we could properly try out all that they had to offer. We decided on the Sealy 2200 Pocket Hybrid Mattress. I cannot begin to describe how comfortable it is.
It’s how I imagine being cocooned in a marshmallow and floating on a cloud might feel like!
Going to bed is like coming home. No matter where I lay my head, nothing compares to my own bed.
Lighting is key to creating a relaxing atmosphere in the evenings. Do you ever notice when you’re out at night, there are people are relaxing in their homes with their ‘big’ lights on? I want to scream ‘put some lamps on instead and create some atmosphere!’ Matching lamps on both sides of the bed finishes off that statement as you walk into the room. You can also install a dimmer so that if you do choose to use your main light in the evenings, you can still have it on low and keep the tone of the room soft. A statement chandelier is perfect for the bedroom. I have the ever-popular Venetian chandelier also from Next.
A bedroom just isn’t complete without the little details such as soft rugs and cushions. Have a soft fluffy rug beside your bed to sink your toes into on those frosty winter mornings and bundle some cushions of differing sizes and textures onto your bed to add character. Choose beautiful curtains to fit with your theme such as crushed velvet and always have black out blinds. What a difference this has made to the quality of my sleep.
My black out blinds, made especially for Velux windows are by vale blinds and they are completely black out. My husband falls, without fail, at least twice a week during the night when going to the bathroom because he can’t see a thing! I’ve never fallen, what does that tell you? Slow and steady wins the race!
Oh, how I adore it when my house is filled with sweet fresh aromas. I have spent a lot of money on achieving this. I have a Scentsy wax warmer in every bedroom, living room and hallways. I recently bought an oil diffuser too! I like to use different scents on different floors so that my nose doesn’t become used to it and you get a pleasant surprise as you come up stairs. Change your wax melts every two days as whilst the wax may still be there, the scent will be all but gone. In my bedroom I choose softer fragrances such as more floral and sophisticated notes to help me relax. Choose candles specifically for your bedroom that have names such as clean cotton and soft blanket. My very favourite candle for my bedroom is white tea by yankee candle. It is divine. It smells like your favourite spa! This one below is also perfect for a bedroom with the delicate scent of grapefruit and peonies (how apt) Bee Happy by Katie Loxton.
For more photos of my bedroom click here to go straight to my Instagram feed.
Here’s to a goodnight sleep!
We all love a gadget, right? Designed to make our lives that little bit easier and constantly reinventing themselves with more sleek and clever designs. I rely heavily on a few of these in my home. Without them, I think I’d be rather lost. You don’t need to spend a fortune either. There are some gems out there that perform amazingly well without breaking the bank. I’ve narrowed it down to my top five!
If you would like to purchase any of the below, simply click on the heading and it will direct you straight to the website.
The best vacuum in town. If you follow me on Instagram and watch my daily insta stories, you’ll already know of my love for this product. I understand why some might be wary of this brand; their products seemed to explode onto the market from nowhere and suddenly we were bombarded with bloggers and instagrammers alike raving about this beast. People proclaimed to be throwing their Dysons in the skip and we, as a home loving community, found a new love for carpet tracks that this unique vacuum provides in abundance. GOALS. Every time I post a photo of those delightful little tracks I log on to countless messages from people excitedly tagging their friends and long-suffering partners with photos of their carpet goals! Now believe me when I say that this product not only lives up to the hype, it exceeds the hype! This vacuum has a suction like nothing else you’ll have experienced before. So strong, that my husband unknowingly sucked up a perfectly white pair of my daughter’s ankle socks which had been abandoned on the carpet. I used to happily vacuum Leo’s little rug in his bedroom. It’s necessary as there are usually some remains of Ritz crackers embedded in there! However, the first time I naively attempted this with the shark, it literally ate the rug! I managed to stop it in time to rescue the rug, luckily, and I’ve never made that same mistake again! My point is, you need this vacuum in your life if you have carpets and especially if you have ‘cracker loving’ children (or children that are just crackers). You simply won’t believe the dirt it will pull up from your seemingly clean carpets. But what I love most about my shark is how it makes my carpets look. They have very thick, deep piles and whilst my isense carpets are still beautiful and silky, my Invictus carpets have flattened terribly in ‘high traffic’ areas. My shark pulls the pile up to make it bouncy again, almost like it’s had a little blow dry! After a quick whizz around with this, once again I see footprints in my carpet which were long gone due to flattening. The bouncy effects don’t last, but if I do this daily it keeps it looking wonderful and new again You can also use this on hardwood floors and tiles, adjusting at the click of a switch. Have I raved enough? If you take one thing from this post, let it be that you need a shark in your life. For those of you who can’t be doing with dragging a cord around (it’s a pain but you get used to it) they also have a new cordless model IF250UK ( 10% discount code – peonycc10 ) and whilst its suction does not quite rival its predecessor, it gives it a damn good run for its money! It also stores like a pro, it bends in half and slides into the smallest of spaces.
Both, of course, come with attachments to vacuum the stairs, pet hair, car, ledges – you name it. Genius.
Karcher WV5 Plus window vacuum cleaner
I’ve not given this ingenious product the recognition it deserves on my Instagram page; however, I use it all the time and I love it just as much as when I bought it two years ago. This is a battery operated handheld vacuum that uses an innovative cleaning system to leave your windows sparkling and completely streak free. This nifty little vacuum sucks away the moisture and dirt from your windows into its tank so there’s no need to wipe or buff. Even in sunshine I don’t find a single streak! Perfect for parents of sticky handed toddlers who are always attracted to those shiny patio doors. Now the instructions will tell you to use their detergent, which is good, however, I prefer to fill a bowl with warm soapy water, clean my windows with a cloth and then let the karcher work on whatever’s left. As a child I used to love watching window cleaners magically scrape away at soapy shop windows, leaving it completely spotless and shiny, was it just me who did that? So I find it overly satisfying having the same effect in my own home. Don’t stop at the windows, use it in your car, shower screen, oven door, tiles and mirrors. You can even use it to suck up spillages with ease. What more could you ask?
It’s one of my most frequently asked questions: How do you get your floor tiles so shiny? The secret is all in this mop and it’s cheap! This mop has a 360 degree spinning head so you can pump the excess water out the mop before it touches your floor. Gone are the days of manually wringing out your mop which is time consuming and cumbersome. This does all the work for you with the pump of a foot pedal. I fill the bucket with boiling water, a small dash of floor cleaner and a capful of zoflora (my favourite scents are bluebell woods and twilight garden). I then pump almost all the water out the mop so it is left only slightly damp. THAT is the secret. Damp. Never wet. Streaky floors will be a distant (bad) memory. This method will also leave your floors smelling heavenly. I’d love to tell you that this product is beautifully made, however with it being cheap, it’s not the most durable. I will admit I’ve been through maybe 3 of these over the past 4 years which, considering I use it daily, isn’t too bad. But I always keep my receipt and return it to Argos when the foot pump gives up (perhaps I’m a bit over zealous with the pumping?) and get a shiny new one. I also have the Shark Klick n’ Flip steam mop which has minimal smearing. I use this once a week to give my floor a deep clean and it is by far superior to any of the steam mop I’ve had in the past.
Hand Held Steam Cleaner
Now I don’t have a fancy model. You don’t need to spend too much at all. The main benefit of these is the power of steam cleaning without the additional need for any need for chemicals. They’re great if you have a baby or young family as they blast away germs and bacteria with the power of steam. They do a fabulous job of cleaning the oven, tile grout and those niggly hard to clean areas around your shower base. The one job I really love to use this for is that impossible to reach area between the spindles of my bannister and the wall which collects endless mounds of fluff. The high-pressure steam is so powerful it literally gusts it all away effortlessly. Much easier than trying to wriggle through the spindles with a baby wipe!
Now this is the anomaly of my post, as it’s not a cleaning gadget, but I couldn’t not include it! This nifty device is really something special. It’s truly versatile and you can knock up an array of tempting dishes in the kitchen with its help. You can of course make soups, sauces and marinades but we love to use it for smoothies, slushes and most importantly – cocktails! My husband has a real talent for making cocktails. So much so, that I seriously grudge paying £7 in a bar for something which is totally substandard to the homemade goodness I’ve become accustomed to. We have tried with numerous gadgets to get the perfect smooth, slushy ice consistency that is a delightful daquiri. We could never get it right….. until we got this. It makes them to absolute perfection. We’ve tried mango, strawberry and banana versions – all dangerously delicious! During the hot summer months, (days!) we experimented with various ingredients in mastering the perfect smoothie and were always delighted with the results. Perhaps you would like a blog post of our recipes for our favourites?
Pinkpeony10 will give you 10% off this too!
So, there you have it. If you have these bad boys in your life, you’ll have an extra little spring in your step, trust me! I’d love to know, what are your must have gadgets in your home?
So, its undoubtedly my most commonly asked question – just how DO you keep your house so tidy with two young children? It’s been impossible to answer before because where would I begin? Instagram is great for giving short and snappy answers to simple questions but it has always been in the back of my mind that one day I could answer this frequently asked question in a detailed and honest blog post. I’ll share my top ten tips to keep on top of it all and make sure that your house is always inviting and clean.
Firstly, I’ll start off by saying there is no magic answer or secret. It’s hard work keeping on top of household chores, cleaning, washing, ironing, vacuuming, cooking, organising…. the list is endless. If you’re not someone who is naturally tidy then it will always seem to be on top of you and it will take a real lifestyle change to make that shift. Being motivated is key! I cannot relax in the evening knowing my sink is full of dirty dishes and my goal is always to have my home looking clutter free and clean by 7pm. I’m a busy mum. With a Shopkin obsessed six-year-old (Sofia) and Lego crazy three-year-old (Leo) I constantly feel as though I’m tidying up and that I don’t have a moment to myself. So, when the kids go to bed its finally my time to relax and have some well-deserved ‘me time’. For me there is nothing more decadent that being snuggled up on the sofa with my husband, uninterrupted and watching some Netflix! I don’t want to waste that time in the evening cleaning and tidying and that’s my motivation to stay on top of things during the day.
Also, I’m very fortunate that my husband, like me, loves a tidy home. We certainly weren’t always this way – if only you saw our first flat when we were teenagers! We used to sleep in orange patterned sofa bed in our living room. Oh, and there was a delightful red swirly carpet! But having children made me nest and strive to always have a clean, spacious and comfortable home and I guess that’s rubbed off on him! We’re a real partnership and in the evenings, when the house seems to be at its most chaotic, one of us tends to bath the children whilst the other has a blitz of the messy, post -meal time kitchen and toy filled living room so that when it comes to the kid’s bedtime, we can relax. In our home, we often don’t get to have a conversation during the day without the kids squabbling over the iPad, asking for food or shouting, ‘Mummy come and see what we’ve done!’ So, the evenings are very important to us to make time for each other and reflect on the day.
I have certain chores that I do daily, without fail. Bigger jobs can often wait until the weekend such as scrubbing the bathrooms (my worst job), cleaning the windows and washing the bedding, to name a few. I’d also like to add that weekends are family time for us. I try and get these jobs done early in the morning so that the rest of the day is free. Particularly Sundays, there’s nothing better than going out a big forest walk with our muddy wellies and a flask of hot tomato soup in tow, to then coming home to a cosy, tidy home and a roast ham Sunday feast! It’s my very favourite time of the week. Leo can polish off an adult sized portion and it’s such a joy to watch him eat! Anyway, I digress. I’ve prioritised what I think is key to a tidy home, which I think equals a tidy mind.
1.) Always go to bed with a tidy kitchen. If my entire house was messy and in need of some TLC I would always start with the kitchen. The kitchen is the heart of our home where we tend to gravitate towards from meal times (we save the dining room for special occasions) to homework tasks. I also load the dishwasher at night ready to quickly to put away in the morning. I wipe down my worktops, clean my hob (it’s always dirty after dinner) and most importantly I have it clutter free. Everything should have its place in your home. Make your kitchen a place that invites you to cook a delicious meal for the family and try not to clutter it with letters on work surfaces and the kid’s homework strewn across the table! Put your bread away out of sight in the breadbin and have your worktops spacious and easy to wipe down. For me, having my kitchen floor sparkling is a must. As I have white floors my kitchen doesn’t feel clean until they’re done and the floors are always the last thing I do. It’s a joy to wake up to a bright and clean kitchen and will encourage you to clean away the breakfast mess to maintain it throughout the day! Also, before I go to bed I fill my sink with boiling water and a touch of Zoflora. The fresh, sharp aroma fills the whole house! Their new lemon zest scent is perfect for this!
2.) Make your bed as soon as get up in the morning. It may feel like a chore at first but it becomes second nature once you get into the routine of it. How much more inviting will your bed look after a long day at the office with fluffed pillows and a puffy duvet? Make sure your clothes go straight into the wash hamper and avoid any temptation to throw clothes on the floor or pile up on top of your dressing chair! Your bedroom is the one room you should be able to relax and switch off from your daily stress. You deserve it! Create a calming and beautiful haven to retreat to at the end of a long day is a must.
3.) Vacuum daily! You may not need to do this is if you don’t have children but I vacuum at least once a day. I also have thick carpets and my Shark NV800UKT (the best vacuum on Earth) has such a strong suction that it pulls up the pile making them look bouncy as well as clean. If you do this daily, the vacuuming will be become less of a chore if you don’t let the mess build up! And who doesn’t love some vacuum tracks? To me it says luxury!
4.) Have a place for the toys and never allow clutter to build! My children both have clever toy solutions from The Great Little Trading Company. Their furniture can be expensive but in my view, it is worth it. They have storage to fit any bedroom and have an abundance of pretty solutions to make it look aesthetically pleasing! Also, don’t buy until they have an offer. They always have an offer on the go and if you open a new account you will be offered an introductory code! You can also buy cheaper alternatives in IKEA. I store my children’s toys in compact foldable boxes which can easily be carried around the house dependent on where they want to play. I always encourage them to help tidy things away when they get bored and this is easy to do even with toddlers when things are getting chucked into a box! My daughter will often do this without being asked as she’s older and used to helping. Of course, it’s important to allow them to play and be messy children too, but it’s always a good routine to get into of helping with the tidying up in the end. If you don’t have room in the children’s bedrooms you could invest in a stylish ottoman to keep in your living room or hallway. No-one will know the brightly coloured plastic contents lurking inside. You could even pop some pillows on the top of it in the evenings to make it into a stylish little bench.
5.) Organise what you need the night before. I always leave the kids uniforms and outfits laid out the night before right down to their underwear and matching accessories! Mornings for me are the most stressful time of the day and not having to scramble through their wardrobes helps massively! I also organise their school/nursery bags and prepare their snacks ready to grab in the morning. I have a family planner on our kitchen wall with all our important dates, homework and P.E reminders so we’re never in a panic about things we’ve forgotten (This is when I usually create mess!) I also have a mail storage box and notice boards where I can quickly put letters and reminders. This has made a huge difference to our lives in terms of being organised and not leaving the house is a whirlwind of chaos each morning.
6.) Do your laundry daily. With two young children with a love of spaghetti bolognese and a husband who does a physical job, our laundry basket is always full. I’d also like to add that both the kids know to put their clothes straight inside at night! Laundry can very quickly build up in the hamper and I find that although it’s never empty (life’s goal) it is at least manageable if you keep on top of it daily. I like to put a wash on in the evening as I hate hanging clothes up inside the house and I could count on two hands how many times I’ve gotten to hang it outside this summer! So, I hang the washing up before bed so that it doesn’t annoy me during the day and it usually always dry in the morning ready to be ironed or folded away.
7.) Do those little jobs that are needing done straight away. This may seem simple but if you leave all those little things until later they will mount up and become a burden. For example, if your work tops need a polish, do it now! Don’t wait. It’s amazingly satisfying how much time this will save in the evenings, like I said less time cleaning, more time for Netflix! It’s helpful to have those commonly used items accessible. Duplicate your favourites so that you don’t run out. Zoflora, toilet bleach, anti-bacterial wipes and glass cleaner are essentials. I like to store them on all levels of the house to I’m not constantly running back and forth.
8.) Don’t neglect the small details. Plump your cushions at night before bed, fold away your blankets and straighten out your curtains. I even put the remote control out of sight! Your whole mood will be better when you wake up to a home that you want to spend time in and look forward to coming back to in the evenings.
9.) Get rid of things that you don’t need. From the catalogue you had sent through but haven’t had time to look at, to the neglected children’s toys they no longer play with. If you don’t need it, it’s not being used and is generally bugging you as it doesn’t have a home then it’s time to get rid. Sell it on eBay, recycle it or take it to a charity shop. A clutter free home is the aim and will make tidying and cleaning a much easier and quicker job.
10.) Plan your daily clean and tidy up at a time that works best for your family. After I drop Sofia at school, I take my Leo out straight after. He has the most energy to burn in the morning after his breakfast. We go to the park, playgroup, soft play and I try to tire him out for lunch time. When we arrive home, he likes to relax on the sofa and watch some Peppa Pig. Whilst her cheeky piggy antics keep him entertained I quickly do as much as I can! Perhaps when your little one naps you’ll have the opportunity too. Although, when my children were babies I wanted nothing more than a well-deserved rest and a cup of hot tea that I could finish during nap time! My children really miss each other during the day so come home time from school they usually go off to play upstairs for a while and this gives me another chance for a quick blitz without having the kid’s arms wrapped around my feet and to prepare dinner. Note, I usually have a fifteen minute window before the squabbling begins!
Every family has different schedules and dynamics and your routine will be unique to your own circumstances, do what works for you! Try not to find excuses not to get things done. The more you get into the routine of maintaining your tidy home, the easier it will become. Reward yourself when it’s all finished in the evening with something you enjoy. For me, it’s an ice-cold glass of prosecco! Ah I can taste it already! Happy cleaning everyone and good luck.