How hard can it be to be tidy and on time? A lazy girl's quest to organise her life…

What’s on your To Don’t List….?

I recently read a great post on a parenting blog called “3 Children and It”, where Suzanne recommended writing a “To Don’t List”.

It was a revelation to me. I am forever writing “To Do Lists”, but had never heard of the opposite sort.  A “To Don’t List” should serve as a reminder to focus your priorities where it really matters. It makes perfect sense to acknowledge those things we don’t need to do, can’t be arsed with or should really avoid.  By deciding what not to do, it frees up time and space to tackle the important things.

So I’ve written my own “To Don’t List”. These are the things I think life is just too short to bother about and those I need to feel less guilty about not having the time (read: inclination) to sort.  I’ve also included a few things I do that I shouldn’t – after all, I do want to get organised and become tidier so there are some lazy habits I need to shake.

MY TO DON’T LIST

1. Make the bed.  I hate changing the sheets on our massive bed with its heavy Tempur mattress. It takes my much taller and stronger husband half the time to do it, so this is one chore I can save entirely for him. Play to your strengths, people!

2. Watch a soap opera ever again. Until last year I watched most of the soaps. Somehow I got out of the habit and it is liberating having those extra hours in the evening. I love not knowing if Phil Mitchell is banged up, drunk, a junkie or dead.

3. Iron knickers, towels or sheets. Much to my Mum’s disapproval, I definitely think life is too short to iron towels or bed-sheets (unless she’s coming to stay!).  I’m also pretty confident that my knickers are perfectly hygienic without giving the gusset a good blast with a steam iron – regardless of what Mum says.

4. Lie in past 9am. Although I can count on one hand the amount of nights my son has slept all the way through until a civilised hour over the past three years, I have learnt that annoyingly lie-ins and me don’t mix.  If I ever get a lie-in I wake up feeling groggy, guilty and worse than if I’d been awake since 6am. In the future I’m going to politely decline any rare offer of a lie-in, but suggest a child-free afternoon instead. Bliss.

5. Eat after 7pm.  Since starting to eat earlier with my son, I have realised how much healthier I feel when I don’t eat late.  It is so much better for your digestion, and frees up the evening too.  On the days I’m in late from work, I make myself a light snack and try to avoid carbs. I also never want to get into the habit of cooking more than one meal for the family, sounds like far too much hassle.

6. Aimlessly surf the web.  I can lose hours checking out Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, news sites, forums. Now I try to use the internet with more focus.  I only read news sites when I’m having breakfast, use Pinterest in the evening and have been setting an online time limit to focus my attention when I’m on social media.  Avoiding using my laptop (other than to use Microsoft Office) or iPad during my days off is working for me too and I can use my iPhone to check things quickly.

7. Spend all day in my pyjamas. Don’t worry – I’m not that woman who goes to Tescos in her slippers and I don’t do the school run in my nightie! But I find I get so much more done if I have a shower, get dressed, do my hair and make up as soon as I get up.

8. Turn the TV on as soon as I enter the room. This is such a bad habit and distraction, and one that really robs me off time. With Sky+ (or similar hard-disc recording system), I don’t have an excuse to have the TV on unless I have the time to sit and watch a particular programme.

9. Prioritise boring chores over family time. My husband works long hours and is often away during the week, so our weekends are precious as it is the only time we get to have fun as a unit. Inevitably there are jobs, housework and chores that we need to do at the weekend, but I want to get organised during the week, so that we can relax all together as much as possible.

 

I really recommend writing your own “To Don’t List”, it’s could be a way to acknowledge unproductive behaviour, lose the guilt and stop putting pressure on yourself. Thanks again to Suzanne on the “3 Children and It” blog!

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Neal’s Yard Remedies Mothers Bath Oil

This blog is turning into a search for all things that make life easier. Whilst this bath oil doesn’t necessarily make my life easier, it certainly helps me feel a bit calmer so I wanted to share my recommendation with you guys.

A friend of mine bought me a bottle of Neal’s Yard Remedies Mothers Bath Oil during my last pregnancy and I loved it. I’m not a massive fan of baths normally, but when pregnant and immediately after birth they’re a great way to ease the aches and pains. This oil is safe to use throughout pregnancy and post-partum.  It combines bergamot, ylang ylang and lavender oil so is super relaxing and soothing, and as with most of Neal’s Yard products the ingredients are organic and natural. When I was recovering from giving birth last time, I also added a couple of drops of tea tree oil and a bit of salt in to the bath water to help the healing process even more.

Neal’s Yard Mothers Bath Oil. £14.60. Available online and from Neal’s Yard stores and stockists nationwide.

A bottle of this would make a great present for a pregnant friend, a new mum or anyone else who loves a good bath. At £14.60 for a 100ml bottle, it’s not cheap but great as a treat. As I’m nearing the end of my second pregnancy, I can vouch that it really is worth it!

(Neal’s Yard Remedies have a sale on at the moment where you can buy one and get one half price, and they sell online which is great if like me you don’t live near a store.)

Tricks of the eBay trade – make it worth selling your junk….

I’m well and truly in decluttering mode. My three boxes for “Sell”, “Donate” and “Dump” items are overflowing (see my last decluttering post). It is so satisfying to see all manner of tat safely encased in those boxes.

When you’re super busy (or a bit lazy like me) selling old stuff can seem like too much hassle.  eBay is the UK’s most popular auction site and I’ve used it to sell clothes, shoes, shelving, a sofa, a much-loved classic car and even an entire kitchen. But there are also lots of great things I’ve spent time and effort listing and ended up not selling, or worse….selling for 99p.

At the request of some readers, I thought it might be useful for a quick guide on how to sell on eBay or, more importantly, how to get as much cash for your junk as possible. So here are five tricks that can speed up the process and make it much more worth your while.

Research, Research, Research

Check out similar items listed on the site to get ideas about how to describe the item, what keywords to use in the title and what amounts the items are selling for. There is a great website called www.get4it.co.uk where you can search for an item and see the average selling price. It’s such a great way to work out whether it is worth listing or not.

Timing is key

Don’t list items to finish at ridiculous times. eBay gets most traffic in the evenings (between 6-9pm), and Sunday evening is best. If you list items on a Thursday evening for a 10 day auction, the item will be live for two weekends maximising the amount of people who could view it and then it will finish on Sunday evening. Also, think about the seasonality of the item – listing summer clothing, garden furniture, outdoor toys in early summer should hopefully mean more demand.

Sell, Sell, Sell!

A good selection of photos and an honest, friendly description with as many helpful details as you can make a real difference to the amount of bids you receive. Give bidders confidence that you are a genuine eBayer.

Get the price right

Choosing between setting a minimum bid, buy it now or reserve price depends on the item, what you feel it is worth, what people with similar items are doing and whether you like to live dangerously! The general rule of thumb is the lower the minimum bid price, the more interest you’ll get – but it’s a risky strategy and you might end up selling something for pennies.  Be sure to cover postage costs but keep them keen. Check the Royal Mail’s website for accurate costs, and be creative reusing old packaging you’ve got handy to keep costs down.

Go mobile

If you’ve got a smart phone and haven’t already tried the eBay app, it is worth downloading. You can’t do anything too complicated but for a straightforward listing it is a great time-saving option.

Hope these tips help! For more help, there is good advice on eBay, the Mumsnet forum and MoneySavingExpert forum too.

New cushion – now Plump it!

I need all the help I can get to remind myself to keep my house looking lovely, so was over the moon when I found this handmade cushion in a beautiful little local shop.

I mean…how much clearer does the message need to be? PLUMP THE BLOODY CUSHION!

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Handmade cushion made by Do it Momma. Bought at Priddy Essentials, Uppingham in Rutland

I think it looks great in our hallway on our pew we bought on eBay…

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I was going to move all the shoes out of shot, but then it wouldn’t look like my house!

If you’re ever near Uppingham, I would definitey recommend you pop in to Priddy Essentials. It is such a unique shop selling wonderfully different homewares, pottery, fragrances and beauty products; exactly the type of independent retailers we should be supporting!

(I didn’t get paid for this post, by the way. I just love this cushion!)

Recycle old phones and help hungry children

On Friday I blogged about my attempts to properly declutter my house and mentioned that I may sell any old mobile phones that I come across hidden in one of my many junk drawers via an online site. Well, scrap that idea!

I was reading the fantastic blog The Ramblings of a Former Rock ‘n’ Roll Mum over the weekend and she mentioned a current Kids Company campaign that is being supported by Netmums. “Mobiles for Meals” is encouraging people to donate their old, unused or even broken mobile phones. Orange and T-Mobile will then recycle them and pass on the cash to the Kids Company so they can help the staggering one million children in the UK who are living with “food insecurity” (they don’t know where their next meal is coming from).

You can read more about the campaign on the Netmums website. It has details of how you can donate any phones you or your family have cluttering up your house (via any Orange or T-Mobile branch or by printing off a freepost label).

This is definitely what I will be doing with any old phones I find.

Tackling my clutter…to sell, donate or dump?

I am a girl on a mission. A girl with a plan. A girl with three big boxes.

Sell it.

Donate it.

Dump it.

This is definitely the easiest and quickest way to declutter I’ve tried. (Disclaimer: at the moment all my unwanted clutter is living in these boxes, I haven’t actually rid them from my home for good so it may take a little longer, but we’re half way there.)

I’ve got three huge cardboard boxes in my spare room, each with one of the above signs on. Over the last few days, I have been trying to assess some of the areas of clutter around our home and pop the things that we don’t want to keep into one of the boxes. I’ve had a busy week so haven’t spent masses of time on this, but even a few minutes each day has resulted in quite a haul.

It really works. I’ve managed to collect a whole pile of stuff. Actually having somewhere to deposit the unwanted items that have managed to creep into the corners of our house, has meant that rather than just ignoring them I’ve been able to deal with them there and then.

I’ve been trying to adopt the famous William Morris quote as a mantra when I open a drawer or cupboard, look on a shelf or under the bed.

Now repeat after me…..!

It’s tough. I’ve tried to be strict with myself, but there are still plenty of things I’ve smuggled back that are neither useful or beautiful. Let’s say I’m a work a progress!

But now the boxes are full. What to do with them now?

The Sell it box

So what sells?

One lazy girl’s junk is another one’s treasure, or so they say. Didn’t someone once sell a half-eaten banana on eBay? Well, I’ve wasted too much time listing things on eBay to sell them for a measly 99p, so I’m being a bit cuter on what I choose to sell in the future.  In this box I’ve put all brand new things (e.g. unwanted presents, unworn clothes), anything in good condition with a designer label or branded items. I’ve got some CDs and DVDs in here too. When I find them, I’m going to put any old mobile phones in here. Second-hand children’s clothes sell well as does anything “niche” or remotely collectible.

Where do I sell it?

Please pay me for my crap!

eBay is the most well-known online auction site and the one I’ve used before, but there are others out there.  It isn’t without its faults, but I don’t think there are comparable online alternatives and sometimes it is better the devil you know!  If you live in a city or large town, then it may be worth checking if they have an active Gumtree group. I don’t, so don’t think that is a realistic option for me. I’m planning on selling the DVDs and CDs through Music Magpie and any old mobile phones through the MoneySavingExpert’s checking service (they help compare all the online companies and help you get the best deals). In fact the MoneySavingExpert website has got lots of tips for making the most amount of money out of your unwanted gear.  If I had a massive amount of stuff to shift, I’d probably tackle a car boot sale but I haven’t got enough to warrant it at the moment. I’ve got friends who have had quite a bit of success on their local area’s “For Sale” page on Facebook, and of course there’s the good old fashioned Classified adverts in local newspapers or local shops.

The Donate it Box

What to donate?

The things that I don’t think will sell but are perfectly useable have all been put in this box. I’ve got some clothes (High Street labels rather than fancy designer stuff), books and things ranging from an old purse to some spare saucepans.  I’ll also put anything from my Sell it box that doesn’t sell in here. It goes without saying that everything I donate will be in working order and freshly laundered.

Who to donate it to?

There are so many choices when it comes to who to donate things to. As long as friends and family don’t want anything, my preferred option is a local hospice that we’ve supported since my Dad died. They have a shop and warehouse from where they sell furniture and electrical goods; they collect the heavy stuff too. There is a local homeless charity that does the same thing. I don’t really like using those textile banks you find in supermarket car parks as I’m not convinced that the charities receive as much as if you dropped it off at one of their shops. I’m sure there are good ones, but after reading some newspaper articles about how much money the middlemen make, I prefer to deal direct with a charity.

There are all sorts of other places you can donate kit to – magazines to hospital waiting rooms, children’s things to women’s shelters, pets bits to animal shelters, art supplies to old folks homes. I suppose it just takes a bit of imagination if you’ve got quite a stash of one thing or another. I’ve never tried it, but Freecycle is supposed to be a great site for matching unwanted items with people who want them. All good and certainly better than something ending up in the bin, but I still prefer the idea of donating items to those who are really in need.

The Dump it Box

What to dump?

Essentially anything that doesn’t go in either the Sell it or Donate it box. Things that are junk, broken, stained. My objective is to have a lot less in this box than in the other two.

Where to dump it?

We have quite a good recycling facility locally that takes all sorts, and rag and bone men who frequently drive by offering to collect anything heavy and shiny! There is also a good website RecycleNow that lists how and where you can recycle more or less anything.

I’d love to hear from you if you have found good ways to sell, donate or (responsibly!) dump your clutter….

Best toilet cleaner…..ever!

Okay…so blogging about cleaning my toilet on a Saturday morning isn’t very Rock and Roll.

But as I am a lazy girl on a quest for the quickest and easiest ways to get my house clean and tidy, I had to share this tip with any other like-minded slatterns out there. Then we can all go and do something suitably Rock and Roll this afternoon. Agreed?

We had a new en suite fitted last year which I love. However, we have such hard water it is becoming a real headache trying to keep all my chrome bits and pieces sparkly and new-looking. The toilet has been even worse to tackle. There has been a horrible limescale line that has formed just above the water mark which nothing has shifted. I have seriously tried every type of toilet cleaner and bleach on the market over the last few months with no avail.

I’d heard about how great vinegar is as an all purpose, non-toxic and low cost cleaner before but have always preferred the thought of a nice lemony disinfectant spray rather than my house smelling like a bag of chips. But this week I thought I would give the vinegar a shot.

I popped one cup of white wine vinegar in the toilet bowl followed by the whole 180g tub of bicarbonate of soda. (As you can see from the picture, I grabbed what I had in the cupboard which was from Waitrose – you can definitely get them cheaper, which I will now I’m going to start regularly pouring them down the toilet! But even with the “vair naice” Waitrose labels this still only cost me £1.45)

My new best friends!

Don’t go too crazy on quantities as the mix of the two products creates quite a chemical reaction, and you don’t want a foam volcano to add to your list of cleaning jobs.

It’s best to leave it in the toilet overnight but I was too impatient to see that it hadn’t worked and prove that nothing was ever going to shift the marks, so I left it in the toilet for only about 30 minutes. With one wipe, the mark just disappeared. It had done the trick!

Now I’m not saying I have been fully converted to exclusively cleaning au naturel, it is more important to me to find products that make my life easier and cut cleaning time down. And I probably will still use normal toilet cleaners occasionally because I like the way they make the bathrooms smell. But it is difficult to argue with such a cheap solution that has the added benefits that it isn’t harmful to children, pets, the environment and not packed with chemicals.

I’ve started to research where else vinegar and bicarbonate of soda knocks socks off the chemical alternatives. I’ll let you know (once I’ve sobered up from my Rock and Roll afternoon of course!).