Friday, 17 August 2018

Alternatives to scrolling

This September I'm planning to take part in Scroll Free September. It's a chance to take a break from all personal social media accounts for 30 days during September, and you can read more about it here - Scroll Free September, along with the different types of challenge that you can commit to.

I will still need to use my social media accounts for my job, so I've come up with my own challenge. I'll be going scroll free in the bedroom both morning and evening, and after 3pm, which is when I leave to pick up the children from school during the week. I can still check my e-mails and notifications after 3pm, but I'll be limiting that as much as I can and stopping any mindless scrolling.

I've tried to make a bit of a start over the last few weeks to get ready, and it's not easy! I've become so used to turning to my phone if I find myself with a few spare minutes, and before I know it I'm sucked in and far too much time has passed. It's also a problem when I'm sitting at my desktop computer and trying to get some work done. So I thought that I'd come up with a few things that I can do instead of grabbing my phone!

Reading - This is the one that I really want to focus on. I'm currently re-re-reading my way through my shelf of favourite books, but I'm intending to make visiting the library a more regular part of my routine. There's no excuse - there's a small library in our village and a large one next to where my children go to school, so it's very easy to find the time to pop in. It will be good for the children too as they are always looking for new books

Crafting - I'm currently working on both a cross stitch sampler and a crochet blanket and both of those are easy to pick up and put down when I have a few minutes to spare.

Exercise - I've been very slack with the exercise lately with no excuses. It doesn't need to be the gym, although it should be as we have a gym membership, but it's so easy to pop out for a half hour run, or even just a walk around the block.

Tidying/cleaning - Not the most interesting of pastimes, but I feel so much better when the house is tidy and it only takes a few minutes to put a few thing away and clear a counter top. This is something that I can do while I'm making dinner or if I have a few minutes to wait before going out. Hopefully little and often will work out well!

Play a game with the children - We've been playing lots of games lately with the children, and I'm finding it so much more fun now that we can play games that are a challenge for me as well and I don't always have to let them win! We have quite a collection and we've also just been playing simple card games. When they are back at school it will be something fun to do together after dinner.

Play the piano - I really enjoy playing the piano but I don't do it nearly enough, I definitely need to pick up playing again!

Brainstorm some blog post ideas - I find it much easier to brainstorm with a pen and paper so it's a good way to take a break from the computer and make some lists.

My husband will also be away for some of September so I'll have lots of evenings by myself to fill - I've got plenty to keep myself busy, and I'm looking forward to seeing what I can achieve!

Taking part in Scroll Free September

Thursday, 16 August 2018

What we can teach our kids about money

You know what it’s like, you’re sat watching TV with the kids and a big flashy ad appears on screen advertising the latest, coolest toy that all the kids at school have. The kids want it, but the price tag makes your heart sink. It can be difficult to make children understand the value of money, and why they can’t always have the things they want. So, with this in mind, why not take some time to teach your little ones about the value of money and how to make the most of it when they have it?


It might sound a little ominous but discussing the prospect and reality of debt with your older children can help prepare them for financial scrapes and making better decisions. Whether it’s the danger of payday loans, out of control spending on a credit card, a student loan, or a utility bill that’s proving difficult to pay; by introducing your older child to the perils of debt and how they can avoid it will make them savvier in the future. It’s also worth mentioning how companies such as Credit Fix can help get people in debt back on track and how it’s better to tackle the problem head on rather than letting it get worse and worse.

The money jar 

We’ve all had a piggy bank at some point in our childhoods – they’re cute and a great way to save a few pennies for some sweets or a magazine. But they don’t provide much of a visual. If you want to encourage your little one to save, then avoid the big brash piggy bank and opt for a clear jar instead. Allowing them to see the pennies mount up and the jar get fuller and fuller will not only be super exciting, but watching the jar get fuller means they’re more likely to want to put more in it to see their savings grow! Make a big deal about what pennies you can see in there and go through their value. Share their excitement.

Set an example 

Our kids are pretty impressionable, and they take their lead from us. We literally pass on our habits and traits to them – so with that in mind, we need to be careful. If you’re pulling your credit card out and spending every time you go anywhere, the kids will notice. If you’re making off the cuff purchases and buying something simply because you want it then they’ll notice. If you and your partner are arguing about money, then they’ll pick up on that too. Setting a good example means, saying No once in a while. It means saying to your child, you can’t have that because we’re planning to do this instead. We don’t have money for fast food because we’ve just been grocery shopping and have food at home.


Yes, their friend has a brand new car, or the latest pair of trainers. But you need to teach your child to be content with what they have. Yes their first car might not be flashy, but it gets them from A to B!

Piggy bank for children
Photo credit Fabian Blank via Unsplash
This is a collaborative post

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Paper pumpkin Autumn centrepiece craft

Tutorial - Paper pumpkin table decoration

Today I'm sharing a simple Autumn themed craft using Bostik products - how to make a paper pumpkin table decoration to use as a centrepiece for your table this fall.

You need:

Coloured paper or card in a variety of shades of orange
Green tissue paper
A circular cardboard container, I used the lid from a container of cheese triangles but you could use any circular plastic or cardboard lid
Fabric Autumn leaves (or cut your own from fabric or felt)
Acrylic paint
Bostik White Glu
Bostik Glu Dots

Bostik materials for crafting


Use your circular base as a template to cut circles for your pumpkin. Use as many different shades of orange as you can to add plenty of variety, and if you have patterned paper that also adds some extra interest. Cardboard is best for stability but you can also use paper as it will be glued together. Take care to make sure that all your circles are the same size. I made eight circles.

Cutting circles to make a paper pumpkin

Fold all the circles in half. If you are using paper which is only coloured or patterned on one side make sure to fold it so that the coloured side is on the inside fold.

Folded cardboard circles for crafting

Glue your folded circular pieces together to form the pumpkin using the Bostik White Glu. Make sure to use only a thin layer of glue, especially if you are using paper, so that it doesn't get too wet. The White Glu is perfect for sticking paper because you can apply it exactly where it needs to go and it will hold the paper together firmly. It also dries clear, just in case you end up with any where it shouldn't be!

Gluing together cardboard circles to make a pumpkin

It's a good idea to lay out your pieces in advance so that you can make sure you are balancing out the different shades, and use paperclips to hold the pieces together until the glue is dry so that they stay in place while still wet.

Make a pumpkin from cardboard circles

Wait for it to dry and then remove the paperclips. Check the pumpkin to see if there are any edges which need to be trimmed slightly. Fold the pieces out so that they are evenly spread to form the sides of the pumpkin.

Pumpkin made from circles of orange cardboard

Cut a small section out from the bottom, so that when the pumpkin is stood up it has a flat base to stand on. Don't cut too much, but just enough so that the paper pumpkin can stand by itself.

How to make an orange paper pumpkin

To make the stalk, cut a strip of card and curl round to form a tube, secure in place with tape. Cover with green tissue paper, stuck in place using the Bostik White Glu, and use scrunched up tissue paper to fill the hole at the top. Cut eight small slits in the base of the tube so that it slots on to the sides of the pumpkin, and this will also ensure that the pumpkin sections remain well spread out. It should stay in place but if not it can be secured with a small blob of White Glu - this will dry clear so you don't need to worry about it showing.

Making the stalk for a craft pumpkin

Paint the base for the centerpiece. You can either choose to paint it in a neutral colour like I did, or a contrasting colour for some extra interest. I used acrylic paint to make sure that it covered well with a bold colour.

Painting with acrylic paint

Finally use the Bostik Glu Dots to stick the fabric leaves around the base.

Using Bostik Glu Dots for crafting

To adhere the Glu Dots you need to peel off one side of the plastic, stick the dot to one of the surfaces, then remove the second side of plastic and stick them firmly together. I found it easiest to stick the Glu Dot to the leaf first, then I could position the leaf where I wanted it.

Crafting with fabric leaves and Bostik Glu Dots

The Glu Dots are great at sticking together all types of surface, and because you don't need to wait for them to dry they are perfect if you want to see your finished result quickly. They are very sticky but can also be re-positioned if you don't get the placement exactly right first time.

Making a pumpkin themed centerpiece

To finish, position the cardboard pumpkin inside the base. Use a couple of Glu Dots underneath the bottom to make sure that it is firmly in position and can be easily transported. Just stick them to the inside of the base, and press the pumpkin down gently but firmly.

Pumpkin made from coloured cardboard and Bostik products

Your pumpkin centre piece is finished! These can be made in all different sizes to suit your table, or you could make a row for your windowsill or mantelpiece.

How to make a cardboard pumpkin center piece for Autumn

This is a collaborative craft post with Bostik.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Introducing daily creative time - and the wonderful results

In the run up to the  summer holidays there were lots of posts floating about on social media with suggestions for things that children were required to do before they could have any screen time. As I've shared before, I am quite lax when it comes to screen time, but I also don't want them to spend the holidays glued to the screen. So we sat down together and had a chat. I showed them a version of the list (you can see the one I used here), and asked them how they felt about something similar. We decided to come up with a more flexible approach - we would make a list of things that I'd like to to be completed during the day, and if they did then they would generally be allowed their screens.

We divided our list into two. The first half was non-negotiable tasks - getting dressed, brushing teeth, five minutes tidying their bedrooms, half an hour of reading, piano practice for Harry and some kind of worksheet or activity book for Mia. We then wrote a second list of things which were an alternative to screen time - things like help Mum with a job, do a jigsaw or play a board game. I also added 'do something creative'.

I stressed that the list was always going to be a work in progress, and could be changed and updated as we saw fit. This happened very early on, when I noticed how popular the 'do something creative option' was, and so I moved it to the first column as an alternative to reading (which to be fair they both generally do at some point during the day anyway).

My reason was that I found after just a few days choosing a creative activity, the children really ran with it and they amazed me with what they came up with in just a short space of time. Harry chose to work on writing a Viking themed story, and he eagerly sat down at his desk to write a chapter each day. Here's his prologue, and when it's finished he intends to publish the whole story on his own blog!

Night was falling. A fine mist hung over Humber River. Edward walked up to his Master. "Where is he?" the Master asked? "I...I...I...well, we've been searching, but we've been unable to find h...h...h...ech" he fell dead. The Master lowered his hand.

"Find that boy!" he ordered his army...The Destroyers.

Small boy writing at his desk

Mia has also been working on a story, but her preferred creative activity is junk modelling - she loves to go through the recycling box and accessorise her creations with stickers, pipe cleaners, feathers and so on from the craft box. She has produced some wonderful pieces of work - I love seeing what she comes up with!

Adding creative time to the day has been a big success, and although it will be harder to fit these things in once they are back at school I'm definitely going to continue - I may make it part of the after dinner routine, and maybe I can fit in a bit of time for crafting for myself too!

Monday, 6 August 2018

I'm attempting Scroll Free September

A few days ago I came across this article on the BBC - Scroll Free September: Social media users urged to log off. At first I dismissed it and scrolled right past (ironic!), but later that day I found myself coming back for a proper read, and clicking through to the Royal Society for Public Health website which explains more about the campaign - Scroll Free September.

The reason for my initial dismissal was that I perceived it as an all or nothing approach. I do accept that my use of social media is fairly excessive, but as someone that doesn't get out much I use social media to keep up with family and friends, and as my work involves using and promoting myself on social media it's impossible to stay away. But the video for the campaign really hit home:

I realised that while I do need to keep up with social media for my work, too often I'm scrolling aimlessly and without purpose, and losing minutes and hours to it. I'm also distracted from family life, and although I have tried in the past to cut down the amount of time I spend on my phone, I always slip back into bad habits.

The part of the video that really spoke to me was thinking about the things that you can do instead of scrolling. I have many hobbies that I'd like to dedicate more time to - reading, cross stitch, crochet - as well as new hobbies that I'd like to try.

When you sign up to Scroll Free September you can commit to one of five different challenges - Cold Turkey where you aim give up all personal social media for the whole month, Social Butterfly where you remain scroll free at social events, Night Owl where you have a break from 6pm, Busy Bee which sees you without social media at school or work, and Sleeping Dog to improve your sleep by going scroll free in the bedroom. You can also choose your own challenge depending on your personal scrolling habits.

Scroll Free September challenges list

I've decided to commit to my own challenge. I want to avoid scrolling in the bedroom, after 3pm (that's when I usually leave home to pick up the children) and while I'm working. So I can have a few catch ups during the day, as long as I'm honest with myself about not getting distracted from my work! I will need to have my phone handy for phone calls and messages throughout the day, but to be honest I get very few of those anyway!

Although the challenge doesn't officially start until September, I've already started to notice and take stock of my scrolling habits, as well as thinking about the changes that I'm going to make. I see a visit to the library on the cards, along with some Pinterest browsing for recipes to try and craft projects to attempt.

I'll keep you updated with how I get on!

Scroll Free September logo

Have I inspired you to give Scroll Free September a go? I'd love to hear if you are planning to take up the challenge!

Images via Royal Society for Public Health

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Finding the balance between our different personalities over the holidays

The long summer holidays are always a big adjustment. At other times of the year we often go away for a week or two, but we tend to avoid travel over the summer and so for most of the time it's just the three of us at home. I love it - we enjoy chilling out at home with late bedtimes and no morning rush.

It's not easy though, because both of my children are very different when it comes to personality. Harry is like me, happy with his own company. He's able to entertain himself for ages - reading, building Lego or doing activities based on things from his books. Last week he built a computer using a matchbox filled with beads, and he spent ages teaching it to play noughts and crosses!

Mia on the other hand needs a lot more input from others to keep her entertained. The two of them will play happily up to a certain point, then there will be tears. Harry will have had enough, and Mia becomes frustrated that he no longer wants to play with her.

This means that Harry needs the time to retreat for a little. I learned about restorative niches a little while ago, and when I explained the concept to Harry he completely understood. It's basically the term for a place that you go when you want to return to your true self, either a physical or temporal place, and a way to take a break from whatever you are doing. For an introvert it's the chance to recharge.

I've told Harry that whenever he starts to feel overwhelmed, he's to tell me that he needs a restorative niche, and he can take himself off to his bedroom for some quiet time. Mia doesn't really understand why he needs this, so I've told her that when Harry needs a break we can have some 'Mummy time' to do something together. I'm also trying to make sure that I build restorative niches into our week, so a long day out with friends is followed by a quiet day at home.

It's also important for me to find time during the day for my own restorative niches. I am usually exhausted at the end of a day spent with the children, and I need time to myself to recharge. So Ram will often take the children by himself after dinner. If the weather is nice he'll take them for a walk down the beach and if it's not so good they'll watch a film together in the other room. It's a chance for me to sit with my book or cross stitch, and enjoy some peace and quiet.

I can also find quiet moments throughout the day. If we do an activity together - like playing a board game or doing a jigsaw - then afterwards they are content to amuse themselves for a little while. There are also always screens of course - if they've had a long gap from screens then I can guarantee myself a little bit of a break when they get them back!

Child reading in his bedroom

It's been a lovely few weeks so far of the holidays, and I'm very glad that we still have several more weeks to go. Even though it can be hard at times, I know that I'm so lucky to be able to spend this time at home with the children, and I wouldn't change it for the world.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

How to keep on top of clutter

Tips for keeping up with the decluttering

I try really hard to keep up with and reduce the clutter in our home. I've never done a really big Marie Kondo style declutter, instead I am constantly decluttering. Not necessarily because I didn't do it right the first time, as Marie Kondo would allege, but because being a family with young children means that many new things are constantly coming into the house and many other things are being grown out of or replaced. So I thought I'd share a few tips which help me to keep control of the number of things in our home.

I think that the most important thing is to have a place set aside in the home for things to pass on - whether that's to charity, to be sold (as long as you will actually get around to the selling part!), or to give to friends and family (once you've agreed that they want the items). I am very lucky that my gym has a collection point for charity donations, so I keep a donation bag on the go in the wardrobe, and drop it off when it's full.

Packing for a holiday is a great way to go through the clothes. Sort them by category - for example if you need seven t-shirts put all the t-shirts together and decide which ones you will take. Look carefully at the ones that you've rejected, and if there is a reason (too small, looking tattered, no longer like it) then get rid of it. It also helps you see what you've got too much of.

I love to regularly take part in decluttering challenges.  I really like playing the Minimalism Game where you get rid of the number of items that corresponds to the day of the month, and in fact I started it again yesterday. I don't always make it all the way through the month, especially if we are going to be away, but I definitely notice a difference when I've had a good go at it.

Notice the things in your house that you have too many of. This is different for everyone - personally I have a particular fancy for collecting hotel toiletries, cardboard boxes and candles. Make an effort to stop collecting, and see if you know anyone that could use some of the things that you have accumulated.

Make sure that everything has a home, and that it is returned to that home when finished with. Don't buy anything without knowing where it will go, whether that's something large like a new piece of furniture, or something small like a new pen.

Think about things that you are storing unused that could bring joy to someone else and consider passing them on. For example books that you have read or DVDs that you've watched. You'll always be able to find them again if you want to!

If you have a filing cabinet, every time you file a new bill or statement remove one or two older ones from the back. Whenever you close a bank account, sell a car, house or similar, go through the folder and keep only the very essential paperwork.

Get rid of things that have the potential to become sentimental as soon as you can. It's much easier to throw away birthday cards and the like a couple of weeks after the event than years down the line! I do keep sentimental things, but I think very carefully about adding to what I already have because I know that it will only become even more sentimental over time. I am to keep just the highlights rather than everything.

Bright uncluttered living room
Photo credit Sophia Baboolal via Unsplash
I hope that these tips were helpful! Do you have any to add? How do you keep on top of clutter in the home?

Top image photo credit Ina Soulis via Unsplash
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