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Posted by Mama Max - - 0 comments

Silent Sunday
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Posted by Mama Max - - 3 comments

Silent Sunday
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Posted by Mama Max - - 5 comments

My kids crap is everywhere... it seems to migrate around the house as if it has a mind of its own. A lot of this is my fault I know. I feel that I am constantly badgering my kids as it is: Please use your manners/We do not snatch/Please share/Please eat your food with you mouth closed/Use your indoor voice/Fingers not up noses and etc... So when it comes to some things like tidying up as you go, it is sometimes easier to let it slide and just pick it up yourself. Unfortunately, this means that my kids expect me to clear up after them now, and so whenever I try to engage them in helping, I often get dissent in the ranks!

I think a lot of this is probably because I don't prioritise tidiness myself. I LOVE when my house is tidy, but often procrastinate the actual chore. Even when I do collect up the kids crap (random Lego bits, pyjama trousers, books, a lonely sock, Beyblade ripcords, Hot Wheels Cars etc...) at the end of the day, I often just pile them on the stairs with the half-hearted intention of taking them up the next time I go upstairs! Who am I trying to kid? In reality, they stay there and accumulate for a few days, before it becomes a health hazard trying to ascend the stairs!

So, I've tried to come up with a solution. I am not going to cure myself of lazy-itis overnight, and it's going to be a challenge introducing a new 'rule' to the kids, but even if I can make the clutter more manageable I will be pleased. In brainstorming, I was reminded of some fabulous stair baskets my sister-in-law Sandra had for the same purpose when her kids were small. The idea being that you fill the basket with the bits you find throughout the day and then carry it upstairs to put away in the evening. Perfect! I looked into getting these and was surprised at how expensive they were ($30+ each), especially as I had envisioned getting one per person in the family to try and promote ownership of, and responsibility for one's own clutter. If you have the budget, there are some lovely stair baskets out there...

However, if like me you'd rather not spend a fortune, do not be disheartened! Firstly, measure the depth and height of one of your stairs. Mine were approximately 9.5" deep, with a rise of about 9". Then simply keep an eye out for some containers with handles that are going to fit these dimensions. You may also want to look for ones that coordinate with your decor as they will be on view. You could use traditional wicker or rattan baskets, galvanized buckets, canvas cubes, plastic baskets, whatever catches your eye.

I found some lightweight plastic baskets in my local Dollar Store... the perfect size for little boys to help with the tidying up, and because they had a 'solid' base unlike a lot of wicker or rattan baskets, they were a much better solution to holding the Big One's Lego bits.

I also had some old Ikea Branas baskets lurking in a cupboard that were also the perfect size and made more 'grown-up' looking ones (slightly more in keeping with the decor of our lounge than blue plastic!!

Lastly, if you are going to rope the whole family into this new regime, simply label each person's basket with their name or initial. For the kids' baskets I used craft foam to cut out their initial and tied it on with a ribbon. Again you can coordinate this to your decor, or even ring the changes with the seasons (tie a bauble on at Christmas etc...).

Now we've just got to get disciplined enough to use them properly every day!

How do you keep on top of the clutter?
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Posted by Mama Max - - 0 comments

The summer school holidays are in full swing and we are trying to make the most of our time off.  Consequently, we've been planning lots of day trips and play dates to the park, splash pad, pool, and beach.    In our household, we're a naturally slovenly lot who can quite happily mooch about in our PJs all morning unless we have made plans to go out.  So, we've been trying to follow a timetable of summer fun things to do.  Regardless, without the threat of getting a tardy slip from school looming, it can be a struggle to get out and about in a timely manner, especially when you have to pack a bag full of the kids' paraphernalia & snacks, drinks etc...  So, I've taken a leaf out of my pre-potty training days and have created a diaper-less diaper bag, fully loaded and stocked for whatever adventures we are due to head out on.  I am calling it my "Ready-To-Go-Bag"!  In the same way I would check & restock my diaper bag on return from an outing so it was ready for the next time, I have been doing with this "Ready-To-Go-Bag".  It has proved very successful and makes the school holidays seem a lot more spontaneous... a friend wants to meet at the pool?  Okay, we can be there in 5 minutes!  Trip to the splash park?  Sure, see you there in 10 minutes!

For this purpose, I actually re-used my old diaper bag!  After all, as a Mum of twins, I did own a mahoooosive diaper bag made by Skip Hop, and they have so many useful pockets and compartments it made sense!  However, any large bag would work.  If you have a lot of kiddos like me, you may want to go for one like a backpack, or a large shoulder strap so that you can carry it hands-free!

I've added a bullet pointed list below with some suggested contents (and advice for ways to use some of the things I've added), but the following gives you an idea of what goes into mine...

Snacks & drinks.  I put things like straws and napkins in a sandwich sized ziploc bag to keep them clean.  Put drinks bottles and snacks in the easy to reach pockets at the front/side.

First Aid supplies.  Again a small ziploc bag keeps small items together and clean.  These can go into an interior pockets for the (hopefully) rare occasions you may need them.

Changes of clothes.  Put in a plastic grocery bag, squeeze out the excess air and tie with elastic bands to make nice and compact.  These can go in an interior pocket along with wet wipes too.


Towels & swimming stuff.  Living in Texas, getting wet forms a routine part of our social scene.  I roll the bathing suits up in each persons towel and stow in the main compartment.  I put a few empty plastic grocery bags in one of the inside pockets to stow wet gear when it's home time.

Suggested contents:
  • A few easy to store and crush-proof snacks (e.g. Granola bars and/or mini boxes of raisins)
  • Bottles of water (or empty sports bottles ready to fill just before you leave)
  • Bottle top adapters (like the Gerber ones shown below... click on photo for more info).  Alternatively, a couple of disposable plastic drinking straws can make it easier for young kids to drink from shop bought bottles with wide necks.

  • Selection of bandaids/plasters (for the inevitable scraped knee or elbow)
  • Small antiseptic spray/cream (you can get travel sized Neosporin sprays called Neo To Go that are great).

  • Arnica cream (great for bruises)

  • Antihistamine cream/ointment (in case of wasp stings/ant bites/nettle stings/poison ivy etc...). I love Anthisan (a UK brand) but have used Benadryl here and strongly recommend their handy Itch Relief Stick.

  • Tweezers (for splinters, ticks or wasp stings)
  • Travel sized pack of wet wipes
  • Couple of plastic grocery bags folded up small (for storing wet/dirty items)
  • Travel sized talcum powder (brilliant for removing sand from feet painlessly before putting socks and shoes on)
  • Travel sized hand sanitizer gel
  • Several paper napkins (great as impromptu 'plates' on grubby picnic tables)
  • Socks for everyone (including adults)... some indoor soft play/bouncy castle venues have policies where you must wear socks to play, which is very frustrating when you turn up in flip flops!
  • Small change (for parking/icecreams etc...)
  • Spare clothes for younger kids/toddlers (even if it's just a long t-shirt and underwear for emergencies).

Depending on your local climate, all or some of the following may be necessary items too!
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug repellent - I use and recommend Avon's Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard.  This is DEET free but uses Picardin (a safer chemical and the only other active ingredient recommended by the WHO for effective prevention of malaria etc...).  I prefer their lotion that has SPF 30 sunscreen included.  They also do handy travel towelette versions. (Click on images below for more info).

  • Towel (use thin microfiber travel ones if space is at a premium, or just cut and hem large thin beach towel in half for child sized version).

  • Bathing suit & goggles
  • Sun hats (or bandanas to be used as impromptu hats)
  • A compact umbrella
  • Emergency rain ponchos


Anything you would put in yours that I've not included?
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