Monday, April 30, 2012

Snack Attack - 35 Energy snacks that keep kids going

When it comes to snacking, my children are experts. They are busy. They are active and their systems are running on high maintenance all day!

When we are doing school work though, I find - that if their attention is slipping, they get fidgety or their behaviour becomes disruptive - providing them with good snacks, it helps a lot.  However I am not saying that they need to eat all day.  Children who are not active, will need to be monitored carefully ( as just like we can eat out of boredom, so can they).  My children lead very active lives between Nippers lifesaving, running, J-boarding, cycling, going to gym and the endless games they play running around the house. I always consider how much they are physically doing against how much they are consuming.  Your choice of snacks in this instance then becomes important.

But maintaining energy levels is important.  With a full day of school, after school activities and sport - you really can't expect your child to keep going on a bowl of cereal in the morning and a sandwich in the afternoon. Smaller more frequent snacks are a far better idea.

There are a few things to consider when choosing snacks:
 Consider preparation time
I have time to bake at night when I am making supper because the oven is already on and so I save on electricity. 
I often freeze after baking so that I have really easy days and only need to take something out of the deep freeze.
I keep snacks simple when I know that life is busy.
Our local Fruit and Veg city will clean and slice your vegetables which can save a lot of time and energy.

You don't want sticky dirty hands
 Use toothpicks, forks and facecloths to ensure that hands don't end up on pages.  And try not to keep the snacks on the same table as your books as one of the little ones are likely to spill the contents at some point or another.  If you keep it on a separate table it means away from books and a place to snack AND wipe hands.  Obviously wet wipes or dry wipes work too.

Low GI (you see I even get to sound like an expert)
Be careful of too much fruit and sugar, which includes the dry fruit. Try to balance your snacks with ingredients that are low GI

The list includes cheaper and more expensive options. I do not believe in spending money unnecessarily. Just because its cheaper (or plainer) doesn't mean it's not as good. If you want to do a treat snack (like biltong) do it on a Friday or for special occasions.

Doesn't require moving to the kitchen to eat but can be consumed wherever they are
I don't do snack time in the kitchen otherwise I lose time rounding them up. They are clever in that way - they disappear in every direction. Yes! Even if they love learning new things - they will still duck and dive to play and read and build Lego. Or is that just my children?

I have made a list of snacks that are fairly healthy and easy to prepare. Again, how much effort you put into your snacks is directly proportional to how much time you have, but consider the benefits of maintaining energy levels and concentration against the preparation time. When you see what a difference it can make, you will feel a lot more motivated. And in fact these types of snacks can be given to the children at any time. Children need to sustain their energy even if they are not attending school or homeschooling.


  • Carrot sticks/ discs (My children prefer the discs because they can pop them into their mouths and I prefer them because then they are not holding carrot sticks all the time which are prone to give off an orange colour on the hands)
  •  Butternut slithers (Raw butternut is delicious. Give it a try. I often add slithers of it to my salad)
  • Diced cheese blocks
  • Apple slices and raisins
  • Banana (don't peel entirely, keep the skin on and let them take it off progressively, keeps the mess to a minimum)
  • Biltong (an expensive snack but I know some families who make their own, making it affordable)
  • Popcorn (Be careful with this because unless you use a popcorn maker, this can end up being fairly oily and too much salt is not good for them either) 
  •  Drinking yoghurt (store bought or big bottles of drinking yoghurt de-canted into a little bottle with a straw)
  • Nuts
  • Cucumber sticks/ discs
  • Frozen grapes (because they are frozen, far less mess but if like my youngest they start putting it in and out of their mouths - which of course results in a big sticky mess - best leave that one out)
  • Crackers or savoury biscuits
  • Cheese wedges
  • Yoghurt with a plastic spoon
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Seeds - pumpkin, sunflower etc
  • Raisins
  • Rice cakes (now don't go putting lots on top, let them eat it as is)
  • Dried fruit - there are so many varieties
  • Dried fruit roll - I buy, but you can make your own if you are feeling especially adventurous.

  • Naartjies (recommend these rather than oranges because if you buy them small, peel them and break them up into segments, its easy for the children to pop them into their mouths with almost no mess)
  • Smoothie - a great alternative to drinking yoghurt and again so many variations.
  • Trail Mix - mix nuts, seeds, dried fruit, muesli - go wild!
  • Cherry tomatoes - my kids love the popping sound they make.
  • Pretzels
  • Sugar snap peas/ green beans or miniature corn - they are normally sold together in our shops
  • Fruit of any variety - melon or watermelon balls, pineapple slices, grapes, apricots

  • Muffins (variety, variety, variety - don't get stuck in a rut and dish up the same things over and over) - added bonus, they can be frozen
  • Banana bread or any breads that don't require butter or toppings
  • Granola bar
  • Granola - this is delicious, especially if you make your own this is especially delicious.
  • Protein on a stick (toothpick) - whatever you have: sausage, cold meats, fish sticks
  • Scones - these are like muffins - delicious with lots of potential variety and can be frozen
  • Sandwich squares or triangles - toasted, plain, oven baked - my children love garlic butter on toast, its a smelly affair but garlic keeps them healthy and its just so delicious
  • Leftovers - pizza, meatballs - just remember this is not lunch time, so don't let snack become the focus, this is just to keep them going 
  •  Rusks - these are great if you don't dry them out completely, if they are too dry you will have endless crumbs!

All of these snacks are based on a family with no sugar, wheat or allergy problems - however all of them can be adapted to suit your family. In terms of health benefits: opt for home made, it protects your family from all the extra colourants and preservatives and other can't-name-the-chemical-additives that they put in our food these days.

Why not leave a comment, I would love to hear what snacks you give your children which keeps them on the go.

Linking up with Raising Homemakers, Domestically Divine Tuesdays,Titus 2sday Link-Up,Living Well Wednesdays,Growing Home: Teach me Tuesdays, Proverbs 31 Thursdays,

Saturday, April 28, 2012

SA Carnival of Homeschooling Blogs #4: Living Books

Welcome to the 4th edition for 2012 of

SA Carnival of Homeschooling Blogs

And it's all about books - and not just any books. Living Books.  OK so now some of you may be stumped and be wondering how a book can be living, how does it have life?  How can it breath? 
But think back to books that you remember.... the ones that had you holding your breath in suspense, the ones that made you cry, books that made history seem real and relevant - real people you could identify with, you travelled the world through mountains and valleys, you discovered that Judge Grammar could teach you all about Mr Noun - those are the ones we are talking about.

Living books are bound to get homeschoolers excited and in fact its should get all mom's excited.  If you are a parent, these are the types of books you want your children to read.  They're books written by people who love their subject - whether it's Maths or Geography.(yes you even get people who love Maths - special individuals those).  It's also definitely not written as a text book or in  very structured, fact by fact, point by point kind of way.  It's written in a conversational way, a narrative, a story. 
And what child does not enjoy a good story, in fact what adult does not enjoy a good story?  Through living books, children are exposed to facts and information in such an entertaining and engaging style that so much more is learnt and retained with very little effort.  

The language used in these books is of a high and excellent standard, not the language that is common to playground antics or Facebook comments.  It stretches their abilities and understanding of the language. It often stretches mine too.  We all grow in reading books like this.  In fact it will develop a real appetite for more of the same. 

I have fallen in love with living books.  As I read them to my children, I am totally engaged, enthralled and part of the learning experience.

And I am not the only one.  There are mothers all over the world who have discovered the value of living books.  And some of these include our very own homegrown South African Homeschool Bloggers.

Nadene of Practical Pages has been homeschooling for 14 years, using living books as an important part of her homeschooling day and her Charlotte Mason curriculum approach.  

Join her as she and her daughter Learn through Living Books.  I love how she uses a white board as a type of mind map/timeline/sequencing tool in conjunction with her living books.

Karen, a confessed book lover and hoarder, walks us through some great living books at Karen's Clan.  Loving Living Books give you a brief glimpse into her books on her bedside table and her list of favourite living books (and her wish list of soon to be favourites I am sure). 

Taryn of Hayes Happenings offers us a thorough explanation of living books, and how her journey of discovery and adventure has led her family down a road rich with learning and literature.  The Living Books they love include powerful stories of a farm girl embarking on an adventure to translate the bible in the jungles of the Philippines, the experiences of the blind and apples and arrows.

As for me, well over the years we have collected dozens of living books, too many even to mention.  I have loved all of them except maybe one or two. I enjoy my read aloud times with my children as much as they do.  Some of my current favourites though are:

The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong
Why do the storks no longer come to the little Dutch fishing village of Shora to nest? It was Lina, one of the six schoolchildren who first asked the question, and she set the others to wondering. And sometimes when you begin to wonder, you begin to make things happen. So the children set out to bring the storks back to Shora. The force of their vision put the whole village to work until at last the dream began to come true.
This truly was a book where I laughed so much that my sides hurt.  I have to admit I am always inclined to opt for the living books with humour and this is one of them.  The antics of these children of course had my children planning their own types of adventures but they were introduced to the whole Dutch culture combined with lots of good geography included.  This is a classic, never to be given away type of book.  I am sure that we will read this a number of times in our schooling future.

Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo
Washed up on a remote island in a Pacific storm, Michael curls up and waits to die. But when he wakes, there is fresh fruit beside him. He is not alone… Michael Morpurgo’s vivid story of a young castaway’s struggle for survival is an unmissable modern classic. Fusing adventure and mystery, it is a heartbreaking but uplifting tale of love, loss, hope and redemption.
I am a fan of Michael Morphurgo - he writes in such a way that you want to savour every moment.  He uses expressions that come alive and his combination of excellent writing, humour (again) and history - just bring this story to life. 
Carefully woven into this book was the history of Hiroshima, island survival, conflicting cultures and languages, boating and sailing and relationships.  This is the third book I have read of his and I know that I will continue to find more.

Now you may be wondering where you can find living books like these?

There are a number of ways you can find living books. The resources are endless and are often grouped according to subjects which makes it easier to find what you are looking for.  Some of them include curriculum providers who include living books as part of their curriculum.  These can often be found at your local library or a friend, or you could opt for a second hand book store.

Here are some resources to find lists of living books for you and your family.  Though I don't always use these books as part of my curriculum, I often pack them into their library bags and let them discover something new.

Ambleside Online
Living Books Curriculum
Beautiful Feet Books
Penny Gardener's Charlotte Mason's Website
Classical Christian Homeschooling
Paula's Archives
Veritas Press
Living Book List for Science
Living Maths Books
What should I read next?

For further reading on Charlottle Mason and Living books, here are some excellent resources:
Charlotte Mason Basics by Jimmie of Jimmies Collage
Excellent resource on living books at The Thinking Mother

So do the rounds, visit our South African Homeschooling bloggers and hopefully you will find some new inspiration to add to your book shelves.

I would love to hear about any living books that you might think are a worthwhile addition to our libraries.  Leave a comment and tell us about some of your favourites.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Today I missed it.... by a mile!

Today was hard, today I missed it by a mile - I was  impatient, indignant, proud, unloving, abrupt, lazy, resentful, jealous and so much more. Every day I have to battle through my imperfections.  I see my weaknesses like a glaring spotlight has been placed on them.  I am so aware of my shortcomings.  So many ways I fall short of who I should be.

I could try and cover it up, hide it or suppress it  - but who would I be kidding?  My children can see right through the "cover story", my husband knows the truth - he knows who I am (and loves me anyway) and I would know.  There is no place to hide from the truth.

 But thank goodness through being honest about who I am to those around me, by being real, by revealing my weaknesses - I know it has the power to change all things.

......when I am weak......... you can be too
you can be honest and reveal your fears and failures because you know there is someone else who understands

.....when I am honest...... you don't have to pretend 
to be more or do more than you really are

.....when I confess
God can work with me
He can mould me
Change me
Renew me
And help me become the person He wants me to be 

Psalm 51
 1 Have mercy on me, O God,
   according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
   blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
   and cleanse me from my sin.
 3 For I know my transgressions,
   and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
   and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
   and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
   sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
   you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
   wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
   let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
   and blot out all my iniquity.
 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
   and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
   or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
   and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
   so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
   you who are God my Savior,
   and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
   and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
   you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
   a broken and contrite heart
   you, God, will not despise.
 18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
   to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
   in burnt offerings offered whole;
   then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Our hometown Kalk Bay, South Africa

Where?  It's in South Africa.  It's in the Western Cape.  It's just about the most southerly part of South Africa.  It's where the wind is our doctor, the sea is our artist and the mountains our home.  I love this part of the world - it's wild and quaint, cold and hot, we live in an amazing environment where you can find nature reserves, whales, fishing villages, history and colour ..... lots and lots of colour!

Kalk Bay is in the Southern Peninsula which also includes the following places:  Hout Bay, Chapman's Peak Drive, Noordhoek, Kommetjie, Scarborough, Cape Point, Simon's Town, Fish Hoek, St James and Muizenberg.

We have lived in this area for the last 2 years and I still haven't had enough of exploring this wonderful piece of South Africa.  Every weekend there is an opportunity to visit another part of the Cape, which we haven't yet discovered or seen. Our children love the fact that on any given day, we can climb in our car, drive 20 minutes and find something new to experience.

I found a lovely clip (though slightly outdated:) to show you where we live.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mom's You Have the Best Job in the World

Thanks to Time-Warp Wife I found the most amazing clip - that just reminded me that I have the most important job in the world

Have a great weekend mom's and enjoy every minute with your children

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What would you like to read here?

I am writing about 10 posts at the same time and none of them finished yet.  Sounds like the sort of thing I like to do.(just like the way I read my books and the way I approach my crafts)  If you read my blog regularly, you know that my source of inspiration is varied, it can be person, to something that inspires me, to handles on topics that I think might be of value to you. Which led me to this point.

What would you like to read about?  What subject would you like me to discuss?  What's bothering you?  How can I help?  I might not have the expertise but if I don't, I will find someone that does who can do a guest post.  I would love to hear from you.... why not give me your list of recommended topics.  Don't hold back - the one opportunity in a life time that you have to be the boss:)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Snails and Slugs and Escargot

OK so why bother with this post on a Sunday night?  Maybe I should be writing some beautiful reflective article about rainbows, flowers and chocolate cake (though we did have that tonight - chocolate cake in a mug - decadent delight) but this is not it.  Tonight I want to talk about snails and slugs.  And yes it's not symbolic of anything incredibly spiritual or deep.  It's those slimy, slippery - always-eating-my-new-vegetable-seedlings-thing-a-machigs (did you ever use that word when you were at school?)

So while my family were doing the dishes after a delicious dinner of pork, mash and salad followed by choc cake in a mug (I mentioned that didn't I?) - I headed outside with a torch and my crocs.

I don't like crocs much (that would be plastic/rubber shoes for my foreign friends - not crocodiles - because in South Africa we do not have wild life in our back yard - at least not in Cape Town - unless you would consider my children wild life).  I have a pair of crocs - pink ones - which I use: not for fashion but for crushing those slimy snails and slugs underfoot.

I can just see you scrunching your face up and considering whether you want to continue reading this but let me explain.  I am no organic-green-recycle-everything-type of girl - in fact having to recycle just irritates me but I want vegetables and I want them to be without all poisons and pesticides that you find in the store, unless you pay a fortune for the organic ones which in our current economic climate is not affordable.

So we have slugs and snails and I need to get rid of them. 

I tried  a few less gross methods of getting rid of them:
*  making beer traps (my dad thought this was sacrilege to waste it on snails and I didn't want to explain every time my friends came around, that the beer in our house was for the snails and slugs - honestly, how many of you would have believed THAT?).
* I tried putting salt on the ground but then I worried that the ground might become to salty (I mean if you put too much salt on chips or popcorn, it spoils it, so surely it will do the same with soil?).  Not sure how scientific that is but it can't be good to keep putting salt on the soil.
* I put down egg shells which are supposed to cut their slimy bits and stop them from eating your plants - but it looked awful.  It looked like we were dumping our trash in our garden and the birds started to take wide detours around our house, no doubt fearing we were egg thieves.
*  Apparently if you put wet newspaper on the ground at night, the slugs and snails like this.  The next morning all you have to do is go outside, fetch the newspaper full of all these creatures and then dispose of them. There wasn't one slug or snail in all those layers when I tried it. Maybe its because I put out the Sunday Independent rather than the Sunday Slimes.
*  I read that if you attract certain birds to your garden, they'll eat the snails, which also didn't happen - besides the horror of them seeing all the broken egg shells in our gutter garden, our cat-want-to-be-tiger, does very little to encourage confidence in any bird, that our house is a place of safety.

Then I stumbled upon a site which said that slugs and snails like to come out at night or when it rains and so if you head out at night with a torch you will find these criminals.  Which I did.  There they were - guilty, guilty, guilty -eating all my precious plants.  And so the process started of eliminating them from my garden. I just pluck them off and crush them underfoot - it's something I will never get used to and I grit my teeth and bear it, just like I did when I knew that one of my babies had delivered a special parcel in their diaper, but you just do it.

Of course anyone driving past my house at night might suspect that there is a rather suspicious criminal loitering around our house, and I am surprised that no one has yet called the police - but maybe that's just the sort of behaviour they expect from us, across the street - you know those people with those children who do that weird thing called homeschooling.

Though mind you, it could be far worse - I could be recycling the snails and eating escargot for breakfast, lunch and supper - now that would be a interesting outcome.  Anyone keen for a snack?

Growing Home

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The most sacred of places - your home

A true home is one of the most sacred of places. It is a sanctuary into which men flee from the world's perils and alarms. It is a resting-place to which, at close of day--the weary retire to gather new strength for the battle and toils of tomorrow. It is the place . . . where love learns its lessons, where life is schooled into discipline and strength, where character is molded.

Few things we can do in this world are so well worth doing--as the making of a beautiful and happy home! He who does this--builds a sanctuary for God, and opens a fountain of blessing for men.

Far more than we know--do the strength and beauty of our lives, depend upon the home in which we dwell. He who goes forth in the morning from a happy, loving, prayerful home--into the world's strife, temptation, struggle, and duty--is strongly inspired for noble and victorious living.

The children who are brought up in a true home--go out trained and equipped for life's battles and tasks--carrying a secret of strength in their hearts, which will make them brave and loyal to God, and will keep them pure in the world's severest temptations!

JR Miller

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mel's Must Have #1 Le Creuset

We all have a wish list.  If it's not Amazon, then it's virtual shopping on Pinterest - you pin it so you feel like you own it.  We all have stuff that we would love to have, especially in those hypothetical situations where we win a million.  Oooh gadgets, clothes - lots of things!  I discover new a new "must have" every time I open a magazine or watch a lifestyle show. And so because I can, and because this is my blog, and because I keep a record of my life and family with this blog and ...... well, just because - I thought I would show you my latest and greatest "Must Have"

Le Creuset
Ooooh even the name sounds luxurious doesn't it?  Kind of rolls off your tongue - mmh. Well this one is all about taste!

These French (had to be with a name like that) cast iron pots are just a delight to the eyes.  Friends say they love them, I drool every time I visit.  It's truly stove art and tea art and serving art.  It just satisfies the desire for pretty things like a pretty dress or a new pair of sexy shoes.  Maybe I am exaggerating but I think I could just sit and watch my pots cook all day with equipment like this.  I wouldn't need any other entertainment (sad I know but since we disconnected the telly, I don't have much to watch these days anyway!)

Just look at these

 And doesn't food just look magnificent.  It makes the simplest meal look like a gourmet meal.

This coffee lover could just imagine the beautiful water that would come out of these babies!

Hold me back, I would drink even more coffee and that would really be dangerous!

And don't think that they just do pots, they do all sorts of other accessories too.  All those beautiful things you want to put in your kitchen, the type of a decor that will make people go "wow"!   So look at this brief glimpse of these amazing products.  And there is just so much more......

Butter dishes


 Aren't these absolutely delightful ?- for that special event.

 And if you are wanting something in rose (yes there are some of us that are still very girly and still love the colour pink - don't mock us!) ..... and purple ...... and did I mention that lovely green!

And there's even a product and colour selector on their site which just could keep me busy all day - choosing which colour and which item - oh well seeing as I can't decide, I think I will just put them all on my wish list.

Please Note:  I have not been asked to write about this product.  They don't know me, they don't know my children - they don't even know my name.- I get nothing from doing this - these are some of those things that I would simply love to own. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What is your most important role : Mom or Wife?

There is a homeschooling mother who lives just round the corner from me .... literally.  And today she wrote something that I really just wanted to share with you today.  A post that touched my heart and took me back to the place of making sure that I have my priorities in the right place.  Because though I am gifted in multi-tasking, it can also lead me to become very distracted and forget to keep the main thing the main thing.

"The most important thing is not that I am the Best Parent Ever.
Or that I am the Best Mother.
Or that I am even the Homeschooling Success Story.
The most important calling for me, first and foremost should be my calling as a wife."
Sadly there is so much truth in that.  I have yet to learn the lesson or should I say, be reminded of this core value... but why don't you head over there now and let her minister to your heart.  Her openness and honesty gave me the opportunity to truly evaluate where I am.  You can read more here

Wordless Wednesday #2

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How to have a good attitude and a clean house in 10 steps

My attitude is stinky at the moment.  I detest a dirty house but I can't stand cleaning it.  I resent the fact that this is my area of responsibility.  I would much rather be reading, gardening, visiting friends and watching videos.  I get mad when I tidy and my children come in 5 minutes later and mess where I have cleaned.  I wish I could afford to have someone help, but it's just not in our budget.

There are piles of laundry to be washed and ironed, copious dishes to be cleaned and the constant cycle of the attack of the dust bunnies everywhere - they must be mutating!  This combined with the fact that I home school makes me a very sulky, feel-sorry-for-myself-mom fairly often.  I constantly feel irritated with the state of things and wish I had a fairy godmother who would visit at least once a day (preferably three or four times) and clean up the mess, wash the clothes and iron.

So what to do?   So I needed to remind myself of the things that make housework something I can do with a good attitude and sometimes enjoy.  Here are a few things that work for me.

1. Audio Books
I find that if I am distracted and my mind is somewhere else, housekeeping becomes a pleasure, in fact I could listen to audio books all day like this.  Sean always says he can see which type of book I am busy with.  If I am reading a book, the house is a mess - but if I am listening to audio books, the house is spotless.  And of course if you are working with your children it will need to be something that you can both listen to.

 2.  Clean in the same area with your children
I often find my biggest frustration is supervising the children.  I give them different tasks to do and then let them get on with it - the result:  playing and messing about and just not finishing things as quickly.  However if I put them all in the same area and we all do our chores together, we get things done much quicker with less supervision because I am around them all the time.  Also if you are listening to an audio book, no one wants to miss out. They also seem to stay motivated for longer with team effort.

3.  Do things in small bursts of energy
Though we clean together every morning and evening, I cannot spend all morning doing housework as we need to start school promptly and get going.  And there is always so much more to be done.  Once we do the initial clean up they get busy with school.  Which I am actively involved with.  However, I take a break from the children for 5 to 10 minutes at a time every hour - to load a washing machine, hang clothes on the line, sweep a corridor.  I find I get it done quicker because I know that I have a time limit because I need to get back to the children.  Also if my children get antsy I do the same with them - I send them off to do a 10 minute chore by themselves or with me. It helps their concentration levels, as they get a chance to stretch their legs.

4.  No extra effort
I fill my sink with dishes, hot water and soap and walk away.  I clean somewhere else first and then come back to wash.  Once that batch is done, I load the sink again and leave it for 10 minutes again.  I don't want to waste precious time and effort scrubbing at something that can be cleaned quicker and more easily by just letting things soak.

When I clean my stove, I leave a wet cloth lying on the dirty area, give it about 15 minutes and it's much easier to remove.

I never dry dishes.  I love the way a kitchen looks when everything is packed away but I don't have 20 minutes in my day (x3) to dry things that can quite happily dry themselves.  We do a pack away before every wash three times a day.
The list is endless but I'll keep that for a later date ( I hope - if I remember)

5.  Lists of things to be done
Yes you guessed it, I am a list person.  But this is an especially important strategy.  The longer things are left the harder it is to clean.  So I have a "To do" list for daily, weekly, bi -weekly and monthly cleaning.  What I like about using these lists is that I can choose what I want to do and when I want to do it.  If I have energy for washing windows today, then I do it, but if today is a hard day, I might just clean the mirrors.  Even my daily chores can be done throughout the day as long as they get done.  So what if I only sweep at the end of the day? The key is to keep going and to it little by little. And NEVER become a slave to your lists!

6.  Keep them outside
The more my children are outside the less mess there is inside.  Unless it's raining - *my children eat lunch outside (we have patio furniture but they prefer sitting all over the place and we join them when they do), * drink outside (little 4 year old and not so little 11 year olds can spill a LOT of juice on the floor), * play outside (when we are not schooling the rule is you go outside to play or you stay inside to do chores - works like a charm:), * host their friends outside  (this one especially is important as when friends are there, they always seem to want to unpack everything - and if they can't resist the temptation then we meet at a spot where they can play, like the beach or park - you can come home to a clean house and happy kids)

7.  Cooking double/ triple or quad -something
You may end up with more dishes on the one night but what a pleasure on the second or third night when all you have to do is take something out of the fridge or deep freeze and warm it up.  You get a night off cooking and you get to relax.  Also choose your dishes carefully when you do. Don't make 2 or 3 elaborate meals - keep it simple.  Let your elaborate meals be the ones you prepare fresh and on the day but the frozen ones things like mac and cheese, cottage pie, meat balls etc.  And if you are especially clever use things like slow cookers / hot boxes or pressure cookers to do that extra work for you. (these are especially easy to clean if you soak them first)

8.  Avoid delay
My biggest cleaning issues happen when I leave things for later.  Procrastination is the enemy of any housekeeper or mother, it will come back to bite you and you will wish you hadn't left it.  Clean up the crumbs when you see them before they end up under feet and in every room in the house.  Do the dishes just after a meal, if you leave it till tomorrow it will take twice as long to clean.

9.  Use products you like
This is a particularly challenging one when you are on a tight budget but if you like the products you are using, you will be more inclined to use them.  I like things sparkly and smelling nice but a lot of these products can be very expensive and so I also don't buy them all at the same time. I try and buy them at different times so that they don't all run out at the same time.  I also look out for specials.  If I see a special on the product I normally use then I buy 2.( I would love to buy a whole box but 2 is normally all I can afford).  I also add water to the products that my children use frequently because they love squirting lots and lots of all sorts of cleaning products.

10.  Worship
Saul had a stinky attitude and I am often reminded of how he only found peace when David played on the harp.  Get some worship going on your cell, CD Player or your iPod.  It's very difficult to have a stinky attitude when your space is being filled with uplifting music.

So there you have it, 10 steps to perfect housekeeping - now that would be a miracle!

Leave a comment, I would love to hear about your strategies on what you do to make housekeeping easier, while keeping your attitude in check. 

Growing Home


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