The Secret Garden

Children love mystery and magic of fairy tales or great stories.  One story that is known the world over is the English classic, The Secret Garden.

It is about a young girl, Mary, who is discovering her way in life after growing up in India.  She doesn’t like her new home too much and there is a very sad boy who lives in the house.  Upon adventuring around the grounds she stumbles upon a locked door in the garden.  She is determined to break through and eventually discovers a secret garden.  The story is based around bringing this garden back to life and making the boy better by sneaking him outside.  It is purely delightful and worth a read.

Our garden’s can often be less than magical but that doesn’t mean, with a little creativity, we can’t take a leaf out of Mary’s book and give our children something amazing.

[Photo courtesy of Leah Kelley/pexels.com]

Think about what you want to achieve, a secret hidden away cove behind her wall of roses?  Perhaps a tucked away fruit garden for your kids to discover and delve into? Or even a real modern rockery with water features or even an inverted fish tank.

Before you get stuck in it’s worth giving a termite treatment now.  Prevention is better than cure and discovering you have a problem after all your landscaping could lead to disappointment.  Once you have the all clear and advice on how to avoid any invasions, get to work.

Little girl breaks the flowers

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Busy families mean keeping on top of a garden can be quite demanding.  But if you enlist the help of your little ones then not only will you have them outside creating, you will also have some keen green fingered workers to help you with digging and planting.

A fun and unique twist on a garden, if you have little or no outside space, is the brilliant living wall.  This is an eco wall of oxygen promoting plants.  You can have them indoors our outdoors and they will purify the air of pollutants.  In fact growing an eco wall in urban areas has quite a positive effect on the environment.

Herbs are a really simple grow and offer a variety of scents which your children can enjoy.  Fruits produce both flowers and then edible delights! Roses can hide fences or walls under their beautiful large petals or you could go with another great kid pleaser, the towering sunflower!

Get creative with your outdoor space and encourage the children to play.  Dedicating a little area all of their own will make them feel like they have a little hideaway and also kick start them off on the road to enjoying creating things.  Bringing a plant to life is one of the most humbling things we can do with simplicity.  Just make sure to teach the children any potential dangers of playing outside in the garden, such as eating fruits they don’t know.  A little bit of mud is good for the immune system, but washing hands is vital after handling plants!

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An Essential Guide To Saving Time When Completing DIY Projects

DIY projects can be extremely fun and at the same time, they give you the opportunity to save lots and lots of cash. Since the economic recession took its grip, a lot of people have been considering completing tasks in the home rather than employing a contractor. Here is your chance to save huge amounts of cash!

If you are considering doing any kind of DIY projects, you need to read this essential guide. This guide will help you save lots of time with each project, but will also ensure that each project is completed to the highest standard possible.

Plan

The first thing that you need to do before you begin is plan the project. This means ensuring you have the right tools, deciding when you will have time to complete the project and even sourcing materials.

If you plan in advance, you will save a lot of time. For instance, if you don’t have all the materials you might find that you are going from one DIY store to the next, just to pick up odd washers and valves. By ensuring that you have ordered all of these items online before hand, you could end up saving yourself a few hours.

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Organize

Once you have planned your project down to every single fine detail, you need to think about organising your work space in a methodical way. Before you begin get all the tools out that you need and place them where you will be using.

Do the same with any materials that you have purchased. If you don’t organise your work place before hand, the job will end up taking a lot longer. Of course, if you are doing things like painting or plastering, you will want to cover up all the windows and carpets to ensure that they don’t get damaged or dirty.

Complex Tasks

The next thing to consider is whether or not there are any individual complex tasks that are part of this project. This might include things such as pipe bending and soldering, carpet fitting or high level plastering.

If you can see any part of the job being extremely complex, it might be worth calling in an expert. Although it will cost money, it will save you lots of time. An expert is likely to take half the time to complete a task in comparison to you, simply because of their experience. They are also likely to complete jobs to a much higher standard.

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Tooling

You will need to buy or rent the correct tools for the job. Don’t try and complete a DIY project without the correct tools. If you do you are going to do one of two things; damage materials or take extremely long to complete the job.

There are some expensive tools that might make jobs run a lot more smoothly and a lot faster. For instance, if you are trying to fix a leak in a pipe that is underground, you can use GPR scanning to locate the leak rather than ripping up the floor.

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Living with Lifespans – What Needs Replacing?

Here’s a bit of a shocking fact for you – over a period of 30 years, a house and its contents could need as much as 50% of it repairing or replacing from the position it was in at the beginning of this period of time. Let’s face it, you have to be one of the unlucky ones if you are going anywhere near 50% and over if it’s not a house that you have bought as a do-up project, but the figures mainly come from what resides inside the house itself rather than the upkeep of the building.

So, what are the things that fall under the replacement category and what is the recommended lifespan of each thing – are you being shortchanged or are you long overdue a replacement?

Child Playing Front Loader Toy

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Flooring

Good, solid wooden flooring can last centuries. Tiled flooring can, too – you can see it houses and churches in the United Kingdom that have lasted through several Kings and Queens and could probably tell a lot of stories … if they could talk. Planned care and restoration of both wooden and tiled floors can help extend the lifespans for future generations to appreciate. Laminate, lino and carpets are another matter entirely – if you are over the 10 year recommended threshold for the longevity of these products, then you should probably start looking at Online Carpet Sale and other such sites to keep your flooring in tip-top condition.

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Household appliances

All appliances have different recommendations as to how long they will last. A vacuum will last you up to 25 years if serviced and cared for, yet you may think of replacing it a lot sooner to keep up with the increasing demands of both efficiency and productivity.  Everything else pretty much has an average of 10-15 years – so your washers, dryers, dishwashers, microwaves etc should keep going for a fair while, but you may find that they will either go on a lot longer or cut short a lot sooner than expected; it’s always one or the other!

 Brush painting the white wall

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Fixtures, fittings and furnishings

Paint will naturally start to lose colour/chip or peel away/look grubby over the years. Sometimes it can last for a good while,but it’s always worth acknowledging that a touch-up every couple of years will help it to stay in a great condition and look fresh. Hands on walls, especially where people are holding on for stability or pushing against things such as light switches, will always leave a mark; you can’t ever guarantee how clean a person’s hands are. The recommended lifespan of paint is just 7 years – yet you’d be hard pressed finding someone who actually makes the effort to redecorate their whole house that often. There are new trends in paint on the market, with wipe-clean options available for those marks that start appearing. Keep it in a good condition and you can probably exceed the lifespan and laugh in the face of the grim reaper when he comes round and starts picking away at your walls!

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Ward Off Unwanted Attention From Your House With These Ideas

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Your home will be your castle, so there is no wonder that you just want to retreat into it at the end of a busy day at work or with the kids. The last thing you will want is any unwanted attention aimed at your house or yourself! So, how do you deal with people trying to get to you when you are supposed to be relaxing in your own home? Well, here are my top tips for warding off all that unwanted attention from your home.

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Burglars And Intruders

One of the main forms of unwanted attention will come from potential burglars and intruders. Under no circumstance will you want these people anywhere near your home! Thankfully, there is plenty that you can do to deter intruders and burglars from your property. One of the best things is equipping your home with either a burglar alarm or a CCTV camera system. Once a burglar spots either of these on the exterior of your home, they will instantly be put off from attempting to enter your house as there is just too much risk. The alarm could go off, which would bring attention to the property, or their faces could be caught on the CCTV. One mistake that many homeowners make is that they leave their spare set of house keys somewhere outside in case they ever accidentally lock themselves out. That spare set of keys is basically an invitation to intruders to let themselves in! One way to make sure your keys don’t fall into the wrong hands is to switch from a traditional lock to a key fob style lock, such as the ones from Keycard Ninja. These types of locks can’t be picked like traditional ones, and rather than leaving the key fob outside in a hiding place, you can simply give it to your neighbor for safekeeping.

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Pests And Vermin

Not all unwanted intruders in your home are going to try and steal your expensive tech and valuables. Some may try and make their own home in your house! Of course, I’m no longer talking about burglars anymore – I mean pests and vermin! These little creatures will try and make their way into your home no matter what. Thankfully, there are plenty of things that you can do to keep them well away from your property. One of the most obvious ways is to keep a very clean and tidy home. Most pests and vermin will make their way into your home to try and find food and water. So any leftovers or fresh ingredients that are left out on worktops in your kitchen are going to attract all these little critters into your home. So make sure that you clean up well after any cooking and baking. You should also regularly check the frames around your windows and doors. Small gaps can develop in these, which can provide entryways for small insects, rats, and mice. If you notice any new gaps, you should repair them as soon as possible.

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Teenagers

Do you have some troubles with your neighbors’ teenage children? Or maybe you live in an area where teenagers regularly congregate and hang out. Even if these children aren’t targeting your house directly, their presence can still be very annoying and, in some cases, even intimidating. If your main issue with these kids is that they are hanging out in your area and demonstrating unsociable behavior, then you should speak to your local police about it. They will be able to disperse any gangs who meet up and move them on. If things get particularly bad and the teenagers get exceptionally rowdy, then the police can always escort them home. Unfortunately, sometimes teenagers can be extremely unruly and target certain properties for no reason. They might cover part of your home in graffiti or, even worse, cause damage to your house or garden. If this happens, you should contact the police who can then work at catching the culprit. If they are caught, they can then be forced to pay for any repairs and cleaning that is required. Depending on the severity of their crimes, they may even be convicted and forced to pay a fine. To make sure that you don’t become the target of any local teenagers, though, you should endeavor to speak to their parents at the first sign of any bad behavior. This should nip things in the bud before things escalate.

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Spam Callers

There are some forms of attention that could even affect you inside your own home. And one of these types of annoying attention comes from spam callers. These days, many sales companies employ telesale employees who call random households to try and sell their products and services. This can be extremely annoying for people on the receiving end, and many homeowners feel that it is a breach of their privacy. Especially since the sales company has somehow got hold of their home phone number without their knowledge! But thankfully, you don’t need to deal with these annoying spam calls for too long. There is plenty that you can do to stop them calling. One of the best ways is to add your phone number to a do not call registry. The companies are not allowed to contact any of the numbers in these registries. Another way for dealing with these calls is to not hand out your phone number so freely. When you are filling out forms, leave the contact number section blank whenever possible.

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Door To Door Salesmen

Back in the fifties and sixties, door to door salesmen were very common. However, over the past few decades, they have started to be seen as a nuisance, and fewer companies send them out. However, there are still ones which do. If you don’t want to be bothered by these salesmen, you can place a sticker in your home saying that they aren’t welcome. Otherwise, see if there is an online registry to which you can add your address to which will blacklist it for sales companies.

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Warning! Don’t Forget To Keep On Top Of These Areas Of Your Home

We aim to ensure our home stays in good condition so that we don’t run into problems. After all, issues with your humble abode could end up costing you a small fortune. And could jeopardize your property sale in the future. But a lot of people focus on certain locations like the kitchen, and forget to look after areas which could cause you huge problems. Therefore, here are some areas you need to make sure you don’t forget to keep on top of in your home.

The loft

It’s easy to forget about the loft when you are in your home. After all, it’s not somewhere that you go into every day. In fact, some people admit to only going in their loft a handful of times during the year. But it’s so important you keep on top of taking care of your loft. For one thing, it needs a regular clean. After all, it’s so easy for dust to build up in the attic. And if left, it could cause things like pests to occur. And not only this, but you need to watch out for condensation in the loft. You need to deal with this quickly, so that you don’t end up with a damp problem in your home. And as well as this, you need to ensure there is proper insulation in the loft. That way, you can ensure the heat from your system stays in the home and keeps your family nice and warm!

The roof

Another place you might forget to keep on top of is your roof. After all, it’s not an area you might look at every day. But if you aren’t keeping on top of it, small problems might be getting a lot worse. And you could end up with issues like leaks in your home. Therefore, it’s so important to make sure you keep on top of the roof. Check out the shingles to make sure none are missing. And if you think there is a problem but don’t want to get on the roof yourself, you could consider getting a contractor to do it. After all, roofing companies similar to TexasStar Roofing will do a free roof inspection and will let you know if there are any issues. You can then get this sorted before it turns into a huge problem. And remember your roof will need to be replaced every 15 years. As we said before, if you leave it longer than this, it will cause issues with leaks inside your home, and you might not be covered by an insurance policy.

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Your bathroom

You might be surprised that a lot of people forget to keep on top of their bathroom. They focus on making sure other rooms like their kitchen and lounge are okay. But if you don’t keep on top of your bathroom, you could end up with plumbing issues before long. Therefore, make sure you unblock any drains in the bathroom before it becomes a major problem. And clean the bathroom regularly so that you don’t get issues such as condensation and mold in the room.

And remember to keep on top of your garden too, especially before the freezing weather arrives!

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Spring Clean Your Life: Get Ready For Summer

As we roll into 2017 and are really getting through winter noticing that spring is peeking over the horizon, we may have had a moment to reflect and take stock.  Winter is good for that and spring is the season of sorting and preparing for the year ahead.

Portrait of Teenage Girl Playing Outdoors

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This is a great time of year for looking at our home and self and considering how we can maximize our enjoyment of the summer.  This is when we want to be making the most of every moment socially.

Perhaps you have noticed your heating hasn’t been working as efficiently as you’d have liked over winter or you remembered that your air conditioning wasn’t quite pulling its weight last year.  Repairs in peak season can be more costly as there is more demand on time and although there are great companies offering One Hour Heating and Air call outs, you could benefit from thinking ahead and getting things sorted now.

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The months before spring is also a perfect time for preparing your garden.  Taking the time to sow the seeds now will have you reaping the benefits.  Perhaps your lawn needs rolling or you noticed a lot of weeds as you closed the outside of for winter?  If it’s still a little cold for you to get green fingered, it could be worth considering using a gardener.  This time of year is mainly about maintenance for professional gardeners and you are more likely to find a better deal at this time of year, giving you a real head start before you venture out there yourself.

The new year’s resolutions may have come and gone but it’s really time to consider how you want to feel and look at the start of summer.  Working on your overall health now and taking the time your body needs for lasting and positive impact is far better than hitting the gym or started a fad diet during the 6 week run up to your holiday.  Think beyond the beach body and focus on the you body.  Slowly increasing the level of exercise you take will make it easier to sustain and just a few tweaks to your diet or eating habits every week will have you ten steps ahead of everyone else.

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Booking your vacation well ahead of time is also a great way of saving money and stress as the year rolls on.  January usually offers up lots of flight or booking sales however if you missed the boat on that, getting ahead of time and making smaller payments over the next few months will help take the sting out a little.  You will notice a reduction in cost when booking in the first couple of months of the year as the travel industry sees a sharp fall in clients during January and Feb.  Make the most of this and give yourself a real treat to look forward to.

Spring cleaning isn’t just about getting the duster out and clearing away the clutter.  It is a time for regeneration and preparation.  So think ahead, learn from last year and make 2017 a calmer, more organised year for you and your family.

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The Benefits of Using Blackout Blinds on Your Windows at Home

Blackout blinds have surprising multiple uses and benefits for our homes. Aside from just blocking out or keeping in light, these blinds have the ability to block out noise significantly. This can be beneficial to a wide range of people, light sleepers included. Many are unaware that the benefits of blackout blinds also extend to our pocketbooks. By reducing energy costs, they allow are homes to operate more efficiently. This effects a family’s bottom line substantially.

Benefits of Blocking Light

Blackout blinds are wonderful for blocking out light sources. In fact, depending on brand names, there are certain blinds that are said to block up to 99% of light. For those individuals that may work the night shift, this can truly be a life saver. People who work the night shift can often suffer from debilitating health conditions due to their unsavory sleep routines.

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However with blackout blinds, anyone can easily create the illusion of night with the immense reduction of light. The decrease in light while sleeping can greatly increase health benefits. This is a significant difference to those individuals and families who may live in more northern cities and states where the sun can be shining for more than twenty hours a day at times. Others have found another great use for blackout blinds in their home theater rooms.

Benefits of Blocking Noise

Certain curtains in particular claim to block out up to 40% of outside noise. This would be an obvious benefit again for those who work a night shift. However, there are many light sleepers out there that would see this as a magnificent gift. Whether you live near a busy roadway or are simply a very light sleeper, blackout blinds can make a tremendous difference when it comes to the quality of your sleep due to noise. With the reduction of noise during sleep, you can effectively improve health and productivity drastically.

Benefits of Saving Energy

Blackout blinds are also well known as energy savers. They are successful at trapping in your existing heat during winter months. This can make all the difference on your utility costs by saving your use of your heater during the colder seasons. Aside from the cooler times of year, blackout blinds also save you during those hot summer months. By considerably blocking out light sources that can cause heat, you can reduce your energy costs by up to 25% in the summer.

Essentially blackout blinds are a great investment and pay for themselves in turn. Although some may be more expensive than others, it is relatively simple to find a great set for less than twenty dollars. They are available at multiple retailers locally. Blackout blinds can make a serious difference in your life. Whether it is utilized as a sleep aid or as an energy saver, this item serves a great purpose. Click here to see some different blackout blinds that you may love to have installed in your home.

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Don’t Miss Your Garden This Winter!

One of the worst things about the winter months is the little time we get to spend outside in our garden. After all, gardening is one of our favorite hobbies to do in the backyard. But with the weather beyond freezing, it can stop us from spending time in the garden. And it feels like it’s forever until spring and summer arrive! However, you don’t have to give up your garden entirely during the winter. Therefore, here are some surprising tips you need to ensure you don’t miss your garden this winter.

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Bring the BBQ inside of your home

It’s always lovely in the summer months when you can have your family around. And you all enjoy a BBQ in the garden. As well as the amazing company, the food can be fantastic as well. After all, food can have a delicious taste once it’s been cooked on the barbecue. Therefore, it’s common to miss this grilled food during the winter months. But you don’t have to miss out on the delicious food during the cold months. There are many portable grills you can buy for your kitchen which you can use to recreate that BBQ taste. And food tends to be a lot healthier if it’s grilled!

Start growing plants inside your home

There’s something so therapeutic about looking after your plants. In fact, so many people use gardening as a stress-reliever. Also, it’s a massive achievement when you manage to successfully grow a plant. Therefore, in the winter months, you can miss taking care of your beloved plants. However, you don’t have to wait until spring before you start growing plants again. You could grow them inside to ensure you can carry on with your gardening all year round. Find them a spot in your home which has plenty of sunlight throughout the day. You can also consider getting some LED grow lights from companies like Lumi Growth which will ensure your plants grow properly while they are inside. And then you can tend to them every day to still enjoy gardening during winter. Once the sun comes out, you can always move them outside to ensure they enjoy some natural sunlight.

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Invest in a beautiful indoor water feature

A lot of people love having a water feature in their garden. Not only can it be a relaxing feature, but it can also help your garden to stand out. And it’s a natural way to boost wildlife to your garden. During the winter months, a lot of people miss the calming sound of running water which they get when they are in their yard. But you can have the sound inside your home if you go for a beautiful indoor water feature. They can be a lovely addition to your home and will help to create a calming atmosphere. Put it in the hall or the lounge so that you can hear the feature around the home.

And you could even get a fish tank for your property if you are missing your pond! After all, you can watch the fish and enjoy the sound of the tank in your home!

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Time For You To Spring Into Action? Get Your Deep Clean Started Now

While the theory of a ‘spring clean’ seems, at first, quite old fashioned. In reality, there’s quite a lot of benefits to having a proper tidy up. Spring cleaning also means finally getting around to those more mundane household chores like giving your skirting boards, ceilings and even window sills a good wash!

Organize Kitchen Cabinets

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You’d be surprised how muck and grime can get into your kitchen cabinets over a few months, let alone an entire year. This is a somewhat arduous task so you may want to set aside an afternoon where you’ll be fairly undisturbed. First, either pile whatever was in the cupboard onto the clean worktop or put down newspaper on the kitchen floor. Next, use soap and water or, if you prefer, a cleaning spray to clean inside making sure you get right into the corners as that’s where dust and dirt accumulate. If you placed wallpaper, old DIY trick, down to protect the shelf you might need to replace it as over time it’ll fade and tear.

Go Through Your Closets

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Keeping clothes in pristine condition not only helps to preserve colour, shape and even fabric quality but it also stops them getting ripped or torn. Take the time to assess every, and we mean every item in you and your kid’s wardrobes for any alterations needed. Have each member of your family create three piles consisting of clothes they want to keep, donate and throw away as well as any old underwear and socks they wish to get rid of. For some reason children love to keep ripped, faded and buttonless clothes so don’t push too hard if they really can’t bear to part with something. Items that can’t be donated or recycled should be bagged up ready for collection by a same day rubbish removal service.

Defrost Your Fridge Freezer

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One of the more laborious household tasks that invariably leads to children asking for ice cream or popsicles is cleaning the freezer. Once a year it’s vital that your fridge / freezer enjoys a thorough deep clean to remove up any ice build up, maintain shelf cleanliness and toss away any spilt or loose food that’s fallen into the drawers. Defrosting and resetting your fridge also gives the system a chance to reboot, spot any temperature problems and highlight any faults with the ice machine. Don’t neglect surfaces, doors and seals plus cleaning those trays where you keep sauces and even the little light inside as it all attracts bacteria.

Clean Your Washing Machine

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While most new washing machines perform admirably, as your trusty nine-kilo appliance gets a little older your clothes may start to smell slightly. Any musty, or mildew-like smells can mean your machine itself needs washing. An excellent way to give it a thorough clean is to pop some vinegar and bicarbonate of soda onto a cloth and give it a good scrub. Be careful that when you do not to damage door seals or the drum edge as they can be quite delicate. For an extra thorough clean select a hot wash cycle, add any cleaning agents and simply wait thirty to sixty minutes.

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How to Get Help With Household Chores

Let’s face it – we are a generation of busy people. There is so much to get done on a day to day basis that it’s not a bad thing to start accepting some help or advice to get stuff sorted, and get things done.

Accept the Help!

If you have a friend or family member who is offering to do some jobs for you, let them. Don’t let pride get in the way; think about how much easier your life will be if one little (or big, if they’re that generous!) thing is ticked off the list. Being a parent is a demanding job, especially in the early stages. Any help that you may have previously dismissed does get remembered, though, so don’t push it away without good reason.

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Outsource, Outsource, Outsource

If you aren’t lucky enough to have people offer to do your jobs for you, you could consider bringing some help in. There are people to cover every job you can think of (honestly, try thinking of one job that you’re doing that you couldn’t hire somebody else to do?), and if you have some spare cash at the end of the week but are completely swamped with chores, then try parting with it and hiring somebody to come and help you. You can even order online; sites like Domestic One are there for you to go and search for your perfect maid. It’s not lazy to employ somebody to do jobs around the house for you – it’s increasing your spare time and therefore your chance to be productive on other things. Don’t feel guilty.

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Prepare the Stations

A lot of time can be saved by getting stuff prepared the day or week before. If you waste a lot of time sourcing ingredients for a meal that you don’t really know what you’re doing with, make sure that you have got everything ready (including the recipe!) the day before. You could invest in a slow cooker; these pieces of kitchen kit are an immense help with time-saving. All you have to do it pop in all of the the main ingredients plus any seasoning you require, pop onto the desired temperature and leave until the meal is done. This gives you time to go out to work, shopping, wherever you want to go, and still have a dinner all cooked and ready for you upon your return. It really is that simple.

Make a Schedule

This one may seem obvious, but a lot of people just aren’t doing it – they’re leaving all happenings and goings-on to chance, convinced that some sort of routine made up in their heads will keep it all in order. What keeps things in order is having a physical schedule in front of you that you can take reference from and use to keep on track. Not only can you use it, but anybody else who may need to know what’s happening in your life can; it’s really useful for family members who may be helping out with childcare especially.

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