Books, Family - Adventure, featured

The most helpful guide to an amazingly tidy kids room

If you’re like me, half term is over and the house is in utter chaos.

Not that long ago, everyone was Kon-Mari-ing their houses and folding socks into sushi rolls and checking if their frying pans sparked joy. I had to try it. My review of Marie Kondo’s book is below, and I gave it five stars, but that was before I tried it with the kids ….

Me: Can we throw out this broken Kinder egg toy?

Teenage DS (with just a hint of sarcasm): No. It sparks joy.

Me: What about this puzzle with a missing piece?

DS: No. I once did that puzzle when I was three. It brings back happy memories.

Me: What can I throw out?

DS: I don’t like this sock. (Waggles foot). It feels crunchy.

Me: Have you tried washing it?

For this type of challenge, you need a no-nonsense system. Less zen maybe, but something that works. I’m a big fan of Jules and her approach to decluttering. So I’ll hand over to her …

It’s Child’s Play:  A Nervous Parent’s Ten-Point Guide to Decluttering Kids Bedrooms

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Can’t put off decluttering your child’s bedroom any longer?

Daunted by the inevitable crying, door slamming and shrieks of “That’s so unfair!”   – and that’s just from your partner?

Take heart!  My ten-point guide takes you from start to finish – without breaking up your happy home or losing your mind in the process.

Point One: Kids Stuff Gets Old Quickly

Children outgrown stuff at warp speed.

Clothes they wore last year are now only fit for Teddy, while the toy they couldn’t live without six months ago lies forgotten under the bed.

It quickly adds up.  So, you need to get clear of what is and isn’t relevant to their lives now.

Anything that isn’t is out of the door.

Point Two: One Room/Many functions

Children bedrooms are often mini “homes within a home”.

One, possibly small or shared, space may need to offer a sleeping area, a quiet place to study, room to play, storage for clothes, toys and books, and somewhere to entertain their friends.

It’s a big ask. Make it easier by checking if anything – sports equipment for example – be stored elsewhere.

Point Three:  Involve Your Child

It may seem easier to “just do it yourself” – a bit like cleaning out the hamster cage.

But get your child onboard and you are more likely to see lasting results.

Older children especially won’t appreciate you sending their stuff to the charity shop.

Plus, you’ll be teaching them an important life skill.

Point Four:  What’s Your Problem?

Understanding the problem is halfway to finding a solution. So get clear from the start.

Had your child moved on from their Barbie phase – but their room is still full of tiny pink outfits?

Is their bookshelf filled with books they’ve outgrown, while the latest Harry Potter sits on the floor?

Do school days get off to a grumpy start with a game of Hunt the Homework?

Point Five:  What Are (Your Childs) Goals?

Emphasising what they will gain, rather than what you lose, can make a massive difference to attitude. What do they really want?

A peaceful place to curl up and read?

Hosting sleepovers without having to lie their brother trashed their room?

Or having the floor space to set up their Scalextric?

The aim is for a room filled with stuff that is in current use, that allows them to use the room how they wish.

Point Six: Pre-sort.  Do This On Your Own!

Start by sorting all their stuff into “like-with-like” – books, clothes, Barbies, cars, lego, whatever.  Don’t squander precious time or good humour doing this with your child.

If you and your child have already decided they have outgrown Stickle Bricks, My Little Pony or pony books (See Point Four) put these to one side to take to the charity shop.  No need for further discussion!

Point Seven:  It’s Decision Time!  Do This With Your Child

Deciding what makes the “keep” pile can be an emotional minefield.  Dodge meltdowns over whether Mr Potato Head stays or goes with a pre-agreed set of criteria.

Working one pre-sorted category (ie board games) at a time, ask:

  • Have you played with/read/used it in the last six months?
  • Does it fit?
  • Is it in usable condition?
  • Does it have sentimental value? (Panda, I’m looking at you)
  • How much can you fit in the cupboard/on the shelf? Choose your favourites. (And no, they can’t all be your favourite.)

Point Eight:  A Place For Everything…

You will now be left with things that your child plays with, wears or read, and it’s time to put it all away.

A place for everything and everything in its place might be Old Skool, but it’s got a lot of wear in it yet. So find a home for each category of stuff that you sorted and decluttered

Stuff should be stored at a child height.  If they need a pogo stick to reach it, it will end up on the floor.

Point Nine: Containers And Labels

By now you are probably sick of the whole project.  But if you can muster strength to store stuff in tubs or use dividers in drawers, this will really pay off.

It also creates a natural limit to how many little plastic gifts from Birthday Bags your child can keep without making you the bad guy.

For maximum benefit, stick on some big clear labels. Picture labels are good for young children, maybe they could draw their own?

Point Ten:  Keep It Going!

Result! You and your offspring are beaming with pride at the state of the room, with your child convinced it was their idea all along.

But if you don’t want to be back to square one by Bonfire Night try these tips

Implement a daily “pick up”.  Ten minutes with a timer – race each other – will keep things from unravelling 

Put regular mini “declutter dates” in the diary, three or four times a year.  If you do it regularly, it won’t be a massive chore.

And finally, parents – lead by example!  It’s the only way.    

 

Thanks Jules! I told you she’s good. I’ve recommended her Facebook group before but here it is again make me clutter free

So here’s my review of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever by Marie Kondo.

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Japanese decluttering expert Marie Kondo challenges everything we have been taught since childhood about tidying. She believes that “little and often” doesn’t work. Her method is simple: a thorough discarding must be done first, in a very particular order. Only then can you look at storage solutions.

Although she admits to be obsessive about tidying, her self-depreciating style and quirky anecdotes make this an easy and enjoyable read.

There are very few references to feng shui in the book, but an underlying influence is visible. Once finished, your wardrobe will have the dark colours on the left, and the lighter fabrics on the right. This is not negotiable under her method. She can even make your socks happy – apparently they don’t like being rolled up into balls – they like to relax in sushi style rolls.

Particularly helpful are her techniques for discarding items that we would normally struggle to part with – gifts for example. If you accept that the purpose of a gift was to be given, then under her approach it has fulfilled its purpose, so you can let it go without guilt.

Similarly, an unworn but beautiful pink sweater has served its purpose of teaching me that pink is not my colour, so I can let it go.

One criticism is that everything discarded is thrown out – an acknowledgement of recycling options would be more environmentally friendly.

This is the decluttering equivalent of a diet plan book. With over three million copies sold, and huge facebook fan groups, for many people (including me, apart from the rolled up socks) it clearly works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books, featured

A festive must-read for 2018

Is it allowed to post a Christmas read before you do a Halloween post? I love a festive read and, although I’m still in full-on Spooky mode, the blurb for No One Cancels Christmas by Zara Stoneley was irresistible. I simply couldn’t miss out on the blog tour. So if you’ll forgive me, here we go …

Firstly, the “magical Christmas” wasn’t too saccharine with the intriguing “what went wrong that Christmas when Sarah was a child” and the bah-humbug holiday resort. In a way, it was tinged with an awareness of what can be a difficult time for many people/ families, although I’m not sure this was a conscious decision from the author or just a result of the plot.

The characters are warm and engaging. I haven’t read any other books by the author so although I gather some of them are in other books, it certainly doesn’t impact on this as a stand-alone book.

It made me laugh out loud (during my son’s music lesson, much to his embarrassment). And the guy from The Mentalist (even if we all have to google his name) … well … yes!

It’s a quick read, partly because it’s light, but mostly because I couldn’t put it down. Yup, this is a 1am-prop-your-eyes-open-with-matchsticks book.

Enjoy!

BLURB: No One Cancels Christmas

It’s the most magical time of the year, and for travel agent Sarah it’s also the busiest! But this year one man threatens to ruin Christmas for Sarah’s customers – Mr Grinch, Will Armstrong.

The Shooting Star Mountain resort is a magical place, and Sarah has fond memories of Christmas here as a little girl – visits to Father Christmas, husky rides in the snow and hot chocolate by a roaring fire. But as the resorts new owner, Will refuses to play snowball or to deck the halls with anything remotely resembling tinsel!

With customers complaining their Christmas is ruined, Sarah decides it’s up to her to convince Scroogey Will just how magical Christmas can be….

But getting Will into the Christmas spirit is hopeless – he is Bah Humbug personified! But as Sarah gets to know him better, she realises that underneath all the gloom is a man struggling with a pain of his own.

With the big day approaching, Sarah realises that the magic and sparkle can wait. This year, she’s going to spend Christmas day with someone special her very own Mr Scrooge…

 

About the Author

ZaraStoneley authorpic

Born in a small village in Staffordshire, I wanted to be a female James Herriot, a spy, or an author when I grew up. After many years, and many different jobs, my dream of writing a bestseller came true.

I write about friendship, dreams, love, and happy ever afters, and hope that my tales make you cry a little, laugh a lot, and occasionally say ‘ahhh’.

I now live in a Cheshire village with my family, a lively cockapoo called Harry, and a very bossy (and slightly evil) cat called Saffron.

Where you can find her-

Website: http://www.zarastoneley.com
Twitter: @ZaraStoneley
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ZaraStoneley

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zarastoneley/

 

Purchase Links

Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/No-One-Cancels-Christmas-romantic-ebook/dp/B07CWTVJGD

Amazon UShttps://www.amazon.com/no-one-cancels-christmas-romantic-ebook/dp/B07CWTVJGD

 

As for my Halloween post … you’ll have to wait.

 

 

Books, Family - Adventure, featured

Eternal Seas book tour and an ILLUSTRATION COMPETITION

It’s been a very busy few weeks. Eternal Seas published on 28th September and went on tour straight away!

I’d like to thank all these amazing independent bloggers for reviewing the book, as well as sharing extracts, and allowing me to take over their sites for a chat. They all comment on the action-packed adventure, strong and likeable characters, family values, writing style …. I cried many times when reading these reviews, it’s a very emotional moment when you release your baby into the world, and the feeling when people love it is totally overwhelming. So I’ll let you explore the links, and in no particular order here they are …

https://acatabookandacupoftea.wordpress.com/2018/09/28/blog-tour-eternal-seas/

https://obcminireviewers.wordpress.com/2018/09/28/blogtour-review-eternalseas-by-lexi_rees-rararesources/

http://bookreviewsbyjasmine.blogspot.com/2018/09/eternal-seas-by-lexi-rees-book-tour.html

https://oddsocksandlollipops.co.uk/childrens-book-reviews/eternal-seas/

https://thesecretworldofabookbloggerblog.wordpress.com/2018/09/29/eternal-seas-lexi-rees/

http://cancersuckscouk.ipage.com/blogtour-extract-eternal-seas-by-lexi-rees-rararesources-lexi_rees-giveaways/

https://lacyace.wordpress.com/2018/09/30/eternal-seas-by-lexi-rees-review-adventure-magic/

Blog Tour: Eternal Seas by Lexi Rees {Guest Post}

http://madonreading.blogspot.com/2018/09/review-eternal-seas-by-lexi-rees.html

https://splashesintobooks.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/btr-eternal-seas/

http://themidnightreview.co.uk/wp/?p=192

https://booksforboysweb.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/1879/https://whisperingstories.com/eternal-seas-lexi-rees-book-review/?platform=hootsuite

https://maitaylor567291325.wordpress.com/2018/10/02/bizarre-honeymoon-thanks-to-the-most-unusual-gate-crasher/

https://maitaylor567291325.wordpress.com/2018/10/02/eternal-seas-lexi-rees/

https://jessbookishlife.wordpress.com/2018/10/02/eternal-seas-review/

https://bookwormforkids.blogspot.com/2018/10/sneak-peek-and-authors-thoughts-eternal.html?spref=tw

http://catandmousereading.blogspot.com/2018/10/eternal-seas-by-lexi-rees-blog-tour.html

https://jessicarachow.wordpress.com/2018/10/03/blog-tour-eternal-seas-lexi-rees/

https://writingwithwolves.co.uk/2018/10/04/blog-tour-review-giveaways-eternal-seas-by-lexi-rees/

#BlogTour Eternal Seas by Lexi Rees @lexi_rees @rararesources

http://raereads1.blogspot.com/2018/10/eternal-seas-by-lexi-rees-lexirees.html

https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com/2018/10/05/blogtour-eternal-seas-by-lexi-rees/

https://chrikarublog.wordpress.com/2018/10/05/author-interview-lexi-rees/

https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/2018/10/blog-tour-eternal-seas.html

https://chrikarublog.wordpress.com/2018/10/06/book-review-eternal-seas/

https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/10/06/blogtour-bookreview-for-eternal-seas-by-lexi-rees-lexi_rees-rararesources-eternalseas/

https://beereaderbooks.wordpress.com/2018/10/06/eternal-seas-by-lexi-rees/

https://jennifergilmour.com/eternal-seas-review-lexi_rees-rararesources/

http://www.juliathum.co.uk/notebooks/eternal-seas

https://norwayellesea.blogspot.com/2018/10/new-release-spotlight-review-eternal.html

 

CHILDREN’S ART COMPETITION : DON’T MISS THE CHANCE TO BE PUBLISHED IN THE SEQUEL

Would your children like to see their illustrations published in a book?
  • Six lucky winners will have their illustrations printed in the sequel to Eternal Seas
  • Winners and runners up will also have their drawings featured on www.lexirees.co.uk and on social media
Drawings must be in black and white, and can be in any of the following categories
  • Finn and Aria sailing
  • Aria flying up in the sky
  • a cat
  • mountain ponies
  • a snow eagle
  • a demon-goddess
Don’t worry if you’re not Picasso – that’s not what I’m looking for! Here is an original illustration of Aria with her dreamcatcher from Eternal Seas which I did with my son. I’m not a professional artist, I just love drawing. Have a go! I look forward to seeing your entries.
Aria with Dreamcatcher
Please see detailed terms for entry requirements
  • Open to children aged 13 or under
  • You can enter as many categories as you like
  • Winners will be chosen by Lexi Rees
  • Children’s name and age will be published together with their illustration. Parents/ guardians must confirm they are happy with this when they enter. Other information (e.g email address) will not be shared.
  • No purchase necessary
  • Closing date 31/1/19
  • Entries must be scanned or photographed in high resolution and emailed to lexireads@hotmail.com. The winners may need to post originals if the images are not high enough quality for printing. Postage costs will be covered in this case.
  • Full entry details can be found on www.lexirees.co.uk

 

 

Family - Adventure, featured

Five reasons snakes make the best pets

I love animals. I grew up on a farm with Clydesdale horses in the garden (their grandparents used to be working horses, but these were just “field ornaments”), sheep,  Collies (best sheepdogs, of course), and cattle. My best ever party was when my entire class of 5 year olds tried to milk Daisy, the worlds most patient cow! Then when I got older, the cows became cats. This is my cheeky pony – he keeps me on my toes, and makes the worst days all better.
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So now we have a collection of animals.
But last week DS went for a sleepover at a friends house. Turns out he has a python in his bedroom. I thought this was a computer coding language. Nope. A snake. Not what you want to find out via whatsapp!
snake-pet
I used to have nightmares about giant snakes attacking the house. I’m pretty sure that scene in Harry Potter with Nagini is based on my dream.
Rest of conversation went like this …
Me: “I’m coming to rescue you!”
DS: “Don’t worry mum, it’s quite safe. It’s only little.”
Me: “30cm?”
DS: “About a metre.”
I asked his friend what having a pet snake was like, and he said it was mostly boring as it slept all day. Well in that case, surely it can party with the hamster in the kitchen at night then?
When DS got home, safely, the next day, we made a list of reasons why a snake is a great pet …
  1. You won’t have to look after the class hamster in the holidays, in case it gets eaten
  2. No barking, caterwauling or hamster wheel squeaking at 2am
  3. Cheaper than a horse. Trust me on this one!
  4. You can pretend you’re in Slytherin even if you got another house in Pottermore. You never know, parseltongue might be a GCSE in the future.
  5. Your mother will never come into your room.
Seriously, if you are considering a snake as a pet, please do lots of research. The RSPCA is a good starting point https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/other
But when I am getting rid of the hamster, dog and horse and setting up a reptile house?
No way. Never. No matter how convincing DS is, I know it’s still me who will need to clean the cage. See reason 5.
End of.
Family - Adventure, featured

Seven Best Dog Breeds for Families and a COMPETITION

I’ve got sooooo much for you today! Firstly, I have a guest post from the dog-crazy Gina at PawLife, then a Giveaway PLUS some FREE sheets on dog care, and a book review … I don’t know where to start 🙂 You’ll just have to keep scrolling down!

Guest post by Gina from PawLife.com.au

Dog’s make great companions for adults, but when it comes to children you want to ensure that your future dog is a tolerant breed. There are some dog breeds for families that will blend in nicely. Your dog will become your child’s best friend and playmate.

When choosing a dog breed that will be suited to your family, there are a few factors that you should consider.

Size: When it comes to choosing a dog, size does matter. Bigger dogs tend to have a more placid temperament while smaller dogs can be slightly aggressive and territorial.

Temperament: The general nature of dog breeds will give you a broader understanding of their temperament and personality trait.

A few questions to ask yourself and your family before making any decisions of adding a dog to your family;

* What is the breeds personality trait?

* Are you adopting a dog?

* Do you know the history of the dog?

* Will the dog get along with all family members?

* Will the dog get along will other animals in the family?

A few questions to ask yourself concerning your children;

* Will your children accept a dog into the family?

* Do your children know how to treat a dog?

* Are your children responsible?

* Are your children ready for a dog?

Seven Best Dog Breeds for Families

1. Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers are smart and can be easily trained. They are a highly active dog and enjoy the outdoors. This breed is perfect for busy families that enjoy going to the beach, running and parks.

2. Pug

When owning a pug, you need to ensure your children do not overfeed this breed. They are prone to becoming overweight from being given snacks and too many treats. This breed loves to sleep and eat. Not overly active, they do enjoy a little daily walk. Perfect for snuggling up on the couch and watching a family movie.

3. Mixed Breed (Mut)

You don’t need to get a purebred breed. Mixed breeds are also great for families. Mixed breeds generally are very loyal as they have traits from both sides of breeds. Larger mixed breeds are recommended for families with small children.

4. Border Collie

We all know that collie is regarded as one of the most intelligent dog breeds around and also very loyal. They require a lot of attention and yard space as they are very active and also need mental stimulation. This breed loves children and is perfect for the outdoor family.

5. Boxer

Boxers are a popular breed as they are fun-loving yet very loyal and have a protective demeanour. This breed is very energetic and can get overly excited so if you have small children you will need to ensure your boxer is calm and trained as they may unintentionally bowl over your kids.

6. Newfoundland

This is breed is a gentle giant, their size can be overwhelming but are great with children. They build strong bonds and are great for families that are in snowy climates.

7. Beagle

The Beagle is one of the most common breeds in America. They have been around for thousands of years and if you have a pure breed they are known for the white tip tail. The Beagle breed is a very vocal and social breed. Loyal to the bone and great for families.

 

Training is extremely important that you put in the time to train your dog if they are to be around children all of the time. Also, your children must to taught how to care, treat and understand the dog’s body language. With these tips, you will have an awesome family dog.

Having records at hand in case of emergency means one less thing to worry about when your dog is sick. You can download your FREE Dog Bundle Pack from PawLife.com.au

* A printable Dog-friendly human foods list

* A printable 6-page Pet Record and Information Pack that includes:

o Pet Record sheet

o Pet Sitter Information Sheet

o Medication sheet

o Vaccination Records Sheet

o Flea, Tick & Worm Treatment Schedule

o Contacts Sheet

These sheets have been created to be easily printed so you can stick on the fridge, give to pet sitters, family members, friends and your vet.

 

 

Thanks Gina. It’s me again now. Did you know that Meghan Markle has a rescue beagle? I just love this story.

Meghan Markle’s beagle called Guy

 

*** NEW BOOK ALERT ***

So, if you are taking the plunge, Gina has published a book called The PawLife Guide: Dog Care at Home

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DOG CARE AT HOME gives you the information you need to have a happy and healthy dog no matter what your dog’s current stage in life, in just 10 minutes a day. Over 200 hours of research including interviews with veterinarians and fellow dog owners around the world, Dog Care at Home is the all-in-one book to have at home, with six veterinarians that have contributed to this ultimate guide, rest assured you are in reliable hands. Inside you will discover: – Choosing the right breed – The basic steps of raising a puppy – What vaccinations are for and why your dog needs them – Travelling with your dog – How to perform CPR on your dog – Health and hygiene including dental care – Choosing the right veterinarian – When it’s time to say goodbye – And much more! PawLife’s Dog Care at Home is the answer for all your dog parenting needs in one comprehensive guide that ensures your dog lives a long, healthy and happy life.

Purchase from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dog-Care-Home-Ultimate-Healthy-ebook/dp/B07HGR9ZNF

 

*** COMPETITION TIME! ***

We couldn’t share all this without a Giveaway – Win a 12 Piece Dog Toy Starter Box from Zenify (Open Internationally)

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494139/

 

Author Bio

pawlife-gina-harley-author-photo

Gina is an enthusiastic dog lover, so much so that she founded her own dog blog business called PawLife, which has been awarded top 10 Australian Dog Blog. This wouldn’t be possible without her best friend Harley, who is a toy poodle mix. They are continually going on new adventures, testing out new squeaky toys.

Gina recently discovered her writing passion and wanted to create the ultimate guidebook that would support, educate and inspire pet parents and yet to be pet parents around the world. Gina and Harley are originally from Australia, where the weather is always beautiful. This is Gina’s first book and looks forward to writing many more to help fellow pet-parents; with her fur-baby Harley by her side.

Social Media Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pawlifeau/

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com.au/PawLifeAU/

Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/pawlifeau/ Website- http://pawlife.com.au/