…deserves breakfast in bed.

In the optimistic hope that you are going to be treated like royalty this weekend, allow me to offer you my musings on the whole Mother’s Day business from the early days of the blog…

There is a phrase that I mutter to myself, on days when it feels like the world and his wife wants my attention: “To be needed is a blessing, not a curse”. Some days it comes easier than others.

Despite the absolute joy I felt when my children first said ‘Mummy’, there are days when I am summoned so many times that I want to ban the word.

I’m sure (I hope!) many mothers can relate to this. But I don’t believe this makes us bad mothers. We’re just human. We just need a bit of moderation. Buddha would back me up here – too much of anything is never a good idea.

With motherhood, though, meeting the demands of others goes with the territory. So it is only right that the balance be readdressed at least once a year, when the mother gets to do the bidding. Cue…Mother’s Day!


read more

Peace Christmas Hearth

Oh, Christmas…

For all the joy and magic of this festive season, there’s no doubt that Christmas brings with it a good deal of extra work and things to do. There are the parties and visits to and from friends and family… Then there’s all that present planning and buying, wrapping and giving… There’s all that extra food shopping and cooking and baking… And on top of all that, there’s also a considerable seasonal serving of extra housework.

Now, before I get all Ebenezer on you, let me just stress that I am a huge fan of Christmas. I absolutely love it. I think I enjoy it even more now than I did when I was a child. Having two small children of my own definitely adds to the magic and sense of excitement and wonder, but even in the quiet moments of planning and organising, the Christmas season always makes me smile.

This is in spite of the extra work, though, rather than because of it.

So, in my attempt to get maximum enjoyment from the festivities with minimum amounts of stress and frantic frenzies, I have a few ideas for a Calmer Christmas Karma. These are lessons I’ve learnt about what makes for a happier time for all concerned – not least, myself. (And why not, Christmas is for grown-ups, too!)


read more

 

Looking after a home and family is physically demanding work. Without health, energy and emotional calm, it can be an uphill struggle. So it makes sense to prioritise your well-being, make it non-negotiable. Looking after No1 needs to be Job #1.

However, the life of a House Slave is a busy one and there may be times when what should, in theory, be top of your To Do list, can drift and slide to the nether regions of your Things That Get Neglected list.

So what to do?


read more

nigella kitchen

This week sees the return to our screens of the lovely Nigella Lawson.

Her new series, Nigella Kitchen, begins Monday 30th September at 8pm on BBC 2.

So to celebrate this happy event, I thought I would mark the occasion with a Nigella-flavoured blog post.

I recently got my hands on Nigella’s new companion book (also called Kitchen) and although I’m only on page 92 (I like to read her books cover-to-cover), it has already struck me with its helpfulness in answering one of life’s most challenging questions:

What’s for tea, mum?


read more

 

Plan, Shop, Chop

I was once reading a cook-book by that original domestic goddess –Nigella Lawson. In it, she casually mentioned that planning and shopping are as much a part of cooking as the kitchen-based business.

This was a eureka moment for me.

Of course! It seemed so obvious when pointed out! Yet all this time I’d been wondering why I felt so defeated by the prospect of feeding my family. I had neglected to incorporate two of the three vital ingredients – planning and shopping.


read more

crayke

 

I recently wrote a guest blog post for my Twitter friend Jo Belfield on the subject of photography, (Jo creates beautiful photos for a living).

I believe that having your favourite photos on display in your home can be a great antidote to the housework blues.

So, here’s the blog post again in case you didn’t catch it:

I recently embarked upon a full day of housework.

This is not something I do very often. Not because I don’t enjoy a clean and tidy home – I do, I love it. However, I find that Great Big Cleaning Efforts mess with my head. There’s a very real danger that all the mindless domestic activity will result in a head-space of frustration, despair or low-level fury. (Or on a bad day, all three.) Admittedly there are far worse ordeals to be facing, but I don’t think I’m alone in occasionally feeling the strain of home and family maintenance.


read more

 Housework workout.jpg

In Housework Blues, I describe the many wonderful benefits of The Housework Workout, (ie using housework as a form of exercise). Yet I’m not the first to suggest this idea. In fact, if you search for ‘housework’ on Amazon, one of the top results is the Housework Workout DVD*.

It’s a well-documented theory that the physical, aerobic nature of housework can reap rewards for your figure, especially when you carry out the work with an intention to trim/tone and you tweak your movements for maximum benefit. (For some quick tips on this check out this article from the NHS.)

Perhaps less well-known, however, are the invisible, ‘knock-on’ benefits that also occur when housework is your exercise of choice. So, if the prospect of thinner thighs is not quite enough to motivate you mop-wards, consider the following favourable, yet often unrecognised advantages of The Housework Workout


read more

 

Women are instinctive nurturers and carers. Historically, we are the caretakers of the species. Even in recent times, women who work full-time still tend to be the ones who make a house a home, administer TLC and know/care how each family member likes their breakfast. Regardless of who has the earning power, it’s usually the Lady of the House who manages the everyday comings and goings. She-Who-Knows-Where-The-Clean-Socks-Are. (Or aren’t, perhaps)


read more

It’s not often you’ll see the word feminist linked with the topic of housework. Surely, feminists don’t do housework..?

Oh, but we do!

A belief in equality is all well and good, but it won’t do the dishes or make the beds. And until the theory of equality reaches the domestic workload (don’t hold your breath…) guess who gets the bulk of the housework? Feminist or not – if you are The Lady of the House, chances are it’s down to you to keep it clean and tidy.

So, what can we do? Spend all our time fighting the regime? Berate our menfolk for their enviable ability to dodge domestic pressure? Possibly. But in the meantime, the dust is gathering.


read more

Picture the scene…

You’ve just collapsed onto the sofa with a drink and your favourite book/magazine/TV programme. The relaxing sigh is barely out of your mouth before you hear it….the summons.

Somebody, somewhere wants a piece of you. And they want it NOW. If they’re not demanding food, they need something finding. Or cleaning. Or they need your diplomatic services to solve a dispute. Whatever it is they need, you know there will be no peace until they have it.


read more

 

The ‘Not Enough Hours In The Day’ Trilogy – Part III

Keeping our homes and feeding our families are innate human habits. And, thanks to today’s mod cons, this domestic stuff has never been easier. Why, then, do we still struggle to find the time for it?

One answer lies in the position of housework on our to-do lists, (ie not very high.) But there is another explanation: if we have so much to do that such a primal and essential need gets neglected – perhaps our lists are too long! The existence of housework isn’t the problem – it’s a side-effect of being alive – but if we don’t have time for it, the problem is: our lives are too full. If we lack the time to take decent care of ourselves and our families, something, somewhere has gone wrong…


read more

And you’ve just tidied it!

There are few greater tests of love than keeping your temper when family members unravel your hard work – before your very eyes. Now that’s tough. But then that’s life, full of challenges.

Of course, being human, some days we won’t manage to keep a lid on our simmering fury. However, if we can manage our anger on just a few of these testing occasions, so much the better for all within earshot – not least ourselves. And as the wise Lemony Snicket puts it,

“Temper tantrums, however fun they may be to throw, rarely solve whatever problem is causing them.”

So learning to diffuse our vexation is useful because, let’s face it – this particular problem isn’t likely to be a one-off. If your family are anything like mine, they will view a tidy room or clean surface as an irresistible magnet for clothes, toys, papers and other such debris. So until we discover how to retrain them successfully, we need an antidote to the temptation to explode.


read more