Sunday, 10 May 2015

How to avoid a 'Mummy Meltdown'?

This week has been a bit of a....roller coaster for me and for (mostly ridiculous) reasons that I won't bore you with, I had a 'Mummy Meltdown'.  I'm a real Mum, not a superhero and it happens to us all! 

Whatever kind of Mum you may be it is us that in most families must take on the role of 'Family Manager' (regardless of the other jobs you may already have), it's a huge role and a massive challenge that you may have no previous experience for!

So from the planning of the family holidays, food shopping, restocking the children's wardrobes and planning birthday parties, to handling illness and check ups, arranging days out and managing all becomes our responsibility and has to somehow fit in around our other full time commitments! Argh!

So its hardly surprising that every now and then (when we least expect it) we take a moment to think about the things we need to do that day and it unwittingly spirals into being swamped in a sea of ALL the things we are in charge of AT THE SAME TIME! Big mistake! 

A Mum should never try to think about all her responsibilities at once (inevitably due to the sheer volume) or the panic will start to rise, the palms sweat, the choking out of control feeling raises it's ugly head and WHAM a full on wobble attack will hit from nowhere! 

Depending on your personality type this will either result in serious floods of tears, slabs of chocolate being eaten, a bottle of wine for one or furious tantrums and shouting. I'm my case i'll admit it's often all of the above! So how do we avoid it? 

Rule No 1 
NEVER try to think about your to do list as a whole, it's way to big to handle! Take a few deep breaths. Then release the tension by whatever healthy means necessary, a walk, the gym (loud music helps me) and move onto rule 2.

Rule No 2 
Break down the stress into things you need to do today, tomorrow and things that can wait. Focus only on today and maybe tomorrow for now.  Grab a pen and paper and write a list (or multiple lists if you like) and include key dates that things need to happen. You will feel better once you have had a brain dump at the very least.

Rule No3
Embrace technology! Move your usual lists to your mobile phone or tablet so you can add things on as they pop into your head. Add the key dates to your calendar and set up reminders so you don't have to remember yourself. 

Rule No 4
Delegate where you can, you are not superwoman!

Rule No 5
Don't beat yourself up when you have a bad day.  A good melt down is actually good for you and releases all that built up tension to make you a better Mum.

I personally have constant rolling lists for food shopping, gifts, party planning, school projects, holiday packing, DIY plans, generic things to do, really anything goes! 

Get yourself an in tray and spend just 15 minutes or so each day checking the calendar, dealing with the contents of the tray, adding dates and reminders to the diary and looking to the week ahead. It's amazing what a difference this makes. 

I set reminder alerts for just about everything from taking medicine to remembering to leave for the school runs! 

All this organisation won't stop the occasional wobble but it will help you feel calm and in control at least some of the time! 

So whats your secret?  How do you do to avoid feeling overwhelmed?? Any tips are welcome!

photo credit: <a href="">the death of created life</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

Thursday, 7 May 2015

CHEESY SALMON PASTA: A realistic 15 minute dinner for a busy school night

Now I'm definitely not an amazing cook but I do try and family life has taught me that sometimes you need to be clever and be able to come up with a family dinner in 15 minutes flat.

I don't think I have mentioned before but I am a SAHM who also works part time in the evening so our schedule can be a little crazy some week nights.  It's a tag team affair but dinner has to be simple and above all fast!

I thought I would begin to share with you some of our everyday family favorites that are budget friendly, can be whipped up in no time and always give me smiley happy kids (and Daddy) with full tummies.

I'm telling you, ANYONE can make this meal, its very easy and is done in 15 minutes flat.

Salmon and Cream Cheese Pasta (aka 'Cheesy Salmon Pasta' in our house)

What you will need:
2 Salmon fillets
About 250-300g of pasta shapes
A 200g tub of cream cheese with garlic and herbs
Around 150ml of milk
Green vegetables, ideally broccoli and green beans
Dill (optional)

First things first, I whack on the kettle to boil the water for the pasta.  Pop it in the pan to cook as soon as the water is boiled as the rest will be ready by the time the pasta is done. About half a standard 500g bag or so should do and we use twists or shells but it doesn't matter.

Next I chop a head of broccoli into a microwaveable dish and add a handful of trimmed green beans or sugar snap peas (or any other green veg).  Add a tablespoon of water and cover with cling film ready to steam for 2.5 mins in the microwave on full (ours is 800 watt).

Then I grab a pan and add a few glugs (maybe 150ml) of milk and a whole tub of garlic and herb cream cheese.  I use a light Aldi variety but any would do.  Careful, as this is the tricky (ish) part.  This needs to be warmed on a low to medium heat so that the cheese melts into the milk.  Please don't let it get too hot or boil or it will split and look bad (still tastes good though)!

Now put 2 Salmon fillets into a microwaveable tupperware (with a lid) along with a tablespoon of milk and a sprinkle of Dill (if you have it).  Microwave on full for 1.5-2 mins (yes that really is long enough) with one corner of the tub slightly open.  Being totally honest I think those tubs you can get with Chinese takeaway in work best for this.

Grate some cheese, about 100g I think and add half to the cream cheese sauce, remove it from the heat and stir in until it has melted.  I also add some black pepper here.  The rest of the cheese is what my kids refer to as 'sprinkle cheese' for the adding at the table.

Finally drain off the veg and snip into small pieces with scissors.  Drain off the pasta and mix with the veg back into the pasta pan.  Pour over the cream cheese sauce and mix.

Then pop your cooked salmon fillets out onto a board, gently remove the skin (trying not to burn yourself) and chop up.  Add this to the pasta pan and give it one last stir.

Now call the hungry troops to the table, you're done! 

This feeds our family of 2 adults and 2 children with a leftover portion to go into the fridge.

I made this last night and we happened to have lightly smoked salmon fillets (as they were on offer) and I have to say it was really lovely and a must try, plus a also added a handful of sweetcorn to the sauce to mix it up.

I also have to make a teeny apology for the pictures as I took them of our leftovers the next day and not our initial dinner (due to the need for speed factor on the night I forgot).  The actual dinner is very saucy and creamy and gorgeous but as with all pasta dishes the leftovers loose a bit of their sauce factor.

I hope you give it a try and let me know how you found it.


Monday, 4 May 2015

How to clean your bathroom without actually spending time cleaning your bathroom!

So my inspiration for this post is purely my absolute hatred of having to clean a dirty bathroom.  It's the one job I totally put off until I wish I hadn't put it off that long and its then really hard work if you let it get gunky!  It is also one of those jobs that, if you leave it you're bound to get a visit from Grandma or your Mother-in-law and be left totally embarrassed at your lack of cleaning prowess.

Well I have good news and will happily admit that I no longer have to make time to 'clean' my bathroom (as such) and it isn't dirty!  No really!

So what is my trick, well its not a trick really just something that has developed as a habit since having my little monkeys.

My secret is ... bath-time!  I will inevitably be spending a good 10-20 minutes in my bathroom with the mini's most days and a good portion of this time is spent doing nothing other than dodging the water splashes (and the odd bath toy) and reminding my toddler to sit down and stop drinking the water (eww right)!

I also found that I sit there making a mental to do list, thinking eugh I really need to scrub that grout or noticing the dust or some horrible soap slime starting to build up somewhere that I'm itching to wipe.  So now I do!  Every bath-time I choose a couple of bits to do like give the toilet a wipe around and put cleaner inside, wipe over the whole floor, clean all around the sink, organise the towels, tidy the toiletries, clean the mirror and tidy the cabinet, clean the blinds, clean the shower screen...and the list goes on.

This way all I have to do is give the bath itself a quick wipe over after the kids get out and ta dah!  Constantly clean bathroom with virtually no effort.  I'm not even as strict as to keep a stock of bathroom cleaning wipes at the ready at all times.  Sometimes I just use baby wipes (and it still works).

The only other job I need to do is to attack the grout and that plastic runner thingy at the bottom of the shower screen (that collects all the gunk) with an old toothbrush and a mix of bicarb and vinegar once a month.

And before I get slated for not watching the children or joining in bath-time play, I still do that too!  We have a small bathroom and I just clean and chat and play at the same time.

This one little change means that I no longer have to have the dreaded 'Clean Bathroom' constantly on my to do list and it is now much cleaner than it ever was before.

I'm totally at ease with the bite-size bathroom clean (so it might actually get done) and I feel like I'm really making the best use of my time too.

I hope this little cheat of mine helps some of you to keep on top of your bathroom nemesis too.

photo credit: <a href="">59/365</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>