Ten tips to get Back To School ready

I always think that September is almost as good as January for getting your head straight and organised for the few months ahead.  I try and use it as a chance to have a good old clean and sort out too – an Autumn instead of Spring clean if you like.

Image from here

Image from here

I’ve been thinking of how to make the start of school as easy as possible and with good habits, we’ll get through to July again with no hassles!

These are in no particular order…

  1. Have a family calendar on the wall, where all the family can see it – Mrs N favours one with multiple columns similar to this… oh, and make sure you write on it!
  2. Plan ahead, make sure there is clean uniform for the next day for the kids each evening and I find it helps to have a brief think about what I’m going to wear too.  Mrs N gets hers to change into home clothes when they get in to save on school uniform panic washing and break the connection with the school day, helping them unwind.
  3. Have a quick glance at the calendar each evening so you know what’s coming up over the next day or so.
  4. Mrs N gave me this tip and it’s a gem.  Have a magazine file for each child and then file away anything that comes home in their box.  Make sure you have a little clear-out periodically or else it can get a little out of hand!
  5. Any letter or party invite that comes home – deal with straight away.  Write the date of event or whatever on the calendar, RSVP and then file away in the box.  Things then *shouldn’t* be forgotten.  Mrs N has a tendency to go overboard and not only put it on the wall calendar, but also in her phone calendar, if it’s an important school letter, she often photographs it so that it doesn’t get swept away in a cleaning frenzy!
  6. School meals menus – deal with these straight away, mark them on the calendar too to avoid phone calls from the school office asking you to pop a lunch up to your poppet!
  7. Have a set time for homework.  I try and get mine to at least make a start on it the day it comes home.  We have a quick snack then sit down at the dining table and crack on.  This completely depends on your child obviously but there’s nothing worse than frantically scribbling something down 5 minutes before it’s due in is there?!  This also leaves your weekends free to be a family without schoolwork encroaching into fun.
  8. I’m lucky as I work from home and am around after school, I know this isn’t practical for all but I try and keep after school clubs to 2 or 3 a week.  This leaves time for them to unwind and get the homework done too and still have some energy in the bank for the weekends.
  9. Mrs N has her three in the routine of putting lunchbox items into the dishwasher as soon as they come in, getting them to do a quick tidy up of their bits before sitting down to tea so that the time after a wash is quiet rather than her frantically tidying up/ ‘recycling’ precious artworks/ homework whilst trying to listen to reading practices.
  10. Have a quick tidy round the house and switch the dishwasher on before you go up to bed – mornings are manic enough, you don’t want to be faced with a sink full of dirty dishes on top…

Here’s to a smooth start to the school year!

We’d love to hear any tips that you have too – leave us a comment!

Mrs W x

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Head in the (tech) Cloud? Or a bit fluffy around the edges?

clouds

We often hear talk of ‘The Cloud’ but was is it and more importantly, how do you use it? Here’s our quick (not super tecchie) heads up on the basics.

What is the Cloud? It is essentially an internet based, space saving, data storage service rather than a physical device, although ‘behind the scenes’ of the internet, the Cloud is linked to a network of mega servers all over the world. In basic terms, if you take a photo on your smart phone and upload it to Facebook or Instagram, you are essentially uploading it to the Cloud.

Why do I need the Cloud in my life? If you are storing lots of photos, music or files on your smart phone/ tablet/ laptop/ desktop these will eventually slow your device to a snail’s pace, frustrating the heck out of you, using up space that leaves you deleting things like a maniac or worse still, if your device goes bang/ gets stolen/ is lost, you lose all your precious files! EEK! Cue the Cloud: it’s automatically backed up, stored and saved to your Cloud account all your photos (even the ones you’d hoped you’d deleted), files, music and documents averting catastrophe and saving the day – you just need to login and it’s all there.
You can even run programs via Cloud services such as Adobe or Microsoft Word without the need to install memory munching packages. Just open your browser, eg Chrome or Explorer, and you can open up Google Docs and get cracking on that report. Similarly, open up Spotify to listen to your music collection or Netflix and catch up on TV and films. Clever stuff!
One of the great things about Cloud is that you can share photos privately with family and friends via sites like Flickr without having to stick them all over Facebook. On a more professional level, Google Drive allows you to work with other people collaboratively online.

Sounds great, how do I get some Cloud in my life? Have a mooch around on your devices, you may well find that they have Cloud services built in (personally, I’m an Android, so I have Google Drive on both my phone and tablet, Mrs W however is a iBod – not a tech term, just a Mrs N one – so uses iCloud on her mac, iPhone and iPad). If you are an iBod, follow the prompts on your device to sign up for iCloud, that way all your pics, music, mags, books, notes, movies – your whole life pretty much – is available to you across all your iDevices. For Google Drive, go to Google homepage and click on the icon in the top right hand corner to get started with Google Drive (there’s a little presentation to explain it to you in clear concise language so I won’t try to confuse you here!).

Not convinced? How about giving these a whirl instead?
Set up your own ‘Cloud’ at home in the form of a WiFi connected hard drive like WD’s My Cloud (loads of different brands available on Amazon). Once set up and linked to your device, you can access your hard drive from anywhere.

Free Cloud Apps to get you started:
Dropbox – for Mac, PC, iOS, Android and Blackberry. Very user friendly, 2GB (about 500 photos worth) of free storage, you can upgrade this to 100GB for £6/mth. You can privately see all your files on all your devices and if you want to share them with friends/ family, you can send them a link to access it. Data is kept encrypted.

Google Drive – for Mac, PC, Android, iOS and Blackberry. 15GB of free storage (4000 pics, 1500 songs or thousands of Word docs). Create, edit and share using Cloud based Google Docs. Clever.

Evernote – for Mac, PC, iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows phone. I love Evernote. I use it as my scrapbook in the sky, writing lists (no shocker there!), taking snapshots that I can clip notes to, recording silly audio of the kids, you can use it ‘properly’ though and collate articles, itineraries, maps, confirmations – whatever you fancy really, all neatly filed within notebooks and easily accessible across your linked devices. You can upgrade to ‘premium’ should you choose for £4/mth but I’m happy on the freebie one.

I hope that if you weren’t Cloud savvy before that you feel a bit more in the know now… We always welcome tips and advice here, so if you have some good’uns to share, please do in the comments.

Right, I’m off to empty my busy head into Evernote, safe in the knowledge that the photos I took on my phone of the kids having a water fight earlier are safely stored on my Google Drive *happy face*.

Mrs N x

Get to grips with your cluttered inbox…not as scary at it sounds!

Image from here

Image from here

Are you sinking under more emails than you can actually deal with: newsletters, correspondence, bills, special offers, junk mail – the list can be endless, and even if you aren’t on the receiving end of huge amounts of electronic mail there’s a strong possibility that you still check your account more often than strictly necessary during the day or get distracted by social media, texting etc. There is a regular flow of electronic messaging in our day to day lives, fact, which can leave us feeling overwhelmed and occasionally (if you’re being honest) panicked.

So how do we counter this relentless flow of electronica? Fret not, we’re not suggesting anything so crazy as ditching the lot and doing a so called ‘detox’ from social media sites, texts and emails, this is far more revolutionary…and *whispers* has a modicum of good old common sense. Here goes: you own your phone, it does not own you: just because it pinged, doesn’t necessarily mean you need to pick it up and check it – it’s not a small helpless baby, it’s tech, you are it’s boss not the other way around. Revolutionary thought no?!

Ownership established, as the majority of us are smartphone users, let’s start simple: set a different tone on your phone for your notifications so that you know instantly if you have received a text, email or social media notification. Sounds simple enough, and many of you may already be on to this, but combined with some will power this will help you cut down on data distraction no end. Schedule your email checking so that (unless you are waiting for something specific – though do remember the old adage ‘a watched kettle never boils’ – or your job is such that more frequent email checking is required) you aren’t wasting precious time refreshing your screen on the off chance there might be something interesting there in your inbox.

Limit yourself to checking it two or three times a day if you can, and if you set yourself specific times to actually sit, engage and nail the influx rather than flitting back and forth between screens you will get it done far more efficiently. Email and social media can become the electronic form of constantly checking the fridge when you’re bored, just in case something super tasty appeared in there since the last time you checked it! Obviously within some lines of employment hourly might be preferable, but you will find your own schedule with practice. For the really disciplined amongst you, take it a step further and switch your email alert to silent once your working day is done or it’s guaranteed to ping and niggle away at you until you just have to check it…then reply… and boom, it’s 10pm and you are still working even though you left your desk hours ago. You’ll probably find it bugs the heck out of your other half too…

Next up is a bit of a biggie: be honest, do you have an organised inbox or is it a mish mash of tasks needing to be dealt with, active conversations, offers from Amazon and the like, junk mail, unopened old messages and general dross? If it’s the latter of these two, consider yourselves gently scolded: this is your inbox not a general dumping ground! Do you leave post and junk mail ‘filed’ on the floor at the front door? No? Didn’t think so. Be brave, make a folder in your inbox and call it ‘backlog’, move any mail that is older than say 3 months and put it all in to this folder. Realistically, if it were urgent or needed a response, whoever sent it would have either resent it or called you by now. You can either be brazen and delete the lot or go through it methodically and filter out the rubbish and archive the rest. If an email comes in and you know instantly that it’s either junk (hopefully you have sent junk/ spam filters on your inbox so shouldn’t get too many of these) or you don’t need to read it for whatever reason, rather than ignoring it, delete it straight away. If it is something that you don’t need to action but do need to keep, file it in a folder for later. Emails that do require actioning should be dealt with as soon as possible then archived off into the relevant folder. Hey presto, much cleaner, leaner looking inbox!

Most email providers offer methods of filtering your inbox aside from the usual junk folder, so you can group conversations together, Gmail for example filters mail into ‘social’ ‘promotions’ and ‘primary’ – I’m sure it does much more too but I will put my hand up and say I’ve not mastered it fully yet as I’m still an old Hotmail (now Outlook) girl at heart!

Sounds straight forward enough really doesn’t it…just spend a little bit of time putting it in to practice and hopefully this will reap rewards for you too. Let’s us know how you get on or if you have any other tips to share please!

Change Your Mood

Because we’re friends, I’ll share with you that just lately, I’ve been feeling a little fed-up.  A bit flat and ‘meh’.  Do you get like that sometimes?  So, I’ve been thinking of a few ways to get my-self out of the funk and back to my usual self…

  1. Get outside.  We are fans of the great outdoors here at Nicholas & White and sometimes getting outside is just the thing to do, even if it’s a 10 minute walk around the block in your lunch hour.  If you have a bit longer, borrow a dog if you don’t have one of your own, and have a yomp over the fields.
  2. Try and do something out of your normal routine.  You don’t need to be too radical, it could just be that you take a different route to work/school run.  Try and change something.
  3. Get into the kitchen.  There are times when only chocolate cake will do and homemade is the best kind of cake.  Maybe you could try a new recipe?  It’s nice to sit down and leaf through cookery books and try something new.
  4. Light a candle or two.  I’m a fan of delicately scented candles every now and again and there’s no nicer start to the day than lit candles on the breakfast table, well it is the most important meal of the day…
  5. Get some fresh flowers into the house.  Just the sight of spring flowers lifts my spirits and if you split a bunch into jam jars or old milk bottles you can have a few in each room.
  6. Put on your favourite song or album, shut the windows (or open them!) and sing at the top of your lungs, dance around like a lunatic and enjoy it!
  7. Change your sheets.  I love clean bedding – I’m sure it makes me sleep better!
  8. Write a letter or postcard to a friend/relative.  They’ll appreciate it and you might get one back!
  9. Count your blessings.  I’m not being ‘preachy’ but there is always, always someone worse off.
  10. Talk to someone or write it down.  It really does help.  A good friend, partner, family member will always know whether you need a hug, cry or a laugh – sometimes it’s all 3!

How did I get out of my flatness?  I went to a farm for the day with my family to see baby lambs, I went through all my cookbooks and tried out a couple of new things, I chatted with Mrs N (who ALWAYS knows what to say) and I wrote a list!  I’m still having the odd feeling of being stiflingly overwhelmed but I’m doing ok.

How are you?  How do you sort the head and heart out when feeling out of sorts?

Mrs W xx

Become The Best Task Slayer!

Image from here

Image from here

Regulars amongst you will know, there is a whole lot of love for lists on this page! If you too are fond of head emptying your head and processing all the ‘noise’ into a list, this post could be for you, or it could be the gentle nudge you are looking for to sift through the virtual Post It’s in your head and make some space for other thoughts.

• Switch ‘To Do’ to ‘Must Do’, you will be surprised the difference vocab makes in spurring you onwards.

• Set yourself a weekly task list, aim to complete 3 tasks per day rather than overwhelming yourself with a mega list that terrifies you into yet more procrastination.

• Set a buzzer on your phone/ watch/ alarm clock for say 15 minute intervals when doing tasks such as housework, not only will your natural instinct to ‘beat the buzzer’ kick in (yes, even you who thinks you are not competitive, you will find yourself competing), but you will be quite surprised how much you can achieve in 15 minute bursts of activity. Rope the kids/ other half in too…there could be rewards involved!

• Timetable your tasks for maximum efficiency: sounds like clap trap, but think about it for a moment; is there really any point in washing the floors at the weekend when your home is full? Enjoy your weekends! Try to eke out every last drop of ‘spare’ time in your day (step away from the smartphone) for example, kids in the bath/ shower? Whilst they are washing themselves squirt some loo cleaner around the rim, give the sink a quick wipe over (this is why Nicholas brood do teeth before washing, otherwise it’s kinda heartbreaking to watch the toothpaste smears reappear instantaneously!). Going out for the day/ up to bed, make sure you switch the Staff on and come home/ downstairs to clean laundry and clean dishes.

• Find a method that works for you: Evernote is a big hit here as it auto synchs all tech over the Wi-Fi connection at home (tablet, phone, PC). Notebook – list it out, tick it off. Calendar – never miss an appointment again *don’t forget though if you update your phone/ tech calendar, update your paper one too or confusion and missed appointments happen.

• Reams of letters home from school? Make like Mrs N and take a photo on your phone for reference, that way if the paper copy migrates to the recycling pile, gets doodled on or just vanishes into thin air you still have the info to hand. Worth remembering that the schools will often have copies of the letters sent home on their websites if you misplace.

• Papers, papers everywhere? Sift through and see what you actually need to keep on file. Either keep the papers neatly filed away or get rid of the paper mountain by scanning and storing on your hard drive (shred the original). Switching to paperless billing and banking is not only good for the environment but good for your head too as you are inviting less clutter in in the knowledge that everything you need is stored in chronological order online and can be reached with the click of a mouse. If you prefer to stick with paper, the sense of achievement when the file pile is dealt with is ridiculous and definitely deserving of a brew in celebration…just try not to let the pile build up!

• Kill the task that refuses to die! Sounds brutal, but, if a task has been lingering for more than 3 weeks on your list you need to ask yourself: 1) is it important? 2) can I delegate it? 3) can I delete it without consequence? If you answer yes, no, yes, then pull your finger out and do it!

• Set reminders on your phone or mark on your calendar: not just appointments and events, but also for things like payment due dates, birthdays, MOT expiry, insurance renewals (don’t fall foul of auto-renewing, kerching! there are no prizes for loyalty these days), vehicle servicing, boiler servicing, tax billing, lease renewals…you will be surprised how many things are whirring away in your subconscious!

• Clear the virtual clutter: look at your desktop: are there masses of shortcuts on it? Do you use all these shortcuts regularly or could you delete a few of them? When did you last empty your caches? Run a full virus scan lately? A regular sift through will speed up your machine and keep it fully protected. If you haven’t already, make sure your machine is set to run regular scans and updates. Whilst on the topic of tech, have you got virus protection on your phone and/ or tablet? If not, make sure you download free protection from a site like AVG – particularly if your tech leaves the house regularly, uses free Wi-Fi when out and about and then synchs up at home with other tech.

These are just a few ideas, some of which you may already be using, if you have any super useful tips you’d like to share with us, please do let us know!

 

Get Some Space!

‘Spring Clean’: a phrase to strike fear into your heart or do you actively embrace it? Here at Nicholas and White, the camp is divided, we are sure the regular readers amongst you can easily work out who falls into which camp. As the lighter days approach, and the occasional sunny day appears, Mrs N suggests you embrace the blitzing as a seasonal ritual rather than seeing it as a hideous chore (for those of you who don’t know her personally, Mrs N has a tendency when her head is whirring or she’s stressed to do one of two things: cook or clean…or if it’s a really bad day, both!).

Image from here

Image from here

To get you in the mood and share the positive Spring vibe (it is after all the season of fresh growth and the promise of brighter days) here are some tips to start you off, grab yourself a brew and have a read…

  • Crank up your music – it’s a great motivator and mood lifter.
  • Get some washing out on the line – saves cluttering up your radiators indoors and there’s no more uplifing sight than sheets flapping in the breeze
  • Open the windows, let the fresh air in – yes, it’s a bit chilly, but you need to let the stuffiness out. We’re also fans of essential oils here, a few drops in some water over a tea light burner/ electric burner or an essential oil infused candle will not only make the room smell fresh, it will also invigorate and uplift your senses too (no, really, it works!). Lemongrass, eucalyptus, clove and orange are favourites here.
  • Clear the physical clutter, allowing you to focus on the things you actually need and those which make you happy: beautiful surfaces can’t be seen under a layer of papers/ stacks of DVDs/ magazines etc. Talking of mags, if you can bear to part with the old issues, we have taken to sharing the love and donating them to the local GP surgery and sometimes the local women’s refuge will happily take them.
  • If something is bothering you, remove it or move it and put it away straight away, otherwise every time you see it it will irritate: don’t put off moving it until tomorrow. Try to adopt the ‘Toothbrush principle’ – you never lose your toothbrush because you always put it back in its rightful place after every use, simple really.
  • The wardrobe: as a general rule, if you haven’t worn it in the last 12-18 months, donate it…unless it’s really shabby, in which case, recycle it. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, eg snow sports gear, good coats, these things should be packed away in put in the loft if you have one or under the bed. Use vacuum bags to condense and protect your stuff from moths/ damp – you can get these everywhere now, even Ikea are selling them: there’s no excuse! A couple of drops of clove oil or cedar oil on a stick of chalk in the wardrobe is great for warding off moths and keeping it smelling fresh.
  • Take your ‘donate’ bag to the charity shop straight away, don’t let it hang around cluttering up the place…or tempting you to remove things from the bag!
  • Pack away the clean winter woollies and throws, again vac bags are great for this, likewise good for winter weight duvets once the weather warms up a bit more. Whilst the bed is stripped, give your mattress a good hoover too.
  • Tackle the tatty tees, we all have misshapen ones, free up space in your drawers by ditching in the recycling bag or use as cleaning cloths. Bin any undies or socks too that no longer cut the mustard.
  • In general terms, nothing beats old fashioned elbow grease in the cleaning department. Personally at N&W we’re not big fans of chemical cleaners preferring products such as Method and Ecover, however, we are the first to admit that sometimes a squirt of bleach is definitely needed to get the job done!
  • Perhaps most importantly, don’t try to do too much at once, it can be overwhelming and panic inducing if you empty all your drawers and cupboards at once but by the same token, don’t let procrastination paralyse you! Make a plan, work systematically, get your partner or the kids to help do a bit too. We all work hard to make our homes welcoming safe havens from the outside world, sometimes we all get a bit behind schedule but it’s not irretrievable, just needs a bit of planning and positivity, little and often and it will all be dandy in no time; after all, who doesn’t love a clean, fresh smelling home after weeks of winter hibernation?

5-10 Minute Tasks

Have you got 5 mins?

Have you got 5 mins?

So, you have a ‘spare’ 5 to 10 minutes, it’s actually a bigger chunk of time than you think it is, why not make it super productive with a couple of these suggestions…
• Book appointments that have been lingering on your list
• Pay bills online
• Fold a pile of washing
• Tackle the ‘man drawer’ – don’t deny it, every house has one! If you’ve not used it in 12mths, bin it
• If whatever you’re cooking doesn’t need constant attention, spend the time unloading/ reloading ‘the staff’ (washing machine, dishwasher, tumbler etc)
• Wipe the kitchen counters down, clear the draining board by putting it all back in its rightful place
• Whip round with the hoover downstairs
• Delete useless/ unused/ always failing apps from your phone
• Recycle the junk mail building up in the corner
• Bin any plastics that no longer have matching lids/ are warped/ not fit for purpose
• Give the loo and sink a quick swish round, change the hand towel over
• Sort through the receipts in your purse/ handbag/ wallet – bin the rubbish and the scrunched tissues
• On the subject of bags, take out any excess/ duplicates – how many pens/ lipbalms/ glosses do you really need in there?
• Scan your inbox – do you really read all of those newsletters you subscribed to? In the time it takes to delete a mail without reading, you could have unsubscribed from the mailing list
• Is your desktop littered with shortcuts? Do you use them all? If not recycle the ones you aren’t using and the copies of docs you’ve saved elsewhere, added bonus is the next time you open the screen, it will look organised not chaotic
• Update your calendar with all those dates that have recently come home from school, then bin the letters (a step too far for you? Take a snap shot of the letter on your phone so you still have it there ‘just in case’)
• Go through your medicine box/ cupboard, take any out of date or no longer required drugs to your local pharmacy who will dispose of them safely: DO NOT put in your household bin!
• Open the windows and let some fresh air in
• Empty the rubbish out of your car
• Sick of junk mail which is addressed to you? Sign up for free to http://www.mpsonline.org.uk. It’s worth noting however that if junk is addressed to ‘the occupier’ or similar, then Royal Mail are obliged here in the UK to deliver – grr they are crafty!
• Likewise, unsolicited phone sales calls can be greatly reduced via http://www.tpsonline.org.uk, again a free service
• Make yourself a fresh list of what needs to be done *this* week – not a wish list, but a realistic one you can keep to and achieve
• Send someone a quick text or email just to let them know you were thinking of them, we all need to feel loved sometimes

Help! Too Many Tabs Open!

Image via here

Image via here

We all have those days where your brain feels full to bursting, where there is so much going on ‘up there’ that we are quite simply overloaded and incapable of processing another thought or piece of information. So what can you do to untangle the mess in your head?
The usual process here for us is that old favourite, the list, the trick is how you sort through the jumble of information and get it into a manageable, user friendly format. For Mrs N, this will quite often involve emptying her head of all the virtual Post It notes on to a single sheet of paper; then comes the sort through. Generally speaking, the very act of writing all the information down onto paper will often leave her feeling like space has already been freed up in the brain. The Big List is then sifted into categories (depending on what’s bubbling away up there of course), such as kids, tasks, homework, appointments, correspondence, food, chores, wishful thinking…
Breaking it down into manageable chunks makes it all seem far less overwhelming (honestly!) and, if you are that way inclined, re-writing your list with the various pieces of information split out neatly into category columns or blocks make it all seem easier to deal with. This sifting process is beneficial aside from the obvious already stated above, it can also make you realise that some of the ‘stuff’ that is floating around in your head is taking up valuable space for no good reason – if you are not actually able to deal or resolve something i.e. it’s beyond your control, don’t give it head space.
However, not everyone likes a list…in fact senior Miss N struggles with neat and linear, and having discovered Tony Buzan’s ‘Mind Maps for Kids’, she now prefers to use ‘mind maps’ to lists. Along with using different coloured pens, she finds this process helps her to recall information, plan essays efficiently and quickly (speed is *not* her forte, unless food is involved!), make her writing and ideas flow better. Her ‘maps’ resemble a tree with lots of branches coming off a central ‘trunk’ or theme with an idea or task at the end of each ‘branch’, with some having little branches coming off them too – so using a slightly dull example, your branch maybe ‘chores’ and from this branch the smaller branches would perhaps be laundry, hoovering, clean bathroom. If you click here, you will see better what I am trying to describe!
Whichever process works better for you, make sure you do use it, as often as you need, to free your head up and allow some space for the odd day dream, creative pursuit, reading, mediation if that’s your thing or simply to guarantee a decent sleep!

Calm can be Content…

Recently whilst mooching around on Pinterest, Mrs N came across the below graphic which got her thinking…and talking…

Image via Melody Ross

Image via Melody Ross

Whilst having an active, busy household can be noisy, frenetic and mean being governed by the clock, it ultimately makes Mrs N happy. Obviously she would be thrilled if the middle child didn’t file her washing (clean and dirty) on her bedroom floor or under her bed (she does have adequate storage, just no inclination to use it it seems) or if the dog chose to wipe her paws on coming in from the garden before running through the house or if the chores magically did themselves, but, on the whole life is good and it is also happy. Mrs N may not be performing brain surgery two days a week or going to exotic locations and eating out each evening however she can multitask and juggle a busy family diary with the best of them, and she’s okay with that.
Here at Nicholas and White we’ve noticed a trend of late that is beginning to irk us somewhat. The need to bemoan or belittle every aspect of daily life be it messy kids, the lack of laundry fairies, too many commitments and not enough time to fulfil them, unhelpful partners/ friends, the weather…the list is seemingly endless! Granted we, as a nation, love nothing better than a chat about the weather, and let’s face it, who isn’t over all this wet stuff (webbed feet yet anyone?), but the other gripes, really? These are first world problems, not major issues. Kids are generally messy creatures, and yes, the house could be tidier/ cleaner/ better organised but, you know what? If we logged off social media/ email/ internet/ stopped texting for say half an hour, some of these ‘annoyances’ could actually be dealt with and we could be left feeling a wee bit better about our lot in life.
If you are feeling like life is a bit too chaotic and moan worthy right now, do something about it; take steps to sort it out. Plan your time more efficiently, get a calendar, use it, make use of some of the many apps designed specifically for this very purpose, ask for help (nicely) and be appreciative of it when it’s offered. No time to nip out and do a food shop? Rather than scrolling through Twitter/ Facebook/ Pinterest/ Spotify/ Instagram do an online order and cross it off your list. Feel like you are missing out socially (darn you Facebook and your carefully curated newsfeed!) then organise a night out or a night in if you’d prefer and have a gathering to plan and look forward to. So your little darlings/ partner are messy beasts, ask them to help tidy up, there’s no point being a martyr and they may surprise you (failing that, bribery works a treat!).
We seem to be veering ever closer to becoming an impatient, instant gratification seeking, selfish bunch – oh woe is me! – not exactly a good vibe to be giving off either to our nearest and dearest or our kids, after all who really wants to hang out with a whinger? So, ranty bit over, grab a drink and a pad, it’s time to reassess what *really* matters; this shouldn’t take you long. Make a list of what’s going on in your head/ life right now, using three columns with the headers: important, desirable and ditch. Apportion it all out into the relevant columns and then deal with the most pressing first. Actively take control of the hubris in your head and feel instantly calmer (really!), life is generally good for us all, let’s enhance it by being a bit kinder to each other and ourselves…smile, Spring is just around the corner.

Resolutions, Diets & Detoxes? Not Likely!

Here at Nicholas and White we’ve been discussing the obsession with resolutions, diets and detoxes that are prevalent at this time of year. Well reader, it will probably come as no surprise to you that Mrs N and Mrs W don’t do either resolutions, diets or detoxes!
If you say the word ‘resolution’ out loud, it is a forceful sounding word, in fact if you look up ‘resolution’ in a thesaurus, the associated words are those such as firmness, purpose, strength of will, doggedness, tenacity, willpower, fortitude, emphatic: not exactly ‘friendly’ sounding are they?
Most people start each new year with a list of resolutions; common ones are often involving diets, ceasing smoking, getting fit, giving up a so called ‘bad habit’. Tim Weeks, former Olympic athlete and now Olympic coach and women’s specific trainer often says “you don’t break a bad habit, you untangle it”. Sounds kinder from the off doesn’t it? What Weeks wants you to do is look at why you do what you do, not just try to stop it but find the cause for the effect. Pretty sensible no?
Most of us who make a resolution will often fail to keep to it for longer than 6 weeks. A resolution is often phrased in a very nagging or abrupt way, e.g. “I must stop/ give up/ lose…” If you speak to yourself this harshly, when you fail to achieve your goal, your inner critic will be really brutal and the sense of failure will weigh on your mind. Far healthier, in our view, to make a list of achievable aspirations: how you use language will affect your mindset e.g. “I would like to be more toned/ stronger/positive…”
And now we hit two of the most bandied about words at this time of year: detox and diet. Brace yourselves reader, bit of a rant coming! The diet and detox industries are out to empty our purse. Fact. They are selling ideals and dreams that we and the media think we should be adhering to. Miracles are promised, insecurities fed upon, pretty pennies made. But here’s the thing: your actual body that you own right now is a miraculous machine, your organs work in tandem, all day every day – it’s the only one you’ll get too so you need to care for it.
The big secret that these industries don’t want you to realise is that your body doesn’t actually need any weirdly named supplements, juice cleanses, fast days etc: it is crafted in such an amazing way that it is in a permanent state of balancing and detoxifying itself: why would you mess with nature? What your body does need from you is actually quite straight forward: fuel (by which we mean good quality produce, good quality meat/ fish/ eggs), plenty of water, a good nights sleep and some exercise every day (not necessarily a full ‘workout’ but something physical each day e.g. stairs not lifts, walking rather than driving etc). Be mindful of what you put into your body. Don’t deprive your machine, build it stronger and better than it was yesterday.
So, do make yourself a list of positive aspirations for the coming year, be kinder to yourself (nobody likes a bully), don’t be tempted to try for a mega life overhaul in one fell swoop, think small but incremental changes that you can achieve then you won’t get despondent, but, above all else, life is for living so make sure you enjoy it too!

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