News & Articles

The internet’s best cleaning hacks revealed!


We all love having a clean and tidy house but who has the time to get it as perfect as we would like and keep it that way? Well we have scoured the internet for some of the best cleaning hacks.

Cleaning without chemicals: “I make up a 50:50 ratio of vinegar and water. You can wipe anything off with zero scrubbing or effort. Come to think of it. baking soda, vinegar, and or lemon juice can clean all things ever created!”


Tips for a spotless microwave: “Microwave a container filled with water and a squeeze of lemon for 2 minutes or so before cleaning it. It loosens up the gunk and makes it an easy wipe up to clean.”


Short, sharp cleaning shifts: “I set an alarm on my phone for 10 minutes every day right when I get home from work and clean as much as I can in those 10 minutes (dirty dishes into the dishwasher or clean ones away, take out the recycling, sweep the floor, make my bed, wipe down the counters...small things like that). It keeps the place tidy in between my weekly "big" cleans. 10 minutes is a really small commitment, so I can really make myself do it every day, and if I do it right when I get home from work I don't get too lazy like I would if I sat down first.”

Removing pet hair: “The best way to remove pet hair from furniture is to put on some cheap rubber kitchen gloves and wipe against the grain. This collects all the hair and other dirt neatly and you can vacuum it right up. It’s way more effective than lint rollers or only vacuuming. I just cleaned my whole car doing this, and while it takes some time and effort, it's totally worth it. It's no longer embarrassing to have people in my car!”


Newspaper tricks: “I use glass cleaner and newspaper to clean mirrors and windows. The newspaper doesn't leave streaks or lint behind, unlike microfiber or paper towels.”


Sock solutions: “Use your old socks to clean sinks and bath tubs. Put a sock over your hand like a glove and scrub the smooth surfaces and little crevices.”


Baby wipe winners: “I've recently discovered using baby wipes for dusting. So fast, and easy.”


Magic mopping: “When mopping timber floors mop in the direction of the planks, this makes any streaks less noticeable. Use hot water poured straight from the kettle to fill your mop bucket, this also helps eliminate streaks and floors dry in record time.”

Mouldy grout solved: “I swear by this. I squeegee baking soda into the grout lines, then moisten all the baking soda with hydrogen peroxide in a misting bottle. wait 20 minutes, then scrub quickly with an old tooth brush and then clean any residue with a damp sponge. “

1 fix wonders: “Every time you leave the room, fix one thing. Pick up whatever trash is there, whatever dishes are out, straighten one thing, dust one thing, whatever.”

Don’t forget one way to spend less time cleaning is to find someone reliable to do it for you. Time For You’s network of reliable, affordable and referenced house cleaners are nationwide. Find out if there is a Time For You house cleaner near you.

Written by Mike Pye

10 signs you’re suffering from stress

 

Stress is a condition caused by an inability to cope with mental or emotional pressures. It could be work that’s getting you down, money problems or relationships. Whatever the cause, stress is a horrible condition and can affect anyone. What is often clear though is that it affects people in many different ways; from physical signs to changes in behaviour, emotional symptoms to affecting cognitive health.

Our bodies are designed to deal with and react to stress in what many call our ‘fight or flight’ response. Stress can be positive, keeping you alert and ready to avoid danger but it becomes a negative force however when you face continuous stressors without rest. This allows stress related tension to build up and consume you.
10 warning signs to looks out for

1. Are you suffering from memory problems? Or perhaps finding it hard to concentrate?
2. Have you started making poor decisions or are you questioning your judgement?
3. Are you worrying about things constantly or have anxious or racing thoughts?
4. Do you feel negative about situations, depressed or generally unhappy?
5. Are you irritable, short tempered, moody, agitated or unable to relax?
6. Do you find yourself having unusual aches and pains or frequent colds?
7. Have you noticed changes to your body such as infrequent or frequent bowel movements or a feeling of nausea?
8. Have you felt chest pain or a rapid heartbeat?
9. Are you eating too much or too little? Or have you started drinking or smoking more than usual?
10. Have you seen changes in your sleep patterns? Are you feeling constantly tired or finding it hard to sleep?


If you have answered yes to any of these questions, or know someone who is showing any of these symptoms, it could be a sign stress is the caused. Many symptoms of stress are also symptoms of other medical problems, so to be on the side it is important to seek medical advice.

For information about stress and how to deal with it, there are more great resources on the Time For You blog such as our 10 Simple Strategies To Combat Stress and 5 Ways To relieve Stress In The Workplace.

 

Written by Mike Pye

Put your feet up…It’s National No Housework Day!

 

You may feel that you know someone, perhaps in your family, that thinks every day is ‘No Housework Day’! But did you know that April 7th is the official celebration of National No Housework Day? If you ever needed the opportunity to put your feet up and put all those boring chores to one side, April 7th is it. Perhaps indulge in some beauty treatments, go for a long morning run or spend some time with the family. Whatever you choose just make sure you make the most of it and use your time wisely to do anything but housework!
If there’s one quote that should summarise your approach to No Housework Day it’s this one; “today I will be cleaning, by that I mean drinking wine and spraying everything with fabreze!”


Plan ahead

If you’re a real clean freak make sure you get all those little jobs and must do chores done in advance so you can fully relax on Thursday without worrying about that pile of dishes or floor that needs hoovering.

How to Celebrate No Housework Day

  • Put those feet up! Whether you indulge in a movie marathon or have a date with your favourite box set, switch on, tune in and chill out.
  • Get out of the house. Enjoy a long walk in the countryside or a day out at the beach.
  • Hit the shops. If retail therapy is your thing, then what better time to go on a spending spree.
  • Take a relaxing bubble bath or a dip in the hot tub with a glass of your favourite bubbly.
  • Get lost in a book. With all that free time pick up a best seller and get lost in another world.
  • Treat yourself to a spa day. Whether you prefer a massage, a manicure or just relaxing in a hot steam, indulge yourself for the day.
  • Let someone else do all the work, treat yourself to lunch and dinner at your favourite restaurants.
  • Why not get together with all your friends and host a No Housework Day celebration?

However, you decide to spend the day, make sure you relax. You deserve it! Tell the family you’re taking the day off. Until April 8th that is!

7 light hearted jokes for No Housework Day

  1. Smith goes to see his supervisor. "Boss," he says, "we're doing some heavy house-cleaning at home tomorrow, and my wife needs me to help with the attic and the garage, moving and hauling stuff."
    "We're short-handed, Smith," the boss says. "I can't give you the day off."
    "Thanks, boss," says Smith. "I knew I could count on you!"
  2. Folding laundry with a toddler is like trying to straighten a desk full of papers while a fan blows on it.
  3. Thought about cleaning the house, then I thought, what’s the house done for me lately?
  4. Instead of cleaning I just watched an episode about hoarders, I didn’t realise how clean my house was!
  5. Our house is not messy, we just like obstacle courses.
  6. I get more cleaning done in 10 minutes before guests arrive than I do in a week
  7. Cleaning is just putting stuff in less obvious places

Don’t forget, every day could be No Housework Day with Time For You. Find out how we can help you get back that most precious of commodities, TIME, with our network of referenced, reliable and high quality house cleaners.

Written by Mike Pye

4 Easter themed activities to enjoy with the kids

With the Easter holidays just around the corner, you may already be scratching your head as to how to entertain the children for four entire days. Here are some excellent suggestions for spending some quality time with the family this bank holiday.

 

1 – Host your own Easter egg hunt

Easter egg hunts are a fun way to involve children of all ages. Simply strategically stash your eggs in safe areas around your garden, or indoors if it’s raining.  You can even invite friends and family around to get involved too, just make sure that you try and level the playing field by having separate hunts or colour coded eggs for the youngsters.  That way tantrums can be avoided!

 

2 – Get stuck in with Easter themed crafts

There are a million different types of crafts that you can make for Easter but one of the most popular is to decorate hard-boiled eggs. You can paint them, dye them, even knit a woolly hat for them if you desire, whatever you think will be the most fun! 

 
 
 
 3 - Bake some hot cross buns

Hot cross buns are an Easter classic and a lovely treat for breakfast or lunch. Baking is always an enjoyable experience for children and adults and the tastes, textures and smells are likely to make it a memorable one too.

 

4 - Get out of the house

The weather is never easy to predict here in the UK, but if it happens to be a sunny Easter weekend then there is likely to be plenty of things out and about to see and do.  Visit TripAdvisor or pick up a copy of your local newspaper to see what activities are taking place nearby to your home.

 

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FREE Family Half Term Fun

Are you looking for some for some free and fun ways to entertain the family this half term?  Then look no further!  Time For You have put together our top 10 thrifty tips with ideas to keep your family entertained in any weather.

 

 

Written by Mike Pye

 

 

Cheat your way to Easter Sunday lunch

 

 

Like Christmas, Easter Sunday is the perfect occasion to get the family together for some quality time.  The bank holiday allows everyone to relax and if the sun is shining, what better activity than an afternoon easter egg hunt with the children?  We all love the opportunity to share some fun time with the family, but for many, feeding the 5000 is a real chore and for some it fills them with dread.  We have put together a handy cheat sheet to take the sweat out of preparing Sunday lunch, so you can make the most of your time with the family rather than slaving over a hot stove.

 

  1. Never wash a chicken.  Washing the bird spreads germs around your kitchen.  If you cook it properly any bacteria will be killed any way.  This both saves you time and avoids the risk of food poisoning!

  2. Work smart and multi task.  Bring your chosen meat to room temperature before cooking.  While it is doing so use the time to prepare your vegetables and accompaniments.

  3. Let the family serve themselves.  Plating up in the kitchen both adds time and risks food getting cold.  Better to serve hot food to the table in bowls or on platters for guests to help themselves.

  4. Super quick gravy. Scrape the bottom of the tin you roasted your meat in, dislodging all the stuck on bits, and pan juices. Put it on the heat and add half a handful of flour and some water. Then stir and stir and stir until it goes from lumpy to the perfect gravy.

  5. Cook everything together.  A large roasting tray will save you valuable time and effort.  Thinly slice some potatoes onions and root vegetables, enough to almost fill your roasting tin. Layer them in the tin with some butter or oil. Use a cake rack to rest your meat of choice on top of the vegetables. Pour half a mug of water over the vegetables and as the whole thing cooks, the vegetables will cook in the fat and juices from the meat and will be delicious.

  6. Get the kids involved.  They can help with the the easy but time-consuming stuff like peeling or grating. It keeps them busy and they will be happy to have helped make lunch!

  7. Get ahead with your preparation.  If you do all your time consuming jobs the day before such as preparing your veg, you can spend valuable time with your family instead of being stuck in the kitchen.

  8. Ask for help! There is no need to slave away on your own when there are plenty of spare hands around.  Many hands make light work!

  9. Have a late lunch.  If you have more time to prepare it will definitely reduce those stress levels!

  10. Avoid extra washing up! Boil veg together or use disposable roasting tins, which you can simply throw away when you’ve finished with them.  

 

Struggling for lunch ideas?  Don’t miss our recent blog post on seasonal fruit and vegetables for some great ideas on how to incorporate Spring’s delicious produce in your meal.

 

Written by Mike Pye

 

 

Reducing stress - the key to a happy life?

Sunday 20th March marks the International Day Of Happiness.  This really got us thinking here in the Time For You office about that age old, $1million dollar question, what is the key to happiness?  We had lots of ideas from spending time with the family to buying a new pair of shoes!  Everyone agreed however that to be happy one needs a life without stress and anxiety.  So, with that in mind we thought we would share with you our guide to reducing stress.

 

What is stress?

 

When you feel unable to cope with mental or emotional pressures, you may sometimes develop the symptoms of stress.  Stress can be caused by a wide range of life’s pressures but is most commonly caused by work, money problems or relationships.  All people react differently to these pressures, what one person find stressful, another may find motivating.

 

Why is it bad

 

Stress affects how you deal with these pressures and can have a number of symptoms including sleep problems, a loss of appetite, an inability to concentrate, acting unreasonably, drinking more or just simply worrying constantly.  Some may feel medical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tensions or dizziness. These symptoms are caused by hormones released in your body and cause what is often called our “fight or flight” response.  If you are constantly under stress these hormones remain in your body resulting in the symptoms described above.

 

10 Simple strategies to combat stress

 

1. Mellow music

This might sound really simple but if a stressful situation is taking over your thoughts try taking a break to concentrate on peaceful music instead.  Whether you listen to classical music or another genre you find mellow and relaxing, music has a positive effect on your brain and body and has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the hormones linked to stress.

 

2. Eat well

When we are too busy or overworked it can affect our diet as we tend to grab whatever is most convenient to eat.  This food is often a ready meal, convenience food or sugary, fatty snack foods used as a quick pick-me-up. Try to plan ahead to ensure you are getting plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet.  Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish such as tuna or mackerel and nuts have been shown to reduce the symptoms of stress.

 

3.  Exercise

Exercise releases endorphins that can improve your mood very quickly.  You don’t have to flog yourself in the gym to receive the benefits of exercise.  A short walk around the office or a breath of fresh air can help immediately relieve a stressful situation.  

 

4.  Sleep it off

When you are stressed you often get into a vicious cycle of poor sleep.  Lack of sleep however can also be a key cause of stress.  Try to make sure you are getting 8 hours sleep per night which may mean changing your schedule.  Try to avoid watching TV or using phones/lap tops an hour before you go to sleep as this can stimulate your brain, making it more difficult to switch off.

 

5.  Be ‘mindful’

There are many relaxation techniques that can have a positive effect on reducing your stress levels.  Yoga, meditation and tai chi are all ‘mindfulness’ techniques combining physical and mental exercises to help you relax and can prevent stress in the first place.

 

6.  Lean on a friend

Taking a break to talk through your situation with a friend can be reassuring and help you put everything into perspective.    

 

7.  Talk yourself through it

Sometimes just talking yourself through the problem rationally can help.  Identify what is making you stressed and methodically go through how to complete the task at hand.  

 

8.  The power of laughter

As with exercise, laughter releases endorphins which both improve your mood and decrease the production of cortisol and adrenaline in your body, the hormones that cause stress.  Spend time with friends that make you laugh with or catch up on a box set of your favourite comedy.

 

9.  Ditch the caffeine

Caffeine may give you a quick lift but it also causes a short-term spike in blood pressure which can affect your adrenaline levels.  Opt for caffeine free drinks such as green tea, it contains healthy antioxidants and amino acids that can calm and sooth your nervous system.

 

10.  Don’t forget to breathe

 

Deep breathing can have a real impact on reducing your stress levels as it both oxygenates your blood and helps clear your mind.  Try 3 to 5 minute breathing exercises, breathing in and out slowly and deeply until you feel calm.

 
Written by Mike Pye

3 easy ways to cut down on takeaways

Life can be hectic and all too often we end up reaching for the takeout menu rather than cooking a meal. While it's ok to indulge in takeaways every now and then, getting into a habit of eating fast food is bad for your health, your stress levels and your bank balance. Here are three ways for you to break the habit.

1 – Meal planning

A little organisation can go a long way. One of the most common situations where a takeaway feels like it might be a good idea is when your day has been hectic or stressful and you feel too drained to think of what to have for your dinner.  However if you plan out your meals for the week then you'll already be prepared for what's to come.  On a Sunday evening, or whenever is convenient, read through some recipe books, look on websites like BBC Good Food and Pinterest for recipes and make a list of the ingredients you need.  Stick the list on the inside of your food cupboard so you're constantly reminded when feeling peckish.

2 – Cook in batches

Another reason for choosing takeaways is that they are fast. If you've had a late day in the office then you'll probably want to rest up in front of the TV, not slave away in the kitchen.  A good way to get around this is to reduce the size of your dinner plate but cook the same amount of food as you normally would.  If you do this then you'll have extra food leftover that you can be heated up in the microwave when time is short.

3 – Get excited about cooking

Let's face it, not everyone is destined to be a Michelin star chef – and for many of us cooking is a real chore. One way that you can avoid getting someone else to cook for you is to try and find other ways to enjoy cooking. You could ask your friends and family to cook a meal with you, or hold a dinner party where you can get feedback on your food – 'Come Dine With Me' style. 

 

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Eating by the seasons: what to eat this spring

What is seasonal eating?

In an age when we can buy pretty much any fruits or vegetables, at any time, in our supermarkets you may not believe that there was a time when you could only get certain produce at certain times of the year.  With factory farming methods and modern technology, the supermarkets can supply us with nearly anything we want to eat, but it might not always be tasty.  We’ve all picked up a plump juicy strawberry from the fruit aisle only to find that it tastes bland and sour. That’s because it was probably grown in a greenhouse or flown in from another country where they are picked before they are ready and ripened in transit. 

We all want to eat food when it’s at its tastiest right? Well there is a time of year when all fruit and vegetables are at their ripest and most delicious.  Fruit and vegetables grow in natural cycles.  During different seasons each year, fruits and vegetables come into “season” and are at their tastiest and most nutritious.  For example, asparagus starts to emerge from the ground in the spring and are crisp and full of flavour.  Later on in the year they will become less tasty and tough.  In the summer strawberries will taste sweet and delicious.  Late summer sees the best tomatoes, sweet, juicy and ripened by the summer sun.  Autumn brings us pumpkins and squashes and root vegetables like carrots and parsnips arrive in the winter months.

Why should you eat seasonal food?

Government findings during a 12-month research project into food purchases show that almost three quarters of people questioned look to buy British fruit and vegetables and there are a wide range of benefits to choosing to eat British food when in season:  

  • You are supporting your local economy and British farmers.  
  • It is better for the environment. Produce is grown by local farmers which means it does not need to be grown in greenhouses or flown in from other countries, reducing energy and CO2 emissions.
  • It’s generally cheaper as the produce hasn’t been transported across the world or intensively farmed.
  • The food is fresher, more nutritious and above all more delicious.

Where can you buy seasonal british food

  • Farmers’ markets
  • Local food markets
  • Organic or local veg box schemes
  • Supermarkets - Just be sure to check what’s in season with our guide when you go shopping and ensure the fruit or veg you choose comes from British producers
  • Grow your own!

Our guide to what’s in season throughout the year

Winter (Dec to Feb): Apple, brussels sprouts, cabbage (savoy and white), carrot, cauliflower, leek, onion, parsnip, pear, potato, pumpkin, purple sprouting broccoli, rhubarb (forced), swede, turnip.

Spring (Mar to May): apple, asparagus, brussels sprouts, cabbage (savoy), carrot, cauliflower, cucumber, lettuce, onion, parsley (flat -leaf), potato, purple sprouting broccoli, radish, red onion, rhubarb.

Summer (Jun to Aug): Apple, basil, beans (runner and French), beetroot, broccoli, carrot, cauliflower, celery, courgette, cucumber, fennel, lettuce, onion, potato, radish, raspberry, red onion, rocket, rhubarb, strawberry.

Autumn (Sep to Nov): Apple, blackberry, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (savoy and spring green), carrot, cauliflower, celery, kale, leek, onion, parsnip, pear, potato, pumpkin, purple sprouting broccoli, spinach, turnip.

5 ideas to make the most of this spring’s seasonal produce

  1. Purple Sprouting Broccoli:  Simply trim off any woody parts and divide the florets into equal sizes.  Best cooked for 3 - 6 minutes in boiling water, drained and tossed in butter and lemon juice. It’s also a great addition to stir fries.
  2. Red onions: Slice thinly and add these mild onions to salads or salsas. Roast in the oven or bake whole for 45 mins with butter, honey, thyme and balsamic vinegar.
  3. Carrots: Grate and add to coleslaw or use a peeler to add fine slices to a salad.  For sweet and sticky roast carrots bake whole in the oven with butter or olive oil and a drizzle of honey until tender and jammy.
  4. Cauliflower: For a chilly spring day warm up with a hearty bowl of Cauliflower cheese.  Parboil the florets first for 5 minutes then transfer to a baking dish and cover with a rich cheese sauce.  Sprinkle over extra cheese and breadcrumbs then bake in the oven for 20 mins.
  5. Rhubarb: An excellent addition to porridge when stewed with a touch of sugar and honey or when turned into a crumble it will rarely disappoint!
Written by Mike Pye

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Use this trick to clear mental clutter

Morning Pages is an idea created by Julia Cameron in her book 'The Artist's Way'. The basic premise is to dedicate a small amount of time each morning to writing before beginning your day.  Three pages are ideal, which sounds like a lot but they don't have to be well written or legible to anyone other than you. In fact they don't even have to be words, you can draw pictures, doodles or anything that comes to mind. It could be your next big creative idea that you're confident will transform the world, or it might just be a reminder that you need to buy cat litter – there are no rules.

The reason that Morning Pages has caught on is that many entrepreneurs attribute it to their success. They say that being able to vent and unleash ideas first thing in the morning means they can start the day with a 'clean palette'.  This gives them a level of clarity and focus that they would otherwise struggle to obtain.

While Julia Cameron prefers to use an old fashioned pen and paper to write her pages, websites such as 750words.com exist, where users can write 750 words and they will be saved in a private place where only they can access them. What makes 750 Words even more interesting is that if you write enough you'll be able to see some interesting stats such as the most common emotions that you mention such as 'happy' or 'self-important'  and the topics that you most frequently write about such as 'relationships', 'work' and 'success'. 

Have you tried Morning Pages? Did it work for you, or do you have any other tips for starting the day with a clear mind?

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