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Why is eating together as a family so important?

clip_image002Modern families have become very stretched for time. With longer hours at work, more household chores and plenty of homework for the children, the age old tradition of eating meals together at a dinner table is slowly disappearing, replaced by breakfast bars and TV dinners. But why is eating together so important?

Family bonding

Family dinners can help to improve communication, strengthen bonds and provide some important stability to your home life.

The simple act of all gathering around a table together will enable you to discuss problems, share stories, celebrate achievements and set goals – without the distraction of mobile phones, gaming consoles or TV’s.

Child development

Statistics have shown that eating together as a family can have a significant impact on the development of young children. Children who eat regular meals with their families are shown to be less likely to suffer from obesity due to a regular pattern of meals and a parental grip on portions. They are also 35% less likely to suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, and have a smaller chance of becoming drug dependent or depressed. Further to this, children that eat meals together with their family are said to fare better at school and have greater self-esteem.

How often should we eat together?

In a perfect world, it would be great if families could eat meals together every night of the week but often other commitments like work, hobbies and homework can get in the way. As a rule of thumb, you should know that eating together at least 3 times a week can have a significant effect on the development of your children’s social skills and mental well-being. If you are struggling to find the time to prepare so much food, you could try preparing leftovers from other meals which might otherwise be wasted.

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How to plan the perfect family camping trip

clip_image002Camping in the UK means spending less time travelling and queuing up at airports and more time creating memorable experiences for you and your family to savour. However, if you have never been camping before then you might not know what to expect. In this blog we will offer some tips on avoiding a camping disaster and making your camping trip unforgettable for the right reasons.

Preparation

In order to have a successful camping trip you need to be organised. Even well seasoned campers will struggle if they forget their essentials so make sure you put together a checklist for all your camping supplies.

Here are a few items to remember at all costs:

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bags
  • Pillows
  • Plates, cups and cutlery
  • Washing up liquid
  • Torches and batteries
  • Wet wipes
  • Camping stoves
  • Tinned food / marshmallows
  • Toilet roll
  • Wash supplies
  • First aid kit
  • Roll mats / airbeds
  • Water carriers
  • Ordnance survey map

Depending on your particular needs and the time of year you are going you might also want to consider sun cream and hats to guard against UV rays, or alternatively extra layers of clothes to keep you warm. You might also want to pack insect repellent in order to avoid getting bitten.

Choosing a spot

clip_image004When choosing a family friendly campsite you should take into account location, facilities and costs. First of all you need to find a campsite that is situated in the area you are wishing to visit. What is it about the area that you would like to see? Is there a lake to go canoeing, a beach to soak up the sun or impressive scenery to explore?

Next you need to consider the facilities that you will require. Are you going for an authentic camping trip where you need little or no facilities or do you and your family require a little more luxury? Many campsites will have shower blocks, BBQ areas and even WiFi if that’s what you require.

Cost can also play a big role in finding the perfect campsite and you should consider this carefully when making your choice. At one end of the scale there are areas in the UK where you can camp for free. This is known as wild camping, and some areas of Scotland, Snowdonia and the Lake District are able to be used for this purpose. At the other end of the spectrum there are luxury campsites where you can arrive to a tent already set up for you. If you are stuck for location ideas, websites like Visit Britain can help you find a campsite or alternatively you could ask family, friends and colleagues for advice on where to book.

Food

Whether you are camped at a site nearby to amenities or you have set up in the middle of nowhere, it is important that you have some food provisions to keep you and your family going. Porridge, baked beans, bacon, sausages and dried snacks can all make good camp fire food, just be sure to store perishable food in a cool box and make sure that fires are permitted.

Entertainment

No doubt when picking your campsite you will have gone for somewhere that is picturesque and has plenty of things to do nearby. Common organised activities can include nature hikes, kayaking, canoeing and swimming but there are lots of entertaining things that you can do yourselves as a family, for example:

  • Scavenger hunts – put together a list of several items for your children to collect like branches, shells, stones and conkers
  • Gather fire wood
  • Toast some marshmallows
  • Sing some songs and share stories
  • Play shadow puppets with a torch
  • Stargaze

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Planning a trip to the seaside

sea-shoreNow that the weather is beginning to turn and the sun is reappearing it’s time to grab your bucket and spade and head to the beach. The British coast has some of the best seaside resorts around and what’s more you can easily do it on a budget. We’ve packed this blog full of tips and advice on making your day out a memorable experience.

Preparation

Before you set off make sure to pack all the essentials. Beach towels, sun cream, sunglasses and hats are all extremely important, especially if you have children, but you might also want to bring your own chairs and plenty of water to keep you hydrated throughout the day.

Transport

Unless you live within walking distance of a beach then you will probably need to consider how you will get there. Perhaps you have relatives or friends who might also fancy a day out at the beach, in which case you can split fuel and share a car. If not then take a look at your local bus or rail service for details of routes. Many bus and railway services provide cheap concessions to young people and the elderly as well as armed forces rates and other forms of discounted tickets.

Food

Food is a big part of a day out at the seaside. Whether its rock candy, ice cream, fish and chips or seafood, there are plenty of options to fill up your stomach after a day of building sandcastles and swimming in the sea. If you want to keep costs down then try packing some food to bring with you and keep it all chilled in a cool-box, or alternatively delve a little deeper through the back streets to find some cheap restaurants and fish and chip shops.

Entertainment

There’s plenty to do and see at the seaside, for all ages, even on a rainy day. The beach has plenty of room for movement so if you’re making the trip with friends or older children then you might want to bring a bat and ball for games like rounders and cricket, or a larger ball to play football. Depending on the time of year and part of the country you are visiting, the sea might be warm enough for you to take a refreshing swim; alternatively you can just dip your feet and enjoy a paddle.

Younger children can have fun exploring, building sandcastles, digging holes, collecting shells and looking for crabs in any rock pools nearby. If you want to make things particularly memorable then you could even let them bury you in the sand, just make sure you watch out for any seagulls!

Many of the UK’s coastal towns are famous not only for their beaches but also for their piers and arcades. You’ll find all sorts of amusements there and it’s worth planning ahead and saving some spare pocket change if you want to be in with a chance of winning prizes.

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Getting the right domestic cleaning service

clip_image001Many of us have busy lives, leaving us with minimum energy to spend time cleaning our home, so more people are turning to domestic cleaners to help them with the organisation of the house. But how do you get the best cleaning service at a price you can afford? Here we look at some of the considerations you should be making in order to get the right domestic cleaning service for you and your home.

Take time in looking at the reputation of the domestic cleaning service, this is incredibly important as you don’t want to be taken advantage of, or get a bad service. Reputation is essential in the cleaning industry, and if you take the time to look you will discover that experienced cleaners will stand out from the crowd.

We all love an organised home, and domestic cleaners are able to help you get your home into tip top shape. Reputable cleaning companies will work with you to customise a plan of what’s needed around the house: whether it be simply a weekly or fortnightly visit, to the inclusion of laundry services and ironing – all worked around the budget that you want to spend.

There are also safety and security measures in place with professional domestic cleaning companies, and the company’s domestic cleaners will have been fully vetted and screened, giving you further reassurance about allowing someone into your home.

For more information about who Time For You are see our Frequently Asked Questions, alternatively find your local Time For You cleaner now by entering in your postcode.

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Freshening up your sofa

clip_image002Fabrics pick up dirt, stain and smells the same way that carpets do, so your sofa is also at risk of collecting all the daily dust and dirt in the fibres. Here are a few tricks on how to get your sofa freshened up and looking clean again.

Start off by vacuuming the sofa; try and fit this into your cleaning regime in order to manage the amount of dust and general grubbiness. Use the nozzle to get down between the seams of the sofa, clearing the crumbs and debris that’s accumulating.

Any stains need attention as soon as possible – dealing with a wet stain is easier than trying to get rid of an old one. If you are dealing with a dry stain try not to saturate the sofa as this will make the padding damp and could result in mould. Try opening a window to help with the drying process. Use a shop-bought stain remover, otherwise try laundry soap, washing up liquid or white vinegar – use as little water as possible and dab the area dry with a clean cloth.

Freshening the smell of your sofa may require a professional clean in order to be done properly, in the meantime try sprinkling baking soda over the sofa and leaving it overnight, vacuuming it in the morning - the soda should have absorbed much of the smells. A bowl of hot vinegar will also do the trick as both are excellent odour neutralisers.

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Does bathroom etiquette exist in your house?

clip_image001Does bathroom etiquette exist in your house?

Believe it or not, we Brits spends an average 16 minutes in the bathroom each morning. Whilst most households argue over the TV remote control or whose turn it is to wash up, it’s actually the bathroom that’s causing more and more rifts across the nation!

Using up the last of the loo roll and not replacing it has turned out to be the nation’s biggest bug bear according to a survey held by one of the UK’s leading bathroom manufacturers, Bathstore. This is swiftly followed by another area of contention such as leaving the toilet seat up; typically its women that are more bothered by toilet etiquette compared to 40% of men who don’t seem to have any bathroom issues at all!

Here are the results of the survey split by gender:

clip_image003

clip_image005We spend nearly 121,625,350 hours in the bathroom a week as a nation; the average Brit showers four times a week, takes a bath once a week and shaves twice a week, whilst women make up their time pampering and applying fake tan each week.

But despite our busy lives, there’s no need to chuck good manners down the plughole, and certainly try to avoid calling people whilst on the toilet – a staggering 39% admit to this!

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How to clean wood and laminate flooring

clip_image001[9]Wooden and laminate flooring not only look great, it’s also incredibly practical and long-lasting if looked after properly. Here are some tips to keep your floors squeaky clean.

Wood flooring

Sweep floors regularly, you can use a vacuum with a brush setting although a dry dust mop could do the trick just as well.

Clean the floors with a damp mop, using a cleaning solution specifically for use on wood. Do not allow water to saturate the floor as this can cause damage – mop in the direction of the grain of the wood.

Wet-clean waxed floorboards sparingly, and use wax polish to improve the veneer. If you get a build-up of dirty wax then remove surplus with white spirit and re-wax.

Tip: rub scuff marks from wooden floors with a pencil eraser.

Laminate flooring

Laminate should be swept with a dry dust mop or hoovered regularly. Whilst laminate flooring is fairly scratch-resistant, excess dirt, hair and debris can cause damage if allowed to build up. Sweep in the direction the flooring is laid to ensure you pick up any debris that’s fallen between the grooves.

Never soak the floor with water – whilst laminate is water resistant, it’s not water proof and can stain or damage the protective wear layer of the laminate. The flooring can be cleaned with a damp cloth with a mild household cleaner, however if the stain is ink or permanent marker then use acetone.

It’s not advisable to use scouring pads to remove stains on the laminate flooring as this will scratch the surface, try to remove any liquid stains as quickly as possible.

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Make the most of the space in your home

Sometimes we feel that the walls of our homes may be closing in on us, no matter how generous the square footage is. There are some sneaky tricks out there to make your home feel more spacious without having to invest in an extension. Here are some ideas:

clip_image002Banish dark corners: light filled rooms always attract us, so try to increase daylight where you can by moving taller furniture from blocking windows. Boost the light with feature lamps dotted around the room focusing on areas where you spend a lot of your time, such as desks, sofas or tables.

Control the clutter: busy extension leads with trailing wires, piles of paperwork and items lying around can make even the most spacious room look cluttered. Tidy and hide the cables away, file the paperwork and introduce baskets to the room to dump the kids’ toys in.

Check out the view: if there is a focus point such as a garden or a stunning fireplace, angle the furniture and seating area towards it.

clip_image003Dabble with décor: make formal areas softer by adding pretty accessories. Add candle sticks and candle light to the dining room table to break up the starkness, or add colourful runners to make it less plain.

Mirror magic: mirrors give even the most compact of rooms the illusion of space. This doesn’t mean investing in ornate frames, choose minimal frames for maximum impact. Position near a window so it reflects the daylight and view outside.

So take a look at that multiplying knick-knack collection that is taking over your living room and ask yourself “do you really need this much on display?” it will also helps cut down on the dusting!

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Tips for cleaning the washing machine

clip_image001Our washing machines get dirty too, so if there’s a musky whiff coming from it here are some helpful tips to eliminate the odour and keep your washer smelling fresh:

Run a service wash

The average temperature of a wash in the UK is 40oC or less, but whilst this is a great way to save money on the energy bills there is a downside. Washing at these low temperatures won’t get rid of the bacteria and mould, so try running a service wash to eliminate the problem.

What we mean by a service wash is spinning/running the machine whilst its empty at a high temperature, ideally once a month as per most manufacturers recommendations.

Clean the seal, drawer and filter

First thing’s first – turn the machine off to do this! Mould and bacteria tends to fester around the rubber seal in the door, so after washing scrub the rubber down.

Nasty stuff also builds up in the detergent drawer, so remove the drawer by pulling it out, or using the button to release the drawer if there is one. Wash the detergent drawer in warm, soapy water with particular attention to the fabric softener compartment as this can be quite a gunky area.

Leave the door and drawer open

Leaving the washing machine drawer and door open will allow the air to circulate in the drum, helping to prevent mould and bacteria.

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Makeover your fridge for the New Year

clip_image001So the Christmas rush is over, and there’s nothing more your fridge needs than a makeover to sort out the questionable expiry dates and post-Christmas chaos.

If in doubt, throw it out: chuck anything that looks like it might have developed a pulse or is growing mould, leaving you with not only with non-hazardous food stuffs but also a safer fridge.

Compartmentalise: try to organise the food into compartments, utilise the egg rack, and add the veg to the correct drawer. Using the right storage solutions will make your fridge look amazingly organised.

Tupperware: invest in some plastic containers to keep the loose items together, or to store leftovers for longer. Containers also go a long way to keeping organisation in the fridge.

Vegetable pollution: did you know that greens such as lettuce shouldn’t be kept near fruits such as apples, pears or bananas? No? The gas in the fruit accelerates greens’ deterioration, so keep the greens separate.

Spring clean: remove all the trays and shelving and give the inside a good scrub and wipe down.

Freezer face lift: don’t forget the freezer, go through the contents and bin everything that’s old or meat that’s been in there too long. Red meat and fish shouldn’t be frozen for more than six months, chicken no more than four months and sausages for only two months.

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