News & Articles

Age appropriate chores: how to get the whole family cleaning

Giving your children some responsibilities around the home is a great way to help them to become more independent. It also frees up time to spend together as a family, rather than spending all your free time on chores.  Here are some examples of age appropriate chores to get the whole family chipping in.

Very young children
For children who are very young (around 2-3 years old) it might not seem like there are many things that you can ask them to do which they will be able to handle, but you’d be surprised.  Some examples of easy chores that they will enjoy include picking up their toys and putting them away in their toy box, helping to dust non-fragile items or putting their dirty clothes in a wash basket.  Just make sure they are supervised very closely to make sure no accidents happen.  

Young children
With slightly older children (4-5 and 6-7) there are a wider range of activities that you can delegate. As well as some of the ideas listed in the previous section you may be able to ask them to help with some light cleaning by dusting, mopping and brushing floors. You might be able to get them to sort and hang up clothes from the washing machine and set and clear the table for meal time. Quite mature children might also be able to begin taking care of some of their morning routine such as pouring their breakfast cereal, brushing their teeth and combing their hair. However, it’s still important, at this age, to keep an eye on them during the process.

Pre-teenagers
For children who are aged a little bit older (around 8-12) but not yet teenagers,  you can ask them to undertake all the chores previously listed as well as some additional more grown-up responsibilities. This might include taking the dog for a walk down the road, emptying the bin, washing the dishes, hoovering carpets and keeping their bedroom reasonably tidy.

Teenagers
While they might put up a fight about it, teenagers can handle a good amount of chores. On top of all the tasks mentioned earlier you can also encourage them to mow the lawn, do some light cooking, buy groceries and make their own bed.
Looking for more secrets of the cleaning trade? Visit us at https://timeforyou.cleaning/uk/ for more tips and advice for cleaning your home, de-stressing after a tough day and much more.

10 costly mistakes that damage your home appliances

#1 - You’re using tap water in the iron
There are lots of different myths surrounding which type of water to use in your iron.

Some advice recommends that you should only use distilled water in your iron, while other advice suggests that tap water is absolu

tely fine.  The truth of the matter is that tap water is perfectly acceptable in the majority of cases BUT if you live in an area with hard water levels then you may find yourself getting through a lot of new irons.  Click here to find out if you live in a hard water area.  

#2 – You aren’t cleaning the condenser coils on your refrigerator
Refrigerators don’t require a massive amount of maintenance, however you should look to clean your condenser coils (found on the back of the exterior of your refrigerator) at least once every 12 months or so as they can become clogged with dust, dirt and debris from your kitchen. After switching off your appliance at the mains, you should be a

ble to give it a simple vacuum or wipe down with a cloth to keep it running efficiently.

#3 – You’re damaging your washing machine drum with heavy/metallic objects   
There are a couple of things to bear in mind when filling up your washing machine. Everyone knows it’s important to empty pockets, making sure there are no coins, keys, mobile phones or biro pens inside to avoid tearing clothes or staining them with ink. However, you should also be careful to avoid putting in any items which have heavy metal buckles or other similar fastenings as they can cause damage to the drum of your washing machine. You should also try to avoid overloading your washing machine as this puts extra pressure on the individual components of your machine and shortens thei

r life.

#4 – You’re using tap water in your coffee maker
It’s not only with irons that the level of sediment in your water can cause problems. Where possible you should avoid using tap water to brew your coffee, especially if you live in a hard water area. Filtered water or bottled water makes for a tastier brew and will be less likely to leave nasty leftovers in your appliance. If you do notice a residue build-up then you can easily clean it away with a simple mixture of water and apple cider vinegar.  

#5 – You aren’t cleaning your microwave
When you’re in a rush, a microwave can be a life saver, safely nuking your snack or meal to the perfect temperature. However, it’s very important to give them a regular clean. Microwaving food often results in a splattering of liquids and food particles all over the inside of your microwave. This means that it presents a real danger of cross contam

ination and catching a nasty bug.  You can clean your microwave with a bowl of water and lemon juice quite easily. Simply mix up a bowl with half a cup of water and half a squeezed lemon, leaving both sides of the lemon floating in the water. Microwave the bowl of water for a few minutes, allow it to stand and cool slightly then simply wipe the microwave clean with a soft cloth.

#6 – You are lining your oven with foil
A common cleaning tip that is banded around is to use a lining of foil at the bottom of your oven to catch any drips and spills from whatever it is that you are cooking. It seems like a clever idea but you can actually cause real damage to your oven. Many of today’s modern day ovens have a heating grid underneath the bottom of the oven which means that the foil itself becomes hot causing it to melt and stick to the bottom of your oven causing sometimes irreversible damage.  

#7 – You turn your toaster upside down and shake it
This popular method of cleaning your toaster can actually cause more damage than you might expect. Turning your toaster upside down and giving it a good shake doesn’t always end well and can cause burnt cru

mbs to make their way into delicate parts of your toaster becoming a fire hazard or hindering their functionality.  Many of today’s toasters have solved this problem by providing a catcher which you simply slide out before throwing the crumbs in the bin.

#8 – You’re using a dirty filter on your vacuum
If you want to keep your vacuum performing well for years to come then it’s essential that you clean the filters.  Leaving it too long between changing or cleaning your filter can cause dust to clog the interior parts of your vacuum which with time will disrupt its function.  To clean, remove your filter and give it a gentle brush over your bin. Some types of filters can also be soaked and cleaned with water; however you should always read the instruction manual first to make sure.  

#9 – You’re using extra detergent in the dishwasher
While you might be tempted to heap a few extra spoonfuls of detergent into your dishwasher to tackle tough food residue, it won’t actually make your dishes any clea

ner. In fact, you may find that it leaves a residue on your dishes meaning you have to wash them again.  If you’re looking for a sparkling shine then make sure that you scrape off your plates and don’t overcrowd your racks with too many items.

#10 – You’re forgetting to give your blender a deep clean
A good blender can transform your kitchen, helping you to make smoothies, sauces and shakes. However, with heavy use it’s easy to end up with seeds and other types of residue leftover and it can be hard to clean it properly. One way to make sure your blender is spotless is to fill it with a mixture of water and a touch of dishwasher detergent, blend it lightly and then rinse it with cold or warm water.

Looking for more secrets of the cleaning trade? Visit us at https://timeforyou.cleaning/uk/ for more tips and advice for cleaning your home, de-stressing after a tough day and much more.

How to take the headache out of weeding

Some people out there really enjoy the activity of weeding; they may even find it actually relaxes them and they relish the opportunity. But this blog is not for those people.  No, this blog is for the people who can’t stand the idea of spending what little free time they have panting and sweating and trying to pull up a stubborn weed from beneath their carefully planted Geraniums.

Little and often
Rather than going gung-ho on your garden and enduring a mammoth session of weeding once a month, you should try to do some light weeding every couple of days. This will ensure that your garden stays beautiful but will also help you avoid a visit to the chiropractor.

Plant in raised beds
Planting in raise beds simply makes it difficult for weeds to worm their way in amongst your plants and steal away all those good nutrients meant for your plants or vegetable patch. Seeds from weeds can lie dormant for up to 30 years before they germinate but by using a raised bed you can control it to a degree. By using a raised bed you can fill the frame only with compost and soil which are free of weeds and even if any are spread through the wind you should find that it is much easier to bring them up and remove them.

Square foot planting
Square foot planting involves planting all of your plants close together so that there simply isn’t much room for weeds to grow.  Even if they do worm their way in then the fact that you’ve square foot planted will make the job of removing them much easier as they’ll be concentrated together rather than spread out all over the garden.

Root them out when they are young
One of the worst mistakes you can make regarding weeding is to give them time to grow. You might spot a weed and initially think it might not be much of a problem but the longer you leave it the longer the weeds will grow and the harder it will be for you to rip up.  

Weed after it rains
Always use rainfall to your advantage. You’ll find that it is 10x easier to bring up weeds when the soil is moist – the roots just seem to lose some of their grip and slide out much easier. So try and time your weeding within 48 hours of a good rain fall. If you think rain is unlikely then simply do the rounds with your watering can and then go back and weed a couple of hours later for the same result.

Organic weed killer
One final tip for any extra stubborn weeds that crop up is to blast them away with our special homemade weed killer recipe.  It’s too strong for weeds in soil but perfect for those weeds that tend to crop up in cracks in the concrete. Mix together a dose of white vinegar, salt, lemon juice and a tablespoon of dish soap. Now wait for a sunny day (without much wind!) and spray on those pesky plants.  You’ll find that in 2-3 days those difficult weeds will be completely obliterated!

Do you enjoy gardening? Do you have any special tips on weeding or creating a garden sanctuary? Tweet us @TimeForYouGroup and let us know, or alternatively visit us at https://timeforyou.cleaning/uk/ for more tips and advice.

What is mindfulness and how can it help me?

We live in a high pressure society. In fact, the average adult in the UK encounters around two hours and 28 minutes of stress each day, which equates to six years and seven months for females and six years and two months for males in a lifetime. With so much stress we can often feel out of control and unable to cope. But what if there was a way to keep calm and relaxed when you are feeling particularly stressed or anxious?

The wandering mind
Mindfulness is based on the principle that our thoughts control how we feel. So, if you spend lots of time thinking about negative things then as a result you will feel lots of negative emotions. Our brains also spend lots of time thinking about things that haven’t yet occurred just yet which can make us feel anxious or worried, and also thinking about things that have already happened which can make us feel sad, angry, regretful or depressed.

Our minds are constantly wandering and according to some research we are only focused around 50% of the time such as when we are completing a mathematical problem or washing the dishes. So can mindfulness help us to feel more engaged and focused in the present moment?

Becoming focused
Mindfulness is derived from eastern practices which have been used for thousands of years to help people reduce their worries, stress and pains, whilst simultaneously helping them improve their concentration, creativity and health. What’s more mindfulness doesn’t require you to join a programme, read any books, download an app or part with any cash. You simply need to be willing to dedicate a small amount of time to it each day.

For 10-15 minutes find somewhere quiet and begin your mindfulness routine. Sit up with your back straight, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing either through your mouth or through your nose. Concentrate on your breaths, in and out until the 15 minutes are up and your timer goes.

Most people find that it is incredibly difficult to keep their brain concentrated like this. However, you shouldn’t be disappointed if that happens to you. It should be your long term goal and will come with practice. When your mind drifts you should note that it has drifted, accept that it has drifted and then bring your thoughts back to your breathing. Just keep trying for those 15 minutes every day and it will get easier each time.

Recognising the benefits
Mindful is a physical workout for your brain and mindfulness can have real benefits on your brain. In fact scientific research has shown that the parts of the brain responsible for creativity, happiness and emotional intelligence all begin to strengthen and even grow in people who practice mindfulness for just a couple of months, while the parts of the brain responsible for addictive behaviours, stress and depression weaken and start to shrink. Because of these benefits, mindfulness is being taken on board by more and more people and even by large organisations like the NHS, Google, Apple and even the armed forces who recognise the benefits for their employees. While in schools in Australia children are being taught to overcome their negative emotions by pausing, taking a breath and bringing themselves back to the present moment.

Have you tried mindfulness? Has it been helpful for you? Tweet us at @TimeForYouGroup and let us share your experience.  

5 reasons to leave your phone at home

We use our phones so much in the modern world that the idea of leaving home without it seems scary, if not downright absurd to some people. The action of patting down our pocket for our wallet or purse and keys is now less important than turning out our pockets to make sure we’ve remembered our smart phone. But in the process have we overlooked some important aspects of being human and some of the benefits of being – unplugged? Here are five reasons that you should leave your phone at home more often.

Mind your manners
In a survey by Mequillibrium, over 61% of people asked claimed that they couldn’t ignore their smart phones or resist the urge of checking their updates at least once within the hour. Sadly this amount of connection to social media and our emails means that we often can’t stop ourselves from swiping on our phones, even when we’re spending time with family, friends or even customers.  Whether looking down constantly while someone is talking to you to check an email, or looking at cat photos on Instagram while you’re supposed to be watching a film with your spouse, our phones can drive a wedge between our human relationships and give off the impression that we are rude – even if it is an ‘accepted’ level of rudeness.

Productivity
While some people have hailed smart phones as productivity boosters, the fact that the average user checks their phone around 110 times per day has to have some level of impact on your ‘bricks & mortar’ work each day. Smart phones invite us to procrastinate and put off our most important work while we scroll down our ‘feeds’.

Stress
According to HealthDay News recent research conducted in the UK has found a link between smart phone usage and rising stress levels, with some smart phone users claiming that they feel a pressure to maintain their ‘social network’ and keep their social channels constantly updated. Does this sound familiar to you? Try swapping your phone for a book or a newspaper next time you have some down time and see if your mood improves.

They aren’t essential
Despite what you have been conditioned to believe, smart phones aren’t an essential part of our daily life. Try and remember what life was like before you were glued to your smart phone. How would you navigate without Google Maps? How would you pay for things? How would you communicate with your friends? Sometimes switching off can change the way you experience something, making you feel less passive when you experience it instead of being guided by your phone.

Work can wait
While it’s true that in some jobs it is literally a matter of life or death as to whether you are contactable, nine times out of ten it’s not. So that email that pops up on your phone can wait until you’re back at your desk and even voice callers can leave a voicemail if it’s important. You’re leisure time is a valuable part of your daily routine and helps you to refresh yourself ready for your next working day.

Are you struggling to get a handle on the pressures of your daily routine? See our guide ‘20 proven ways to wind down and relax’ for more tips on stress busting.

Productivity Tips From Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld is most famous for his 90s, cult classic TV sitcom Seinfeld, where he played a fictional version of himself. Little did you know the American comedian, actor, writer, producer and director, owes his success to a simple but effective productivity technique he developed to help him write more and funnier material.

The Seinfeld technique is incredibly simple and super effective, all you need is a wall calendar and a big red marker. Here’s why he developed it and how it works.

 

Jerry Seinfeld wanted to be a better comic and to achieve that he needed to create better jokes. He decided the only way to do that was to write every day, to improve his skills and delivery. As he saw it, only time and effort equals reward.

So, he decided to buy a big wall calendar with a whole year on it and a big red marker. For every day that he wrote new material he simply marked a big red cross on the calendar and after a few days, he saw he had created a chain of red crosses. The chain motivated him to keep putting in the hours, he said:

"Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain."

Become an expert through small daily actions

You can use this technique to help you achieve anything whether that be learning a new skill, building a business or completing a project. It works because it’s consistent daily action that builds habits, which in turn creates extraordinary outcomes. This is much more effective than one big push and the repetitive practice helps you to reach expert level much quicker.

Don't break the chain

The only thing you need to remember is “don’t break the chain”. Skipping one day makes it easier to skip the next and before you know it your goal will be out of sight and impossible to achieve. 

For more productivity techniques, read our recent blog posts.

 

Written by Mike Pye

 

Learn to Look After Leather Furniture

Real leather furniture is expensive, but it's an investment. It’s durable, stylish and improves with age, but only if you look after it properly. Leather is an incredibly hard-wearing material but should be treated with care. Over the years, it will start to change in appearance. Its colour might become bolder and it may start to develop slight wrinkles, giving it a more distinguished look. However, it is important to attend to it regularly to keep it in the best possible condition. By following the tips in this guide, your leather with stay clean, supple and resistant to cracks and scuffs.

Don’t use the wrong cleaning products

Many people use the WRONG cleaning solutions on their leather furniture, reaching for common household cleaning products like furniture polish, washing up liquid or harsh antibacterial sprays. This is not a good idea. All leathers are different and as a result, cleaning products will have varying effects. Some will work fine, while others, particularly those that are bleach based could dry out the leather and cause it to crack. You should buy specialist leather cleaning products and test them on an inconspicuous area of the furniture first, just to make sure it has no negative effect.

Don’t neglect your leather

It’s so important to take the time to care for your leather furniture. Leather is a natural product and as such it has a natural lifespan that will be significantly shortened if you fail to give it the proper care and attention.

Tackle stains as soon as they occur

Leather is a hardy material. It’s naturally quite resistant to stains but that doesn’t mean it’s completely invincible. Alcohol, grease, chemical or acidic based spills will all have an effect if not dealt with quickly, so play close attention to fruit juices, wine, greasy food or cleaning product spillages. If a spill does occur, first blot the area to absorb most of the liquid. Then use a wet cloth to wipe the area clean. Grease spots need close attention and may need a specialist cleaner to deal with them properly.

Keep it clean and dust free

Keep your leather furniture free from dust and debris by giving it a regular hoover and dusting. This will avoid dirt from being worked into creases and wrinkles which cause your leather to look drab and worn.

Keep it conditioned

Because leather is a natural material made from animal hides, it requires moisturising and conditioning just like our own skin. Regularly applying a leather conditioner will help keep your leather soft and supple and prevent it from drying out. It will also give it an inviting and luxurious appearance. Conditioners can be bought from your local supermarket or DIY shop but olive oil works just as well, plus you’ll always have some in your kitchen so there’s no excuse not to regularly apply it.

Keep it covered

Keep your furniture covered when it’s not in use, particularly if you are leaving the house for long periods, such as while you are away on holiday. Covering your furniture will protect it from dirt and dust and avoid sun damage, which can dry it out causing cracks over time. You may feel that this tip is a bit over the top, but it really is effective at prolonging the lifespan of your leather.

Leather is an expensive material but one that adds a real touch of style to your home. By giving your leather furniture plenty of tender loving care, you will help to preserve it well into the future, keeping it from looking old and tired.

 

Written by Mike Pye

How to Get Rid of Insects in the Home

Creepy crawlies are a homeowner’s worst nightmare!

There are many off the shelf repellents and poisons available but they can be very dangerous to our health and even lethal if accidentally ingested or touched. They can also cause allergies or irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. Household chemicals in pesticides and repellents are also damaging to the environment too!

Luckily there are natural alternatives to get rid of bugs and nasties. In this slide share, you can find out how to remove common insect invaders from your home.

 

Your Spring Clean Planner

It's that time of year again when we give our homes an annual deep clean.  Use our handy planner to help you keep track of your cleaning to-dos.

  

You can download it in PDF format to print, here.

Spring Clean Planner.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

Freshen Up Your Home With a Fragrant Simmer

Don’t you just love it when your home smells fresh and fragrant? There’s nothing better than walking in the door to the smell of baking bread or fresh flowers. Off the shelf air fresheners and home odorisers offer an easy solution, but do you ever worry about the chemicals they may contain?

There are plenty of natural alternatives, such as home made diffusers using essential oils or potpourri, but did you know you can make your own beautiful fragrancers using nothing but ingredients from your kitchen and garden and a humble saucepan?

Fragrant simmers are so quick and easy to make and leave your home smelling fresh for hours or even days. Recipes can be tailored to the season too, you could try ingredients like lemon and rosemary in the spring or orange and cloves during the festive season. Best of all you, can have some real fun with them and make up your own recipes using any spices, fruits, herbs, flowers or plants you have handy.

 

 

Here’s how to make them


Simply combine a few ingredients in a saucepan, in this case, we are using one orange (halved), a handful of cloves, a vanilla pod and water. Then just bring the pan to the boil, turn down to a simmer and leave for an hour or so, it’s that simple. Just be careful not to let all the water evaporate, as your ingredients will burn and leave a nasty smell, not the pleasant one you are looking for.

 

 

There are loads of different ingredients you could try, here’re just a few:

  • lemons
  • oranges
  • grapefruits
  • apples
  • cranberries
  • cinnamon sticks
  • whole cloves
  • fresh herbs
  • pine needles
  • bay leaves
  • flowers
  • ginger
  • nutmeg
  • rose water
  • almond extract
  • vanilla extract
  • essential oils

Happy simmering!

 

Written by Mike Pye