Planning for house guests


Here in Aotearoa, New Zealand we have just had Easter and school holidays. For my northern hemisphere readers, summer holiday season is upon them and many of us are looking forward to having family and friends to stay. After the initial excitement of looking forward to seeing family and friends, comes the panic of realising what you need to do to get the house ready for guests. I suspect that most of us have little time to do this and can therefore quickly become overwhelmed. My wonderful brother, sis in law , niece and nephew came to stay for a week over the Easter holiday and I needed to prepare our home for their stay. So I thought that this is the perfect opportunity to take you through how I plan, what I do, things to consider, helped by a check list and other tips to help you when preparing for house guests.

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Have a plan

The first thing that I do when I know we have guests coming is to create a plan. I work out what I need to do and what time I have got to get these things done. I find doing a bit at a time really helps to reduce the “panic” of needing to get everything sorted at the past minute. My plan generally covers off these main topics;

  1. Food and Beverage

  2. Meal planning

  3. Cleaning

  4. Linen and Bathroom

  5. Gifts

  6. Information

Under each of these I have a list of things that I need to cover off , so this essentially becomes my “to do list”. My next step is to plan out in my home planner the days during the week that I need to get these things done.

Now that you have an overall plan, let me take you through the six areas that I work off in my plan.


Food and Beverages

This is all about making sure that you have got the sorts of pantry and fridge supplies needed for your guests. Rather than just stocking up with your usual supplies try and think about your guests and what they may like to eat. e.g breakfast cereals, favourite teas and how they have their coffee. If you have a family visiting think about snacks and fruit for the kiddies. For my niece and nephews visit I made sure that I had snacks in the pantry, and in the fridge I have a tray of apples and yoghurt that they could just grab.

Don’t forget the adults too, if you have a cocktail cabinet make sure it’s fully stocked and that for the Craft beer lover that there is some nice cold ones in the fridge ready for their arrival.

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A really nice touch and a very economical option is to do some baking. A fresh batch of cookies always goes down a treat with everyone. This could be a great way to have foods specific to festive seasons such as Christmas or Easter time.

Lastly don’t forget the essentials such as milk, bread and spreads , have plenty of these supplies to ensure that you don’t run out.

Meal planning

This may seem a bit silly however if your guests are staying more than a couple of nights, then a meal plan is a great idea. Firstly it means that you don’t need to worry about what to cook and gives more time in the day to have time with your guests. As with the food and beverage supplies, think about your guests and what sort of meals they would like. When my Mumma comes and stay she loves hot spicy food so our meals are planned to that. However with my brother and family it was much more good old family meals, like Lasagne.

Make sure that you also think about which nights you might go out, i.e if you have a celebration dinner to attend, and plan that in.

Displaying the meal plan can be a good idea, I just use my weekly meal planner board for this, it can actually be really helpful to discover if someone is not too keen on a certain meal., as illustrated by a funny story from my niece. Only being 6 she immediately notice the meal plan board and checked out the meal we have planned for their stay. She asked if we could swap a meal around because she didn’t like Bacon and Egg pie (which was on list) , so cute.

Once you have the meal plan, you can just shop to that, so much easier than guessing what to cook each night.

If you are interested in learning more about meal planning, just check out my meal planning for beginner post, just click on the pic below.

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CLEAning

The challenge with cleaning in preparation for guests is the timing, as you really need to do it just before they arrive. It’s likely that you will not have a lot of time so just do the important areas, like the guest bedroom and bathroom. If you have time do a quick clean up in the living area and kitchen. One of the quickest and easy tricks to making a home look and feel clean is the entrance area. I would suggest making sure that you have cleared away all the clutter and give the area a quick clean. If you can, create a space where the guests have a place for their jackets and bags etc. Also if you have a no shoes in the house rule , then make sure that they have a place for their shoes and that you provide some type of house shoes/slippers. As an example I got my guests house socks and put these into their gift basket.

Other things to remember when cleaning;

  • Replace the hand towel in the bathrooms with fresh clean ones

  • Clean the taps and the toilet seat, especially underneath

  • Stock up the toilet paper

  • Fill up the soap dispensers

  • Clean the bathroom mirrors

  • Change the shower curtain, or at least wash it

The last and the best trick of all when it comes to a clean house is the scents you use in your home. Walking into a home with a beautiful scent in the air with makes it feel clean and inviting regardless of how clean it really is.

I am personally a huge fan of essential oils and love using these to create gorgeous scents around the house.

In the guest bedroom I use a small jute bag full of cotton balls on which I place some drops of lavender. I place these discreetly near the bedhead area, not only providing a lovely scent but enabling a great sleep. I also place some drops of lemongrass in the tube of the toilet paper, this gets absorbed through the toilet paper.

One thing I do want to mention is zone cleaning or having a cleaning routine. If you have a regular, consistent cycle of cleaning it actually means that you generally always have a clean house so you don’t need to really every do a big “clean” . This really helps when having guest because all you need to do is a quick tidy up and you are done.

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Linen, BED and Bathroom

So tell me…. Do you like getting into a bed with clean fresh white sheets? Yes I thought so, and why is that? Because it makes you feel like you are in a hotel! Therefore great bedding and linen really makes your guest feel like they staying in luxury. It you don’t have specific linen and bedding for guests beds, then at least make sure that you have fresh, clean sheets on the bed.

It’s good to have extra blankets or throws in the room, especially if it’s autumn or winter. And in the warmer seasons, provide a fan.

Another lovely touch in the bedrooms is to have some nice dressing gowns and slippers. These can be placed with guest towels on the corner of the bed for their arrival.

I am fortunate that we have guest rooms that are not used other than for guests so I can make sure these are ready earlier. However if you are using bedrooms that have to be made up, I’d suggest getting as much as you can ready so when you have to make up the beds etc you have everything ready.

As an example, we had a single mattress that used to be housed under my sons bed. We would use this for any guests and it could be placed in any spare space at the time. To make things easier for this, I had all the linen & bedding for that single mattress all ready to go and in its own place in the cupboard. This meant that when we got the mattress out all I needed to do was grab the linen & bedding and make up the bed. This would only take me 5 mins or so.

Onto the guest bathroom, I’d recommend having full set of towels as well, including a hand towel and face cloth. I also like to ensure that there are supplies for the guests for oral, hair and skin care. And lets not forget a wee medicine stash for those morning headaches from one too many celebration drinks. You don’t need to go over the top, just have the basics. Maybe display them nicely, to bring a bit of luxury into the bathroom.

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Gifts

Just to clarify at this point, that it is not necessary to provide gifts to every guest you have, a simple gesture of snacks and bottled water in their room is plenty.

However if you are having close friends or family you may want to go a bit extra to make their visit special. Here are some ideas;

  • A bottle of bubbles with nice wine glasses and candles on a tray

  • Basket with cozy house socks and a selection of new magazines (try and get a topic that they like)

  • Books, fun stationery, puzzles for kids

  • Fun slippers

  • Seasonal gifts - e.g Easter eggs , Christmas cookies

I recently had my niece and nephew (6 & 10) staying over easter time. I got them a small basket each and filled it up with a few fun things;

  • Mug with hot chocolate sachet

  • Easter Bunny (Chocolate)

  • Books to read

  • Travel Diary (as they were doing a road trip)

  • Pens and stickers

  • Head phones

  • Cute wee house socks

As they were travelling on a road trip I knew that they could take their basket of goodies with them. So when thinking of gifts consider how they are travelling. Often it would be best to provide a gift that they will use during their stay so don’t need to take it with them, food is the obvious choice for that.

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Information

Lastly and probably most importantly, is useful information that your guest will need. The most obvious is the Wifi password, it’s like to be asked for fairly soon after arrival, so have it somewhere visible, e.g typed up inside a picture frame.

If they are likely to be using the TV and other electronic equipment make sure that you have the instructions available, e.g How To guides. Also think to include washing machine instructions , especially if they are staying for a wee while.

A good idea would be to make up a folder with brochures of local attractions and activities as well as eateries.

Local public transport information is also great to have, timetables and even a travel card could be useful. Information on the local supermarket is handy and think about having a reward card available.


To wrap up and some FREE help

I have tried to cover of all that I can think of in relation to preparation for house guests, and a lot of the time there is no need to do all of the above, however it’s helpful as a guide and can form your “to do list”. As I mentioned initially, the sanity saver in terms of preparation is to plan, even if you only have short notice of a guests arrival you can still plan. To help you with the preparation I have developed a check list for you , which is FREE to access below and covers of all the six areas above;

  • Food and Beverage

  • Meal planning

  • Cleaning

  • Linen Bedding and Bathroom

  • Gifts

  • Information

FREE check list

Your ulimate "to do" list to get ready for house guests

     

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    Thanks so much for coming by and I hope that you have found this information really useful. I’d love to hear about any preparation tips and gifts ideas that you have in preparation for your house guests.

    Happy Hosting and may you be the Hostest with the Mostest!!!

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    My 2018 Planners - Part one

    Ohhhh lovely jubbly, this is for all you planner lovers out there and those that just wonder what all the fuss is about. In this post I am going to introduce you to my new 2018 Franklin Covey planner, and she is a beauty. I will take you through how I have set it up and how I use it to keep me organised. 

    This is one of three planners I use. This one I use as my personal, catch all planner. I have a specific planner for Tidying with Tania and for my full time job which I will take you through in My 2018 Planners - Part Two post

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    The Planner

    A planner is such a personal thing so finding the perfect planner for you can take some time. Let me tell you there is a never ending choice of planners out there. Yes, there are whole online businesses set up in this industry, I could go on but I will restrain myself today.  If you are interested to learn more about planners there are a number of You tube channels dedicated to planners, such as the planner spot , you can also just check out my Pinterest Planners board for ideas 

    This year I have chosen to go with a Franklin Covey planner,  Blush Planner Love in the classic size (A5). It is a ring binder planner which gives me the ability to totally personalise it. I chose this planner for its style of binder and the inserts and dividers which were designed with My Mind's Eye who have the most gorgeous stationery. 

    The Accessories 

    Alongside the binder I purchased these accessories;

    I use daily inserts but I did not like any of the options from Franklin Covey, as the lines are too small and I tend to write larger. I went on Etsy and found a great shop, Crossbow Printables that does nice clear and simple, and stylish printables and sourced their daily inserts.

     

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    I also made a few extra inserts and dividers myself for my cleaning schedule and budget. It's very easy to create using Google Draw in Google Docs. The dividers were made from a really lovely poster freebie from a house and garden magazine. The colours and picture just went perfectly with my planner. I just used the purchased dividers as a template and then laminated and labelled them. 

     

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    The Set up

    I do have a very specific way that I like to set up my planner. It just makes perfect sense for me and means that I use it really effectively. How you use a planner is totally personal, however I have found seeing how others set theirs out really helpful and have taken some ideas that have worked really well for me. If you are wanting to get some ideas, just go on You tube and search for "planner set ups" . You will be there for years, just warning you.

    So how do I set up mine? I start with a dashboard or in non planner speak, a front cover. It is also a place where we place stickers and the like. I also have my gratitude insert and planner title page at the front. Following on from that I have the following dividers;

    • Notes - this is my inbox 
    • Goals - one pager with our 2018 goals
    • This Month - Jan to Dec month calendars
    • This week - Jan to March weekly calendar (13 weeks)
    • Today - my daily planner - one month of dailys
    • Meal planning - weekly planner (13 weeks)
    • Cleaning schedule - one pager weekly list
    • Budget - monthly tracker
    • Projects - documents relevent  to current projects
    • TWT schedule - yearly view of my Tidying with Tania post schedule
    • Stickers envelope

     

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    The Planning

    I have been a planner for years and as woman of a certain age I know what works for me. Some people take years to find "planner peace", yes that may seem like a oxymoron but it just means that your planner set up is perfect for you and you use it really well. 

    My planning approach is all about ensuring that I start the week feeling in control and that I know what is coming up for me and family.  It starts on a Sunday morning over a cup of tea with me reviewing the months activities, updating any new appointments, events etc.  I often just note down things in my note page and on a Sunday just check this off. I then move into the week and simply write down what's coming up. I also do my meal planning so I can include this in the weeks view. The weekly to do's are also written up and I then go through and spread these out over the week, this really helps to get everything done.

    So my weeks write up will include meals for each day, cleaning schedule, exercise times, appointments and my to do's. 

    Every night I will set up my daily planner for the next day. This gives me space to work out what I do during the day. As I have to pack so much into my day this is a fantastic way of blocking out time to do the tasks and it keeps you on track. 

     

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    As we use a software programme for our budget, my budget pages are just for me to list out the cash that I need for each week and month, as we work off a cash system. I use the projects divider to hold anything to do with a current project. At the moment we are completing the renovations so I have all the business cards and renovation plans and budget in here, so I can easily get to the information that I need.

    I hold my post schedule at the back of the planner, it's a year on a page and it simply lists out the dates that I have scheduled the posts. This is really helpful when I am planning and need to see what my week and month is going to look like. 

    Due to the bulk created by inserts I only hold three months of weekly and meal planning pages. In fact that works really well for me as I am a 90 day planner. For the dailys I only hold a months worth. I just store the other pages and inserts on my planner box in my office.

    As you can tell I love planners and love to plan, and yep I have three of them in use!!!  My next post I will take you through my other two planners so you can see how I use these, as they each are used in different ways.

    I hope that you found this insight into my crazy planning passion interesting. Does anyone else plan like this? Are you thinking of starting a planner?  Do you want to know more about planners? I would love to hear from you, so just leave a comment below.

    Have a well planned week everyone and happy planning

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    Make sure you follow my on social media, links below where I have more fun and interesting information.

     

    Giveaway 

    Now for the most exciting news. I have a beautiful 2018 planner from Create 365 The Happy Planner, to giveaway this month to help you to plan and achieve your goals. All you need to do is to ensure that you have signed up to my newsletter below and you will go in the draw to receive this fantastic giveaway. All existing subscribers are included so you do not need to sign up again.

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    How I try for a stressless Christmas.

    I am so excited to be joining 11 amazing Kiwi Mummy Bloggers, in the "12 Days of Christmas - A Blog Collaboration". We have a had a fantastic variety of topics of Christmas themed posts e.g. Craft Decorations, DIY gifts, Gift Inspiration ideas, Recipes and Family traditions. Yesterday, Day 10, we got a great treat from Hey Little Sweet Thing with her recipe for those yummy Dark Chocolate and Nutella Snowball Truffles. Tomorrow is the 12th Day and the last blog and we are visiting Karen from The Fruitful Homemaker  who is going to be chatting to us about making the ultimate Christmas Smoothie . Be sure to pop over after midday and have a read.

    So today, Day 11, it's my turn, a little bit of stress relief in between some tasty treats!

    Let me just say up front that the title of this blog maybe a bit exaggerated, not sure that one can actually have an entirely stressless Christmas. However, over the years of running around like a chicken with its head off, I have learnt a thing or two to help prevent you being taken away in a straight jacket! So I thought I`d share what I found that helped me through this crazy season!

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    Plan it out!

    Yes this boring old chestnut! let me say this right now, you actual have to do some planning if you want to stop simply running from one state of madness to the next. Planning does actually mean that you know what is coming next and so it actually feels like you are in some form of control.

    I always started with my December calendar and marked out all the dates that I knew we had coming up. To help make sure that I got everything I would just think of all the activities and events that were coming up for all the family, such as;

    • School functions - prize giving, dinners, class picnic. lunches etc 
    • Sports functions  - end of year awards, BBQ`s
    • Family gatherings 
    • Friends get togethers
    • Work do's
    • Street parties 
    • School break dates
    • Work finish dates (if you are lucky enough to get a break)

    After marking out the calendar, I worked out what was needed for each event and who had to go. I tell you that juggling the school activities while working full time is a challenge so if you can try to share this with your partner and extended family, like grandparents. Planning out the events meant that you can book in your helpers in advance, rather than ringing around the night before trying to get someone to help. Even better was working in with other parents so you can help each other out. 

    Now to give yourself a bit of a treat and to help with planning, why not get yourself a Christmas Planner. I scored a Kikki K Christmas Planner in their January sales. Apart from having to re-write the December dates (2016 calendar) it's a great little planner and nice and small for your bag.

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    There are also heaps of printable Christmas planners, just like this one from The Fruitful Homemaker  or a little more OTT with Brilliant Business Moms which came free this year to all her email subscribers. 

    Stash it

    "Stashing it" can save your bacon, and did mine so many times over the years. So quite literally this just means having a  stash of presents and food for any unplanned and forgotten events and visitors. I would just buy extra boxes of Sampler biscuits pre wrap them and just pull them out like I had planned the present..boom baby. You could also do a batch of home baking and make up wee Christmas hampers or treats in a jar...for a bit of inspiration just check out these great Christmas Truffles from Hey Little Sweet Thing that would be perfect for this.

    In regards to food for events, which often were "bring a plate!" it helped me to always have a "go to" dish! This was either hokey pokey biscuits or carrots and humus, for a bbq or meal, it was potato salad.

    TIP 2: Stash emergency cash in the car and at home for those emergency runs to the store for a gift or for takeaways. 

    TIP 3: Stash energy bars and water in the car to hold off those starving kids who are Hangry!

    Buy it

    This is the fun part......who doesn't love spending up a storm on christmas present. But you don't really want to go into debt doing this.

    TIP 4: Have a budget and use cash only to stop you going over the budget.

    If you can, list out the presents you need to buy and try and purchase a couple per week over December. The same goes with your Christmas and Holiday food,  just add a few items (non-perishable)  into your weekly shop during December, then you only need to buy the perishables closer to the day.  I found that this really helped with the budget and pressure at the end of December.

    2016 christmas , all hospice shop finds !

    2016 christmas , all hospice shop finds !

     

    Also don't forget to schedule in your shopping time. DO NOT....what ever you do, leave your shopping to the last minute, that is maximum stress level right there.

    TIP 5: Go shopping on your own if you can, take the list, go to the mall, only shop for what's on your list, use cash only.

    TIP 6: Christmas savings - set aside a small amount each week from the 1st Jan. I used a cash envelope and put in $20 a week plus $10 on the Pak'nSave Christmas club card. This essentially was our total Christmas budget.

    My cash envelope system

    My cash envelope system

     

    Just Relax 

    I always tried to get everything done by Christmas Eve so I could just sit back and relax and enjoy being with my family. So make sure when you are planning out what you need to do to actually plan for "relax day" on Christmas eve!. 

    To help you get into the relaxing mood, check out this simple cocktail recipe at Parental Misadventures

    So there you have it, these are the things that I found worked for me in surviving the month of madness!

    Now for this year's Christmas.....well it has to be the least stressful ever!

    Our Christmas 2017

    This year Christmas is very very low key.  We are renovating our Kitchen, bathroom and ensuite also decorating the lounge, master bedroom, dinning room and two guest rooms. So one half of the house is currently a demolition zone and we are living in the other half. I don`t even have the Christmas tree up, however I have managed to find some where to hang the stockings!

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    Our two kiddies, will be home for Christmas day, however as we don't really have any cooking facilities our dear friends are having us over on Christmas day and we will feast like Kings! 

    The other tradition that we started last year and it was soo much fun, was to shop for gifts only at hospice shops and you can`t spend over $20 each person. We found some absolute gems, cheap and recycled ...the perfect gift, so we are doing it again this year. 

    So now the kids are grown up it is certainly a lot calmer coming into Christmas, but it's funny as I kind of miss it!! 

    Have a fabulous Christmas and enjoy the precious time with your family, even if they come in all excited at 4am!

     

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    It's been such a privilege to have been part of the "12 Days of Christmas - A Blog Collaboration".  We have certainly been treated to some awesome blogs by 11 amazing Kiwi Mummy Bloggers. I have included a full list of all the bloggers taking part in the blog collaboration below, so you can see who has posted their blog on what day. You can also find all us on Facebook and Instagram - simply search #KMB12DaysofChristmas.

     

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    Day 1 (1st December) My Other Name is Mum  

    Day 2 (2nd December) Teacher by trade, Mother by nature

    Day 3 (3rd December) Life With Lochlan 

    Day 4 (4th December) Misses Mac 

    Day 5 (5th December) Eva - The Living One

    Day 6 (6th December) Caroline Larnach

    Day 7 (7th December) KidsPlayNZ

    Day 8 (8th December) Parental Misadventures

    Day 9 (9th December)  Sweet Pea Homestead

    Day 10 (10th December) Hey Little Sweet Thing

    Day 11 (11th December) Tidying With Tania 

    <---- YOU ARE HERE ----> 

    Day 12 (12th December)  The Fruitful Homemaker



     

     

     

     

     

     

    Let me eat cake or just sour cream and chive potato chips

    This blog was supposed to be all about "how I organised my daughters 21st. Clearly it isn`t!  Having gotten over the excitement and emotional journey of the 21st party, the planning and hosting, I was looking forward to sharing all the details on the decorations, menu planning etc etc. But oh no my "i just can`t be bothered brain" kicked in and to be honest I just wanted curl up on the couch, binge on Netflix while eating chips and beer.....is that so bad really! It was going to be the leftover birthday cake, however I really had a bit too much of it, so I b-lined it to the chips...once the bags open thats it, I can`t stop!.  I just felt like I lost my mojo and actually felt pretty overwhelmed!   

    I was feeling really excited as I could now start to "organise and plan" for the pack up and move for the renovations (only got 2 weeks to go before the builders start).  We needed to pack up all of the upstairs which consists of Kitchen, bathroom, ensuite, master bedroom, two guest rooms, dining room, lounge, hallway and entry, so the builders can start to demo and gut the areas. We were going to sit down and plan out this big job, so it could be stressless, nice and orderly! But....!!!

    The Incident

    I had just finished my yoga, hmm a few down dogs and farts, feeling relaxed and was starting on downloading the photos from the party when I heard, thumping and crashing noises from upstairs. Off I went to investigate and discovered Pete and the neighbour ripping up the carpet in both bedrooms!. Now to explain Pete and I thought it would be a great idea to advertise on Neighbourly (Community website) to give away the carpet as we are replacing it. It would be a great help to us to have someone take it away and reuse. In my silly head I didn`t even think about people would want to come and take it away now.  So here I was none the wiser that this was going on and was faced with carpet everywhere and furniture all over the place with stuff pulled out and displaced everywhere...yep you guessed it I was just a tad freaked out as my master plan if a stressless, nice and orderly move had just been blown to outer space...like the dudes rocket who wanted to prove the earth was flat!!!

    However I had to remain calm and offer my help as it was actually a great thing that the carpet was being removed. Luckily the sheer physical work to move the furniture and roll up the carpet and move took all my energy and my freaking out anxiety...so boom! there was a sliver lining, always got to look for that bloody silver lining.

    So we continued, moving onto the lounge and the dinning room, shifting the furniture to one side of the room, rolling up the carpet and underlay then shifting the furniture to the other side and rolling the last half, lifting big rolls of carpet into our neighbours Tardis of a van.  By 9pm the upstairs was pretty much empty of carpet and well it was a chaotic mess with furniture and stuff all over the place.  

     

    The Reaction

    One side of my brain is going, this is great to get rid of all the carpet and so quickly and easily and the other side was running around in circles going, with arms waving in the air going, "OMG...where do I start" . I am not sure about you but I find mess and disorgansiation very stressful.....well I know it's pretty obvious really!. I needed to reset myself and get my mojo back!. The cat's present of the dead mouse on the stairs didn't help much either!

    The Recovery

    So this blog is more about me sharing my reality at the moment and trying to get a sense of calm amongst my chaos!!! arggghhh. In some ways this is about me putting into practice what I preach!! One of the first things I always do when feeling like this is to do a brain dump, listing out everything that you need to do, no order just get it all out. It does help me to resume normal transmission. 

    The brain dump

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    • Set up downstairs kitchen, including a coffee station and mini pantry
    • Decide what we need to take from kitchen to use for 3 months
    • Set up downstairs bathroom 
    • Pack up the ensuite and decide what to move
    • Pack up guest bathroom
    • Re house all the pot plants 
    • Move into the guest room - shifting wardrobe and bedroom furniture and bedding
    • Take all art work off the walls
    • Clear all furniture from the entry and dinning room
    • Pack up the kitchen
    • Get cardboard boxes for storing items
    • Buy large storage  bags 
    • Purge our wardrobe 
    • Pack up our bedroom 
    • Remove the wallpaper from the kitchen and living room
    • Get new seats for downstairs deck
    • Source power extension cords and multi boxes
    • stack the furniture up in the lounge
    • get cover clothes
    • finish removing the carpet 
    • remove all the tacks from the bare floor

    For some reason it always makes me feel better getting this listed out, the good old brain dump. It's a bit like the rebooting the computer!. So starting to feel better now and like "you got this"!

    The next mission is to work out what to do first, yep the good old prioritise. I find that working backwards helps, not literally of course but in terms of the timeframes. To help me do this I use this simple printable resource from Strange & Charmed . There are really good planning resources on this site and Alexis has great videos and other resources available so check it out.

    I have created two "Projects" or goals;

    1. Clear out all of the upstairs by the 3rd December - For the Builders start on the 4th Dec
    2. Set up Kitchen, Bathroom, Bedroom and living area downstairs - For move in on the 3rd Dec

    Now that I have the two goals stated it is a lot easier to work through the big to do list and "allocate" them to the appropriate goal. Having detailed the timeframe as well so I can work out what actions need to be done when to ensure I get the end goal achieved within my timeframe.

    The last step is to work through the number of days left and assign the actions over each day, ideally leaving a free day on the last day. On which I will be sleeping in and watching Netflix while eating Sour cream & chive potato chips and drinking beer!!!

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    meal planning for beginners

    How many times have you heard "what's for dinner"? either from your nagging kids or your inner voice reminding you that you have to sort dinner out! If I told you that there was a way to make that stupid question go away would you believe me?  Well actually there is and it's called meal planning. I initially started meal planning when the kids were little, Pete and I both working full time. It made such a huge difference to our week and to this day, even though the kids have grown and flown, we still meal plan. Meal planning is really simple, easy, it saves heaps of time and your week feels a lot less crazy. And as a bonus it will actually save you money. It's a great way to manage the food budget. In this post I take you through all the steps to make this easy for you. I also have FREE printable for you and some great tips to get you on your way.

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    Meal Planning is actually very easy, just plan in advance what meals you are going to cook each night over a week, fortnight or month. Easy eh!!!! For me I follow these simple steps;

    • Decide the planning cycle

    • Check my planner for upcoming activities & events

    • Choose my meals to cook

    • Shop

    • Cook

    The first step you want to do, is to work out how often you want to meal plan, I call this the planning cycle.

    WOrk out your Planning Cycle

    From my experience the best way to work this out is to line it up with your shopping routine. I plan our meals from Monday to Sunday as we shop on Sundays. When we shopped fortnightly, I planned fortnightly.

    Just a quick tip, I find weekly planning  a lot easier, as you normally know what you will be doing during that week and able to plan the meals around that. However another week out there are likely to be things that come up that you have not planned for. So you do need to have flexibility in planning the longer your cycle is.

    Check your upcoming events and activities

    The first thing I do is to check  my planner, checking for what's on that week, evening activities and so on. I note which nights we can cook and which nights we will be really busy. Therefore planning out the best options for dinner to fit around our activities.

    Let's take this weeks meal planning. This week we have extra visitors at the end of the week and I am travelling in the early part of the week. So for us this week, I know that for Friday night we will have more people to cook for and Saturday night we are hosting our party, so we need a quick gab dinner. Sunday will be late so we will have to do something quick and easy. 

    So this week we need a variety of quick and easy meals and some pre made meals, like slow cooker meals.  

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    Now that you have sorted what the week looks like and which nights you need to plan the meals for then, it's just a matter of choosing the meals.

    Choosing the meals to cook

    For me the meals need to be quick, easy, healthy and budget friendly. I also have to balance our different food tastes. Pete likes meaty, spicy and really hot food, more spicy hot Asian style, where as I like less spice and chillies and more vegetarian. The biggest challenge for meal planning is finding inspiration for meal ideas.

    So how do I find meal ideas? 

    There are great online food bloggers and pretty much any food genre you want. I would suggest using Pinterest for this, just set up your own recipe board, search for meal ideas and pin the recipes to your board. As you can see I have done that on my Pinterest page. Also check out some of your favourite chiefs and they are likely to have a website, sign up for their weekly newsletter and you can get meal inspiration to your inbox every week.

    Also local supermarkets have great websites with food and meal inspiration and your can have the added bonus of shopping online.  Countdown is a good example and there is a great app that you can use as well. I also have one favourite cookbook on the go which I will refer to as well. Tip,  just as an idea you could have a monthly cookbook theme.

    My favourite cookbook when the kids where at home and we were pressed for time was Jamie Olivers 15 min meals. I would go through his book every week and pick out yummy meals.

    Pete_cooking_with_gas.png

     

    It does make it easier and quicker if you have a good stock of recipes or meal ideas that you can refer to when planning them out. A good tip is to make up your own home recipe folder

    Another tip, try and have meals that use seasonal ingredients as they are cheaper and fresher, like a cabbage and carrots in winter for slaw versus a lettuce variety salad. Also try to share ingredients across meals - mince 1kg - split in half over two meals.  Veges, like spinach, half bag for one meal, half for another. This really helps to reduce your food waste and is a cheaper way to shop.

    Prepare your shopping list 

    Once I have decided which meals to cook for the week , I then work out which ingredients we will need to buy. On my meal planning page I note beside the meal what I need to buy then just transfer that onto my catch all shopping list. The other thing that is really handy is that I note the reference, i.e where the recipe is from. E.g if it's from the cookbook I would just have the page number as the reference. As I have variety of sources of meal ideas this referencing is really helpful.

    To make this easier for you I have a created a FREE weekly meal planner printable for you to use.  As you plan out your meals just note down the side what you need from the supermarket. It's really handy to have on you when doing the shopping. To receive this FREE weekly meal planner download just sign up below;

    FREE Meal planner

    Free meal planner printable pic
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    Display your Meal Menu

    This may seem a bit strange to display your meals for the week, but trust me it's worth it!. Firstly everyone can see the meals, so no need to ask what's for tea...."it's on the board" secondly if someone else has to cook they know which meal to make. And lastly it makes you accountable to actually cook the meals!  Once you have written them down and got them up for all to see if does commit you to making them. As in the end meal planning will not really be of any use if you just end up not cooking and getting takeaways instead!! (tempting as that may be sometimes)

    My menu display board is just a photo frame with a piece of card stock behind and I use a whiteboard maker. I just wipe it down each week and write up the new menu....easy as that. 

    Hints and Tips to help with meal planning

    • Try and maintain a pantry with the staple items, so all you need to do is to buy the meat and vegetables.

    • Collect recipes from magazines, cooking shows, subscribe to food blogs.

    • Use your family's favourites meals, when our kids were younger Shepherds Pie, Lasagne, Bolognase, Sausage Casserole and Homemade burgers were our high rotate.

    Summary of steps

    I hope this post has given you some useful information to help you get started with meal planning. Meal planning is such a simple and easy thing to do and does make such a difference to your life. Remember the 5 simple steps;

    1. Choose your planning cycle

    2. Check my planner for upcoming activities & events

    3. Choose my meals to cook

    4. Shop

    5. Cook

    Get inspiration on a weekly basis on my facebook page, 7nightsaweek , it's dedicated to my weekly meal planning and so each week I share my meal plans, provide links to recipes and share any meal ideas and tips that I have come across.

    Happy meal planning my friends!

    Love to have you join the Tidying Tribe, join us on Instagram , Facebook and Pinterest , just click below.

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     If you found this post helpful ….check out my other featured posts below


     

    How to plan and achieve your goals for the year

    Let's take you back to New Years day. You have great ideas on what you want to achieve, change and do this year...full of excitement and lots of goals for the year ahead. Forward a few weeks and it's nearly the end of January and well reality has sunk in and those goals just look like silly ideas that you are never going to achieve....But it actually doesn't need to be that way. Let me take you through how Pete and I plan our goals at the start of each year and more importantly how we actually achieve them.

     

    Types of Goals

    Generally speaking there are long term, medium and short term goals. These can be personal, career, financial or life goals.

    Pete and I have a long term goal, which is to grow old and crazy together and drive our kids mad...no but seriously....

    Ours is to be able to enjoy retirement together, which is a challenge as Pete is 10 years older than me. Therefore that means when I hit 55 I have to be in a position to have some flexibility with my career as well as financial freedom to enable us to have choices and time together. I know it sounds strange that at 47 I am thinking and planning for retirement however we will never achieve our goal if we don't. So each year we ensure that we are on track to achieving that goal and make changes as we need to.

    My medium term goal is building up of my new business 'Tidying with Tania'. Pete is a Tradie and still on the tools so it's pretty physical work and he is not 20 anymore, so for him it's about hanging in to retirement and supporting his lovely wife. There will be a few trips thrown in along the way, like the Orient Express to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, or a tropical island holiday and doing the bike rail trails and the Tongariro Crossing. I'm sure we will add more.

    We have also got medium goals for our home which we purchased 5 years ago, these are renovation goals.

    Our shorter term goals are focused on the current year. How we decide on the goals and achieve them is what I will share in this post. It's not rocket science however it may be helpful if you are struggling with setting and achieving your goals.

     

    Identify and prioritise the goals

    As we are slowly renovating our house most of our goals for the year are based on the home. This year we have also included some RnR (Rest and Recreation) goals......that I`ll talk about in my Feb post.

    Deciding on the house goals is really easy and fun. Pete and I do a "walk around" ...a what!  We literally walk around the inside and outside of the house documenting everything that we see that needs fixing, renovating, changing etc. 

    The "walk around" with helpers in tow

    The "walk around" with helpers in tow

     

    The next step is to narrow down the list to the things that are a priority and part of your short to medium goals. For example at the 5 year mark our goal is to renovate the kitchen and upstairs bathrooms. 

    It is year 5 this year so we know that this is likely to be our main goal so we do not want to load up too much around this. Last year it was painting the outside of the house, so that was the main goal, however I did manage to sneak in decorating my office.

    We also align the goals to our financial budget which we set annually from July to June, so we allow for the cost of these goals.....it really helps to ensure that you budget for them, it's makes it much easier to actually achieve them.  

    As an example our kitchen and bathrooms costs will be included into the 2017/18 budget, therefore the goal to the end of June will be to plan and get cost estimates.

    Our landscaping of the side garden is already budgeted for in this financial year so the goal here is to finish the plan, buy the plants and complete the landscaping in autumn.

    Our west facing garden awaiting landscaping this year

    Our west facing garden awaiting landscaping this year

     

    From the "walk around" there are a number of one off jobs which essentially make up our "to do list" and the actual goals we make into "projects" as they have a number of things that have to be completed to achieve them.

    Documenting and Planning the goals

    At this point can I just say how much easier this process is if you have a home folder or house file etc. If you want to create a really useful home folder just see my post here where I take you through the steps to create a folder.

    We have a Goals and Projects section in our home folder which is where we list out all the "to do's" and the goals and actions needed. 

    I then take the "to do`s" and put them into my yearly planner so we can break these tasks down over the year, makes it so much easier to achieve them.

    For the goals it's really important to detail the actions steps that you need to take to achieve the goal. I have an example here of what we need to do for the goal of Landscaping the side garden.

    Printable from  StrangeCharmed &nbsp;

    Printable from StrangeCharmed 

     

    By breaking the goal down into key actions, you simply focus on one action at a time and before you know it you have achieved your goal. It's the old saying To eat an Elephant you have to take one bite at a time. I do find focusing on the actions and not the goal does help you to achieve it. The final point on goal setting is timeframes. You must give yourself a timeframe for the goals , so you can then work backwards on when you need to do to get the individual actions done. So for us the landscaping goal is to be completed by autumn. Therefore all the actions have to be done between now and May/June. The same goes for the plan and costings of the kitchen & bathroom renovation. We need to have this done by June when we work through the budget for the new year. 

    Achieveing the Goals

    Easy as! just focus on the individual action steps as I discussed above. If you are not convinced then let me illustrate.

    Below is a list of all the goals that Pete and I have done since moving into our house, just on 5 years ago. And I mean what we actually did ourselves. 

    Complete redo of the downstairs; [painting/wallpaper/shelving/flooring/upcycling furniture]

    • Entertainment room
    • Laundry
    • Toilet
    • Bedroom
    • Study
    • Office

    Decorated the guest room upstairs - painting/made bedding

    Reworked old ensuite to maintain until complete reno - wardrobe makeover/shower makeover

    Complete and extensive redo of the sunroom - new ceiling/new wall linings/new flooring/make furniture covers/painting

    Built and developed up two new vegetable gardens

    Planted out new orchard

    Built composting system

    Built garden shed

    Repainted all the external wooden windows and french doors (17)

    Re stained the cedar [external cladding] on the top story and repainted the block on the bottom story. (250square metres)

    Stained all new decks and stairs (4)

    Re cabled the entire house

    These goals were all achieved by having timeframes and key actions that we needed to do to complete the goal. So we just slowly worked through all the actions and over time we started to knock off the big goals, like painting the house!

    We did get our awesome builder in to complete the laundry reno and replace and build four external decks and stair

     

    So there you have it, planning and goal setting care of Pete and Tania !

    I hope that you might find something useful from this that can help you to achieve your dreams through great goal setting.

    I`d love to hear what your goals are this year and how you are going to achieve them.

    Oh and Kiwis enjoy Waitangi Day and the lovely long weekend.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Chaos to calm

    Overwhelmed, that is a good way to describe how I felt at the start of this week.

    My life at present is pretty crazy, it certainly feels like it. I keep loading up things to achieve. My to do list and goals are constantly expanding. I have the normal challenges of working full time and managing family and have now added to this with my wee business and blog that I am starting to develop. Boy I feel tied just writing this.

    By Sunday night my head was all over the place, I was completely overwhelmed.  I knew I had to figure a way through this otherwise I would get to the point of inertia. This is when you end up actually doing nothing and just feel worse because you have not achieved anything.

    I know we have all been here plenty of times. So I thought I would share with you what I did to get myself back on track, getting things done and feeling good.

    Time out

    Stop and take time out

    No distractions, no phone , no social media, no computer, just allow yourself to think. For me early mornings are my best thinking times, when it's nice and quiet and the day is breaking, it's actually a very peaceful time of the day.  So I made myself a cup of tea and just contemplated life for an hour. First thing I realised is that I had not done this for a while. I am sure this contributed to how I was feeling.  During this time I thought about times when I was really efficient and achieving my goals, what was different, what was I actually doing well. I also thought about what are my priorities.

    Decide your Priorities

    I know that for me I get my thinking time while running and I had not been running for a while...always too busy. So that was a good learning for me, identifying my priority, what I need to always do so that when it came to choosing, my run comes first. I also realised that my balance with work and family was out of whack. It was important for me to get that balance back which meant I needed to spend less time on my side hustle but still be just as effective. I needed to be a lot more efficient with my time.

    Family and Exercise (running) are my priorities and need to be my "always first things". It was really important for me to get that reset.

    Maximise your time

    During the week I have to fit a full day of work, home chores, family time, exercise, socialising and building a wee business. The weekends are even busier as I load up lots of chores and try and get lots done on the wee business. I had thought that I was pretty efficient with my time but ohh no, this is a whole new level.

    I realised that I was going to have to block out my time at home to achieve everything. This is a really effective technique which I use at work. I break my day into blocks of time of allocate tasks for each section. It really makes you focused on completing the task and you have to move onto the new one. For me this really works and you can achieve a lot !!!!!.

    I worked out a daily timetable for after work, thinking about what I needed to do most days after work, always ensuring that my priorities come first. I went through it with Pete so he could ensure that he helps me stick to it.

    Weekly Planning

    As you know I am a big fan of planners. I have two , A Kikki K for home and personal and a Erin Condren for tidyingwithtania.com

    Kikki K Planner inside

    So I took my new daily timetable and adjusted my weekly planning.  I also took the time to do a brain dump of all the things in my head. This step is actually the best, it really helps you to clear your head , it's almost like a data down load. I went through what I already had listed and prioritized. Overloading my week with too many task was a problem I had to tackle. This time I decided to give myself less but more achievable tasks and goals over a week.

    I really thought about the goals I have for the business and realigned the tasks I must do to achieve them. I then mapped them out over the week, this time within the new timeframe that I have created.

    ec 1

    Overall it took me less than 2 hours to get back on track and feel so much better because I felt like I had control and order back.

    So how did my week go? It has been great. All my goals and important task were achieved. I have spent lot more time with the family this week as well as important actions with the business. Pete has been really great at making me stick to my timetable.

    I am sure that I will have to make some tweaks from time to time, however it's been such a great way to reset myself and achieve my goals.

    So if you are feeling the same I hope that this may help you find a way through.

    Hugs and smiles

    Tania

    How to create a home folder

    I am sure that we are like most families, with household and family information all over the place, in drawers, in piles of stuff on the desk, in files, it goes on....you get the picture!

    One way we have found to remove this mess is to have one place to hold all, so for us it's a "Home Folder". It's sort of the one stop shop for key information about your home and family. So today I thought I`d take you through ours, and how I created it. Hopefully, you may find this helpful.

     

    Decide on what information you need

    The first step is to make a list of the types of information that's important for your home and family. Think about what you often look for, what's always lying around, what does everyone need to have access to and so on.

    This can include calendars, weekly plans, to do lists, shopping lists, projects list, meal planning, cleaning plan, important contacts, school information, info for babysitter, maintenance schedules for house, cars and garden.

    A helpful way to decide on these topics is to have a look at the free printables available on line. There is a lot of great information available on blogs as well as You Tube on this topic. I found a couple a really good sites with a lot of free printables, these are justagirlandherblog and scatteredsquirrel

    What was useful for us, was to have all the "home" information together, especially for Pete.  I keep personal contacts and other important family information in my planner. It's totally personal how you do this, every family and home is different so you will need to work out what information is right for you.

    So we decided on the following topics,

    • Calendar and Weekly Planner
    • Goals and Projects
    • Maintenance and Cleaning
    • Important Information
    • Local Information

    Chose your folder

    This folder I sourced from a folder from the local stationery shop, Whitcoulls . I know there are lots of different sizes and designs of folders/binders, again go with what you like and what will work for you.

    I use plastic shelves to hold the printables/papers as it's easy to take in and out as information changes. What I also find helpful for the "Important Information" is to use business card inserts, rather than writing or typing the information in. Again, this is really handy when changing the information.

    Divide the topics and Label

    For each topic or subject I used "L" shaped pockets as the dividers and just punched holes in them for the folder. The L shaped pockets are great to insert information, like the latest menu from your favourite local restaurant. I created a tab on each of the pockets and labelled them. As an aside, a label maker at home is an essential tool, I use the P-touch Brother, it's great.

    I also got an A5 zip wallet and did the same, as above. In this I hold a small amount of cash. It's great for those times when you need small change for kids school, donation, bus......coffeeeeee!

    I found most of these items at Warehouse Stationery, again any stationery supplier will have these.

    And, all importantly, make sure that you have the folder out in a central place so everyone can have access to it.

    I hope this was useful to you, enjoy creating your folder!

    Big hugs and smiles

    Tania