Yes, I was on This Morning*does a little dance!
I was talking “Parent Hacks” – those things to save you time as you juggle your life and kids! Having taken a step back from my career to raise my kids I’m just properly getting back into work now that Akira has started school, so this was the perfect strand for my This Morning debut.
*Thanks for the Twitter outfit love! Jeans – American Eagle, Boots – New Look, T-Shirt – H & M, Biker Jacket – Mint Velvet, Necklace -Stella & Dot.
Trey has been in Cornwall filming all week with our new production company, so orchestrating a 6.30 pick up with two kids needing to go to school was no mean feat but I managed it.
After rehearsals, it was time to head into make-up for some magic by the wonderful Lisa – VERY amused by the name of one of the eyeshadows she used on me! *innocent face
And then I was on air, talking tips I’ve picked up along the way to make life as a parent a bit more streamlined. I would never wish to imply I was any kind of expert but having dedicated the last few years to raising my family I do feel like I understand what most parents in the UK are going through on a daily basis. Juggling parenting and a home and children can be overwhelming, so I love passing on any tips I’ve picked up that make this crazy parenting journey easier! I had lots of fun with “Schofe” and Holly.
I even bumped into the wonderful Laura Carmichael which was a bonus as I’m a bit of a fan of the series (*drops professional front). OK, OK – understatement of the year – I’m a MASSIVE fan and yes, I *might* have squealed a bit and said “I love you” to her face! (it just came out!) I literally wanted to sit her down and grill her on everything – story lines, outfits – where to begin?! And, “Downton Exclusive” – I can confirm that, under all those petticoats, Lady Edith has possibly the longest legs I’ve ever seen! Who knew?!
So – if you missed it – here are those tips:
COOK ONCE, EAT TWICE
This one is kind of a no brainer! If you’re making something for the kids dinner, make double then stick one batch in the freezer for another day. You’re making it anyway, so making double takes no more time.
ROAST CHICKEN…often on a “2-fer” offer in the supermarket, cook them in the same oven to save time and energy.
BOLOGNAISE SAUCE – ALWAYS a winner in my house – when I’m making it I make a huge batch and freeze portion sizes in bags. The sauce can also be used in lasagne
CHILLI – I make a big batch & bag up portion sizes for kids the kids and freeze, then add extra chilli and bag up for us since Trey and I like things spicy! (apparently!)
Thankfully for me, this term both my kids started having cooked lunches (happy days!) Akira’s are free, so paying for Kaya’s actually ends up cheaper than packed lunches.
But when it comes to packed lunches, it’s all about taking the heat out of those manic school mornings.
Sunday night, pre X Factor or Downton (hooray it’s back!) get your family into a sandwich production line around the kitchen table – one person butters the bread, the other adds cheese and ham or whatever, then put the sandwiches in individual bags (to be recycled at a future date) and – this bit will blow your mind – FREEZE! I know – I didn’t realise you could freeze sandwiches either! Then your sandwiches are done for the week, and you just take out every night. Simples! Watching the programme is the reward!
You can also make a big bowl of pasta or rice with veg and freeze in portions.
And to cut down on packaging and cost, because so often you’re paying for the packaging so don’t bother with cheese sticks… just get a block of cheese, cut it up and keep it in some tupperware in the fridge and pre-cut crudités so they’re good to go. Yoghurt is cheaper if you buy a big pot and portion it into little pots. Another yoghurt favourite in this house is to freeze yoghurt tubes which keep the lunchbox cool AND mean the yoghurt won’t go off by lunchtime.
TAKE IT SLOW!
I’m relatively new to the slow cooker game, but I can already tell you the things are EPIC! (as my kids would say!) and save on time & money. Chuck everything in first thing in the morning and it’s good to go after school! I took my own onto the show (which also makes a mean risotto) and did all my own food shopping for the item!
The other bonus is that you can use slightly tougher (and cheaper) cuts of meat as the slow cooking makes them super tender. PLUS the food will stay warm for a few hours after cooking so you can feed different people at different times in the evening. Genius!
I’m big on vegetarian food since I like to use free range or organic meat which can be a bit on the pricey side. So I prefer to use good meat, but less often. Plus I’m a pescatarian! On the show, I made the following recipe:
Vegetable & Chickpea Curry (4 to 6 servings)
3 cups cauliflower florets
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen cut green beans
1 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup chopped onion (I use frozen to keep it easy!)
1 vegetable stock cube (mixed)
2-3 teaspoons curry powder
1 can light coconut milk
1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
Cooked brown rice
1. Put your cauliflower, chickpeas, green beans, carrots, and onion into your slow cooker and stir in the stock and curry powder.
2. Cook on low-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours.
3. Stir in the coconut milk and shredded basil leave and you’re DONE! Serve over brown rice with a few cashew nuts thrown on top. Yum!
I don’t understand anyone who doesn’t do their grocery shop online. I started when my kids were babies … my shop is about 30% cheaper than when I go in store. You can also stock up on favourites when they’re on special offer, shop from past lists to save on time AND – the biggest bonus at this time of year – if you sign up for the regular deliveries you get first pick of the prime XMAS SLOTS which, as someone who had to head to a supermarket at 4am last Christmas Eve, is pretty appealing!
I do occasionally still go into store as I like the experience plus there’s always the clothes section which needs a cheeky once over!
“LIVE YOUR LIFE” LAUNDRY
When it comes to laundry, have a laundry bin in each bedroom and launder BY ROOM, including bedding. Then once it’s done, no sorting required, just straight back to the bedroom & hang up!
And this one’s gonna blow your mind – My mate is the biggest domestic goddess I’ve ever met. Seriously – she’s untouchable! And she washes her clothes on cold! So don’t bother sorting colours but put everything straight in the washing machine. As long as you’re washing in COLD the colours won’t run. It works!
STEP AWAY FROM THE IRON!
Who has time for ironing? NOT ME! Seriously, between juggling my home, work and spending quality time with my children, ironing is WAY down my list of priorities! Life’s too short! As long as you get the bedding out the minute the drier finishes, or put it on the bed straight from the line without folding, you’re fine!
And the same with clothes. I hang them as soon as they come out of the drier or off the clothes line. Or, another tip – hang creased clothes in the bathroom while you take your shower, or pop them in the drier for 10 minutes with a damp cloth.
Actually – I DO iron uniform twice a year – first day of school and photo day!
Hang uniform good to go! I’m talking uniform, underwear and socks on the same hanger. The kids just grab a hanger each morning!
So that’s it!
I’m all about supporting regular parents and letting everyone know it’s OK to “cheat” now and then! Anything that gives you more quality time as a family is fine by me! I’d LOVE to hear your parent hack suggestions if you have any?! I felt totally humbled by the hundreds of supportive and thankful tweets I got after the show, which made the whole thing feel hugely worthwhile and I’m glad so many found the strand useful. Here are some…
Huge love.. And happy hacking!