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Educational Play with Schleich I'm a big fan of learning through play. Unforced educational play. I'm not a teacher and I don't want to be. I want my children to naturally learn whilst they are having fun. When I was contacted recently...

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Say Eh-Oh to the new Teletubbies toys! There back!! Teletubbies made a joyous return to CBeebies last year, and this year marks the launch of the new range of toys. As you know I was sent a box just before Christmas, and today I can finally...

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Travel: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough Last weekend Nana and I took a rather lengthy journey north for a night away at the Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, with Little Dude in tow. The Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is a luxurious country hotel...

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A Place To Enjoy My Garden I love my garden. I love the fact that I have a garden, especially with the recent gorgeous weather we've been having. Whilst I have a pretty compact garden, there's a lot going on out there. Plants, fruit...

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Cuddles With Ben Cohen Some days I have a really difficult job. Days like this for example. *Ahem* That rather nice young man is former rugby player Ben Cohen. Ben is a bit of an expert when it comes to cuddles. He has...

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#Review: Apple & Ginger

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Home & Lifestyle | Posted on 14-09-2015

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I’ve shared a few images of Little Dude’s bedroom on here before, but for those of you that don’t know there is a farm theme running through it. We did this in the simplest way possible with some of those reusable wall stickers which we have running along with top of his bed, and we’ve recently bought him some proper bedding, and gone for one set with animals and tractors on.

One of his favourite toys is a farm set which we keep in a box in the playroom, but we’re always looking for other farm related items which we can add to his bedroom. I was recently approached by Rachael from Apple & Ginger and asked if I’d like to review on of her new wall pictures and when I came across a tractor print, I couldn’t say no!

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I just love this picture. It’s so bright and vibrant, and I adore how it can be personalised with your child’s name – the rhyme quote is also optional.

This is now hung on Little Dude’s wall, complete with his name and the quote. We received it beautifully framed and with a safe acrylic as opposed to glass covering making it less likely to break. I bursts out from the wall and Little Dude rather enjoys pointing at it and shouting out his favourite word, “DAT!”

Now of course there are other prints to choose from to suit any bedroom or playroom theme, from fire engines to balloons to even an ice cream van. You can buy just the print or a framed version in either A4 or A3 sizes, and there is even optional gift wrapping available too.

You can find Apple & Ginger on both Facebook and Instagram.

#Review: Elho Garden Products

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Home & Lifestyle | Posted on 15-07-2015

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The weather is certainly hotting up outside so now is the ideal time to spend some time outdoors, whether it be in the park, at the beach or simply in your own back garden. Little Man has never really been much of an outdoors boy. Sure he likes going to the park, or walking through the woods at the back of our house, but he’s never really been one to initiate these trips and would rather be in the house. He would play Minecraft twenty four seven if we let him. Little Dude is the complete opposite. He’s all about the playroom certainly, but he often goes in there and points at the door or the windows into the garden. Given his chance he’d spend all day crawling around the garden, playing with gravel and attempting to eat snails. Such a pleasant child.

This summer I’m keen to spend lots of time outdoors with my two boys as Little Man will be heading off to school in September. I don’t want it to be a summer of endless TV and Minecraft. I have several activities up my sleeve, but enticing the biggest boy out into the garden is one of them. Now there’s not a huge amount of room in our garden now we have the conservatory so its all about making the most of the space we have. The first logical step in getting him out into the garden for me was to get him gardening. I didn’t want to just give him a square of a flower bed to grow what he wanted in, so I decided to utilise what plants we already had which he was interested in.

Little Man has always been a big fruit eater, and one of his summer highlights and guaranteed ways to coax him into the outdoors in the fruit we have growing outside. About a third of one bed is overrun with raspberries which are not movable, but we had a couple of terracotta troughs with strawberry plants in which seemed perfect for him to be in charge of. The team over at Elho sent us a couple of great items to help brighten up the darker corners of our garden and to encourage the children out there, and one of them was absolutely perfect for Little Man to grow his strawberries in.

The Green Basics Grow Table XXL is designed to be used by people who can’t bend down to garden, or for on balconies, or, as in our case, for children. When I first saw this I thought it would make an excellent water table for the garden, or could even be used as a sandpit if I hadn’t recently made one for the boys, but at the base of the legs there are drainage holes. Logical enough for gardening, but it would have been nice if these had been optional and there had been those push through thin bits of plastic you get on some pots and baskets.

This is a great height for Little Man, as he can happily peer in the top through the clear lid – available separately – and also help tend his plants. And he can also easily do his most important task, which is pick the fruit when its ready. Much excitement today when we went out there and he saw bright red strawberries which he was able to pick and of course eat before he’d even got back inside.

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The grow table was the ideal size for our four existing strawberry plants. These were pretty big and well established but they fit nicely in the table with space for growth and lots of room for fruit to form. The clear lid is brilliant and something I would highly recommend. It protects the contents from the suns ray and frost during winter, provides the chance for us to look at how things are doing without too much disturbance, and has adjustable vents in the top.

This would make a great planter for all kinds of things, but I think its best use would be lots of grow-your-own foods. I see it full of salad plants, or lots of herb plants. You could even use it as somewhere to start off larger plants and then use it without the lid once they are established. A great functional piece, and I love the bright colours that are available.

Elho also sent us an Easy Hanger Basket. I was immediately drawn to this style of hanging basket as hanging it is so simple. It has two large hooks on the back which allow it to be easily hung on a fence, some railings, or on a balcony. During the insane weather and storms of Winter 2014 we lost six of the eight fence panels in our back garden. Thank god the bottom of the garden has a brick wall! Once these panels were finally replaced my Dad fitted two lengths of decking horizontally along the panels on one side where the wind tends to blow into just to help reinforce it. Its done a brilliant job, but I wanted to make use of the planks with some form of hanging basket. The basket from Elho works perfectly on this, so well in fact that I’ll be getting a couple more baskets soon for further along!

WP_20150624_003The left hand side of our garden is pretty dark. Due to the fences, our neighbours ridiculous trees – don’t get me started… – and other houses the estate it never gets any sun. It’s the perfect spot for the boys sand table as they are safe from the sun there, and its where we’ve placed our companion seat. At the bottom corner my Mum created a stumpery for me which is full of lovely ferns and hostas and other shade appreciating things. Its all very overcast with flashes of green, so I wanted to pop a basket above it to grow something with a bit of colour.

That level just about catches a few rays during the day so the bright pink basket stands out perfectly. I popped down to the local garden centre and bought some white trailing fuchsia’s. I think the simple white stands out nicely against the pink basket, and the whole thing adds a great spot of colour to an otherwise dark area.

Both products have done their job perfectly. Adding a splash of colour to the garden and coaxing my indoors boy to head outside, even if it is in the hunt for more food. I love the Elho range and hope to add more pieces to my garden over the summer. It’s all so bright and fun, sturdy and child proof, and the fact its made from recycled material means its eco friendly too. Fantastic brand and fantastic products. Check them out now!

Managing Your Money

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Home & Lifestyle | Posted on 02-07-2015

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How to Manage Your Money Like You’re a City Banker

City bankers and Wall Street aficionados are well reputed for their ability to keep and grow money in vast quantities. Wouldn’t it be awesome if one could copy that skill? Here’s how you can manage your personal finances like the pros do.

Use Proprietary Software

City bankers have at least one application that they use to simplify tasks like bookkeeping. Ordinary people can now use free software like QuickBooks or Mint to automate various financial processes. Most of these tools are provided free online and have user-friendly interfaces built in to minimize the learning curve.

Stay Logical

City bankers don’t let their emotions get in the way when making financial decisions that may impact their business. Avoid being emotional and let the facts guide you. If you are holding shares that are plummeting in value every second just because you are friends with the CEO, you will likely lose money over the long run.

Search for the Right Mix of Growth and Safety

Bankers always take into account risk versus reward, and so should you. Switch your current account to one that accrues interest at a faster pace, but has the same risk profile you are prepared to take on. Scout for sign up bonuses online that are usually offered by banks to entice new clients.

Save Every Bit You Can

The pros like their money so much that they go the extra mile to maximize growth and protection. They stay on top of news reports like a hawk and make endless phone calls to monitor their positions just to save a dollar from their investment’s entry price. As a regular consumer, try to save as much as you can by using discount coupons, staying updated on the latest saving deals, looking for the more affordable brands, etc.

Be Consistent

City bankers will tell you that it is easy to make money. The hard part is keeping the money while concurrently growing it, and this requires consistency in work ethics. Be consistent with your budget, spending rules, and financial decisions. Only leave flexibility in situations where there are variables. If you’ve decided to keep the grocery budget at $300 per month, don’t increase it just because you got a raise or you feel good about next month.

Managing money is harder now than it has ever been due to prevalent effects of the previous recession. These professional tips will help you regain balance and control over your personal finances.

Review: Brabantia Perfume Your Bin

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Home & Lifestyle, Product Launch, Product Reviews | Posted on 08-11-2014

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There’s nothing worse than a smelly kitchen bin. With the array of rubbish that gets thrown in there – even by the most efficient recycler – its no wonder that over the space of a few days things become less than pleasant. I’ve seen bin freshners on the market before, but Brabantia’s new “Perfume Your Bin” range is that little bit more clever thanks to its refillable capabilities. Replacement capsules can be purchased to pop in the holder, and each last up to 6 weeks. Too good to be true? Well the lovely team at Brabantia sent me a “Perfume Your Bin” starter kit to test out, and a rather posh new kitchen bin to use it in.

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The holder fastens to the inside of your bin lid with a sticky pad, and its advised that you leave it in there for 24 hours before adding your fragrance capsule to make sure its secure. The capsules aren’t particularly heavy, but it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve lost a bin freshner by it falling into the rubbish so I waited a full day to add the capsule just to be safe. The capsules come in two scents – pine and flowers. I’m not a lover of pine fragrances so I popped a flower capsule in. The scent is subtle but with its positioning its the only thing you smell when you open the bin lid. No more questionable and unknown smells any more. A really neat idea, and I like the fact that you can get replacement capsules as opposed to buying entire new units.

FlatBack-BrabantiaAs for the new bin, well I was sent one of Brabantia’s brand new Mineral Blue Flat Back bins. This is pretty much as it sounds – a bin with the large capacity you need but with a flat back so it fits flush against a wall, as opposed to a round bin which wastes an awful lot of space. Its finger print resistant which is ideal when you’ve got small children that touch everything, and it has Motion Control (TM) technology which means the lid opening and the pedal action is silent and can’t be slammed. One of my favourite features is the strap on the back which makes carrying the bin really easy and comfortable. When you open the bin there is a removable inner bucket which your bags fasten to, so there’s no more straining to get the full bag out when it comes to emptying it. The inner bucket also has handles to make using it easy.

I think they make a very stylish and space saving addition to any kitchen, and would also work well in a bathroom or even the kids bedroom. To be honest I don’t think there’d be anything to stop you using it as a laundry bin either, as the removable bucket would make transporting your clothes really easy.

The FlatBack bins come in a range of colours and are available in 30l or 40l versions.

Brabantia: The Secret Life Of Laundry

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Competition, Home & Lifestyle, Product Reviews | Posted on 28-05-2014

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Nobody enjoys laundry. Its one of those necessary evils, and one you really can’t ignore. It was a shock how much our dirty laundry increased when we had Little Man. Little Dude’s arrival earlier this month eclipsed that. Baby grows, vests, muslin cloths, and the odd piece of Mummy and Daddy’s clothing seems to get covered in milk every day, and there’s also the occasional wee incident to look forward to as well. The washing machine seems to be permanently on, and with the questionable weather we’re experiencing we are starting to run out of places to hang it too.

Brabantia have created this infographic full of fascinating – and often amusing – facts and figures about the laundry habits of people in the UK as well as across Europe. Do take a look, and at the bottom you’ll find a great little competition to win a great 50 litre laundry bin so your washing can at least look stylish!

Brabantia Sussex Mummy
Who knew laundry habits could differ so much!

Brabantia Sussex Mummy LaundryBrabantia recently sent me one of their brand new 50 litre laundry bins. They heard I was expecting a new baby and thought it might help. As well as having a great big capacity the bin is nice and slim meaning it fits neatly in Little Dude’s bedroom without taking up too much precious floor space. It has a “quick drop opening” so you can easily throw small items in without having to remove the lid – perfect for Little Dude’s tiny clothes – and when the time comes to do the laundry there is a removable bag inside which you can take out quickly and easily without having to carry the whole bin to your washing machine. The bin comes in white or steel colours, and we chose the white. For me the steel looks a little too like a kitchen bin, and I thought the white would go better in the nursery.

Now Brabantia has another of these laundry bins to giveaway to one lucky reader. You can choose either the white or the steel, and you have the choice of either the 50 litre bin or the 30 litre bin. To enter just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter below, and GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Brabantia Titan Oval Ironing Board

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Home & Lifestyle, Product Reviews | Posted on 10-04-2014

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Ironing is one of those irritating necessary evils. One which I’m glad to say I don’t do. I don’t have a good track record when it comes to ironing so Daddy is happy enough to do it, and to be fair the majority of the ironing is his work shirts which he’d rather I didn’t go near.
brabantia titan oval sussexmummy As someone who doesn’t iron, an iron board to review isn’t something I’d generally expect to get enthusiastic about, but as is so often the case with Brabantia products, you just can’t help it.
We were sent their Titan Oval Ironing Board to review. The first thing I noticed was the size of it. Propped up against the wall on its own it didn’t strike me as different to any other ironing board. Stood next to our current board, well its like the Godfather of ironing boards. Its HUGE! Despite its size though its not hard to store, and it fits neatly in our under the stairs cupboard, and the size does make ironing items like bed sheets easier. The next thing to comment on is that pattern – the Titan Oval – which covers the majority of the board apart from the black end. This black section is effectively your irons parking zone. Its heat resistant so you can easily place the iron there hot plate down whilst you get another item to iron, or to adjust what you are ironing. No more singe marks on board covers or clothes, and its must more stable than the usual wire rack you find on other boards.
The legs are the next thing you notice on this ironing board, specifically the shape of them. The sturdy frame supports the board totally, whilst the legs curve forward allowing you to iron even whilst sat down, without banging your knees on them. Being able to iron sat down might just encourage me to do some myself! The legs also come with a ‘Child Safety Lock’ which means the board cannot fall down and collapse either on a child, or cause the hot iron to fall onto them. Essential when you have a chaotic preschooler in the house, and a new baby imminent.
Now at £97 its probably slightly more than you’d usually pay for an ironing board, but I truly believe in the old adage that you get what you pay for, and that’s always been true with Brabantia products. They’re not the cheapest, but the quality is outstanding. Plus it comes with a 10 year guarantee as standard – you can’t really say fairer than that can you?
 

Hive Active Heating

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Home & Lifestyle, Information, Sponsored Posts | Posted on 27-01-2014

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Most of us have our central heating on some kind of timer control, generally coming on in the mornings and evenings to keep the house nice and comfortable whilst we’re getting up and when we’re getting in from work or school. I’m sure we’ll also all agree that sometimes plans don’t quite work out. What if you’re out late one evening and your heating has long since gone off by the time you get home and you are welcomed by a chilly house? What if you’re on holiday and you don’t know exactly what time you’ll be home and your house is cold after a week or two empty? Or, more relevant perhaps to me in a few months, what if you’re in hospital and you want to come home to a warm house with your new baby and the heating has been off for hours? Putting it on when you get in is all well and good but there’s nothing quite like stepping in to a cosy house as opposed to waiting around for it to reach a warm temperature. With a new app you won’t have this problem again.

Hive Active Heating is a genius piece of technology that allows you to instantly control your heating or hot water from your smartphone, tablet or computer. Your state of the art kit begins with a thermostat which allows you to adjust the temperature and set timers whilst you’re at home, much the same as your current thermostat. You also get a hub which connects to your broadband router and also connects wirelessly to your thermostat, allowing remote control. Next you get a receiver which is discreetly fitted by your boiler, allowing it to communicate with your thermostat, once again totally wirelessly. Finally there’s the app, which is available on both Android and Apple devices. This lets you monitor the temperature of your home wherever you are, meaning you can adjust the timer, pop the heating on or off, and even make sure you have a full tank of hot water when you get home.

Countless times we’ve come home to a cold house, mainly when we’re away on holiday. Our house is generally pretty comfortable during the day, especially when we’re at home, and with it being a terrace – or town house if you’re fancy – we do benefit from the added insulation of having a house on either side. We don’t put our heating on a timer as we have such busy lives. I pop it on when Little Man and I come downstairs in the morning, and again if it gets cold during the day, but with schedules always being so mixed there’s no consistent times to have it coming on or off. With a new baby on the way we do need to ensure our house is a good temperature all the time. Hopefully with our new Little Dude due in May we shouldn’t have much trouble, unless the British weather goes haywire of course.

I am really impressed with the sound of Hive and for £199 with full professional installation it seems pretty affordable too, and by saving you money by not wasting heating on an empty house its bound to pay for itself quickly too. Definitely one to consider.

Guest Post: Introducing Elegance To Your Bathroom

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Guest Post, Home & Lifestyle | Posted on 23-01-2014

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There are a myriad of different bathroom interior design ideas that are popular right now but one of the most coveted, is the elegant bathroom. Bringing elegance into a room can be as simple as adding a few choice accessories, or as complex as fitting an entire new bathroom suite; whether you choose to renovate entirely or simply use your style nous and throw in some candles and chic lighting, let bella bathrooms guide you through the process and help you create an elegant, timeless bathroom that all the family will enjoy.

The foundation of the room is crucial to the rest of the look. Whether opting for tiling, wallpaper or paint on the walls and whether choosing stone or vinyl for the floor, it is important to get the foundation of the room just right before attempting to fill it with elegant furniture. Natural stone tiles look fantastic and exude an aura of elegance that other wall and floor coverings often cannot achieve, though porcelain tiles and some wallpaper can also create a beautifully timeless look. The key is not to be too garish or too overtly modern; glossy paints can be banished and vinyl, whilst a great option for budget bathrooms, does not tend to convey elegance too well.

Elegance can be achieved simply through a well-planned colour scheme. Soft neutrals spread through the bathroom can create an atmosphere of supreme glamour and laid-back elegance; bold colours tend to disturb the tranquillity of an elegant bathroom, so pastels and neutral shades of beige are necessary to creating the right backdrop for the rest of the room.

If you are renovating the entire room to make it more elegant than it already is, there are a myriad of classic bathroom suites on the market that will transform the room entirely. From free-standing bath tubs with the traditional claw-footed supports, to basin and toilet sets that combine gentle curves with functionality and conventional design, elegance is easily achievable in the bathroom. Bathroom furniture is also important. Opt for a traditional washstand or a vanity unit and watch as the elegance levels begin to rise in the room.

For those who have no plans to entirely renovate their bathroom, elegance can be added with just a few choice accessories. Opt for an ornate bathroom mirror rather than a modern one with hard edges. Introduce elegant paintings or canvas artwork to the walls and choose a lighting fixture that is both functional and stylish; a chandelier, for instance. Add candles and other decorative pieces such as reed diffusers to surfaces like windowsills and counters (this will also have the advantage of making the room smell wonderful – choose jasmine and ylang-ylang for a truly relaxing scent) and if you really want to go the whole way, decant your shampoo, conditioner and other toiletry liquids into vintage bathroom bottles for a wholly elegant look that everyone will admire. Attention to detail is important for this look; ensure there is no chipped paint, no tatty bath mats and no mildew or water streaks on the shower enclosure. The whole look should be put together, immaculate and easy on the eye.

This article was written by freelance writer and mother of three, Kathryn Thompson.  Follow her on Twitter: @katht35

Halloween Candles From Scented Candle Shop

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Home & Lifestyle, Information | Posted on 11-10-2013

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With Halloween just a few weeks away no doubt you’re getting organised with costumes for the children and things for any trick or treaters that come to your door. Maybe you’re even having a spooky Halloween party and you’ve been looking for decorations and finishing touches to make it a truly memorable event. We don’t really do Halloween in our house – Little Man will be 3 and whilst he appreciates sweets he doesn’t really get the point of the event yet. We’ll probably do something small, maybe a spooky cake or I’ll get him an outfit he can wear on the day without looking too crazy. His preschool are holding a Pumpkin Party the week before so hopefully we’ll go along to that and he can get dressed up.

If you are having a party, or perhaps you’re just looking to decorate your house a bit for the children, how about some Halloween candles? If you head over to the Scented Candle Shop you’ll find a great range available whatever your needs. Here are my favourites.
Yankee Candles Scented Candles HalloweenYankee Candles have some great Halloween pieces this year. Two great Housewarmer Jars are available – one Candy Corn scented and one smelling of Witches Brew. I love Housewarmer Jars and these two would look great on a shelf or mantelpiece on Halloween night. My favourite item though is the Black Cat Tea Light Holder. A spooky looking cat which holds a single tea light in the arch of its back. Jet black apart from two bright yellow eyes, this would make a really good party decoration or would look nice and spooky in a window by the front door. If you’re after something a little more subtle the Scented Candle Shop also do a range of purple, black, orange and red candles and holders to add a coloured theme to your gathering.

And once Halloween is over and November dawns it’ll no doubt be time to really start thinking about Christmas which is approaching at an alarming speed as it does most years. You’ll be pleased to hear that there are plenty Christmas candles to choose from too.

Guest Post: Top Tips For Storing Away Your Kiddie Clutter

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Guest Post, Home & Lifestyle | Posted on 22-09-2013

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Kids can be great to have around – they often bring out your more youthful and fun side. However, they’re also quite messy. Whether it’s toys, clothes, books or shoes, there’s always clutter in a family home.

I know the feeling. I can’t make it from the kitchen to the living room without tripping over a jigsaw puzzle.

If you’re fed up of your adult space looking more like a day care centre, you need to get clever with your storage. There are some fairly simple ways to ensure your kids have everything they need, without it being strewn all over the floor.

Modular shelving

Instead of the usual bookshelf, why not create a modular unit that’s specifically designed for your little one’s bedroom? Whether it’s to hold toys, books or other bits and bobs – it will ensure that everything has a place.

Window seat

Clever storage solutions use the space you already have. I’ve got a gorgeous bay sash window in my living room, so as well as being the perfect place to relax, it also stores anyway anything I don’t want to see. Just lift up the padding for a secret junk hideaway.

School lockers

Upcycling is the next big interior design craze, so why not give their bedroom an edge with some repurposed school lockers. They’ll look really cool, add to the design and mean that they’ve got somewhere to stash their textbooks at the weekend.

Colour-coded bins

While those rectangular plastic boxes are good for storing things away, they’re not particularly attractive. Instead of the usual clear ones, why not find some coloured bins – like the rubber ones for the garden. You’ll be able to use the colours as a way to organise what goes where too.

Living in a house full of messy kids can sometimes be an absolute nightmare, but you wouldn’t have it any other way. To ensure that you don’t lose your marbles the next time you stand on a toy in bare feet – provide your kids with plenty of storage.

Remember, storage doesn’t have to be unattractive. Use your imagination and get creative!

Sources:

 

http://www.news.com.au/realestate/experts/storage-solutions-for-kids8217-clutter/story-fncv4n6s-1226684139001

http://seattletimes.com/html/homesrealestate/2021696686_hrehomework01xml.html