How to Sunday Like a Pro and Prep for a Productive Week

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We’re all familiar with that old saying that “a weekend well spent brings a week of content” right?  I mean, if you haven’t seen it captioned all over on Instagram (y’know; a weekend well spent, brings a week of social media content…) then you’ll have probably heard the words muttered with a smile over weekend brunch.  I used to think that the phrase meant cramming the weekend full of activities – that if you hadn’t hiked up a mountain, gone out for brunch, been to a museum, hit the shops, gone to the cinema, spent time with the family and polished everything off with a whopping great big roast then nope, you were doing weekends wrong.  I mean, who has the energy for all that!?

Growing up, I used to absolutely HATE Sundays – and even though it’s still a whole 50% of the weekend, it always used to feel like the end of it.  It was just one big clock-watch and countdown until bedtime and giving into Monday’s looming arrival, and the back to school/back to work blues would hit me hard.  Because of that feeling, Sundays were never “well spent”; I’d resent going out somewhere or running errands because the day would just disappear, but at the same time I’d hate staying in because then it just felt like a massive waste.  I just didn’t know how to spend the time in a satisfying way.

The truth is that time “well spent” means something different to everyone.  For me, it’s all about balance, and I’ve come to realise that when we’re talking about Sundays that balance is between doing things that relax my mind and make me smile, and doing things that’ll get it into gear for the week ahead.  It’s the basics of self-care, right?  Allowing yourself to indulge in the things that not only make you happy (a big ass brunch and new shoes), but also doing the things that are necessary to function as an adult (changing the sheets and ticking things off that to do list)!

So let me give that old saying a little bit of a tweak, because I think the truth of the matter is that a Sunday well spent brings a week of intent.  People who Sunday like a pro feed off of that back to work feeling because it enables them to spend the time wisely, not only having fun but prepping for Monday’s arrival. I’m still no Sunday Pro myself, but here are a few things that I like to do to rest and prep for the week ahead… 🙂

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Have a Fancy Breakfast

During the week I’m a fast bowl of Frosties kinda girl; they’re grrrrrrrrreat to slurp down quickly on a Monday morning, but not exactly worth getting out of bed for on a lazy Sunday, right?  We can do so much better!  Sundays (and Saturdays…) are for Brunching – which is basically another way of saying “On Sundays, we fancy”.  I’m talking eggs, pancakes, french toast… A little bit of whatever you fancy and can’t be bothered/don’t have the time to make or enjoy during the week.  A slow Sunday morning is one of my favourite things!

If you’re looking for a couple of recipes to pump up your Sunday jam then check out some of my Favourite Egg Recipes here, a whole post on Fabulous French Toast here, as well as Five Lazy Breakfast Ideas here.  Breakfast food is my favourite food, in case you didn’t already know… 😉

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Do Something FUN

I guess the point with this one is to do something that sparks joy – something that you can’t do during the week – whether that’s slobbing out on the sofa and binge-watching three seasons of Alaskan Bush People (…No regrets), baking a little something-something, going out for Sunday Lunch, hiking up a mountain or going for a bike ride, filling up your ASOS shopping bag, or just taking the dog on a proper walk.  Let the good times roll before Monday rolls back around!

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Meal Plan

I started meal planning last year and honestly, it was a total game changer.  It’s helped me not only to cut down on how much I spend on the weekly food shop, but also to cut down on food waste and all that time spent faffing around trying to work out what the hell to cook for dinner every night.  These days I make just one trip to the supermarket and pick up everything I need for the week ahead.  A little bit of planning goes such a long way!

Because I do my food shop on a Monday, Sunday is the day I like to meal plan.  I check my diary for the week and see what’s happening – to see if there are any days where either myself or Sunny are out, or days that are looking crazy-busy (takeaway night!) – and then I start planning!  I jot down all the meals I plan on making over the next seven days (focusing on dinner – that’s the big one) and then I write up a shopping list. 🙂

You can read all about how to start meal planning – along with some tips and tricks – right here.

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Sunday Soak

I LOVE having a bit of a pamper-sesh on Sunday evening. Yes, it’s relaxing, and sure, it’s nice to sit and stew in some suds for an hour rather than have the ten minute shower I tend to go for during the week… but honestly, it’s kind of necessary if I want to keep myself looking (and feeling!) ship-shape and shiny.  I don’t have time to re-paint my nails during the week, or to shave my legs, or clean my makeup brushes and sit around in a hair or a face mask for an hour; so Sunday is the day where I catch up and take the time to tick off all those things that a woman’s gotta do.

You can read my step by step Sunday Soak and a see a list of my favourite products right here.

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Make a List of Goals

As well as writing up my shopping list, I also like to write a list of goals for the week ahead too.  It’s really nice waking up on a Monday armed with an attack plan!  I write down all the things I need to do by the end of the week in order of importance – as well as a list of a few selfish things that I’d quite like to do.  I also like to make some fun plans for the following weekend!  We all need a reward for hard work, right? 😉

Have a great weekend everyone, whatever you’re up to; let me know how you like to spend your Sunday in the comments below 🙂

My Weekly Cleaning Routine

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I’ve kind of come to terms with the fact that I’ll never have a spotless, squeaky-clean house.  Why?  Well, A) Because I have a dog, and B) I just can’t be arsed.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love a clean, fresh-smelling home – of course I do, who doesn’t? – but I’m no Hincher; I don’t enjoy cleaning and if I can get away with not doing something then, mate, I just won’t do it.

Until recently I was devoting one day a week to getting all of my weekly cleaning chores done and dusted.  I’d do a top to bottom sweep of the house – from kitchen to bathroom – and that would be it.  Job done.  Thing is, I’d rush through it, end up doing a half-arsed job of it and feel absolutely knackered once I was done.  And if I got lazy and missed a week?  YIKES.  After getting Bungle the house slowly went from palace to pig sty and it became very obvious that my cleaning routine wasn’t working.  So I decided I needed to switch things up and come up with a way to keep on top of the cleaning in a more manageable way, and since then things have been so much better!

The basic idea is to tackle one room every day, whilst completing a few daily “once over” tasks to keep the place ticking over.  That way, you get the cleaning done in easy, hour-long chunks (usually less) and if you end up missing a day it’s not the end of the world – plus it’s much easier to catch up.  It also means you’re more likely to thoroughly clean each area rather than just wipe over the surface, and by scheduling in monthly tasks for each space you can also keep on top of those extra, must-do jobs.  Like cleaning the oven (ugh, snore).  Is the house perfect?  Hell no.  But it’s clean and mostly tidy and that’s all I care about.

So, let me break it down and show you how it works…

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Everyday Jobs

Having a dog means that there are a few jobs I can’t really get away with avoiding every day.  Bungle goes for a walk twice a day and so tends to bring in muddy paws twice a day – argh!  He’s also a ball of fluff who sheds, so if I don’t put the hoover over once a day, balls of blonde fur would roll across my floors like tumble weed.  So, every day – without fail – I do these three things:

✓ Hoover Upstairs and Downstairs
✓ Wipe the kitchen counters (and obviously do the washing up)
✓ Make the bed

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Monday: Kitchen

Monday’s the day I do my weekly food shop, so it makes sense to tackle the kitchen too. Once I’m back from the shops, I spend a little time clearing the fridge out – getting rid of any food that’s past it and mopping up any spillages – before I put the haul away. Then, it’s cleaning time!

To Do List…

✓ Dismantle “Drying Rack Jenga”: If you’re a bit lazy like me then your drying rack’s probably piled high with pots and pans. Now’s the time to put it all away.
✓ Clean the sink and draining board: Take everything off and out and thoroughly clean and disinfect the sink area. To stop your sink holes stinking either pour down a little bleach or, even better, use coffee grounds!
✓ Wash the bins: My food bin especially gets pretty grimy over the course of a week, so I always give it a good wash.
✓ Clean surfaces and appliances: Move everything off the counter tops and give them a good clean. Wipe down the kettle and toaster. Clean the inside of the microwave and scrub food stains off the hob.
✓ Wipe down the kitchen table: Don’t forget to wipe down the legs and the chairs too!
✓ Swap out your cloths and towels: Depending on how much you’ve used them in the week and whether you’ve got a dishwasher or not, you might want to do this step twice a week.
✓ Hoover and Mop The House

Once a Month…

✓ Thoroughly clean the fridge
✓ Wipe down and polish the cupboards
✓ Clean the oven

Favourite Products…

Method’s Rhubarb Anti-Bacterial All Purpose Spray
♡ Method’s Apple Orchard Steel Spray
♡ Astonish Hob and Cooktop Paste
Zoflora Twilight Garden
Bin Buddy Fresh

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Tuesday: Lounge

This is an easy one! The lounge is where Sunny and I (and Bungle!) spend most of our time, so it can get pretty grubby if one of us forgets to clean it. But, it doesn’t take long to have a quick sweep around and keep it tidy and smelling fresh.

To Do List…

✓  Dust and wipe down surfaces: Where the hell does the dust even come from?! Time to get the duster out and  give the coffee table, window sills and TV table a good wipe.
✓  Hoover the sofa: Oh yes, especially if you’ve got a dog who likes to cuddle.
✓ Dust any pictures: If you’ve got a gallery wall like mine then you need a feather duster in your life.
✓  Clean any pet bedding: Once a week I always change Bungle’s blanket and switch out his toys.
✓  Hoover

Once a Month…

✓ Wash blankets
✓ Wash cushion covers

Favourite Products…

♡ Tesco Fox and Ivy Topaz and Amber Diffuser
Tumble Dryer Sheets (TIP: pop them in your cushion covers to keep them smelling fresh)

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Wednesday: Bathrooms

I HATE cleaning the bathroom, but hey, it’s gotta be done. Once a week I knuckle under and spend an hour  getting it done and then usually reward myself with an epic soak in my squeaky clean tub. 😉

To Do List…

✓ Clean out the bin: I also like to give them a bit of a wipe.
✓ Wipe down the sink: This step’s especially important if you live in an area with hard water because limescale will ruin your chrome taps and plug hole.
✓ Wipe down the shower/bath: Don’t forget to clean the glass screen, and if you’ve got a shower curtain, it’s time to pop it in the wash. If you’ve got long hair, you might want to tackle your plugholes with some unblocking fluid, or bleach.
✓ Wipe the mirror: All that steam and toothpaste will have left your mirror looking streaky, time to give it a scrub!
✓ Thoroughly clean the toilet: That means more than chucking down a bit of bleach and hoping for the best! Wipe the WHOLE thing, but don’t flush the wipes – even if they claim to be flushable.
✓ Switch out your rugs and towels.
✓ Hoover and Mop.

Once a month…

✓  Wipe down the skirting boards.
✓  Clean the grouting between the tiles.

Favourite Products…

♡ Bloo Foamaroma
♡ Viakal with Frebreeze
Method Daily Shower Spray

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Thursday: Bedrooms

Thursday is bedrooms day; which for me basically means dusting and tidying away my floor-drobe and cleaning up my dressing table.  If I’ve got time, I also like to make it a “clothes day”, i.e. a day for ironing, washing and putting away freshly cleaned clothes.

To Do List…

✓  Tidy away “floor-drobe”
✓  Put away clean clothes
✓  Put on wash load
✓  Dust and wipe surfaces
✓  Tidy dressing table (clean makeup brushes!)
✓  Ironing
✓  Hoover

Once a month…

✓ Hoover the mattress
✓ Hoover behind the bed
✓ Wipe down skirting boards

Favourite Products…

♡ Dyson V8
♡ Lenor Gold Orchid Conditioner (TIP: Pour a little into a spray bottle with some water and use it to spritz your bed sheets, curtains and soft furniture to keep things smelling fresh)

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Friday: Hallways

Fridays are an easy day that I use for tidying the hallways and stairs, and sometimes I catch up on monthly cleaning tasks or anything I’ve forgotten to do in the week. 🙂

To Do List…

✓  Dust pictures
✓  Wipe down surfaces
✓  Hoover
✓  Hoover the stairs with crevice tool
✓  Water plants
✓  Refresh diffusers
✓  Mop

Once a month…

✓ Wipe down skirting boards
✓ Wipe down doors and handles
✓ Spot clean carpets
✓ Spot clean walls

Favourite Products…

Ecover Washing Liquid: (TIP: This stuff is great for spot cleaning carpets – just add a little to a cup of warm water and gently work it in.  Because it’s gentle, it won’t bleach your carpet)
♡ Dulux Tester Pot: (TIP: These are great for touching up scuffs and smudges on your walls – especially as they’ve got a roller tool attached now.  When you paint a room, don’t forget to stock up on a few pots for emergencies!)

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Saturday and Sunday

Saturdays and Sundays are generally non cleaning days; hey it’s the weekend, who wants to be stuck doing chores? But saying that, there are a few things I do like to keep on top of on a lazy Sunday afternoon. 🙂

To Do List…

✓  Hoover
✓  Change Bedding
✓  Meal Plan and Shopping List

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And that’s it! If you fancy downloading a printable pdf of my cleaning schedule to use yourself, just click here.  And let me know how you like to tackle your weekly cleaning chores, or any cool cleaning hacks you have in the comments below!  Have a great week! 🙂

Tips and Tricks for Beating Insomnia

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A couple of weeks before Christmas, I couldn’t sleep.  No – before you ask – it wasn’t because I was buzzing with excitement for the big day and that bloke with the beard to sneak a little something for me under the tree (…I’m talking about Sunny, obvs) – I just couldn’t sleep.  It started off with the odd night where I’d roll over at 4am and then struggle to get back to sleep, but before long even nodding off in the first place was impossible.  I was starting to even dread getting into bed (my favourite thing!) because I knew that I’d just be staring up at the ceiling waiting in vain to drop off.  I’d put up with it for an hour or so before I ended up throwing the duvet off and stomping downstairs, scowling at Sunny who was snoring away so easily (how dare he!?).  It actually got so bad that I became stressed; I’d burst into tears of frustration because I was SO BLOODY TIRED and desperately needed to GET SOME SLEEP – so why couldn’t I!?  Insomnia.  Ugh.  We’ve all been there, right?

I’m not sure what exactly triggered my little Christmas special episode of insomnia, but when I found myself listening to Stephen Fry talking about lavender fields at 3am and still wasn’t nodding off – I knew I had press the reset button on my nightly routine.  I did a lot – a loooooot – of research (…zombie-eyed googling at 2am, 3am and 4am) in the midst of my little sleep crisis, and eventually something “clicked” into place and I did nod off.  What it was specifically, I can’t say – but here’s how I adjusted my routine… 🙂

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Full disclosure?  I DID NOT WAKE UP LIKE THIS.  My husband should be so lucky. Ha!

…During the Day

If you think a nightly routine only applies to the evening, think again!  What you eat and drink – as well as what you do and think – during the day all have an effect on whether you’ll get a good night’s sleep the moment your head hits the pillow.

1. Keep Your Mind Busy but Stress-free: 

Sometimes stress isn’t the problem, but eliminating it from your day will always be helpful when it comes to getting a solid eight hours at night – so give yourself a break!  Stay physically and mentally active, get in some light exercise (but no later than 7pm as it raises core body temperature) and keep your mind busy – for me, that’s always by doing something creative like baking, writing or taking photographs. 🙂

2. Avoid Napping:

If you’ve had a week of rubbish, interrupted sleep then the temptation to sneak in a couple of hours during the day is going to be tough to resist. But resist, you must!

3. Say Goodbye to Caffeine after 2pm: 

During those desperate, sleepless nights I read a couple of articles that suggested cutting caffeine out completely.  I was desperate, but not that desperate – no way was I saying goodbye to my morning cuppa. But, I did have a little bIt of a wake-up call (literally, ha!) on just how much caffeine I was taking in every day.  So I swapped out my afternoon brew of darjeeling for chamomile tea and cut down on chocolate too (yep, sadly chocolate has caffeine in it, who knew?).

4. Eat Foods that are high in Melatonin: 

So, melatonin is a hormone that works to control your body clock – most importantly, your sleep cycle.  The level of melatonin in your body rises in the late afternoon – preparing you for sleep – and then drops in the morning – causing you to wake.  The amount of melatonin your body produces can be disrupted by the lack of daylight in the winter, but also the food you eat.  Honey, Walnuts, Cow’s Milk, Cherries, Bananas, Yoghurt, Oats, Chicken and Leafy Greens all naturally contain Melatonin – so try and weave them into your diet for a better night’s sleep. 🙂

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…An Hour Before Bedtime

I’m a stickler for routine – I love having a specific bed time every night, and keeping a consistent schedule helps your body’s natural rhythms.  I like to head off to bed at 10pm (not even embarassed by that, I love being in bed early!) with a mind to nodding off before 11pm.  But a whole hour before that is probably what you’d call “winding down” time where I start readying myself for a good night’s sleep.

1. Minimize Screen Time: 

Time to put the phone down and dim the lights.  Blue light especially, which is emitted by mobile phone screens, computers and televisions tricks the body into thinking that it’s daylight (remember, Melatonin levels rise when it’s dark…), so it’s time to switch off – literally.

2. Make Yourself some Moon Milk:

Moon Milk – if you’ve never heard of it – is basically just an instagrammable cup of warm milk (“Hot Milk, but make it Instagram!”)… with an added melatonin boost thanks to a few extra (pretty) ingredients.  But hey, it works!  Traditional Ayuverdic Moon Milk contains a ground up, stress-relieving herb called Ashwagandha – but, you can add any melatonin-rich ingredient you like.  Mine’s made from cow’s milk, a tablespoon of honey and a good glug of cherry juice which gives it it’s dreamy pink colour.

3. Take a Bath or a Hot Shower:

There’s a little bit more science to this one than you’d think.  Yes, baths and hot showers are relaxing – but it’s all about body temperature.  Your core body temperature needs to drop before you can drift off – so, in theory, jumping into a hot shower an hour before you hit the sack will encourage that drop once you get out of the steam and into a cooler room.

4. Write down your Worries:

We’ve all been there. You’ve had a long day, you’re tired and ready to hit the hay, but as soon as your head hits the pillow the world and its worries start playing on your mind.  So write them down! The trick is, that once you’ve scribbled a worry or distracting thought down onto paper, you’re giving yourself permission to stop thinking about it. If you’re not currently worrying about anything (lucky you!) then writing down what’s on your mind will still help focus it ready for sleep – whether that’s simply keeping a diary or writing a to-do list for the next day.

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…Just Before Bedtime

It’s time to turn in.  But what can you do between the moment you head up the apples and pears and when you slip between the sheets to help you nod off more easily when the time comes?

1. Prepare your Bedroom:

So obvious, but make sure your bed is comfortable! That’s about more than just having a comfy mattress; make sure that your quilt isn’t too heavy or hot, the sheets allow your skin to breathe (Sunny’s always joking that I’m like the princess and the pea because I’m a stickler for 100% cotton; it’s cool and breathable – percale just doesn’t cut it for me) and that the pillows support your head.  Make sure the room isn’t too warm (apparently between 18 and 21 degrees is just right) and switch your phone to sleep mode.  Spritz your pillows with a relaxing scent; Sunny swears by the This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray, while I’m a fan of Olbas Oil (the smell reminds me of home and it keeps me breathing through the night).

2. Kick Pets Out of the Bed:

Sorry Bungle! Sunny and I both agreed that our beloved Goldie can roam freely about the house at night and sleep wherever he’s most comfortable – but when it comes to bedtime, our bed is out of bounds.  He takes up a lot of room!  He can jump up first thing in the morning, but not last thing at night.

3. Listen to Music/Meditate/Read a Book:

Everyone’s got their own way of slowing down their mind and nodding off, whether that’s reading a book, listening to a playlist of calming music or even meditating.  Before Christmas I tried a few sleep apps with guided meditations and relaxing stories – but honestly? None of them worked for me.  There’s tonnes out there though, so if you are struggling to switch off, give them a shout.

4. Herbal Remedies:

I’ve got some tablets that I picked up in America for when I can’t sleep; they work for the odd night where I’m struggling to sleep due to pain or illness, but they’re not the sort of thing you’d take every night during a bout of insomnia and don’t do anything to get you back to your natural sleep cycle. Over Christmas I tried the Bach Rescue Remedy Drops for the first time after hearing good things, and I did feel like they helped to relax me and – in the very least – alleviate my anxiety around falling sleep.  You can either pop a couple of drops straight onto your tongue, or spike your bedtime drink. 🙂

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…In Bed

The whole catch around falling asleep is that it involves doing absolutely nothing!  There’s nothing specific you can do to tell your brain to shut up and switch off, which makes it all the more frustrating when you just can’t get there.  So, what to do?

1. Breathing Techniques:

Again, blinking at my phone at 3am over Christmas I read a little bit about a few techniques that help you slow down your breathing, relax and drift off.  Try the “4-7-8 Technique”:

Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds…
…Hold that breath for 7 seconds…
…Then, breathe out through your mouth for 8 seconds.
Repeat.

2. Don’t Count Sheep!:

IT DOESN’T WORK.  It’s just too easy.  Instead try something a little more difficult, like counting backwards from 100 in threes, or try visualizing specific details of somewhere you went on holiday, a room you know well or a journey you take every day.  Another trick that worked well for me was one where I lay flat on my back and then started clenching and relaxing my muscles one by one for a count of five – from my feet all the way up to my face.  If I wasn’t fast asleep by the time I reached my head, at least I was very, very relaxed.

3. And if you do struggle to fall asleep?  Don’t panic!  Get up, then try again:

If you don’t fall asleep within half an hour, don’t just toss and turn for hours getting more and more frustrated – get up.  Go into a completely different room and read a book, go downstairs and make a hot drink (no caffeine though!), make a list or do a crossword puzzle… and then come back in an hour and try again.

Do you have any tips and tricks when it comes to getting a better night’s sleep?  Let everyone know by commenting below! 🙂