Things That Keep Me Sane – Part 1

Hello again after an unscheduled month-long break!

Back in July I encountered what turned out to be a perfect storm of;  a few technical challenges I wanted to conquer, the school summer holidays and the not unexpected but unexpectedly debilitating evaporation of any and all childcare.  As I enter a new autumn schedule I pledge to hopefully maintain a minimum of  my previous three posts per week to keep you smiling.  As a quick welcome back, I though I would share with you some of the things I rely on (quite heavily some times) to keep me sane.  Let’s face it, some of us just need a lick more help in that department and I am here to share some of my most favorite helpful hints to help steady your rocky boat.

One of the unexpected things of parenthood is not just how much time you spend on the floor but also the Sisyphean task of trying to keep said floor devoid of dirt, glitter and pulverized Cheerios.  Whether your mother-in-law is just on her way over or your little darling (human, canine or other) has FINALLY fallen asleep and you desperately need to get going with a Pilates DVD, I can highly recommend rediscovering your Granny’s Carpet Sweeper.

So Simple Yet So Very Effective

Now it is not like I don’t own and love my Dyson, but if you are going to go through the hassle of dragging your vacuum out of the closet you want to be doing the whole once a week job.  But the problem with real life is that some spaces really need to be done a whole lot more than that – particularly to clean up after the play date for which you just spent the morning cleaning!  This baby is cheap, super effective on hair, grit, crumbs and aqua beads.  It also has two chambers that are incredibly satisfying to empty in horror after each use but most importantly it is QUIET.  No one’s nerves are going to get jangled and everyone’s stress levels are going to come down when mama is not stomping and growling in frustration at having a grotty front room.  It is also lightweight, teeny and can be stored behind a floor length curtain.  Additionally, the handle can be reduced in size to comfortably fit the average 3-5 years old offender’s frame to aid in clean ups.  PS don’t be fooled into getting the more expensive versions – the brushes do fall out but pop back in easy enough and there is no great improvement for spending more money – go cheap and replace once every few years – remember there is no electricity involved.  A quick warning – DON’T let your children stand on your beloved sweeper as they can dent the frame and make popping the brush back in place trickier.

Anyone who has known me within the past ten years knows of my deep love for GONZO stain remover.  It is a colourless, odourless, environmentally safe and a fantastic stain remover.  In my pre-parent life it was mainly put to use for red wine spills, blood, Tikka Masala sauce and ink stains.  I still love it but it is very hard for me to acquire me in the UK.  As you see I can only purchase (pre-shipping cost) for £7 / $11.50 in the UK but it only costs about £1.25 / $2.00 in the States (an issue filed under “Things That Make Me Nuts”) and is widely available at home goods and hardware stores.

To fill the void my reduced access to Gonzo has created,  I have since discovered something that could rival and in some areas even surpass my treasured stain remover – this is the magic of Sol-U-Mel.

Sol-U-Mel is available from a company called Melaleuca, which is a direct-selling type of manufacturer, specialising in eco products that kick butt.  Sol-U-Mel is also great on wine, grease and permanent marker, but has the added bonus of both de-odourising and disinfectant qualities which come in very handy in the potty training/ car sick emergencies.  As my friend Judy said, “I have young children and old dogs in my house – I need this in my life!”  Personally, my son has had a penchant for wall/carpet/body art all inspired by his “Red Marker” phase and Sol-U-Mel has saved my sanity and a small fortune –  and it is available in the US, Canada, Ireland and the UK.  Find someone who is a Melaleuca customer or dealer and get yourself a stash of this stat.


Now this next beauty may just make a bit more sense for UK life but maybe not – so  let me introduce you to the inexpensive, ubiquitous and super handy pasting table!  As they name suggests, it is in theory a tool for wallpapering but is also fantastic for kids parties, buffets, car boot/yard sales, fundraisers and most importantly laundry marathons.  Now unlike in the States, British homes don’t tend to have basements or separate laundry rooms.  While almost every house or flat will have a washing machines (even rented flats for all you New Yorkers out there) they tend to be located in the kitchen and are  even considered to be a kitchen appliance (don’t ask, it just is the way).  I have already addressed in a previous post about our weather that Brits just LOVE to hang multiple loads of washing out to dry, only to have to sprint to its rescue when an inevitable rain storm appears…every day.  Well, all that laundry needs to go somewhere and with your trusty pasting table (that can be easily stored behind –  you guessed it – a floor length curtain) you can fold and sort to your heart’s content without sacrificing a table, counter top or even a sofa,  as I very much begrudge any food or eating space being occupied by household chores.



I did have a peek for some sources for pasting tables in North America, but as in most things everything there just had to be bigger and better.  Most households may still have a folding card table that can serve some of the same functions, but the beauty of the true pasting table lies in its long,  narrow lightweight design.  If you can find one on either side of the pond – get one for sure.

Well that wraps up my first installment on things that help me keep my lid from flipping in today’s modern world.  And I can say with some authority, having been single, room-mated, partnered, married and now a parent  all in various flat/apartment and house settings, these are affordable and helpful additions to any size dwelling or income.  Until Next Time…..








Comments (5)

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  1. Heather says:

    So very timely. White fluffy puppy just puked on white sofa. The result is clearly not white and I am left to question my vanity at an early hour. Must find Gonzo and a cleaning fairy. xx

    • Jean says:

      Ah, but you are a saint for taking in all these dogs who need a little loving before placement in a more permanent home. Gonzo is great but for the smell go for Sol-U-Mel!

  2. Kelly says:

    Sol u mel is sent from the Gods! It has helped me out of trouble more times than I care to remember and makes me a more chilled out mum. I know I can sort out just about anything with it, be it kids, dogs, husband or grotty car. Thank you Jean for making my life better! X

  3. kasey says:

    Jean- So glad you’re back and grateful for these great suggestions! DOes the floor sweeper work on wood floors? XO Kasey

    • Jean says:

      Hi Kasey! It does but not as great as on carpets. When I was an apartment dweller I had kilim rugs on old wood floors and it was a huge help, and I now have a mix of rugs on wood and a carpet in my playroom and upstairs. Bizarrely enough, the older and more worn your wood floors the better it seems to work as it brushes up the bits in between the boards. Hope this helps!, Jean

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