New Year 2020 and beyond

New Year 2020 and beyond 2
Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash
http://Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash
My New Year Resolution is to get out of debt

New Year Resolution

I don’t normally make a New Year Resolution (the Jewish New Year has come and gone); however, for 2020 I have made a massive resolution for the next decade.


I did really well in 2019 to pay off my store cards and then when they were paid off I went right back to using them!

I am not alone in my debt and neither are you! On the 30/12/2019 Eye Witness News published an article that stated that ‘40% of South Africans who are in debt are struggling to make their monthly payments’.

Paul Sloan of The Debt Counselling Association of South Africa says that there were many people who had more than 8 loans.

He says that if you are using more than 35% of your income to repay loans, you need to ask yourself why? Too many South African’s are starting the New Year in debt.

To read the full article go to,

From debt to riches

A while ago I wrote an article about a book I read by Phumzile Ndumo called “From Debt to Riches”. I used the book as a reference for articles in a series about debt.

Phumelele Ndumo of ThuthukaSA
Phumelele Nduma of ThuthukaSA

I am pleased and honoured that I will now be working with this lady to get out of debt! You can follow my journey in a few places. On Facebook,  by joining either my group,, or Phumzile’s group ThuthukaSA or both. You can also catch the videos by subscribing to my YouTube channel


If you feel so inclined, why not join along with me? It is a journey that will be difficult, I know. Old habits are hard to break! It is going to take more than just a New Year Resolution; it is going to take a commitment from not only me but my entire family as well.

How did we start and how do you start?

The first thing I had to do was sit down and list all my debt to the last cent. I have discovered that I am one of those people who have over 8 debts. I missed two during my initial homework phase and only saw them when I printed out my bank statements. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I did have to take out loans from the bank during the year!

New Year 2020 and beyond 3
Cut up your cards today

Then I had to look at each debt and work out in what order I would be paying them off. I also had to cut up my cards so that the temptation to use them in an ‘emergency’ could not happen. This is what happened to me when I paid off my store cards previously.

I did change my Woolworths store card to a Reward card only. I have kept my Edgars card and asked that they freeze the account until it is paid off.

Edgars was a little difficult to get hold of because they are very automated and human interaction is not available. I had to write an email eventually. The reason that I have kept my Edgars card is that we are a family who all wear glasses and we are only on a hospital plan. Certain optometric practices allow you to use your card to pay for glasses.

To avoid the temptation of using my card for other purchases I have given it to my mom to lock in her safe.

The truth!

My debts are costing me nearly R8000 per month in repayments. I had forgotten to take into account that over the years my credit limit on the credit cards has increased, so my credit card debt is actually over R 30 000 on each card.

While to some my debt may seem like a huge amount, to others it isn’t as bad as their debt. Each of us has to think in terms of what we earn and how much we owe.

It is different for all of us. A R40 000 debt for someone earning R5000 a month may take as long to pay off as someone with R 200 000 debt earning R 30 000 a month.

I will be using the debt snowball method to pay off the debts I owe.

I will be updating you via video each month on how my debt repayments are coming along.

Since recording the first video my husband has come on board and is committed to getting out of debt. I will not be sharing his information.

Steps to starting your debt-free journey

  1. Be honest about your debt, hiding it is what gets most people into trouble
  2. If you can’t afford it don’t buy it.
  3. If possible, join with family/friends who are in a similar situation, the debt-free group is one of your friends’options, see links in the article.
  4. Do the homework!  Here are downloadable spreadsheets for you to use and, as well as a commitment contract with yourself to sign and to display as a reminder
  5. Check and double-check that you have a record of all your debts, so that you don’t miss any.
  6. If your debt is more than 60% of your income, seriously consider debt review.
  7. Cut up those cards
  8. Be strong!
  9. If you can afford the book, I do recommend Phumzile’s book “From debt to riches” and also join her Facebook group ThuthukaSA, the link is in the article above
  10. Do not try keeping up with the Van der Merwe’s, they may be deeper in debt than you!

Welcome to my journey of the next 2 years. Watch my first session here

Pesach 2019

Pesach 2019 4
Matzo, bread of our affliction

Pesach, a word that often brings tears to Jewish households everywhere. Not only tears for the story of Pesach but also tears at the thought of all that needs to be done.

I know we are still two months away but Pesach is an expensive endeavour to do properly and for those starting out it can be quite daunting. Starting early can reduce the stress a lot.

Pesach 2019 5
I have managed to earn enough points for a shopping voucher

During the year I build my Pesach fund by using WUHU deals and SNAPnSAVE as much as possible. Usually by the time Pesach comes around I have a few hundred rand saved and shopping vouchers from my points on WUHU.

Eezee coupons
Phone app from Checkers

I am one of those lucky people who have a separate kitchen, so when I see something on special that I will be able to use during Pesach I buy it and put it away.

Please check with your Rabbi for items that may be used during Pesach without the hechsher.

I have a little gas stove for Pesach so as soon as the week is over I fill it up. It is one less thing to worry about for the next year.

I am also able to store my spices in the small freezer to use again, without needing to buy more.

Last year a lot of supermarkets put the previous years stock on sale for amazing prices and I stocked up. I am watching carefully for this year.

One of the ways is to buy early and store is to use a trommel (trunk) that can be used to store your purchases. Air tight containers to keep spices fresh in your normal freezer are a good idea if you have the space.

Expiry dates are often just when the manufacturers no longer guarantee the quality of their product. To read more about this go to my article

I always have a list at the end of each Pesach of things I would like for the next one. The wish list doesn’t always get fulfilled but I sometimes manage to get one or two items.

One day I would like to go on one of those Pesach retreats where I wouldn’t have to worry about, cleaning or preparing for the Seder’s. After 25 years of hosting Seders though I am not sure I would know what to do with myself!

Are you ready for Pesach 5779?

Inventory for your home

Inventory for your home 7

Inventory is not just for businesses.

From the experience of helping my late father pack up his office building and helping and watching my mother pack up her house after 45 years, I know you can’t pack up home in just one week.

Just recently in my street, an elderly gentleman died, the house was sitting empty for just one week. Thieves moved in silently and emptied it of everything, including the doors, bathroom fixtures and corrugated roofing!

Inventory for your home 8
Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

It reminded me to stop paying lip service to take an inventory of what we own. Closer to home we discovered only after it stopped working that one of our children’s cell phones wasn’t listed on the insurance premium.

Do you know what you have?

What would have happened if it had been a bigger ticket item? Taking an inventory of the contents of your home is vital.

While the need to keep the cost of your insurance premium down is important to your managing to live within a budget, it is also important not to undervalue the contents of your home.

We have an extremely large house and two ‘collectors’ of things! Taking an inventory is a nightmare that I keep putting off.

I do have an old list from 2 years ago, so it shouldn’t be as difficult as the first inventory I did.

Keeping up with your inventory

The ideal is to do your first inventory and then whenever you get something new, you add it to the inventory. Whenever something leaves your house for whatever reason, it should come off your inventory list.

This is easier said than done. The reality is we forget, in a disposable world, we change and add or remove from our homes with great frequency.

In a recent house fire close to my home, a group of people lost everything!  The house, unfortunately, was home to around 32 people, asylum seekers from other African countries. It brought home the reality of what would happen if we weren’t insured and are we underinsured just to save money on premiums?

Yes, we are in an extremely tight budget but how much worse would it be if because of that we were unable to replace even the most basic of essentials.

We can’t put a value on the sentimentality of items, like my 3 hand embroidered table cloths or the 1960’s walnut bookshelf/cupboard unit that I got when my parents moved home. However, replacing a tablecloth that will fit my 16 seater dining table would come at a huge cost, replacing that wall unit with something the same size would be impossible if it isn’t listed on the insurance policy.

How do you put a value on the contents of your home?

For instance, our lounge suite, which we bought 23 years ago is massive, oversized and solid oak with a 3 seater couch that a fully grown adult can (and does) lie down on, a large 2 seater and a single armchair, plus the 2 side tables and coffee table. When we bought it at the time it was extremely expensive but times were less financially tough in those days.

To have it insured at its current value would make our insurance premium too expensive, I looked through online catalogues to find something that I would like to have in my home and use that value to get a number for my household cover.

Look around your home, what furniture would you need to replace in a disaster? What about linens and towels? How about your clothing, storage and shelving, curtains and for me personally the most important room in the house, the kitchen?

I have almost every kitchen convenience available, what would be the cost to replace my beloved Thermomix?

Inventory for your home 9
My well used and much loved Thermomix TM5

Ladies do you have handbag cover? Are computers/laptops insured? What about cell phones and even spectacles. How about toys and books?

A home inventory is a must. Start big and list every single item and then work out what can be lumped together under contents to reduce your premiums and what should be specified and insured on its merit?

Even if you can’t afford to fully insure your belongings, ensuring you have some household cover will relieve the burden in the event of loss or damage to your home and its items.

Leaving home

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Leaving home Photo by Dovile Ramoskaite on Unsplash
Leaving home Photo by Dovile Ramoskaite on Unsplash

Leaving home

I am leaving home for a few days. I have the privilege of going to work in a kitchen at a 5-star luxury resort for a few days.

Now leaving home for 3 days shouldn’t be a problem when I have 2 teenage children and 2 adult children, my husband and a domestic worker, but it is.

Here are the problems with leaving home, even if it is only for a few days.

My adult children work, my son leaves at 6 in the morning and often comes home late at night. As a rule, if it isn’t meat he won’t cook it, so even though he can cook he is often too tired after his day to do much of anything.

My older daughter also has a full day job, she can at least make simple meals that don’t require a recipe. She is a creative person and recipes are just not her forte.

Meals can often be hit and miss. More hits than misses, thankfully.

My two younger daughters are old enough to cook but my middle daughter is severely ADHD and is far too easily distracted to be allowed near the gas stove unsupervised to do anything more than boil the kettle.

Even then I am often grateful for the whistle of the kettle when it boils, to remind her (and her father- he is quite possibly A.D.D ) that they have something on the stove.

My husband works a very demanding day and it would be unfair to expect him to cook after a full day’s work.

That leaves my domestic worker, who would happily help with the cooking. There are two problems with this. The first is that her repertoire consists of eggs and pasta and toasted sandwiches, all of which she does really well and with love to feed her ‘babies’. The second issue is that she leaves at 5 and most of my household only gets home after 6.

This means that food needs to be reheated and reheating will often dry out the food or overcook it. It also gives the ants invading my house a place to eat.

We cannot even drop a crumb without there being a mass collection of ants around it.

The next issue which is easily solved but a little costly is the school run for my younger girls. I have to pay someone to do the school lifts.

Lastly the health issue. My two younger girls are on medication that they need to take consistently, twice a day.

Putting the medication into pill sorters is not the problem, it’s getting them to remember to take the medication in the rush before school and in the evenings at bedtime.

To solve these problems I planned, I have cooked and frozen 3 dinners for when I am away, toasted sandwiches and pasta for lunch and reminders on their phones to take the medication.

Alarm clock Photo by insung yoon on Unsplash
Setting reminders Photo by insung yoon on Unsplash

I will also be phoning in their reminders, and I have hidden a morning dose in their school bags, just in case.

Homework for my middle daughter is also an issue, with her ADHD and her being a typical teenager, with access to TV, Smartphones and Netflix, homework is often forgotten and nagging is introduced (by me).

My younger daughter is more responsible with her homework but still suffers from being a teenager and Social Media often more interesting than Life Science. This usually requires a little nudging on my part to get her back to homework.

So while leaving home is planned for, I will still worry that everyone remembers to eat, shower, take meds, do homework etc.

Meal Plan Template
Plans are an easy way to keep your home running smoothly

Having routines in place, calendars up, meal plan and schedules visible to the family should go along way to making sure I have peace of mind when I leave for a few days.

How do you manage your home life, do you have schedules in place for smooth running?

6 key tactics for successful budgeting

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Tactics for budgeting

Budgeting for a lot of people is not something they want to think about. When they do think about it, it creates anxiety and is filled with a lot of negative emotions. Some people though find creating a budget a positive experience. For them, budgeting is freeing.

The first word that came to my mind when I thought about creating a budget for my family was ‘restrictive’, I have since changed that to ‘liberating’.

Here are 6 tactics that turned my negative budgeting perception around.

SMART goals Illustration 25641308 © Flytosky11 -
S.M.A.R.T goals

1. Set a S.M.A.R.T goal

Goal setting is used in many areas of our life whether school, work or even life plans. Choosing the right goal is what makes the difference.

Setting a S.M.A.R.T goal is what will ensure that you succeed whether you use it for setting your budget or for setting life goals.

To explain S.M.A.R.T goals, I am using the example of a new car but SMART can be applied to any goal, including school marks.

S- Specific, your goal must be specific.

To make the goal specific you need to know what car you want. Brand, year, model, size, safety and environmental impact!

M- Measurable.

How does this apply? Choose a car that fits your earnings, so if you earn R20 000 a month your car repayments, petrol and insurance should not cost more than R3 000- R5 000.

A -Achievable.

Can you do it? Don’t dream of a luxury car when you won’t be able to afford the petrol, the tyres or the insurance based on what you currently earn. That is a goal for later. Now you want to focus on a car that you can actually afford and won’t get you into more debt than you can handle.


Will it work for you? If you are a single person, who lives in the city and vacations in cities, why buy an off-road vehicle? If you drive long distances, your need will likely be, fuel economy and comfort. If you have a family, safety is a priority as well as fuel economy when doing the daily school run.

I met a family where the husband drove a small secondhand car as he only went to work and back and the wife had a large 6 seater for her daily use. They saved a lot of money on the small car and therefore could afford the larger car.

T-Time Orientated.

Set a date to achieve your goal. How much can you put away towards your car? Do you have enough for the deposit, at least 20%? If you can save R5 000 per month, how long do you need to save for?

By choosing a cheaper car you make your goal more attainable and you are more likely to stick to your budget.

2.Use stressors as a motivation

Most people only think about budgeting when they are in crisis, while this is great because it has created awareness that you need a budget, the motivation often fades when the crisis is over.

What I mean by using stressors as motivation is that you need to look at what causes you everyday stress.

Do you worry that you can’t afford to feed your family this month? Do you have enough money saved if you want to stop working or take extra maternity leave when you have a baby? Is your current car a death trap and needs to be replaced? Does your house need maintenance? Can you afford to send your children to College/Varsity?

These are the everyday stressors to motivate you. They are specific, they are measurable, but are they achievable and relevant and will you be able to do it in the given time frame?

What if you only earn R3000 a month and you have a child in grade 11 who wants to go to University? Can you put away the R30 000 in the next two years to pay for the first year? What about 2nd and 3rd year and then honours? You would need to put away between 40 & 50% of your monthly salary for the full two years!

This is not a reason to not budget for it, it is a motivation to create a budget that allows you to save as much as possible each month and start looking into bursaries, scholarships and loans.

When you start your budget, don’t try to cut back immediately, this will just lead to you becoming miserable and angry.

Take a month or two to track your spending alongside your proposed budget. Once you know where your money is going, only then is it time to cut back.

3.The 50, 30, 20 budgeting plan

Divide your salary after taxes into 3 parts.

Half your salary (50%) goes to living expenses, such as housing, groceries, utilities, insurance, transport, education. These are your needs.

Then 30% goes towards wants, Pay TV channels, clothing & shopping, hobbies and entertainment

Your last 20% should be to pay back debts and to save for that goal you have set.

Most South Africans do not live this way, that last 20% is usually used only for paying back debt but not getting out of debt. Instead of saving the money is often absorbed into the 30% for wants.

By setting up your budget using the 50, 30, 20 rule you create limits and just with rules and routines for our children, budget limits give us a structure in which we can grow and become financially more secure.

Once you have your budget, stop using your credit cards! Debit cards should be used for the big expenses only and then be put away. Cash should be used whenever possible. This is because cash is tangible and handing over cash for purchases makes you more aware of your spending.

Banks today make it too easy to get credit and then we have no concept of zero. Zero is when we have no more money, but with credit cards and adjustable overdraft limits, zero keeps moving.

When you use cash only zero is zero, you have no more money to spend.


Create scarcity to help you save. What I mean by this is that using your budget to live on and not the balance in your account will allow you to save towards that goal you have set.

If your budget says you have X amount to spend then that is what you have, regardless of what is in your bank account.

All the balance in your bank account will tell is the amount in there, it doesn’t tell you that it is for those debit orders that need to go through, or that school trip you will need to pay for.

Regularly check in on your budget to help you stay on track. If you are the kind of person who likes details then create a category-specific budget.

 If you are someone who would prefer a more generalised budget then only create main categories, like Transport- this would cover petrol, maintenance or taxi fares, Household expenses- would cover groceries, toiletries, household cleaning, gardening service etc., Insurance- would cover life, car, home, medical aid policies and insurance.

A great tip for staying in budget is ‘week money’. You draw up your main budget and then pay your monthly expenses. Once that is done you then divide your budget into how many weeks in the month. One the first day of each week you draw out that cash and use it exclusively. No cards, including debit cards. Once the money is done, it’s done!

5. Get a tenant

If you have space, why not get a roommate or a tenant? Use this money towards your housing costs.

Another option is to let your children stay with you as long as you can tolerate and charge rent. You can charge 10% of whatever they earn. That means whether they are employed full time or have part-time jobs there rent is affordable to them, it also teaches them about budgeting.

If you do not need the money to help with living expenses, then put that money into a savings account for them and gift it back, when they graduate or get married or have some other life event.

6. Find a system that works for you

If you are the pen and paper kind of person then that’s what you use to draw up and track your budget.

If you like technology, there are tons of apps out there for budgeting.  I use an Xcel spreadsheet. My bank a budgeting tool on their App, yours may also have this facility. My husband uses a very intricate spreadsheet he created. My oldest daughter uses an app called?

Budgeting is a good thing and everyone should do it. You just need to find what works best for your needs.

Don’t budget just because you think you must, budget because you have a goal you want to achieve.

What is your S.M.A.R.T goal?

The darkness of the night

Night routine
Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

For some parents, the night routine is the most important routine of all.

Everyone is tired, children from the busy day of playing and learning and parents from working, whether at a paying job or just keeping the house from falling down.

A routine will help settle things down, keep you from losing patience and give parents time to reconnect with each other.

Setting limits is as important as setting up your nighttime routine.

Setting limits on how much TV a child watches is one thing but we also need to set a limit on the type of show they are watching, especially late afternoon.

Too much stimulation at night?

Overstimulating small children can cause a struggle at bedtime. Where possible avoid shows with lots of activity in, this is usually cartoons where the characters are often hyperkinetic or fighting. This includes games on tablets and pads.

Also, actives where the children get hyped up, this often happens when fathers work long hours and come home to play with the children. Fathers will often roughhouse with the boys or tease and tickle their little princesses!

Depending on the age of your child your night routine can start as early as 4 pm.

Create a routine

To create your routine you need to know how much sleep everybody needs at night to be productive during the day. Remember children and adults with severe ADHD often sleep less than other people.

One of my children has severe ADHD and when she was little even with dark curtains up, she would be up by 4 am! The most we could expect was 6 hours if nothing disturbed her night.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Sleeping child Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

How much sleep does the average person need?

I got this from the blog ‘The Sleep Council’.

0-1 (infants) 14-15 hours’ sleep per day

1-3 yeas (toddlers) 12-14 hours’ sleep per day, this includes one or two naps during their daily routine

3-6 years (preschooler) 10-12 hours’ per day, this may include one nap, some children don’t need to nap at all by 6 years.

7-12 years (tween) 10-11 hours’ per day, with no nap.

13-18 years (teenager) 8-9 hours’ per day.

18+ years 7-9 hours’ sleep per day.

Deciding on bedtime

Deciding on when bedtime is and working backwards to create the rest of your night routine for the children is the easiest and then work forward from bedtime to create your night routine.

How to decide what time is bedtime?

First, what time do the children need to be up, given that the younger they are the longer their morning routine will take.

This means that if you need to leave the house by 7:15, the latest you need to wake your children in 6:15.

South African schools start earlier than most other countries at 7:45 and our working hours are also earlier with most jobs starting by 8:30.

Bedtime therefore in my home with only teenagers and adults is 9 pm and lights out at 10 pm, and sadly for me, my bedtime is later and my waking time is earlier!

Suggested bedtimes for infants would be 4 pm if they slept straight through but for most mom’s that is just a pipe dream. Hopefully, they are sleeping in 3-hour cycles.

Toddlers’ bedtimes would be around 6 pm for 12 hours sleep plus 2 hours during the day, it is suggested that the morning nap be around 2 hours long and the afternoon nap only an hour, bedtime could then be pushed to 7 pm to allow working parents some quality time with their little ones.

Sleep training

I am a fan of sleep training, depending on how it is done of course. Sleep training can be a traumatic experience for parents (and children if done wrong) but if you have more than one child or children on different night routines then it is a lifesaver.

A good bedtime for pre-schoolers is 6-7 pm, if they have had a nap during the day you may find that they are too awake to sleep before 8 pm.

With tweens, it is not really feasible to have bedtime before 8 pm as they usually have homework.

 Teenagers are a little harder to work with and getting them to bed by 9 can be a challenge. Their smartphones interfere with sleep!

Adult children and adults supposedly should be asleep by 10 pm, the only one in my house who does this is my son and that is only because he needs to be at work by 6 am!

The best use of the time leading up to bedtime are baths and reading to/with your child as they are calming activities before sleep.

Now that you know when it is time to sleep, you can decide on things like bath times and supper times.

According to most nutrition specialists, the last time we have something to eat should be 2 hours before going to bed.

Obviously this does not apply to infants whose main source of nutrition is milk; please follow the advice of your paediatrician or infant feeding specialist.

To control the use of cell phones before bedtime and after, we installed something called ‘ScreenTime’ and this locks the phones and allows you to monitor how much time the children spend on their devices.

Once the children are in bed it is time for your routine to begin.

Supper time may be in two stages, one for children who need to eat by 5 or 6 pm and then 7 pm for others. Dinner time at my home is our family time.

With 2 teens, 2 young adult children and a husband who only gets home at 6:30/7 pm, I insist that we eat together almost every night at 7/7:30pm and that there are no electronic devices present at the table.

This is where my children get to know each other again.

With today’s life styles, most families often don’t have time to spend together, this is often because of the extramural activities and sometimes the age gaps, as well as work or university.

Once dinner is over, the shower/bath schedule begins, with 5 people showering at night, time limits and a schedule is needed, this is to avoid running out of hot water! I choose to bath in the mornings before everyone is awake and only wash at night.

This means not only do I have as much hot water as I want but also no one is awake to disturb me.

Once dinner is over and the dishwasher loaded and running, night owls may want to prepare school and work lunches now, to give them extra time to sleep in the morning.

You may want to use this time to tidy up any clutter, pay your bills and sort your mail. Maybe just relax with a book and some tea before bed.

My night routine is usually, watch one episode of a series, write my blog or record a show and then have a cup of tea and read a little. I try to be lights out by midnight!

While setting up times for a night routine and sticking to them would work in an ideal world, life happens and it isn’t always possible.

Remember a routine is supposed to help you stay calm and make life easier, be flexible when you need to be.

20 tips to a morning routine

Routine Chaos
20 tips to a morning routine 14
Housekeeping Routine

Having a set routine will not do away with this altogether but it should reduce the morning mayhem significantly.

I have previously written about creating a daily routine for children and thought it was time to focus on the parents. I have thought about this carefully and even ‘mostly’ tested it myself during these summer holidays.

The routine has been made to cover parents who have domestic help and those that don’t; this includes parents who work outside the home.

The use of the word parent instead of mom is deliberate, this is because I know that there are fathers out there who are raising children on their own, it is not only the moms. There are also those lucky families where both mom and dad are involved in the morning routine.

Here are 20 tips for creating a successful morning routine for parents

  1. Decide on an appropriate time to wake up

It is recommended that adults between the ages of 18-65 require 7-9 hours’ sleep a night. Truthfully I don’t think I get anywhere near that, except on Friday, when I get my 9 hours and maybe Saturday night if I am lucky.

By the time I have finished doing what needs to be done for my blog and business and managed to have a little time to speak to my husband it is usually midnight. Then I get up between 5 am and 6 am. My husband and son both leave the house at around 6 am, my son for work and my husband for synagogue.

Did you know that South Africa is one of the earliest rising countries in the world?

2. Get moving

I am not big on exercise, so going to the gym isn’t likely to happen anytime in the near future.

Exercise is an important part of self-care. I do a few exercises from my biokintisist that can be done on the bed and then there are a few old tips I remember reading about many, many years ago in a ‘Reader’s Digest’ magazine. 

Moving up and down, from flat feet onto my toes, in repetition while I wait for the kettle to boil, or swinging my arms out at the side while walking between rooms are two of the exercises that I do.


Have your shower in peace and quiet before the household is awake. If you shower at night then you just need to wash your face and hands in the morning.

4.Get dressed.

Once you are dressed, it gives you a sense of purpose, staying in your PJ’s can make you feel like going back to bed.


Whatever centres you for the day, now is your time. Take time to meditate, read your bible, do your morning prayers or just have that cup of tea or coffee.

5.Hair and makeup

Doing your hair and makeup is such a simple thing. Whether or not you wear full makeup or just some lip gloss it can often lift your mood.

I don’t wear makeup often but I do know that most of us look a little brighter with a touch of colour. Wrapping my hair in my scarves can take me a while though, I am often all thumbs!

6.Lunch prep

I have actually stopped making school lunches because my two teenage girls don’t eat it.

The rule is now that if they want lunch for school they make it themselves. I can get away with this as they are nearly 16 & 18 respectively, definitely old enough to pack lunch for themselves, they are also only at school till 1:30. My husband and son will take leftovers from the night before and up until recently, my oldest daughter was at home for lunch. She will now also take leftovers.

7.Make breakfast

Make yourself a decent breakfast and eat it in peace.

This is also a good time to put out the cereal bowls and cereal for everyone else to have breakfast. Recently I saw a suggestion that we should pour the correct amount of cereal into each bowl to prevent children from pouring out too much and wasting it.

8. Take any medication you need

Whether they are vitamins or supplements or chronic medication a lot of them need to be taken with or after a meal.

9.Afternoon lunch or snack

I meal plan all our meals so lunch is already decided. All I need to do is any prep work so that my domestic can put it together for the girls, while I am at work.

10.Dinner prep

Not only do I meal plan but I have recently started prepping for the week on a Sunday, it takes me about 2 hours.

In the mornings I will take out anything that needs thawing and either put it on the counter if it is winter and cold or in the fridge if its summer and hot.

If you don’t meal plan this is a good time to think about what’s for dinner and ensure that you have all the ingredients.

11. Empty the dishwasher

With a large family like mine, a dishwasher is a necessity for me, not a luxury. Once the dishwasher is unloaded it is ready for the breakfast dishes, this means that even my domestic worker has one less chore to do. She definitely has more than enough to keep her busy.

12. Start the first load of washing

Getting a load of washing going is one way to stay on top of the laundry.

For those that go off to work, I recommend a small collapsible laundry stand that can be opened in the bathroom or kitchen and your washing can dry safely while you are at work. 

Once again if you have domestic help, then the washing is ready for hanging and there will be time for ironing too.

13. Tidy up

Tidying up before you go to bed is better for some as it means waking up to less mess, but this isn’t always possible. 

The morning may suit others better as you have more energy to put away the bits and pieces left out the night before. the monthly cleaning calendar I have broken down the housekeeping chores into a routine and clutter is listed as one of the daily tasks.

This doesn’t mean you should be doing all the work, tidying up after playing is a chore that every child should learn to do.

14. Check your calendar/diary/bullet journal

Keeping a calendar easily accessible is a great way not to miss out on important events.

15. Collect everything that needs to leave the house when you do

To reduce the chances of something getting left behind, take your bag and the lunches you have made to the door through which you will leave your home.

Wherever your entrance/exit is, I suggest setting up an area where the schoolbags and other relevant paraphernalia, keys, jackets, etc. are kept.

16. Now it is time to wake the rest of the family

Your peace and quiet is now at an end. It is time for the rest of the family to join the party.

With everyone following their own pre-determined routines and you monitoring, the need for you to stress should be at a minimum.

If your routine is already done, it is one less thing to worry about.

17. Feed your family

Their bowls of cereal are ready and waiting. An almost fuss-free mealtime, we hope!

18. Help those that need assistance

Smaller children need assistance getting ready in the morning; older ones usually just need a little nagging nudging.

19. Load the dishwasher

Once breakfast is done, get the dishwasher loaded. Each family member gets to rinse their bowl and spoon and put it in the dishwasher.

20. Out the door

With one final check that everyone has everything they need it is time for the school run.

If this means you are off to work as well, then hopefully the morning routine will allow you to have a productive day.

If you are coming back home to housework then some of your daily chores are already either done or underway.

Don’t worry!  I won’t leave you hanging for the day!  A night routine is just as important as your morning routine!  Just read next week’s post!

It’s Back to School time, are you ready?

It's back to school time
Back to school

Going back to school can be expensive

It’s back to school time again. I must admit it is going to be a relief to have the children occupied for at least part of their day. I am talking about teenager’s here, not just the little ones.

Each year we get gulled into buying new stationery even when the children still have from last year.

As part of trying to get rid of the clutter in my home and keep it clutter-free, I am also trying to get out of debt.


It is time to take an inventory of what they have left from the previous year. We get a long stationery list each year and off I go to buy everything on the list, at least I used to. Last year for the first time my children had to use what was in the house.

Take stock of last year’s stationery

I also chose to buy stationery from the cheapest places I could find, since I know that about 90% of it won’t last the year.

We go through each pencil case and school bag, every drawer and cupboard and even through the rooms of my two eldest who are finished school! I collect everything and then look at the condition of what we find.

Keep, donate or sell?

I put the stuff we weren’t going to be using, into two piles. One pile to put out on the corner for street recyclers to collect and maybe use for their children and the ones that were not usable at all go into either trash or recycling bins.

Thankfully the trend has turned and those that need textbooks are happy to sell their old ones and buy secondhand. This means a lot of children are using used books and we as parents can save money on the cost of what is already an expensive exercise.

secondhand textbooks
Secondhand textbooks will save you a lot of money

I did have an issue one year when both my son and my oldest daughter in different grades had the same English set-work books!

Secondhand book resources

Here are some useful places to find this:

On Facebook: the groups- Secondhand School/Tertiary books and uniforms’, run by Janice Liebowitz and Ashleigh Elad, I am sure you can find someone in your area that has what you need in JHB and surrounds (people have couriered to other parts of SA before).

For Johannesburg, there is Orchards Books 0824920124, run by Nicky who also pays a small amount for your good condition books. She has a large selection of school books.

For the Cape, there is the Helderberg School Exchange and auction.

For KZN, there is

I am sure there are many more places and people to get secondhand textbooks from. Our school sends out a list of parents (with their permission of course) from the grade above that you can contact.

Earn when you spend

Usually around the first week in January SnapnSave have cashback on stationery, so you can earn while you spend.

If you don’t have the app, do yourselves a favour and get it. Here is my invite code Adrienneb 713(I do earn R10 when you snap your first 5 coupons but so can you).

Back to school while never cheap can be a less expensive exercise when you make use of community groups! We are truly a small world.

You don’t need a duck to clean your bathrooms

Bathroom tap

Cleaning your bathroom is something that happens every day but is it really getting clean?  And what about the cleaning soaps we use, are those that get the stains out, that good? House Cleaning Check list

What did they use before the ducks and the gels? How did you get a bathroom really clean?

Do you have a carpet in front of your toilet? How often does this get washed?

Bathroom schedule

I have previously looked at cleaning bathrooms using cleaning schedules.  Cutting down on heavy chemicals and cleaning products can still keep your bathrooms and the rest of your home clean without poisoning the evironment.

Bathroom cleaning takes a long time and, if like me, you haven’t been monitoring it regularly, you have probably got a little mould in the showers and a little black around the taps.

When I started the blog I took a look at my house and started to get it clean, if not actually, tidy. I have made small changes along the way and it is starting to be as clean as I want it.

Let’s start with the mirror and glass shower doors if you have those instead of curtains.

Cheap white vinegar
Cheap white vinegar

I am lucky to have a full-time domestic to do a lot of the jobs I hate, but for my post I must, obviously, be able to talk from experience.

So what I did was this experiment.  She cleaned the mirrors in one bathroom with a chemical cleaner and I did the other with a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle using microfiber cloths (my new favourite cloth for everything).

Vinegar vs chemical

The result was that both came out clean and shiny. The difference came later after the bathrooms had been used for showers and baths.  The steam, which normally leaves marks, wasn’t on the bathroom mirror that I had cleaned.

Another tip I learned:- to prevent your mirrors from steaming up, rub a little shaving foam over and then buff.  You will need to repeat this every time you clean the mirrors with which ever product you choose.

In between chemical cleans, just use a wet microfiber cloth and then dry with a dry cloth.

50/50 water and vinegar
50/50 water and vinegar

This 50/50 vinegar and water solution works well on regular cleaning of the counters and cabinets as well as any soap residue in the basin, bath or shower.

old soap residue around the bathroom tap/faucet
old soap residue around the tap/faucet

Black rings

For slightly tougher stains, use bicarbonate of soda (bicarb)and water or vinegar.  I tried this with that black scum ring around the taps and drains that often builds up over time, and it was so easy to get off.  The vinegar mix works well on the black ring that forms around the drains. It is also great for preventing drains from blocking.

After cleaning with Bicarb and vinegar
After cleaning with Bicarb and vinegar

For cleaning the grout between the tiles, you sprinkle a little Bicarb onto the floor tiles, spray with hydrogen peroxide or vinegar.  I haven’t done this as we have a steam cleaner.

For the wall tiles, painted doors, and the outside of the toilet I tried a homemade all purpose cleaner.

For the really yucky job of cleaning the toilet inside and out, sprinkle some bicarb into the bowl and around the top to coat the inside, then pour white vinegar into the water, scrub lightly with a toilet brush to mix the bicarb and vinegar.

This removed the stains well.  If you are potty training boys (and even if you are not) there is always a little residue on the outside of the toilet and you can use the same mixture around the base and floor of the toilet. Then give a good wipe down of the toilet seat and the hinges under the seat.

There is no longer any need to buy expensive, toxic cleaners. Cheap white vinegar and any brand of Bicarbonate of Soda work wonders. It is also a good way to recycle old toothbrushes.

What cleaning tips do you have?

Load Shedding doing it on Purpose

Cooking- load shedding
Free photo 5262769 © Vangelis Liolios –

Load shedding is a reality in South Africa. It is what it is! When your suburb goes dark, what do you do? Do you complain or do you use the opportunity of being disconnected from technology to reconnect with your family?

Long ago

Once upon a time, there was a large majority of people in this country who lived permanently without electricity. They cooked over an open fire and children did their homework by candlelight!

Apparently we are now more advanced as most homes have electricity.

dinner boiling in a kettle on a burning fire Free photo 6186324 © Sergey Kravtsov –

It must be so frustrating for parents who once lived like this. They did their schoolwork by candlelight, they cooked food either on an open fire or paraffin stove.

These parents now have to listen to their children complain about not having Wifi or TV/satellite and having to go to bed early because it is too dark to do their homework.

I know I get irritated when this happens in our home and I am one of those people privileged to have grown up in a home with electricity.

Free photo 6168487 © Alice Herden –

One of the things about being an observant Jew is that I disconnect weekly, on purpose.

Load shedding on purpose

Sabbath for those of the Jewish faith begins on a Friday at sunset and ends on a Saturday after sunset, so usually around 25 hours.

During this time, as hard as it is for people to believe, we physically use no electronics, this means no cellphones, no TV, no radio. We refrain from using the stove or switching on lights. We don’t drive and we don’t go to the store.

In fact, we disconnect from the modern world and reconnect with a spiritual world and our friends and families.

We do make use of technology. Most families will have their main lights or individual lamps on time switches and an urn going for hot water for tea. The food is cooked before the Sabbath and then kept warm in a warmer/hostess trolley. 

If you want a warm meal on Saturday, the slow cooker is turned on for the whole 25 hours.

 Yes, it is frustrating when the electricity goes out just before Sabbath and we have to eat a cold supper in the dark.

Just braai

Braai - load shedding
Free photo 3240885 © Juan Carlos Zamora –

In reality, though, it isn’t that difficult. I have, and I am sure many others too, made Sabbath dinner on the braai and kept it warm by wrapping it in newspaper and blankets, the food may not be piping hot but it is warm.

We live in South Africa, braaing is what we know.

Now I have a gas stove so my biggest complaint is that there is no hot water for morning tea on Saturday.

We’re load shedding on purpose. I know there are families out there, not Jewish families, who are doing similar things.

They are disconnecting from technology for a few hours each week as a family in order to reconnect.

We joke about meeting the people living in our homes and how nice they seem to be.  I see it with my family all the time. Everyone is so busy with work and school that we don’t slow down to talk to each other.

Getting to know your family and friends

I love having visitors over on a Saturday for lunch and we actually talk, no one is watching their phones for messages.

Everyone is engaged in conversation. My teenagers often have friends over to play board games.

Start simple, ban technology during dinner. Eventually, you can introduce longer periods of no technology into your home.

I would love to know if you have limits for your family or if you have technology-free times at home. Has it made a difference in your family life?

Sheets to the wind

Photo by Chastity Cortijo on Unsplash

5 sheets to the wind is usually an expression used when someone is very drunk.  This is what I should have been when I read an article about how often you should wash your sheets.

Changing your bed linen weekly is something I assumed happened in every home, apparently not!

Photo by Nicole Honeywill / Sincerely Media on Unsplash
How often do you change your sheets?
How often do you change your sheets

The recommendation is once every 2 weeks! Weekly if you sweat a lot. In the article, which surveyed American households in 2017, found that 44% of the people surveyed only washed their sheets once a month.


The nurse in me wanted to vomit, the mother in me thought about how much water and detergent we would save.

How often do we wash our sheets?

The good news was that my own little survey in 2 Facebook groups showed that the majority of those who answered the survey, changed and washed their sheets weekly or at minimum every 2 weeks.

Nurse wins. Each day we shed thousands of skin cells; we lose hair and secrete oils into our bedding even after a shower.

This feeds millions of dust mites which are more often than not the cause of allergies and other skin irritations.

Photo by Volha Flaxeco on Unsplash
Linen needs to be washed every two weeks

Washing your sheets every two weeks just doesn’t seem all that hygienic to me.

Pillows, duvets and mattresses

Yet while we diligently wash our sheets and pillowcases, how often do we wash our pillows and duvets?

What about the mattress, do you have a mattress protector on all the beds? I know most homes with little children have mattress protectors for those inevitable nappy leaks and night time accidents. Did you get rid of them when night time got dry?

It seems that South Africans are little cleaner than the rest of the world and the bedsheets are washed at least once a week. I don’t know if this is because so many homes have domestic workers or we just happen to be a more hygienic nation.

How often should you wash your sheets and other bedding?

There seems to be no fixed rule, so here is my advice.

Comforters and bedspreads don’t come into direct contact with your skin; they are usually used to cover your bed. You could possibly wash them every 6 months or so. If you have pets that lie on your bed, then I would recommend washing these items every 3-4 months.

Sheets, personally every week for me is as long as you should wait, but the maximum is every two weeks. If you have been sick, then the bedding should be washed as soon as you are well.

The common cold and flu viruses are hardly little critters and are highly contagious, so washing your sheets in very hot water is the only way to prevent the spread of germs.

Pillow and mattress protectors should be washed monthly, if you don’t have protectors then you should wash your pillows at least every 4-6 months, and your mattress, which unless you have a steam cleaner can’t be washed, should be taken out and given an old fashioned airing at least once a year.
Dust mite

Duvets should also be washed every 4-6 months.

5 reasons why you should wash your linen regularly.

  1. Bad skin breakouts- if you are rigorous in your skin routine and yet still have breakouts or you are prone to skin infections, then the bacteria on your dirty pillowcase can be the cause.
  2. Asthma – the skin cells you lose during the night are feeding those dust mites, this can lead to increased asthmatic episodes when you breathe in all those dust mites
  3. Allergies – Dust mites and pet fur are a major cause of allergies, with human shedding enough skin to feed over a million dust mites and adding pets to the mix easily adds to the build-up.
  4. Infection- Viruses and bacteria can live outside the body for a while.  If you have been sick recently, then it is especially important to wash your linen to avoid reinfection.
  5. Eczema- Allergens and irritants found in unwashed sheets can be triggers for dry, itchy skin. If you are using heavy creams and ointments to treat skin disorders, these can transfer to your sheets as they aren’t always fully absorbed by the skin. Once again this can cause a build-up if your sheets aren’t regularly washed.

While washing and folding your bedding weekly may seem like a bit of a chore, there is nothing that beats going to bed at night with clean, crisp sheets.

Here is a link on how to wash pillows and duvets.