Category Archives: – Get Organised

10 DIY Christmas Presents You Can Make At Home

Christmas can quickly become a competition of who’s spent the most or thought up the biggest, most extravagant gift when really it should simply be about showing your loved ones just how much you care (as corny as that sounds.)

So put down your catalogue, (leaving it open at your favourite page of the “gift ideas for her” section for others to find),  and try out some of these DIY Christmas presents you can create at home:

The usual offenders:

1. Baked goods

Nothing says Christmas like some yummy cakes to scoff on Christmas Eve with plenty of Baileys. Put together a batch of mini Christmas puddings, mince pies or chocolate rolls as a gift for everyone.

2. Homemade body scrubs

These are super easy to create yourself and can even be popped into leftover jars and pots you have in the cupboard and decorated with ribbon or wrapped. Here’s a great how to guide for a delicious smelling coffee body scrub to wake the recipient up in the morning.


3. Hand poured candles

Creating your own candles is super easy and you can pour them into everything from teacups to mason jars to tiny tealight holders and create them in all sorts of scents and colours. Here’s a great step by step guide on how to make your own.


Homemade candles – photo by Shutterstock

4. Sharpie mug

Simply grab a permanent marker, draw a cute design on a plain mug and pop in the oven on a high setting to make it stay on the ceramic.

5. Chocolate bouquet

This one is so easy, simply take a plant pot and wrap it in fun Christmas wrapping then fill it with chocolate bars to create a bouquet effect and wrap up in clear cellophane with a ribbon.

DIY Christmas presents that require preparation:

1. Infused vodka

We all love a tipple at Christmas and you can create a new fruit flavoured beverage simply with some strong vodka and ripe fruit, pop it all in a bottle for a few days then once you like the flavour, simply pour out the liquid through a sieve and dish out to friends and family in pretty bottles.

2. Hamper

This requires preparation simply because you need to get your hands on the things to fill it. Whether you’re making its contents by hand or picking them up from the supermarket be sure to leave yourself enough time to get everything.

Trickier ideas:

1. Make up/wash bag

If you own a sewing machine now is the time to get hands on with it and create a personalised make up/wash bag for a loved one. Choose a material you think they will like and then put it together with a zipper fastening or a button close if you’re feeling less ambitious. Here are some great tutorials to test out.

2. Tile photo coaster

Fancy adorning coasters with yours and your sibling’s faces for your parents this Christmas? Then it couldn’t be easier. With some plain tiles, some mod podge and cute pictures you can create a gift they’ll cherish forever more, here’s how.

DIY Christmas presents

3. A family recipe preserved forever

This is a really tricky idea and will take some practice beforehand, as well as the requirement to purchase a new tool. Take a wooden chopping board and with a soldering iron (you can pick a soldering iron kit up for around £15) carefully burn into the wood an old family recipe, if there is one that everyone makes and has been handed down from kitchen to kitchen.

So if you are cash poor but time rich this Christmas, you can soon rustle up some really special DIY Christmas presents, that are bound to be cherished and remembered, long after the last of the turkey has been eaten.

3 Part-Time Careers For Busy Mums

Many new mums realise during their maternity leave that either they don’t want to go back to full time work, or that their previous job does not make financial sense any more, when childcare arrangements are taken into consideration.

However there are very few of us who can slip happily into the job of full time mum without missing a little bit of the mental stimulation that comes from work, not to mention a little bit of extra income.

If you are looking for a part time opportunity that fits in well with childcare responsibilities, then here are some areas you may consider

Freelance writing

What better career path to take than one that allows you to work from home, which reduces the cost and requirement of childcare as you can juggle work and home life throughout the day?

Freelance writing is easier than ever before to embark on as a career path, there is a huge number of digital marketing companies and publishing houses in the UK that require the assistance of freelance writers on a regular basis.

You could also consider signing up to a writing job site, such as Copify, which sends you writing jobs on a daily basis for you to complete.

How to get on the career path:

Send out emails to relevant businesses detailing your experience, your rates, availability and a few examples of your writing work. If you don’t have one already, it is a good idea to start a blog, because that is another way of demonstrating your writing ability, and looks good when you are pitching to potential clients.

Things to remember:

Freelance work can impact on your personal life, because it is usually completed at home, so it’s a good to set up a desk.

Office administration work

If you want to get your foot in the door at a large business, ready for when the children are older, then starting on the reception desk is a great option.

It usually requires little job role experience, you must have exceptional customer service and problem solving skills. Take a look at available hotel jobs or office work in your area and find a part time position where you can start small but expand your experience and knowledge until another role becomes available.

How to get on the career path:

Browse job sites for available positions and apply online with an updated CV.

Things to remember:

If you move into the hotel industry then there might be shift work required, so ask about this before accepting any roles.

Set up your own business

If you don’t fancy the idea of working for someone else again, after having so much freedom away from the workplace, then why not set up your own business? You can be totally flexible, only taking on as much work as you need and fitting in jobs around your personal life.

Cleaning up in the dog walking business? by Shutterstock

Cleaning up in the dog walking business? by Shutterstock

Dog walking, or selling make up brands such as Younique and Arbonne are great ways of getting started when it comes to setting up a new enterprise. If you set up a distributorship business you also receive business support and marketing and advertising materials from the company and help and advice from the person who sponsors you into the company.

How to get on the career path:

Look around your local area to see what businesses are out there already and try to offer a talent or service not readily available.

Things to remember:

It’s best to start small to avoid having to take out a big business loan to get started, test your services out on friends and family and then expand from there. Distributorship businesses like Younique have very low rates of pay at the start – the job only really starts to pay once you recruit a team underneath you and expand your business.

Not too, that with these types of busness you are considered self employed, which means that you get no holiday pay and you have to declare and pay your own taxes.

Random Facebook meme - this is not work, really......

7 Things to Consider Outsourcing in Business

Running a business can be stressful at the best of times. When you first start up it makes sense to do everything yourself, but as things start to grow this becomes less and less possible.  When you reach that point, it makes sense to consider outsourcing some of the tasks which you find difficult or boring, so that you can concentrate on using your expertise to generate income, and enjoy your work more.

Outsourcing can also save you money compared to hiring permanent staff.  If the task you are delegating is not a full time role, then it may be more efficient to outsource it

Here are some common business functions where outsourcing is routinely used.  Take a look and consider whether using any of these services would free up your time for more productive work.

1. Hiring staff

It is important when hiring new staff that you make sure they are right for the role and not simply the task. One of the most efficient ways is to use an external HR company who will help you with recruitment for a flat fee. Using this method means that you don’t have to go through the drawn out task of interviews and reading CVs.

You can get the outsourcing company to do as much or as little as you want, perhaps by weedding the candidates down to the last few, so that you can concentrate on the final interview.

2. IT outsourcing

Setting up an IT system in your company can be expensive and your budget might not allow you to fit the latest technology. An article in the Telegraph online explains how even some of the biggest companies in the world outsource their IT systems, but this can also be beneficial for small firms, especially if you are not an IT expert yourself.

The main reason for this is to get the best value for your money and the company that you use will be more likely to keep their technology up to date.

3. General virtual assistant

One of the biggest time wasters in the office is the email inbox. You can spend hours just trying to get rid of spam and junk without even getting to your real messages.

But using an outside company to control your messages and phone calls can save you valuable  time. You’ll only receive the important data and the rest can be filed away or removed. If you are a solopreneur, having an assistant answer your phone will also gives a professional  impression to clients and will make your company appear bigger.

A virtual assistant can save you time by taking on any number of repetitive admin tasks.  Some of them also specialise in certain areas like social media, copywriting or advertising and PR.

4. Social media

Every company has to advertise and use the latest technology, but finding the time to run your social media sites can be complicated and needs someone with the correct skills.  In addition social media can be a time sucker – it is so easy to go on Facebook “doing work for your company”  and still be there looking at random cat memes two hours later….

You should really be outsourcing social media, not looking at this

Random Facebook meme – this is not work, really……

The Radio Today website explains how BBC Radio 4 and 6 Music have started outsourcing their social media channels. This is partly due to the size of their listening audience of approximately 12 million.

Many small companies (including Motivating Mum) offer social media outsourcing services. You need regular briefing meetings with your outsourcer to discuss the goals, messages and tone of the social media voice, and then you can sit back, get off Facebook and concentrate on what your business actually does.

5. Call centres

The use of call centres has seen a huge rise in recent years. Many companies choose to outsource their customer service departments because they simply want a better service. A professional complaints handler is a more efficient way of dealing with customer queries rather than a member of your existing staff.

outsourcing call centre

Some extra ears for those endless phone calls – by Shutterstock

All outsourcing companies offer different services so make sure you find the right one for you.

6. Bookkeeping and accounting

With HMRC demanding regular monthly accounts reporting for PAYE, you could save on the costs of a company accounts department simply by outsourcing your bookkeeping and accounts processes to an independent professional.

As long as you remember to keep the bookkeeper updated and send over all of the relevant figures in good time, this will reduce the expenditure of permanent staff.

7. Research

In order to keep up with shifts in the global marketplace and developments within your sector, as well as any other relevant innovations, you might consider using the services of a qualified independent research service. These professionals can help you cut down on time and money.

7 ways to banish the mess and declutter your home

We’ve all been there; one minute your house is tidy and the next it looks like a bomb has gone off.  That can be just a one off event, but if your routines slip for even one moment then the mess can escalate and saccumulate to an overwhelming level.

Mess is a part of life – especially if you’ve got kids or have a busy schedule and not much time to clean – but if you’re hoping to finally declutter your home and keep it that way, then here are some suggestions for you.

Self Storage Unit

One of the best ways to free up room in your home is to hire a safe, secure storage unit from the likes of Alligator Storage. Competitively priced and available in many different sizes, they’re the perfect place to keep large, bulky items that simply won’t fit in your property anymore but that you don’t want to throw away. Many companies also offer ‘man with a van’ services to help transport your belongings making the whole process quick and hassle-free.

Invest in storage solutions

Whether you’ve a pokey city flat or a spacious country mansion, the right storage solutions will ensure everything can be stashed away easily and tidily – even after a hectic day.

declutter your house

Choose the tools for the job – by Shutterstock

While large bookshelves and cabinets are ideal for bigger properties, thin, vertical storage units and shelves are space-savers in a more modest home. Under stairs storage is also something to consider and don’t forget to make the most of ‘wasted space’ above the bath, in stairwells and such like.

Home rules

A declutter session is all well and good but in order to ensure the mess is banished for good, you must set home rules. One of these rules might be to respect communal space and not leave personal belongings lying around. Another might be to clean up as you go and you could even create a household cleaning schedule to ensure everyone pulls their weight when it comes to chores.

Declutter and give back to the planet

Millions of tons of waste ends up on landfill sites unnecessarily each year, so instead of just throwing things in the bin, try to recycle whenever possible.

declutter your house

recycle where possible – by Shutterstock

This might just mean popping milk cartons in the recycling bin or it might mean making your very own storage units by decorating cereal boxes or jam jars in coloured paper and using them to keep makeup, nail polish, hair products

Sell your unwanted stuff

What you can’t recycle, you could always sell on – after all one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Online bidding sites such as eBay are a great place to flog your unwanted belongings (so long as they are in good condition), or you might decide to hold a garage or car boot sale. It can be wonderfully therapeutic to get rid of things you’ve been hanging onto for too long, so go ahead and give it a go.

Donate to charity

Got old baby clothes lying around that are taking up space? Then why not donate them to a family in need or give them to charity? Similarly, if you’ve children’s toys that take up tons of space but are never played with, it might be worth having a sort out and giving them away to people you know would appreciate a few new things. If your kids suddenly decide they adore everything you want to rehouse, hold onto them but say if they’re back in the boxes in three months you will pass them on.

Have monthly sort outs

Time moves pretty fast and before you know it you could be needing to declutter all over again. It’s easy to let cleanliness and organisation slip, but monthly sort outs will help you stay on top of the game. Put an evening or a weekend day aside once in a while to ensure everything is in order and your living environment will look great for the long-term.


Decluttering and staying on top of it is relatively easy, you just have to be disciplined and organised.

How to deal with Redundancy when Supporting a Family

The crushing, dispiriting worry of the threat of redundancy is only enhanced when you have a family to care for. The result could be a change of lifestyle to lessen the frequency of treats and toys, or even clothing and food. However, if several steps are taken early in the process the fallout from being made redundant might not be quite so damaging.


Consultation process

Your company may have certain obligations to those being made redundant, depending on the circumstances. Your redundancy notice period will be based upon your length of time spent at the company. That spell of notice gives you time to start applying for jobs, give your CV an overhaul, network and start making plans. It might mean a spell of working part time or somewhere that is not ideal, but that’s better than unemployment.

Your (soon to be ex) place of work has certain obligations that it must make towards you. For example, you may be offered  ‘suitable alternative employment’  if it exists, and you may lose your right to statutory redundancy pay if you turn it down. You should be allowed time off to attend job interviews or visit the JobCentre, which has a Rapid Response Service for those affected or potentially affected by redundancy.

Your redundancy payout will also soften the blow of unemployment temporarily – use this redundancy tool to find out your legal minimum entitlement.

Benefits after Redundancy

Help is available for any period of unemployment. The Government is in the process of merging several of the main benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Child Tax Credit and Income support into Universal Credit.

JSA can sometimes be means-tested, meaning that the amount you receive could be based on national insurance contributions from previous years.

You should be claiming tax credits already if your children are under the age of 16. Child Tax Credit and Childcare Tax credit are not the same thing – the latter may be available if your children spend their days at a registered nursery/childminder.

If things are still tight you may need to come to an arrangement to sort out finances. For more information on benefits visit the CAB website. In certain circumstances JobCentre money might also be available towards vocational training.

Planning finances

For a brief period your bank account may look better than ever before, but don’t go booking holidays to the Caribbean just yet. Your strategy should be to use your money to make sure that the most important things are covered, paying particular heed to anything that could damage your credit rating if not maintained such as mortgages, loans and credit cards. It could also be used further down the line for re-training or changing career.

If you are concerned, eliminate any superfluous outgoings such as subscriptions. It might be emotionally difficult to deny your children their usual treats, but with careful explanation that it is only temporary and that the cinema nights/trips to Pizza Hut might have to be a little less frequent – or put on hold for a spell – this can be managed relatively painlessly.

Instead, look for cheaper ways of entertaining your youngsters – if necessary get up early to hunt for online offers and vouchers. Many restaurants offer two for one deals, or kids eating for free. Also consider car sharing with another parent who takes the same route to drop the kids off to school, to save money on petrol.


When redundancy is mentioned, it is always a stressful time, from the moment when the threat of redundancy is first mentioned until the moment when the dust settles and you find a new job. But with a little thought and planning the stress can be minimised, and for many looking back the redundancy heralds the start of something new and better.

5 Winter Gardening tips

Your garden never rests. Over the winter season it may look as if all growing has stopped, or it’s too cold for you to venture outside to do the gardening, but some species actually start growing in winter and need to be planted at this time of the year.

Here are five winter gardening tips to keep you and your garden at their best.

  1. Planting bare root trees

    As long as the ground isn’t frosty you can plant your fruit trees during the winter season. There is an invaluable country proverb that might help you decide when to plant your bare root trees; ‘when the ground is soft enough to plant, the plants are soft enough to be in the ground.’
    Anyone who is looking to extend their orchard should look at the range of trees for sale here. Don’t just stick with old favourites, be adventurous and try growing quinces or greengages – both of these fruits make delicious jellies and chutneys.

  2. Know your onions

    According to an article on The British Heart Foundation website onions should be sown on Boxing Day. This doesn’t entail spades and earth moving, the seeds need to be planted in a compost tray.
    gardening tips

    Onion plants – by Shutterstock

    Given that most people spend Boxing Day relaxing or visiting family and friends, you can put off this job until January. Sow your onion seeds in a tray and keep them warm until spring and then move them into the ground.

  3. Growing garlic

    Garlic likes the cold soil and you should plant your bulbs in the earth during January and February. You can always plant garlic in raised beds or even pots if the earth is frozen. Solent Wight and Chesnok Wight are garlic varieties that have been bred for the English climate and make an excellent choice for your garden. You only need to create a hole that’s about 5cms deep, so you could even prepare the ground with a hoe or trowel rather than a garden spade.

  4. Planning your gardening year

    Just because you don’t spend much time in your garden during the winter months, it doesn’t mean that you have to stop planning next year’s planting schedule. Compile lists of vegetables and flowers that you want to grow and the months in which you’ll have to plant them. According to the Royal Horticultural Society January is also the perfect month for pruning pear and apple trees and to start forcing your rhubarb.

  5.  Winter is the time for digging

    A wonderfully beneficial form of exercise is to spend time digging over your flower beds during the winter months. Not only will you be fit and healthy, but also by preparing your beds in this way you’ll be allowing the frosts to break down the soil and make life easier for you once you start your spring planting.
    If you’ve already had a frosty spell check over the roots of any fruit trees or shrubs that you may have already planted to ensure that the roots haven’t been lifted by the frost. If you don’t carry out this task roots may take longer to establish.

As any gardener already knows there’s never a slack season when it comes to looking after these wonderful outside spaces, though some months may be a little quieter than others. Time spent gardening in the depths of Winter will pay dividends when the weather gets warmer.

Is It Necessary To Be Able To Drive As A Parent?

It’s highly likely that parents – or at least one of them in a two-parent household – will be able to drive. It’s not, however, unheard of for this not to be the case.

Can it be a hindrance for teens learning to drive if their parent can’t? Is it a significant problem if younger children have non-driving parents?

Younger pre-teen children

The phrase ‘mum and dad’s taxi’ seems to sum up a large part of the job of a modern parent. While school transport may be used, many parents do the dreaded school run as part of the day-to-day routine and then there’s transport to various after-school activities and taking children out and about at weekends.

If one or both parents don’t drive, it’s an obstacle but maybe not an insurmountable one. For one thing, in built up areas and cities, car use may be difficult anyway. Using public transport or maybe taxis may even be cheaper than running a car with the costs of fuel and parking to consider.  However, many rural residents may scoff at the thought of relying on public transport to get around.

Everyone wants their children to have access to the best possible opportunities as they grow up, not driving can make this challenging in certain circumstances.

Teens and when they learn to drive

There are definitely pros and cons when it comes to parents helping their teens learn to drive. In some cases, having a non-driving parent may even be advantageous to the teenager.

Pros for drivers

Parents can give their teens practice sessions outside the driving lessons from an instructor as long as certain conditions are met. This helps to reinforce what the instructor taught and keeps the ‘pot boiling’ between lessons.


Even before official lessons begin, a parent who drives can help their teen get used to the basic controls of a car by talking them through what they do as they drive themselves.

While circumstances might have been a little different when they were learning to drive, a parent with a full driving licence will hopefully empathise with their teen in terms of what it takes to learn and have important tips to pass on.

Pros for non drivers

Some parents aren’t suited to taking their offspring out in the car; in a survey conducted by the AA Driving School many rated it as one of the worst parenting experiences of all. If a parent can’t handle it, the process can have a detrimental effect on their teen – sometimes not having a license and therefore being unable to take their child out could actually work well as they don’t try to butt in.

Parents can hinder their offspring by interfering. Rather than simply backing up what the instructor has taught their teen in the lessons, some might try to contradict it and thus confuse.

If a parent doesn’t drive there’s still much they can do to help their teen. They can test them on their knowledge of the Highway Code and encourage them to practice meaningfully for the driving theory test by using learning and revision aids such as this online resource.


To many parents who do drive – and to their offspring – the idea that some families have one or more non-driving parent is almost inconceivable. To those in this position, however, the lack of access to a car isn’t always a major issue and can be worked around, even when it comes to helping the next generation to acquire a skill they don’t have.

4 essential tips for the Working Mum

Fulfilling the role of a mum whilst also working full time can be a little challenging at times. There are never enough hours in the day to get it all done. You are a working mum in the workplace and you also have to work twice as hard at home to hold it all together


Stressed working mum – by Shutterstock

However, with a bit of careful planning and a lot of organisation you can be the wonder woman you always dreamt of. Here are some suggestions to help you restore some sanity. Continue reading

good study habits for teenagers

How to help your Teenager Form Good Study Habits

I’ve been spending the last week trying to help my daughter to cultivate good study habits, as she is struggling a bit.

She has gone back to school reluctantly this year.  She was nervous enough when she joined secondary school in Year 7, but she found that the school was quite lenient on her and her classmates and she kept up with her studies really easily.

good study habitsNow she is in year 8, and this year the teachers are piling on the pressure a bit.  Now there is definitely homework every night – 3 subjects or more.  they are supposed to take 20 minutes each, but you know what teachers are like…..

This is the time when children need to form good study habits.  Each year the work will get more and more, and the students who cope best with GCSEs and beyond will be the ones who laid down good organisation and study habits early on.

good study habits

Settling down to study – by Shutterstock

These are the habits I have shared with my daughter to help her create good study habits for life.

  1. Make use of a daily planner. This will remind the student of what they have to do that day.Daily planners are easy to carry around and it is now possible to download planners as Apps for use on any mobile device.  In my daughter’s school they all have a planner and they have to use it, but it is really helping her to focus and organise herself.
  2. Change the mindset  My daughter needs to accept that studying will now become part of their daily routine. She is fighting this but she will have to come round to it later.
  3. Create a homework schedule. It can help to write out their schedule for the entire week at one time. Then just go back and add in things as they come up.  My daughter is a horrible procrastinator and is having to learn the hard way that the best night to do homework isn’t always the night before it is due.
  4. Pack up school bags and books the night before. Preparing in advance means they will be less likely to leave any important documents behind.  We are working on this – my son is even worse….
  5. Make sure she gets to bed early enough. Students often have a busy social life, but they still need between 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night. Getting enough sleep will help increase their concentration levels.
  6. Eat a good breakfast. At the very least prepare a shake, smoothie or a protein bar for your child. Their body needs fuel to keep it going all day. Not eating breakfast will leave them feeling weak and tired before lunch time even hits. My daughters school also has a breakfast club for the few days when she really can’t face or hasn’t got time for breakfast before she leaves.
  7. Develop good note taking skills. Sometimes there is a lot of material to cover in class and the teacher over delivers with massive amounts of content. Being able to condense all of this information will help them save time later on when writing up essays.  Some students learn better by drawing diagrams, mind maps etc. some by taking bullet point notes, and some by doing notes and doodles or using multi coloured pens. Each student should experiment with what works for them

good study habits for teenagers

All of the above points provide any student with tools and resources to develop her own good study habits that will not only help in school, but later on in life too. And to be honest a few of them are just as relevant to me running my business.

5 Tips to Help Busy Mums Keep Their Sanity

Although it isn’t always the case, busy mums are generally those who work outside the home. There never seem to be enough hours in the day to get all those tasks done and with kids needing to be transported to an assortment of games, activities and friends’ houses, your time becomes even more limited.



Stressed mum – by Shutterstock


This can lead to stress, even if you were in line for sainthood, and is why you really need to slow down for a minute, catch your breath and think about ways to streamline (just like at work!) to be more effective. Continue reading