A Residence Blog

Travel and adventure taking, memory and home making, parenting and play shaking, never faking, tales of family life.

A Residence Blog

Travel and adventure taking, memory and home making, parenting and play shaking, never faking, tales of family life.

How We Gender Swapped the Chores In Our House

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A few weeks ago I decided I’d had enough of doing the washing. It’s one of those jobs that has just become mine over the years, like Mr A loading the dishwasher.  It was prompted by people sharing that viral washing powder advert where the Dad suddenly realises his daughter is doing everything and his son in law is a lazy oaf. Our life is nothing like that ad, we both contribute pretty evenly, but some jobs are still a little gendered in the A Residence.

According to a 2015 study by PriceWaterHouseCoopers and the Families and Work Institute, only 31% of hetrosexual couples share the laundry fairly, whereas 44% do in same sex couples. And my hat goes off to single parents juggling it all, so many single parents I know set a much better example to their kids in getting them on board with chores early. If they can work an iPad they can also work a washing machine!

We talked about sharing the washing load, I could sense Mr A trying to think which jobs from his list he could give me, chief lightbulb changer or bin emptier perhaps. He argued the dishwasher was ‘best for him’ because it was obvious when it needed doing. This was my chance to share how I feel about the kind of jobs that occupy my brain space, like judging when different members of the family are going to need something that is lying at the bottom of the washing basket. Emotional labour is a massive part of many women’s lives, is often very gendered, e.g. juggling kid’s social and school lives, remembering special occasions, caring for wider family.

But the more I think about it, I’m pretty sure Mr A does his fair share of emotional labour too, and when pressed he soon let me know about how much securing the house at night, budgeting, the kids’ internet safety and making sure the dog doesn’t have accidents in the house occupies his mind. I full admit, when he is at home I always leave him to let the dog out and lock up, and after managing our budget for years, I now bury my head in the sand and let him number crunch, if the kids have an iPad issue, although we both work with computers, I send them to him.

I remember similar ebbs and flows as I grew up too, my Mum started to work, including nights in a children’s centre and my Dad took over more of the cooking and the housework. Seeing Dad do this was a powerful signal to both me and my brother that jobs can be shared.

I look back at days visiting my grandparents, gardening followed by a mammoth feast baked and prepared by my Grandmother. This Sunday Mr A played Grandma, he’s not a keen gardener, so instead he did several loads of washing, sorted the washing, made cups of tea, lunch and dinner. As we sat down after a whole day gardening on Sunday, Mr A in the pinney, proclaiming himself a ‘laydeee’, and chastising my Dad and I for our dirt engrained hands, I realised how much things have changed. There is still so much room for change though, the fact that we were still joking about the role reversal says so.

Back to the weekend I went on strike about the washing. After letting the resentment build, muttering lots and getting grumpy,  I threw a pile of washing at the machine. My daughter immediately offered to help me sort it, while my son ran off and Mr A grumpily loaded the dishwasher. My daughter following my footsteps is exactly the outcome I was seeking to avoid, although I think her helpful nature is wonderful. I still remember cursing my Dad’s socks as a kid and wondering why Mum, my brother and I were sorting them. It’s probably why I resent the washing so much today. It feels like a job that became engendered and engrained.

The rage built up from watching a washing powder advert about sexism had got me nowhere, but it was an article I had saved months ago on chore challenges that paved the way for real change.

After a bit of sulking, we thrashed the idea about again in a more grown up fashion, questioned how we could make a difference, for the sake of setting a better gender example to our kids. I also admitted there are some bits of doing the washing I much prefer to other chores, I would rather be in the garden pegging out washing than emptying the bins for example. But sitting sorting the washing pile takes me back to sorting my Dad’s socks and makes me cross. Slowly, the idea of a ‘chore challenge’ started to happen.

Later that day my son helped me take things to the tip, while Mr A showed Miss L how to use the drill to put up a cabinet. We came up with some other simple ways to change the chores too. I would do the washing, Mr A would sort it. Mr A would load the dishwasher and I would empty it more (I am yet to pass the loading test). But we both have different work weeks and ultimately we both pitch in where it is needed.

Last night, as I walked the dog last thing at night, I realised the logic behind Mr A always doing this was about me not being a lone woman out at night. But it was wonderful to be out at night under the stars with the dog and my thoughts. The bins were lining up outside other houses, so when I came back I put ours out too.  Mr A was confused when he came to do it this morning.

Little by little, things are changing. You have to be the change to make a change I think.

 

Ways to easily gender swap the chores

You could audit all the chores, list them under each other’s names and no doubt have the biggest argument you have ever had, or you can start simple and change one or two things at a time…

I read that Melissa Gates simply has a rule “No one leaves the kitchen until Mom does” I like the emphasis on everyone tidying up together, although I would argue it really doesn’t have to have Mom in the sentence. ‘No one leaves until the kitchen is tidy’.

Family Cook Off – once a month we all batch cook some freezer meals together, which takes a big strain off the meal planning head space. It’s social and a great chance to teach each other recipes and cooking skills.

Meal plan together – apart from taking the emphasis off one person, it is a great way to make everyone aware of the thought that goes into planning meals and to ensure everyone gets to pick something they will enjoy eating. Some great family rituals have come out of this, like Saturday night hotdogs and Friday night home made pizza nights.

Swap a chore Take one chore that feels gendered and swap it.

Teach someone a skill – It is easy to rely on someone else for tech support, power tool jobs, budgeting, birthday present buying but just as great to learn a new skill. Make a date to learn how to master a skill you always leave to someone else.

Have a rota – rather than always doing the same chores, share them across different days so everyone knows what they are doing.

Make it desirable  – apparently Bill Gates started a playground trend when he took his kids to school. ‘If Bill Gates has time, surely you do?’ We share the school run and it turns out Mr A has more friends in the playground than me these days.  Just waiting for pictures of celebrity ladies taking out the trash now…

Hack the chores – sometimes sharing a chore introduces new shortcuts you would never have thought of. Like folding the washing while listening to the kids read on a Sunday night.  We’ve become a little obsessed with meal plan hacks too.

Delegate/Outsource – there are always going to be some chores couples are never going to agree on, in that situation it makes sense to delegate them to the kids, or outsource them to a professional if you can afford it.

 

Image credit: Shutterstock Couple with a washing machine

What colour makes you feel happy at home? #happyandhome

Yellow Door

 

A Window into last week’s Happy and Home…

The World of Suzy Homemaker was bursting with Spring like feeling, I love this Spring wreath, it reminded me to hunt out the Easter nest we made last year and to also have a go at a craft with some silk flowers. A seaside moodboard at Pigeon Pair and Me, caught my eye, as like Nell I was at the coast recently and it really does fill your head with so many nautical ideas for your home. The porch makeover was complete at last, at Lifeat139a, with clever pigeon holes and colourful old tins for storage that catches the eye too. So many more beautiful posts linked up too, do take a look. happy and home 4

My Happy and Home this week

I’ve been kindly invited to be guest pinner at Love Chic Living, Jen is a good friend and an amazing interiors blogger. She has nearly a million followers on Pinterest, so I am really honoured to pin there – there was never a better week to join Happy and Home as I am on the hunt for lots more happy home ideas to pin. My board has really got me thinking about what makes a happy home, as does this linky each week. So I thought I would make the board my Happy and Home this week. Follow Jen Stanbrook’s board Guest Pinner – Penny Alexander on Pinterest. What I love about Happy and Home is that so many things can make us happy at home, there have been books, recipes, crafts, gardening, recipes, rituals. Looking at my board I realised I am gathering colours and quotes too. This is a favourite, and yellow is a favourite happy colour of mine too. I am not sure if it is all the spring daffodils, my new yellow handbag or suggestion of sun, but yellow is my favourite colour right now! I’m about to start an office makeover, so rather than the calming pastels I did have in mind, I am now thinking zesty energising yellow. How about you? What colours are you in love with?

Written a post full of home love? Join up with #happyandhome

#happyandhome is for anyone, it’s not about one style, it’s about one love, for all our home lives. Happy and Home is the place to link up and inspire others with whatever has made you happy at home each week. From curling up with a new book, to a new recipe, to painting the walls, a home makeover, hygge-ing the living room, to a craft project, a movie night with the kids, an organisation trick, to a date night cocktail or garden battles won. Happy and Home is about sharing the love of being at home, and making a happy home. There is no weekly theme, it opens on Mondays at 7am. It could be as simple as a picture of one thing that has made you happy at home this week, or maybe you have lots of photos and a whole post full of home love. #happyandhome is open from Monday ’til Sunday.

To join in, just pick a recent post that shares your love of life at home, click on the blue button to add your post link.

Add the badge to help spread the word. I will be reading, tweeting and sharing on whichever other social platforms best suit your post.  I will be pinning here.

Please join in by commenting and sharing socially too – we all want our posts to be seen and shared, so pick some posts that resonate or inspire you and share them! I’ve asked the lovely people at WayfairUK to play along with sharing too, and suggested they have a weekly browse here for new bloggers to follow and work with.

Use the hashtag #happyandhome on Instagram and Twitter and tweet me @pennyalexander_ if you spot a post you think should be featured next week.

I will share some of the posts that inspired happy homes the following week. Let’s get happy and home! Penny x  

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  Image credit – Shutterstock – Classical Architecture

36 Amazing Places to Visit In England With Kids

Places you must go in England with Kids

 

English Tourism Week is on the horizon – just behind that field of cow parsley, in that freshly boiled pot of tea, between the sheets of that medieval lodge, at the top of that fell. Some of the UK’s top family travel bloggers have joined forces to share their ideas for places to visit In England with kids, here are my three, followed by lots more awesome ideas from the others. Continue reading

Pet Beds with Design Appeal – A Giveaway

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I have a gorgeous giveaway for pet lovers today. Pet beds can be home eye sores, but I loved the colour of this one and our greyhound Max sleeps so well on it too. It is from Danish Design at Wayfair. We loved it so much, that I asked if we could give one away this month for Pet Month.

There are a choice of fabrics this is the stag pattern – I love that they are a bit different from your average pet beds – such fab colours and patterns. It fits in beautifully in our home and in the house we stayed in, in Wales over half term. It has plenty of stuffing, the cover removes for washing and it comes in lots of sizes, finally a bed big enough for Max, more pictures and information about our lovely hound here!

This is the biggest sized bed, the blanket isn’t included in the giveaway, but I definitely recommend it, it is this one.

We rehomed Max about 2 years ago, when he retired from racing, via the Lincolnshire Greyhound Trust. Little did I know how many questions I would answer about rehoming a greyhound on our daily walks, from workmen calling out 'Did he win anything?' to toddlers asking if he is a donkey, to people seriously considering adopting a greyhound wanting to know about food and walks.

The Giveaway

I have on Danish Design Luxury Pet Duvet bed (blanket above not included) in your choice of print as pictured below. Sizes medium or large (large pictured with Max)

Dog beds from Wayfair

  1. Simply leave a comment, you know I love to hear what you think, or hear about your pets. Also Wayfair were on the hunt with famous pets to work with last time I caught up with the team, so do also let me know if you follow any cool pets on Instagram?

2.  Register via rafflecopter and unlock extra entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

T&Cs There is one prize of a Pet Bed in your choice of fabric and size as specified in the blog post. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
Open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding employees and relatives of Wayfair and A Residence.
Closing date for entries is 31/03/2016 12 AM
One entry per person
Entrants must log into rafflecopter and comment on the blog.
Optional entry methods are to follow on Twitter, Facebook and tweet on Twitter.
The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries
The winner will be informed within one week of the closing date and will need to respond with a postal address within 14 days or a new winner will be chosen
The winner’s name will be available on request
This is a joint promotion between Wayfair and A Residence.
Entry to this confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.

Announcing My Team Honk Sport Relief Challenge 2016

The Team Honk Sport Relief Museum Dash

Team Honk are a group of bloggers and friends that have raised over 80k for Sport Relief and Comic Relief over the last 4 years. The fundraising kicked off yesterday with Becky from A Beautiful Space who did her big walk in howling wind and rain. There is still time to join the team and raise money, so today I wanted to share what I am doing, and ask all my lovely readers and friends to consider joining Team Honk or if you are too busy to at least sponsor me! It’s an amazing cause.

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An Extra Day to be #happyandhome

Happy and Home Week 3

A selection of my favourite posts linked up to Happy and Home last week

Last week on Happy and Home…

I shared my driftwood collected in Wales and crafted into a door sign, so it was lovely to be joined by Amanda from City Girl Gone Coastal who shared tales of a weekend spent passing on her woodworking skills to her sons and eating snickerdoodles. Sounds like time well spent to me. Liz from Me and My Shadow had also been in Wales, and like me felt the pain of leaving this beautiful country behind, but she brought a beautiful handcrafted rug back with her. It was wonderful to welcome Chris from Thinly Spread who shared the most mouth watering recipe for Goats Cheese Tart with mint.

I was really moved by many of the posts linked up last week, there was a real sense of people sharing some really special home rituals and reflections, and some happy coincidences. Have a look at three that caught my eye below. Today I am excited about having a leap day, a whole day in the year we wouldn’t normally have. Leap Day being a Monday means that to many of us, it might feel just like another day, but maybe today is the day to start that project you’ve been putting off?

 

My Happy and Home this week

I have to say this weekend I felt very extra dayish, probably because I had so many home projects on the go at onceWe started reclaiming the garden after the winter and it feels so great. Does this mean I have loads to show you? No, it means I have several half finished projects I will have to tell you more about another day. The daring local skip raid made by me and my 7yo for treasures, the herb planter we finally planted up (thanks for the nudge Thinly Spread!) the new plants I bought but ran out of time to plant, the first mowed lawn of the year which my 7yo strewed with planks and driftwood as I lost the energy to tidy, and again as I lost the light to take pictures. The pirate corner of the garden we started building. The bird feeders we need to fill with food.

Happy Homes aren’t always tidy homes! So my photos this week are taken at another home.

My Dad is my garden inspiration. There is nothing more happy and home for me than seeing these in the windowsill outside the back door at my Dad’s house.  I love the gravel and the simple piece of wood to create a place for plants.

 

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The stunning succulents.

Window box

Mixed with beautiful miniature blooms which make me feel so spring like.

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It’s the little things! Go buy yourself some flowers this leap day, or better still why not surprise someone else?

Written a post full of home love? Join up with #happyandhome

#happyandhome is for anyone, it’s not about one style, it’s about one love, for all our home lives.

Happy and Home is the place to link up and inspire others with whatever has made you happy at home each week. From curling up with a new book, to a new recipe, to painting the walls, a home makeover, hygge-ing the living room, to a craft project, a movie night with the kids, an organisation trick, to a date night cocktail or garden battles won. Happy and Home is about sharing the love of being at home, and making a happy home. There is no weekly theme, it opens on Mondays at 7am.

It could be as simple as a picture of one thing that has made you happy at home this week, or maybe you have lots of photos and a whole post full of home love.

#happyandhome is open from Monday ’til Sunday.

  1. To join in, just pick a recent post that shares your love of life at home, click on the blue button to add your post link.
  2. Add the badge to help spread the word. I will be reading, tweeting and sharing on whichever other social platforms best suit your post.  I will be pinning here.
  3. Please join in by commenting and sharing socially too – we all want our posts to be seen and shared, so pick some posts that resonate or inspire you and share them! I’ve asked the lovely people at WayfairUK to play along with sharing too, and suggested they have a weekly browse here for new bloggers to follow and work with.
  4. Use the hashtag #happyandhome on Instagram and Twitter and tweet me @pennyalexander_ if you spot a post you think should be featured next week.

I will share some of the posts that inspired happy homes the following week.

Let’s get happy and home!

Penny

x

 

Help yourself to a badge

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Home Inspiration: Oh I do love to be beside the seaside!

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside - lovely ideas in yellow and grey for a seaside themed bedroom or home

Spring feels like it is here, I came home from a week by the sea in Wales to daffodils. That burst of yellow, and the week by the sea, collecting treasures and beach combing, started me thinking about a sea themed home inspiration. You can also take a proper tour of the lovely cottage we stayed in, and see my driftwood art projects, part of Happy And Home this week.

I’ve been trying to find a way to ‘say seaside’ without too obvious nautical touches. I really loved the yellow and grey living room of the house we stayed in. So I’ve picked this yellow and grey bird duvet. The Lloyd Loom chair in the office was beautiful too, so I chose this modern grey tub chair take on that.

I loved collecting bits of driftwood, rope and fishing net with my kids, and this blanket reminds me of that. As does the rope on the mirror, but it still has an elegant shape and look too.

The seagrass baskets all over the cottage we stayed in had a lovely sea worn look to them and reminded me of the texture of rope and driftwood. They were great for displaying beach finds.  Kilner jars (without the rubber seal) are another great way to display sea glass, pebbles and shells.

On the walls, this  Hannah Cole Cornish Sea Dog picture reminds me of a harbour town we visited, Aberaeron in shape. Although Aberaeron is much more brightly coloured, I like the muted pastels for this look. There has to be a little bit of seaside humour too, I love this “I do like to be beside the Seaside‘ wall art, it makes me smile.

There are lots more lovely ideas on my Beside the Sea Ideas Board.

A splash of happy colours #HappyAndHome

Happy and Home Week Two

 

Thank you so much to all of you lovely people who are joining in with Happy And Home, I’ve loved finding other people’s posts to share and picked up some lovely inspiration for our home too. Spring is in the air, and with it dashes of happy colours. I have lots more happy home inspiration, and info on joining the linky below. Do come and join this lovely community of happy home enthusiasts.

One of my goals this year is to make our home a happier place, I realised setting goals around banishing clutter didn’t inspire me, because of the negative focus, so instead I want to ‘make more room for the happy stuff in our home‘. So of course that means clearing out some of the stuff that doesn’t work, but it also means making more room to put happier things on the walls, and more room to do the things that make us happy as a family.

 

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10 more shortcuts to success

 10 shortcuts to success

This year feels different, I can’t quite pinpoint why, but the little changes I have been making are really adding up to big changes. I’m running three times a week, and after feeling like my body would never adapt to that again, I knocked 3 minutes off my 10k time this week. My organisation system seems to be finally working, there are days when all the things on my to do list actually get knocked off. I’m writing lots more, but still have time to do fun stuff. Family life seems happier.

I didn’t believe it was little things I needed to overhaul, I thought I needed to change everything – so I couldn’t be happier. The shortcuts I shared last month seemed to resonate, so here are some of the shortcuts I have made recently:

  1. Lay out your clothes the night before.

I can’t bear routine, but this feels like more of a ritual. After weeks of scrambling through the washing pile we decided enough is enough. Mr A sorted the washing while listening to L read on Sunday night, we all put our clothes away and I joined the kids in laying out my clothes for the next day. The change was remarkable. It seemed to buy me so much time and headspace. Sometime we are so busy doing things for the rest of the people in our lives, we forget what we can do for ourselves

2. Family Batch cook

Two hours spent chopping and cooking together as a family on the first Sunday in the month resulted in a pile of old takeaway boxes full of spag bol, chilli and an Innocent veg curry recipe I have fallen in love with. Having three meals a week we can just take out of the freezer has bought us so much time in the evenings. We enjoyed the cook off too

3. Plan the week ahead

I use a simple tear off pad with spaces for writing each day of the week. I am finding myself doing this task on a Friday now for the week ahead, instead of a Sunday night or Monday – a sign I am much more organised than I was. The pad has 7 spaces per day, and I am realising that 7 is also around the maximum my brain can handle on a daily to do list – it is helping me to say no to things that will overfill the week.

4. Pomodoro breaks

I’ve installed the Pomodoro app on my computer, which I love. It times you in 25 minute bursts. This is definitely making me more productive and I noticed how much I am loving the 5 minute timed breaks. Strech, cup of tea, bit of pottering or a quick tidy up, a burst of facebook, and then back to being really productive.

5. My Fitness pal

A friend mentioned this to me, I was cynical, but if you are trying to lose weight it really is a clever app. It monitors your activity via your phone too, so gives you a great indication of how much extra food you can eat based on the exercise you do. As a runner I find this really helpful. It also looks at the nutritional balance of your food, so you can see where you diet is lacking. Fascinating stuff and it is working well for me

6. Monthly Goals

If I had tried to do all the things I wanted in one go last month I would have achieved nothing. This year seems to be really falling into place, because I am taking it a bit at a time. Having monthly goals is helping. Building up exercise first, then revisiting my diet has worked on the health front. Managing my time and tasks last month, before getting more serious about the pomodoro technique and productivity has worked in terms of life management.

7. Champion your loved ones

I’m realising how much the little things you do for family and friends come back to you in abundance. I read this article about relationships, it said the people in the happiest relationships responded to their partners ‘bids’ for attention a whopping 87% of the time. A bid could be a question about something at home , a comment about a newspaper article, pointing out a passing bird, a grumble about an ache or pain. The researchers could predict with startling accuracy the couples who would be together, based on observing the responses to each others bids.

8. Get up before everyone else

That time on your own with the day is sacred, whether you write 500 words, do some exercise, sit and sip tea, sling a load of washing on, it doesn’t matter. The day belongs only to you.

9. A Candle on my desk

This makes me so much happier and cosier.

10.  New Smoothies

Last month, after getting fed up with lousy experiments, I decided it was time to try some new smoothies, the best ones I made and the recipes are here.

Do have a look at last month’s little shortcuts too, there are some great tips there too.

10 shortcuts to success

Image Credit – Shutterstock, Bouquet of Lilacs, Big Bouquet

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