The IGP experience

As a mom the most frustrating times I have are when I am unable to get out of the house and buy my friends or family members a gift on a special occasion. It is extremely annoying and makes me feel like a proper failure. There are gifting portals online, but I have never been able to find anything interesting or found the websites reliable. However now I do have a savior. Tried and tested! The Indian Gifts Portal aka IGP were kind enough to send me a voucher to try out their website and also purchase gifts. Here’s a lowdown of my experience and what I purchased from the website:

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IGP is Indias largest online gifting store in India, they started their website in 2001, which also makes them the oldest and most experienced in the industry. They specialise  in personalised gifts, flowers, cakes, festival merchandise among others gifting ideas. The website is clean in design, simple to browse and such that you can find a gift easily because of the various links on the home page itself. They have a simple animated video on ‘how it works‘ for anyone who is new to the website.You don’t have to browse through the whole website to find what you are looking for, they have four major categories ; ‘Personalised Gifts‘, ‘Gifts by recipient/occasion‘, flowers and cakes‘ and ‘Gifts by country/city‘. Apart from these, you can also find other filtered links like ‘Gifts for anniversary’, ‘gifts for Birthdays’ etc. They keep in tune with any special days that come up in the calendar like valentines, mothers day, etc. All this helps in streamlining the search and finding the gift.

I had taken this opportunity to buy gifts for my kids; purchased two for Baby Abbas and one for Batool. Fisher-Price Rock-a-stack and Snap-Lock beads and Funskool Sun Catchers. The price sticker for all of these was either removed or scratched,  which is very important if you’re having the gifts wrapped and delivered directly to the recipient. All items of the order were delivered together and on time, I shall leave you with pics of the same now…

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I am aware of a couple more gifting sites, but haven’t dared to try them. It was very nice of IGP to approach me to try it out as a courtesy.

My experience with the customer support was satisfying, I was having some issues with placing the order because of crappy internet, and wanted some information on a product as well, so I had reached out to their customer care and they were very helpful. The helpline operator, made a note of my query, gave me an estimate of when she would get back to me with the information I needed, and she stuck to it. I was very pleased with their service. When it comes to buying gifts for someone you want to make sure that everything is perfect and there should be no room for mishaps.

Nothing in the world is perfect is it? Critically analysing the website makes me want them to have a larger range especially for little kids, it would be nice to purchase products that I or anyone may not otherwise find on other retail stores in India as gifts. Also, since I was placing my order around the Mothers day the website was very slow, which also I got clarified by the help-desk that it was because they were constantly working on the website by adding new products for mothers day. But still it kind of was annoying.

Having said that , I will give IGP 4/5 and will definitely turn to them for future gift purchases. Especially since many of my friends and family reside in Dubai I always tend to lose out on doing something special for them, sending a bouquet of fresh flowers, or a personalised gift from here, would enable me to express my love for them. IGP delivers to over 90 countries, and over 350 cities have same day delivery option! Isn’t that impressive?

Highly recommend the site, have you ever purchased anything from there?

Let’s celebrate Passing the HAP course!

I finished my course at HAP!! Yayii!. Received the certificate of the same on Saturday 12th, And boy was that day hectic. I know what you’re thinking! I constantly talk about my busy schedules, I am sure it’s getting monotonous at this point. Keeping this in mind I shall move on to what I wanted to actually write about. I treated myself with some online shopping.

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Note the excitement on the daughters face! That’s just ‘zoom into pricelessness moment’ She was roaring “Yayiiiii”

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Appreciating oneself is a habit I am still developing, but when I found out that I was actually truly passing I had this intense feeling of treating myself. All the hard work, running around, studying, maintaining sanity while balancing the many responsibilities that I did, I just had to acknowledge my efforts. The icing on the cake was that I topped the last exam which was a paper submission! Felt great, that sense of accomplishment I have never felt, never topped anything! hehe

Anyway so this is what I did, I bought some make-up, a wallet, and shoes (which are on the way).

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The experience of the course was great, in one word I would describe the course ‘insightful’ apart from the academic learning that took place you really do get to explore yourself, and become more aware of your behaviour and that of others. I have met some really special people, from various walks of life, women who inspire me and will continue to be part of my life. Even though I didn’t perform to my potential, there’s a lot I have learned to do better in the future in other ventures in my life.

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Dr.Diana is a great teacher, and an inspiring role model, for her high ethical standards of practice, passion for her field, and the unconditional positive regard she gives to us as her students. I highly recommend this course for all students who are in the field of psychology to broaden their view of the field, and get exposure to new thinking and learning.

The next target is to wind up my PGDiploma from IHMH. That should be a call for another mini shopping spree I guess!

Eid in pics

I am not a poser, I don’t even enjoy buying clothes and all those girlie things. Normal people get excited to shop, I do too, but not for Indian wear. But this year I was up for some excitement, and I had made it a point to buy something in white. You may already know that I like white from my previous post.

And not only did I pick a beautiful dress in white, I also happened to love a white and pink one for Batool. 🙂

This year I called up me cousin, and asked her to come prepared to click a tonne of pictures, because for the firts time I was feeling like enjoying a little, and just obsessing over myself 😉

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The Eid day was not elaborate, I had stayed over at my paternal aunts place as my cousin is in town from London. I stayed home the whole day and Batool visited her paternal grandparents for a while. It was a good day, just felt refreshed.

What did you do for Eid?

Scholastic book fair haul

Batool school is having the scholastic book fair on at the moment. And to me that’s just an opportunity to buy more books (9 to be precise). I think it’s almost like a disease. I haven’t received the scholastic book order I placed via school yet, but that didn’t stop me. Naah! Never!

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In fact right now all our stuff is in cartons and suitcases, we will be moving once the house construction is over. It’s only when I was packing up her and my books that I realised we hCAM03020ave quite a collection. A variety, mine are mostly text books and the few books I’ve mentioned already in the blog. But hers are truly a variety, from behaviour books, to story books, picture books, activity books, educational etc. I gave a few of her books that she has outgrown to cousins. I think that’s a good way of letting go of books, Batools attached to some of her books, those are the ones she wants to re-read, and always enjoys. Those usually are succumbed to so much love they look rather shabby. I won’t part with those. Will keep them for her to cherish and revisit when she’s older.

Moving on;  I will post a detailed review on first  impressions and review, as and when we explore them. The first book I picked up was ‘who wears glasses?’ by Ana Galan. I am also looking forward to introducing Clifford and Dora to Batool. She’s has recently started showing interest in stickers, (I was waiting for that phase) so I made sure I pick up books that will satisfy that craving.

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What books have you enjoyed reading with your kids? Any recommendations?

Early Learning centre and Kinokuniya haul (Dubai Mall)

I have a very tiny list of haulage for this trip to Dubai. And on the top of the list for my daughter was ‘my alphabet writing cards’, I first saw it on a fellow mommy blogger and friend’s blog. And while I was there I picked up two other things.

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1. Rainbow my alphabet writing cards- These cards may not seem very exciting to most mommies out there. There are plenty resources for developing writing skills, but the reason why I wanted this so badly was because Batool can’t visualise the small little alphabets in the books. She can’t clearly see the arrows as well. These cards have a larger font as you can see in the pic below. The starting point, and the arrows are big and clear too. The box comes with 26 double-sided cards, and a small black marker. The writing can be wiped and the card can be used multiple times. They’re for ages 3-8years. Focus on fine motor development, writing skills, and learning to read. The child can use the cards to form two or three letter words. This helps enhance reading, and the corresponding images at the back of the cards helps improve phonetic vocabulary too. It was AED 34 which isn’t that bad for a product that’s going to be so useful and has multiple purposes.

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2. Chunky washable pens- I had purchased these 2 years ago when I had come to Dubai. And since the writing cards only had one pen, I thought it’s better to get a pack just in case it runs out of ink. These are washable, so need to worry about them staining clothes or the childs skin. Batool loved them then and I’m sure she will enjoy now as well. Plus having the variety in colour will help her get even more interested in the writing cards. The pens were for AED19 but there was a discount on them.

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3. Flashcards- These have sight words!!! I was so excited when I found these. I have been practicing the sight words with Batool, to speed up her reading. She’s showing more interest now, and I thought it’s the best time to pick these up. 70 double sided cards, and the font is simple and easy to read. There are few plain cards too, for using with the washable markers. The beauty of this product is you can use the cards to help the child make sentences too. It’s for 3yrs and above, and was priced at AED 29, this product was on discount as well. The box looks hideous but it was the only one left, and I didn’t want to pass.

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I went into Kinokuniya to pick up books on ‘good touch bad touch’ but there were NONE! Very disappointing. I did find ‘Hands are not for hitting’ that I wanted though, and Batool made me read it there and then in the store itself before I even purchased it! The book was for AED 34. Batool already has one of the books from the series; ‘words are not for hurting’. I think I’ll pick one more up before I leave.

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I did a bit of shopping myself which was not on my list..the things that happen when you’re in Dubai! Shall update on that soon…

Scholastic haul

The school had distributed a hand out by Scholastic for books to order. It’s their initiative to promote reading at schools. Batool has always loved books, and enjoys it. And I thought this is a great way to just purchase selected books for age levels. So I got all excited and ordered few, it was my first experience, and even though I was tempted to buy almost all of them, I tried to keep in mind that they’re for Batool and not for me to explore!. So I decided to go for books that she didn’t have, variety to expose her to.

The great thing was all these books arrived in separate parcels, which made it easier for the teachers also to distribute them at school. Let’s get some picture in shall we?

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1. Trees to paper- This is a science based book, and since the daughter knows what paper is and trees are, it would e of interest to her. The concept to learn is how things come into being.

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2. Trash crafts- I mainly got this to have fun activities to do with her. This should be interesting

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3. Fly Guy Dinosaurs- She loves dinosaurs, there was no other reason to this order

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4.Night Sky Glow- Batool hasn’t shown much interest in space, and I had once almost picked up this ginormous book at Crosswords on the planets and space and all that beautiful stuff. But then I thought she needs something simpler, I should expose her to the idea first and then pursue it if she enjoys it. Because these space books for kids are a litle on the expensive side, they have many pictures, and textures too, some even have stickers. They make it super interesting. Anyway, when I spotted this on the list I thought this will be a great way to introduce Space into her little head. It has radium content also, that should make it grasping.

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5. Enjoy Phonics level 1- I wanted to explore this frankly, the book is nice and colourful with a CD too. There are writing activities as well, she’s just been introduced to the various lines (standing, sleeping, slanting) at school, so good timing.

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All of these books and others can be found on the website. Reading is the best and safest habit that can be inculcated in children. And the sooner it happens the better.

If you want a detailed review of any of the above books do let me know in the comments below. Happy reading.

Max haul

Here’s a tiny haul. I will be visiting Dubai for a month later this month and spend my new years there and well enjoy the DSF. Picked up some clothes for the little one, getting into the spirit.CAM02362

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I haven’t been buying her clothes for outside, because she’s mostly in her school uniform, and I avoid even family gatherings during the week days. So I just don’t feel the need to shop, but since the Dubai trip is round the corner I thought it’s a good time to get her some pieces for the cold there.

1. A frock, full sleeved and cool. It would look great with white or navy stockkings

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2. A girlie r-shirt. It’s A-line and v comfy. Love the little flower detail on the shoulder

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3. Pink hoodie!, the most essential for winters, layering is key with kids especially

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4. The sweater in this pic. It says ‘super cute’. Again great for layering.

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5. Skirt

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I have to still pick up a few tees and a pant or two. Will try to find something there if I need. I know I won’t get to shop much early on because of my brothers wedding reception. Also Max has been launched on Flipkart, but they don’t have the whole collection, and sizes at max are a little tricky sometimes, so I didn’t order anything even though I was tempted, they’re having some offers too on the kids clothing.

Where do you like to haul for the kids?

Shopping and book update

I went out, a very deserving outing alone…My friend wasn’t available as well, so I just had to hang out and chill away from the daughter. And well, I ended up spending. Has a few things on the list but got carried away…Lets dig in shall we?

I was at city center, and wanted to get a drum for the little one, she didn’t get the concept of it while doing homework the weekend before, So i thought she needs to experience it, even though it would cause great noise pollution. Picked it up at the toy store there.

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Also picked up two white hair bands, a lunch box she’s broken hers, and also broker her water bottle, that’s second one this school year already!

Next stop Max, the daughter has suddenly grown tall, and needed a little addition to the wardrobe

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The green sleeveless hoodie is reversible! This is her first pair of jeans, loved the tiny print detail and the colour I was crossing my fingers they’d fit and they did, wonderfully…

Dropped by health and glow, had a very strict list on here, but I also sneakily picked up a new body bath/scrub and a bubble bath for Batool from Baby Biotique. Frankly I didn’t know Baby Biotique existed!!The surprise comes from the fact that I do enjoy using the Biotique products myself. I haven’t tried it yet, still have a little bit left from the MEE MEE one. Will do a comparison post on them when I do try.

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The scrub however is phenomenal! Yummy! smells like the first lip gloss I owned when I was in school it was called ‘wet lips’..Yum Yum….

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Got myself a key chain by daffodils from Crosswords, picked up a cheap water bottle for the daughter who is rowdy!

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Coming to my book I placed an order on flipkart for few things, and one of them was my book!! ‘On Dublin street’ by Samantha Young…It’s an adult romance novel, but with a proper story, and an ending, 300 odd pages finished it in 2 nights….Great read, easy, refreshing, nice. I would love to see it as a movie, with the right screenplay and cast this movie will be a great one for sure.

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I’ve decided to try out Indian authors, and hence I have ordered ‘Sorry, you’re not my type‘ by Sudeep Nagarkar, it’s cheap 150 but Flipkarts having a discount on it (Unlike Dublin street which costed 950 nucks!!) and sounds like a fine book. I’ve per-ordered Chetan Bhagats new book ‘Half girlfriend’ as well.

I also ordered a reference book, I am having a growing inclination toward learning disabilities even though I wouldn’t dare tread that path as career, it would help me understand it better, explain it better to parents/caregivers/teachers/students etc. and also for my present diploma.

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It’s by Meenakshi Dave and I highly recommend it to Indian parents.

Also on the flipkart order was my daughter book ‘Bruno put your toys away’, already have the rest of the books from the series, she desperately wanted it, asked me several times and I couldn’t find it at crosswords, so paid double the price because of shipping and bought it.

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I am trying to get her TV time limited, even though she doesn’t watch any cartoons, we don’t have cable, we just download selected rhymes and make CDs for her. I have to get it down to 1 hour a day with a min half gap in between. So inorder to do that I have increased book time, now we have two sessions and we go through the charts I had blogged about previously. She’s enjoying the attention too, in the spirit of entertainment sans TV I ordered a finger painting set in the flipkart order…It arrived today evening, and well she enjoyed a lot and it got messy but it took a good 45 mins off the day, and the paints almost are over, Im going to buy more paint….

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As you can see, it comes with shaped sponges, tiniest pots of paint, few plain white sheets and few images to paint. For 210 plus 40 shipping I don’t recommend it, you can just buy a box of paint and give them to your child to finger paint. Nothing special in the box, a great gift though, if you have a birthday to attend want to budget it under 500! It’s not worth it otherwise.

Well that’s about it….purchased two pairs of shoes online as well…

 

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Haven t taken a pic of the other one 😉 oops! Will note it in an outfit post….Need to get those done more often….What have you been upto?

 

 

Maybelline Glitter Mania nail polish review

I have been obsessed with the Zoya Pixie dust nail polishes since months, been searching for them online but they’re too pricy for a nail polish, but boy do they make my mouth water. I was browsing online (as usual) on Nykaa, and found the Maybelline dupes of the pixie dust!, they’re called the Glitter mania, it’s in continuation of their Color Show range, the product quantity is less, and so is the price, I simply love that. I have never known anyone who actually finished a pot of nail polish (unless you only owned one). What did I do? I just bought them on Nykaa, went through the collection, saw swatches online and bought 5 of the 8 polishes just like that. I was so excited, and even more crazy when I received them. I then bought the rest, simply because.

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I liked some while the others not so much, I do like the consistency, the colour range is varied, great idea for the first launch. The glitter is great for nail art, weddings, or if you’re like me and CAM01911want your nails to bring up your mood. What girl doesn’t like glitter! The end result is matte, application is super easy, as it dries textured, you just can’t mess up the finish. The only issue I had was the colour of some totally was invisible, and the contrast glitter shined too much. I wouldn’t dare with a second coat, it’s just not necessary, also taking such nail polishes is a PAIN, requires a good deal of remover. I did the trick used to remove dark nail colours, you keep the cotton on the nail for min15 seconds and then wipe, that way most of the nail polish comes off in one go, otherwise the cotton shreds get stuck onto the texture, and it’s all a bloody nightmare. I shall leave you swatches (ENJOY):

 

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All That glitters

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Red carpet

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Paparazzi purple

 

 

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Dazzling Diva

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Bling on the Blue

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Pink Champagne

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Matinee Mauve (My favourite)

I do wish they launch more in the range, I had difficulty picking them up too, they’re getting sold out very fast. The glitter is great for nail art, weddings, or if you’re like me and want your nails to bring up your mood. What girl doesn’t like glitter! These (below) Zoya colours are yummy! I love the latter purple shade it’s my favourite colour. Maybelline should add that shade and an emerald green for sure, an electric/navy blue, that would be amazing..

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I recommend everyone to buy these, they’re cheap for only RS.125 they’re fab. They are great at hiding bad nails, they’re very opaque too so you can’t layer them on a regular nail polish. These are stand alone polishes, that will do the job.

Did you try any of these? I have been late on the Glitter mania band wagon, but I am happy that I discovered them 🙂

A minimalistic life- Rambling away

I despise clutter. Over the years I have truly found my style, I used to be a total tomboy layering clothes, mixing and matching, this was reflected not just in my clothes but also my room, study table etc. But I have changed, Pinterest can do wonders to your taste, and add motherhood to the chaos and you know you have to cut down on everything.

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It’s difficult though, I have mastered the art of donating or simply getting rid of things, I try not to think too much, the more you think the more time you give yourself to change your mind. My mother has this issue, I did too, sentimental attachment to everything. Saris, broken watches, books, rusted picture frames, old fashioned bags etc. the list is endless. My mom can’t part from spoons, water classes etc as well. I hoarded too, but that was more like a habit, I wasn’t consciously keeping any of the things I did keep, there was no reason, no ‘sentimental attachment’ nothing, It was just the way I was raised I guess. But I am not like that anymore. And boy am I glad. In the end you’re not going to take all of that to grave, there will be so much confusion for your children to sort through the junk you left behind. The more you hoard the more you hoard, there’s no two ways about it.

I’ve realised the only practical way to live is to live like a minimalist, and I struggle the most in the wardrobe. Us Indian women have two wardrobes, Indian and Western. That’s a lot of wardrobe to manage, not only is it financially annoying, it is super difficult to maintain no matter how big your closet is. I hardly wear Indian ethnic wear, so I take all joy in distributing and donating it all away, but right now I’ve come to a point where it’s too much. Everything I have is either new, or I like a lot, or will definitely get a lot of wear out of. Yet the quantity is large, not to mention my mom buys me Indian wear, I don’t shop for any of it, I have no taste in that genre of clothing. Every time she comes from Dubai and reminds of a particular dress my mind goes “oh oh! I gave it away”. And with clothes you just can’t say ‘ I misplaced it’ like a freaking pen. Then it’s a big blasting from her, can you blame her? So I tried to nip it in the bid this time she came, I told her to stop buying me clothes period, unless I specifically ask her to get anything, I extended that request to Batools clothing too. She has a tendency to not just buy a set but a whole suitcase!. She didn’t take that very well, but I guess it’s the only way. I can’t be forced into hoarding, and ‘not having enough space’ is not good enough for her. To her my western wardrobe is useless, and vice versa for me!

Point being, your home, flat, bungalow, castle or whatever it is you reside in, should be clutter free. It should only contain what is necessary. You will always have money to spend on important things, plus you’ll never have to feel like you have constantly sort through junk. Hoarding usually starts when you already have a lot of junk and just don’t now where to put it, so you just let be, because it’s too much hassle to figure out what to do with it, the thought of throwing it away simply doesn’t occur, or seems very difficult to digest. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Monthly cleaning always works, especially if you’re a mom, children grow out of their clothing super fast, it’s best to only keep those things that you want to give to your child when they grow older for memory sake, everything else should get donated. You can always buy more clothes when your next baby comes, till then many many children can benefit from them.

2. Purchase only what’s essential for your kids, we are made to believe kids require a load of clothes, when they don’t. Wash the clothes frequently buy good quality clothes or clothes on sale. The child won’t complain, and when they grow up look back and complain it’s going to be too late anyway 😉

3. Don’t buy anything for the purpose of storing it, like books unless you already have plenty space available and know exactly what you’re planning to do with them few years down the line. Donating books to your local school library is great. Even your childs books, they grow out of their books too. It will be a while before your kids have books they can store too.

4. Manage your space, look at how much space you already have in your house before deciding to keep things. You have space of one shoe rack but you want to keep 20 pairs, it’s going to make you mad.

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5. Buy only what you can store. don’t buy clothes before buying hangers to hang them, don’t buy shoes without making space to keep them etc.

6. If there are things you haven’t used for over a year, even if it’s a knife, chances are you didn’t need it in the first place, GIVE IT AWAY.

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7. Get used to giving things away, in the end they are just things. non-living things.

I am trying to get my daughter to be minimalist. If you only need one box of crayons, then she will get only one and be responsible for it, I will of course keep in hiding a spare box. But the child should learn to value what she/he has. Toys too, most kids have too much toys, too much of left overs from many games, get rid of the half missing pieces, they just add clutter. The child too gets confused about what to do with random pieces of toys from various kits.

8. Teach them to organise their toys after play, not just put them in one place organise them. All toys should first go into their respective bags/boxes/cans/ etc before they are thrown into the main toy box or room. This is HW for you, make sure there are different boxes for each toy set. The kitchen set shouldn’t mingle with the animals, there’s no logic to it. Jigsaw puzzles should always go into a box or (I love) zip lock bags. The boxes in which toys actually come in are useless, they break apart in two seconds. Unless they’re the ones with the screw on tops or containers, keep those. Don’t expect the kid to manage random cardboard boxes, it’s not going to happen. Plastic is the best, a trip to your local ‘china bazar’ should do it, get cheap ones, nothing expensive or airtight required 😉

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The earlier in life we teach our kids about a minimalistic life the better more self sufficient they will be. There’s not doubt about there will always be things we will have when we don’t need, as long as we have the strength to let go of them when need be it’s fine.