In many ways, life during a pandemic has a lot of similarities to life with a newborn.
You pretty much exclusively wear active wear or fleecy trackpants. You're binge watching Netflix series. You're using far too much dry shampoo. You're spending the majority of your time at home..
And as a result, you find yourself nesting again. Regardless of how many years it's been since you were last waiting (im)patiently for a baby to arrive.
Remember those exciting, daunting final weeks of pregnancy when you go a little crazy getting every aspect of your home Just. Right.
Spending hours deliberating over which pastel print will perfectly coordinate with the throw cushion on the feeding chair, before painstakingly re-organising and ordering the contents of every cupboard?
Well it turns out a pandemic – and the extra time it forces you to spend inside your house – has a very similar impact on us.
While COVID-19 has seen spending in most areas plummet, we're now forking out more than ever on home décor, storage and renovations.
It makes sense. If we're spending so much of our time at home, we want our space to be as happy, pretty, organised, and as free of clutter and chaos as possible.
Especially our mums in Victoria, who have spent the majority of this year confined to their homes.
There's nothing like a lockdown – and the repetitive monotony of entertaining small children inside the same four walls each day – to draw glaring attention to the areas of your nest that feel totally chaotic and impossible to keep tidy and organised.
And this is where I introduce the Queen of the Home Hack, Soph Brown.
She's the woman behind nestï – a DIY lifestyle blog that shares ideas and projects for your home that are attractive, practical and don't cost a fortune.
Photo: Sophie Brown and her boys
And as a Melbourne-based mum of two little boys, she gets it. She's living the lockdown reality herself.
"I can now sing the theme song to every single show on ABC Kids and realise that every episode of PJ Masks follows the same plot line," she jokes.
"And I've watched so many TV infomercials during lockdown that I'm in danger of purchasing pet insurance, even though we don't have any pets".
But, in a year where she's been predominately housebound, working from home and unable to send her pre-schooler and toddler to kindy and daycare, she's making her "nest" her priority, and helping other mums to do the same.
She creates and shares ingenious home hacks that cover all aspects of life at home, such as décor, entertaining and organization.
This includes modifying cheap items from stores like Kmart and Ikea, that not only keep her home and family organized and two busy boys entertained during lockdown, but also look on trend and store-bought (without the price tag).
It has become a passion she refers to as a "serious affliction called IThinkICouldMakeThat-itis", which sits alongside her other hobby of drinking Pinot Gris and pretending she's on Gogglebox (I feel like this second hobby needs another whole article of its own, but we'll just leave it there for now and focus on the DIYs).
"Now, more than ever, we are spending so much time inside our homes," she says.
"Rather than feeling trapped inside my four walls of life at home, I wanted to find ways to love my space and appreciate the time I'm spending with my kids.
"Being creative and connecting with that part of ourselves is really good for the soul – especially when it makes our homes look and feel good.
"It's a bonus when the things we make bring practical value to our home life, too."
So if your household is needing a little order and you're desperate for new ideas to entertain your kids at home, here are her top 8 DIY Home Organisation Hacks.
1. Kids Table four ways
1. A reversible chalkboard
2. An art station with scrolling paper
3. A space for creating and storing Lego
4. A water play table
For the chalkboard, I simply covered the underside of the removable table tops with Kmart Chalkboard Adhesive Vinyl ($3). Your child can draw on the table tops using chalk and then flip them over when the standard table top is required.
For the art station, I used a roll of Ikea MALA paper and threaded it onto the dowel rod of an Ikea FLISAT wall storage shelf. This created a paper roller, which I attached to the long edge of the table using a drill. I added the Ikea ONSKLIG change table storage baskets to hold the crayons and pencils, which can hang off the attached shelf.
I used double-sided tape to attach Lego base plates to the underside of the removable table tops – being careful to position them so that they would sit flush under the table. These can be flipped when ready to play and then flipped back underneath when you want to use the table for another purpose. The table holds the TROFAST storage tubs, so Lego can be easily stored and concealed in these tubs.
Simply take the table lids off and fill the TROFAST storage tubs with water to create a water play table outside.
Photo: Supplied / nestï
2. Kids Day Planner
A visual day planner to provide gentle structure for pre-school aged children at home. It's flexible enough to encourage input from the kids and can provide some much-needed routine during long lockdown days.
Select tasks and activities for the day using the visual cue cards. Once a task/activity has been completed, store the cards in the pouches of the planner.
I used the free printables at Natural Beach Living for the cue cards and printed/laminated them at Officeworks. For the pouch system, I used two of the Hanging Storage with Pom Poms from Kmart ($6 each) and removed the pom poms.
I hand-stitched these together and ran a longer piece of dowel through the top loops. Finally, I used wooden pegs to clip the cards to the pouches.
3. Family Hub
For those of us who have tried eleventy-hundred different planners to manage our family's weekly meals, movements, shopping lists and life admin..
This super planner combines all the things you need in one handy space, with storage trays to manage mail and room for a standard monthly calendar.
I used Kmart's Vinyl Adhesive Chalkboard Roll ($3) and water-based liquid chalk markers from Officeworks. To create the category sections and grids, I used a fine white POSCA pen. The mail boxes are Kmart's Bamboo Medium & Narrow Drawer Tidy ($3.25 each) mounted with double sided tape.
This tape was also used to mount the corkboard rounds, which are Ikea HEAT pot stands ($3.99) Finished with custom stickers.
Photo: Family Hub Photo: Supplied / nesti
4. Recipe Box
A recipe storage system that makes meal selection easy for when your kids ask "what's for dinner Mum?" for the 400th time that day.
Sort and store recipes by meal type (eg breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides, dessert, entertaining etc) and subcategory (eg chicken, beef, vegetable, quick and easy etc). You can also create a handy "Our Favourites" index card for a cheat sheet of your family's fave meals when deciding what to cook.'
For the box, I used the Kmart Bamboo Suspension File Holder ($16) plus two lots of the Kmart Flexible Chopping Mats 3pk ($7) for the category dividers.
Use any brand of suspension files for storing recipes by subcategory. Finish with custom stickers and labels.
5. Desk Organiser
Working from home has become a key feature of 2020, forcing many of us to carve to out a separate workspace within our homes. This small but convenient set-up won't have you fighting your partner for precious home-office real estate.
You can hang your headphones, charge your devices (phones, tablets and smart watches) and store essential documents, stationery and accessories all on this compact, handy desk organiser.
Using liquid nails, I combined Kmart's Bamboo Desktop Drawers ($16) with their Bamboo Headphone, Smartphone and Watch Stand ($14). I added side trays and compartments by cutting down Kmart's Medium & Narrow Bamboo Drawer Tidy ($3.25) and adding Kmart's Bamboo Pen Cup ($4.50).
To complete the organiser, I attached the white toiletries cup for the penholder and a hook for filing cabinet keys. The custom-made pens/file/action stickers are optional.
6. Birthday Magnets
A set of semi-erasable monthly magnets so that you never forget important birthdays again.
The "Birthday" side allows for permanent recording of names and the "Notes" side for gift ideas and age reminders can be erased. Display the relevant month your fridge (or a few if you like to plan ahead).
I created calendars online and printed them on glossy paper at Officeworks. I applied these to self-adhesive A4 magnetic sheets and trimmed the calendars to size. To finish, I used clear contact over the notes section to create a "whiteboard" effect.
Pantry Stock List
Are there items in your pantry that expired before the birth of your first child? This one is for you. This stock list gives you a quick overview of what's in your pantry when planning your next grocery shop.
Sort your pantry items by category and record your stock levels using a simple traffic light system (green = sufficient stock, yellow = running low, red = out of stock).
I used Kmart's Vinyl Adhesive Chalkboard Roll ($3) and water-based liquid chalk markers from Officeworks. To create the category sections, I used alphabet stickers from Kmart ($3) and for the heading I used stickers from Spotlight.
Kids Toy Storage
A storage system to encourage 'play then pack away'... and when your child asks you for a very specific toy they haven't played with for over two years, you can find it quickly without wanting to stab yourself in the eye with a pointy piece of Lego.
I used IKEA's TROFAST frame ($99) and a selection of the matching tubs ($4 - $9 each). To create the labels, I used foam alphabet stickers.
For more amazing home hacks and full details of the above projects, head to nestihome.com.au
Photo: Alice Monfries
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