Home tour with Alicia Mitchell
I’m excited to be taking a tour through the beautiful home of Alicia and Craig Mitchell, co-owners of the successful Mitchell Harris Wines, and their two children, 10 year old twins, Charlie and Kate. The family recently moved, but not far, just a couple of doors down! The new home… a renovated Art Deco home with a modern extension. The interiors are simple, beautifully designed and practical, moving seamlessly from the old to the new. After the tour Alicia and l spent some time talking about her work, family and life and how she keeps the balance. Here is what she shared…
Life is pretty busy these days, between work, family time, kids’ activities, etc. How do you keep on top of your weekly schedule?
I have a paper diary that l run more like a ‘to do list’ to keep track of everything l need to do that week. l write quite a big list on a Sunday night, taking on board what the family is doing for the week. My husband is an Anaesthetist and has quite flexible working hours, so l can work out what drop offs and pickups he can do for the week. The trickiest thing l find that brings me undone is transporting of kids, so once l know the schedule l can work out when a baby sitter is needed or if Craig has a free morning to help out.
I’m realising more and more as l get older the importance scheduling in ‘me time’ and exercise. If l don’t schedule it in the wheels fall off pretty quickly. How do you go fitting these things in?
I’m very much an early morning person, l do most of my exercise first thing in the morning and l really like that. And l have taken up yoga! I’m up at 5.30am for yoga or 5.45am on other days. It’s very easy to get up in the morning, l get a little bit excited that l have yoga on. ‘Me time’ for me is exercise or reading. If l have an hour free l sit and read.
Now you said it’s easy to get up in mornings to exercise! Most people would say it’s hard.
You just have to get up. Once you are up, you are fine, it’s just getting yourself out of bed. I also lay my exercise clothes out the night before, so you are committed and ready to go.
Do you use apps for organising different parts of your life?
I don’t use apps but what l find really works for holidays is printing out a calendar for the month and then l write in where we will be each day of our holiday. From there l can book the flights. I also add in what activities we are doing and the flight codes, so everything is on the one piece of paper.
There are all the normal activities to schedule in, work, appointments, activities… Do you schedule in things like decluttering?
I find the decision gets made and very much gets done in our house. I’m a real believer in getting a few jobs done… don’t write a list thinking you will get to them eventually… knock at least 4 of them off then and there, so they don’t even make the list! With decluttering, l think you need to do a bit of decluttering all the time. And if there’s something big and beyond me l get help!
What would you say is the most organised part of your home? And what is the most challenging?
The most organised part is the kitchen because we are in there the most. I like it to be organised so l can find things easily. The worst is my wardrobe because l don’t spend much time in there, l go in there and chuck and fold and move. I need to go in there and hang everything nicely!
I think we all need a ‘support team’, whether it’s family, friends, a cleaner, a babysitter! Do you have a support team (paid or unpaid) when you need it?
I have my lovely handyman Paul, and it’s quite vital to getting stuff done. I write a list that he follows. I’m very open-minded, if he has used another system in another house that has been very successful, for example, he saw all of our pictures sitting against the wall and he said, “What are you doing with these? Why don’t you put in a hanging system to hang them!”
I think having a house cleaner is also a great investment. It reduces arguments in the house. I find a messy house, not too bad, but stressful at times. We also get our ironing done by an ironing lady which is wonderful. I think when you work hard you really need to think about how you want to spend your time.
I think keeping on top of things is about having a schedule and delegating when you need to. Do you find it hard to delegate?
Not hard at all. When you start the engagement process with these people, you might not find the right person straight away but you will find them. And it’s not necessarily an expensive process, it’s a little time consuming.
I find a mentor really helpful to talk through the work/life balance. Do you have a personal or business mentor, someone you talk things through with?
The person l bounce most of my ideas off is Sally (Alicia’s twin sister). It’s amazing what you can achieve when you talk ideas out. You really need someone who you can discuss your problems with. The number of people who have a shared experience and can offer insight, it helps bring it all back to perspective. Someone often has a great solution.
Eating well is obviously a very important part of a healthy, productive life. Do you meal plan or do any prep for the week ahead?
I don’t meal plan because we do a lot of trial testing at work, so l may often have left overs for dinner. I have also been doing some slow cooking. My friend said she whacks an entire lamb roast with some herbs and veggies into the slow cooker for the day and off it goes. I tried it, it was gorgeous, we used it for lunches and a meal. Also pre chopping veggies. I will chop up veggies and store in some water, then it’s ready to go. I try to get the kids to do a cook up for school lunch snacks, something like banana muffins.
Are you a ‘once a week’ grocery shopper?
No, l don’t, l hate wasting food, so l prefer to buy daily.
At the end of my day l find l need a little sweet snack and some down time, it’s my guilty pleasure! Do you reward yourself or have a guilty pleasure?
Reading is my real reward. If l get all my stuff done l like to read. I find it really relaxing, just concentrating on the story. I also love one piece of dark chocolate too.
Have you got any good time saving tips?
Yes, l’m very good at saving people’s numbers in my phone. I save everyone’s numbers and put little notes to go with them. Because l know in 6 months time someone will ask me, who was that electrician who came to work to fix that? If someone calls me from school, l have their direct line rather than going through reception.
You have just moved into your beautiful home. They say moving can be one of the most stressful things to go through. In hindsight were there things you would do differently next time? Any moving tips?
I don’t know if l would do it any differently. I organised a skip so we were able to dispose of all the junk. I also got onto the Salvation Army for picking up items we no longer needed. You also have to have a handyman ready to go, that is paramount. I think you also need someone other than your cleaner for the final clean. A good schedule, letting everyone know when things need to be done, is also really helpful.
Being regular travelers do you have any tips for getting organised for holidays?
Yes. Take a really good scarf that is gorgeous and makes you feel good. You can feel tired and terrible at an airport but you can put that on and feel better. Stick with dark colours and clothes that don’t need ironing. Pack light and buy anything you have forgotten. Take atleast a few pieces that are collared. Shirts are so easy to make something look nice. I get kids to pack two of everything, so they can start the packing process. We can then say, we are going to the snow so we need to add in a jacket. I pack two of everything and the night before l check through everyone’s stuff.
Do your kids help out with the household chores?
Yes. The kids are allocated chores depending on what they are good at. Kate cooks on Sunday for their school lunches. Charlie does the wood fire. They put their washing in the laundry and they are expected to keep their bathrooms and bedrooms tidy. They also strip and change their bed linen.
I love to share my favourite organising products. A good product can save you so much time. Do you have any ‘must-have’ products?
Thermomix, a great time saver and great for kids cooking. Vinegar and bicarb for cleaning and enjo. Also l love our table near the front door for keys… no more lost keys. Slow cooker is great. We also use masking tape and texta for labelling our food containers with contents and date. Loving our hooks in the laundry for brooms.
Spending time with friends and family is so important but it’s sometimes hard to find time. How do you go fitting it in?
I found our last house was hard for being social. It was hard to keep clean and tidy. Our new house has been fantastic, we have already had quite a few people over for dinner. I said when we moved into this house that l would care less about what we served and more about getting people over.
I have so many hobbies l like to do and fit into my week, like gardening, walking, bike riding with the family. Do you fit in time for your own interests?
I think you need to get everyone into your hobby so you can all do it together. We like similar things, cooking, reading, skiing, hiking. So we do a lot together.
2019 is fast approaching. I like to do a little Vision Board at the beginning of each year, looking at what l want to achieve, this then becomes a reminder during the year. Do you need this for achieving your goals in life? Or do you just do them?
I do have ideas of things l would like to tick off. I don’t necessarily set a time line to them. I certainly have a look at my year and think about whether l want to change direction, or if l want to do the same sort of thing. I do think you need a bit of a plan, if you want to do something different in 5 years, you need to work towards it and make small changes towards that. I think if you look at what you do and work out what parts you like and what parts you don’t like, you can then work out some good goals around that, because you obviously want to do more of what you like. For example, l did a yoga retreat and thought it was great and wanted to integrate yoga back into my life. I went to a couple of yoga studios that weren’t great and eventually found a great one.
Thankyou so much Alicia for sharing your tips and ideas with us and for letting us photograph your beautiful home. You are an absolute inspiration! Maybe even motivating me to do some morning yoga!!
Hope you all enjoyed my latest blog! Happy organising!
Thank you to Rebecca Adler for her beautiful photography.
Hi, Tanya here.
Welcome to my blog, Declutterhome.
Where I share my tips, ideas and
love of organising. Hope you enjoy!