With kids around their health and safety takes precedence over everything else for us, even over our own health and peace of mind.
We do everything possible to give our children a safe environment to grow in and keep them healthy. However, despite our best intentions, and often due to ignorance, we may fall short of our goals.
Thankfully correcting the wrongs is not difficult in this case. Make sure you pay heed to the following advice to make your house even more child-friendly.
- You are better off without carpets
They look gorgeous and are an endless source of the owner’s pride. That red Persian you picked up in a bustling souq in Morocco could be the apple of your eye, something you love to show off as well as cherish and pass over to your children when they have homes of their own.
But away from the romanticism lies the dust-ridden reality.
Carpets are home to colonies and colonies of all kinds of super nasty stuff. Pet dander, dust mites, their feces (yuck!), the skin cells that us humans keep shedding continuously, and all kinds of allergens and pollutants that come in from the outside – that’s a lot of rubbish in one carpet alone. It also accumulates fast.
Unless you’re someone who gets their carpet cleaned regularly, and that too by the professionals (vacuuming alone won’t do), you should probably keep the rugs out of your living room.
Kids roll around in the carpets, sit on them for long hours and play there, spill stuff, and sometimes just doze off facing down, exposing themselves to all kinds of bugs and allergens.
Either get your carpets regular professional-standard cleanings or use area rugs that you can machine wash frequently.
It’s true that wall-to-wall carpeting cushions falls to a great extent, which makes it kid-friendly. An alternative to that would be hardwood or cork flooring. If you don’t want to change your flooring and also not get rid of the installed carpeting, washable area rugs or light carpets would be your best bet. Make sure your children do not come into contact with an unwashed carpet for long though. Synthetic carpets are a complete no-no as they contain VOCs, which off-gass toxic materials into the air of the room they are supposed to be decorating.
- Choose your furniture carefully
A lot of furniture in our homes contains chemicals that can make us very sick. Things are worse when you have children with known allergies or asthma.
A freshly-painted room or backyard is another hazard. Paints often contain VOCs that keep emitting chemicals into the air. VOCs can trigger a range of reactions in those sensitive to them.
For the sake of your kids, opt for high-grade furniture, and go for the wooden unvarnished variety where you can, to keep the toxicity in the indoor air low. Also choose low-VOC paints for all painting purposes. If possible, put all the paint jobs on hold until your children have grown, or schedule them for when they are away.
- Replace your natural lawn with artificial turf
Another idea that may seem drastic in the beginning but if you really think about it, you will be able to see and appreciate its many benefits, particularly in a house full of children.
While natural grass looks great and refreshes our senses, it is also a nightmare to deal with.
Regular lawn maintenance is a task in itself, which worsens when the weather is not co-operating. Depending on where you live, this could mean many months.
You can hire a lawnmowing service to keep your garden in a spick and span condition but that won’t set you free of responsibilities. And more to the point, grass is full of insects and germs which can bite your kids or leave them with infection.
Artificial grass has evolved to the point where it looks and feels exactly like natural grass but does not contain any of its negatives.
Apart from making your workload lighter, artificial turf will provide an excellent play area for your children (as well as pets). It’s also easy to clean and maintain, which means you will be able to keep it in a hygienic condition. Newer turfs do not emit toxic chemicals anymore so you can relax that your kids won’t be breathing in anything noxious.
- Design your kitchen smartly
Keep anything sharp or which can be hazardous locked away. Yes, locked away. Kids home alone can do anything, believe you me.
A smartly designed kitchen will have a dedicated space for everything so that things like the kitchen knife or matchboxes do not lie around. Don’t just keep them away from the reach of your kids (you’d be surprised to know of their actual reach), keep them locked when you are not around to keep an eye on your children. So even if they do manage to drag a chair into the kitchen and climb onto it to start digging stuff, they simply won’t be able to lay their hands onto the knives.
If your dish washer, microwave, and refrigerator have a child lock, make use of them.
Furthermore, all liquid cleaners, disinfectants, etc., should also be stashed away (not necessarily locked though).
And while we are at it, all the gardening tools, if you are going to persist with natural grass, should also be kept locked away. Make sure there’s no way your kids can find their way to the attic either!
You’ll have to remain very alert and tuned into what your kids are up to, to make sure nothing in your house presents an obvious danger to them.
Kids can be secretive, so devise your own ways of extracting from them what they love doing or what they had been doing the whole day when you were at work and after the nanny had left. Pay attention to what they say and never dismiss so much as a bruise. The more you pay attention to your surroundings, the safer you will be able to keep them for your children.