I think I first started becoming really anxious about chemicals in the home when I became a parent. I think one of the first words my children learned was “chemical” quickly followed by “dangerous” – they have never had any harm from chemicals so perhaps my caution had great results.

I was interested to watch a television news story around the effects of chemicals in the home and in the garden. It was quite a wake-up call to be honest. I had no idea even our kitchen cupboards can be emitting toxins.

In fact, some chemicals may be banned in the near future as they can interfere with air pollution.

Domestic chemicals can have negative effects on our well-being and often we don’t realise that we are using products that contain them. One study revealed that regular household cleaning products, such as shampoo and oven cleaner, release harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and contribute up to half of VOCs found in the atmosphere. Now I have always taken care around oven cleaner but I had no idea I had to watch out for things like shampoo too.

Read on as we explore the effects that domestic chemicals can have and how to replace them with safer alternatives. Let’s protect ourselves and our families.

The fight against chemicals

Research studies are revealing the harmful effects that domestic chemicals can have in the home. Although some are on their way to be banned, there are others that remain on our supermarket shelves.  Knowledge is power so here are some examples of things to look out for:

  • Hand soap — some contain the chemical triclosan which has been found to affect thyroid hormones in animal studies and possibly contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant germs. It is also a resilient compound that is not destroyed on its way to the ocean and can therefore destroy bacteria and intervene with the food chain — alternative?
  • Researchers from the University of Iowa discovered that some kitchen cabinets emit PCBs ((polychlorinated biphenyl compounds), chemicals which are under investigation as causes of cancer. These compounds occur as sealants breakdown in kitchen furniture — alternative?
  • Pesticides — neonicotinoid pesticides put both honeybees and wild bees at risk. The UK government has said it will support a complete ban on the outdoor use of bee-harming chemicals.

Joost de Gouw, a scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder and co-author of the study, said: “Many of the organic compounds in these products are reactive once in the atmosphere and can contribute to formation of two major air pollutants, ozone and fine particle. In that sense, they contribute to air pollution in a very similar manner as cars.

  • benzene (which is found in detergents and plastics)
  • formaldehyde (in varnishes and floor finishes)
  • xylene aerosol paint concentrates, automobile body polish and cleaners, nail varnish

The combination of some domestic chemicals can be harmful too. The mixture of bleach and rubbing alcohol for example can create toxic chloroform and make you unconscious. I narrowly escaped making a dangerous cleaning mix when dealing with  mildew in the bathroom – you really do have to be very careful.

What can you use instead?

NASA reported that pineapple plants can also improve air quality and help reduce snoring.

Peace Lily can reduce toxins such as benzene, ammonia, ethyl and acetone and prevent the toxins from spreading across rooms. Research found that this plant can improve air quality by as much as 60%!

Red-edged Dracaena rids the air of chemicals including xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde (found in varnishes and gasoline) which causes lack of concentration and increased anxiety.

Formaldehyde levels in homes can also be reduced by ensuring adequate ventilation, moderate temperatures, and reduced humidity levels through the use of air conditioners and dehumidifiers. I  invested in a dehumidifier recently.

Sources

https://www.mirror.co.uk/science/modern-kitchen-cupboards-emit-chemical-12384317

https://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/25/health/triclosan-household-items-partner/index.html

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/bees-pesticides-eu-ban-europe-threat-pollination-food-shortage-agriculture-clothianidin-imidacloprid-a8232671.html

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/clean-bill-health-household-products-wont-make/

https://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/dangerous-household-chemicals-clean-explosion-13873101

https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm205999.htm

 

This research was gathered by Compost Direct, retailers of garden bark mulch.

 

Mum Muddling Through

We are a family of four who love to travel, but when travelling with young kids there are many things you need to consider to ensure you have an easy and enjoyable stay. Things to think about – is your accommodation family friendly? Are there plenty of kid suitable activities available in the destination you are visiting? How much travel time will you have? This past spring, we decided to visit Germany and with lots of places on our list of what we hoped to see, we decided to split the trip between Berlin and Frankfurt. Our two kids (ages 5 and 8) are seasoned travellers, so luckily, they travel well (for the most part!). Here is a rundown of what we did, where we stayed, what we ate and what we saw during our fantastic trip to Germany!

Berlin

Germany

Where to Stay

Our first stop was Berlin and getting there was very easy. We flew direct from Stansted Airport and arrived in just 2 hours! The flights were very cheap as well! We chose to stay in Capri by Fraser Berlin – the Frasers hotel chain is a common favourite of ours as their serviced apartments give our family plenty of space and are the perfect blend of enjoying hotel amenities while feeling like you are in a home away from home.

Where to Eat

During our trip, we found some excellent restaurants that were well suited for kids and adults. A few favourites of ours included Alois S. in Prenzlauer Berg where we enjoyed a delicious brunch. With a selection of tasty tapas options, there was something to suit all our taste buds. We enjoyed potato omelettes with chorizo, smoked cheese and ham croquettes to name a few. At Alois S. they also have a lovely terrace which we sat out on while the kids played in the sandpit and enjoyed the ping-pong table. We had another couple of great meals at Restaurant Kneipe Giraffe and Restaurant Jolly.

What to See and Do

We were surprised to find there were lots to do as a family in Berlin and our itinerary quickly filled up. We had a memorable day out at the Berlin Zoo which is the oldest zoo in Germany since it opened in 1844. The zoo is home one of the largest collections of species in the world which is made up of over 20,000 animals including the Asian Elephant, Chimpanzees, Gorillas and there is even an aquarium! With plenty for all ages and a selection of eating options, you are sure to have a great day out!

As well as taking part in family-friendly activities, we also made sure we did a spot of sightseeing to keep our trip somewhat educational. We visited the Berlin Wall and Brandenburg Gate as well as the beautiful Reichstag Parliament building. There is also a wide range of excellent museums such as Museum für Naturkunde (Museum of Natural History) and Legoland Discovery Centre.

Frankfurt

Germany

After five days in Berlin, we decided to embark on a journey across Germany to Frankfurt. We took the train which took around four hours and was fairly simple. It quickly appeared that we had left a historic type city with lots of momentous buildings and were now somewhere far more modern with a skyscraper filled sky. However, this was refreshing and of course, it was exciting to see different parts of the country.

Where to Stay

Luckily for us, we were able to book into Capri by Fraser Frankfurt – another reliable and stylish choice for accommodation that lets us sprawl out with all our stuff in their spacious apartments. This hotel was also situated in a convenient and central location which made walking to places really easy.

Where to Eat

For a quick and easy meal that everyone will enjoy, Jamy’s Burger is a great recommendation. From beef burgers to chicken burgers and even vegan options, this place will please all tastes. For a fun meal, visit Kabuki. This teppanyaki style restaurant will provide a great time for the whole family. Sit around the grill and watch your food being cooked right before you! This is an excellent way to spend the evening in Frankfurt and the food was delicious!

What to See and Do

There is also a zoo in Frankfurt, but since we had just been to the zoo in Berlin we thought we would spend our time more wisely and visit other sights. The Junges Museum makes for an exciting day out! The museum has lot of hands-on displays, workshops and craft activities. The exhibitions are made especially for children based on historical and local events.

Make sure you pay a visit to Main Tower and enjoy the incredible city views from the observation deck. This is a fantastic way to see Frankfurt from a totally different perspective. After that, head over to the city forest where you can escape the hustle and bustle and get in touch with nature. This unique area within to the city is full of lush trees, nature trails and thrilling playgrounds for the kids. The playground at Scheerwald houses a large revolving sprinkler which is great for cooling off during the warmer days. Here you will also find a mini-golf course, roller-skating rink, ping-pong tables, a play area, football area and a basketball court. So, pack a picnic and enjoy a fun-filled day in the forest!

City breaks are not just for adults and can be thoroughly enjoyed by families and kids of all ages. With plenty to see and do, you won’t be disappointed on your family trip to Berlin, Frankfurt or why not visit both!

 

 

 

Mummy in a Tutu

Living with a disability or chronic health issue is challenging. Sadly, it can be made worse by other people’s poor attitudes to difference. Sometimes when dealing with disability or chronic health  issues, the person experiencing them can be their own worst enemy too not reaching out for some help that is available. Remember that reaching out for support is always a sign of strength.

Ask for help

I like to believe most people are fundamentally good deep down. It is a fact that when asked why people don’t volunteer for organisations, the answer was largely because nobody had asked them to do so. I think that this always applies to individuals asking for help – we run away from saying clearly what we need in terms of assistance. So ask for help from family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and people you meet via your leisure activities. You might just deepen a relationship and give someone a feel good feeling for getting involved.

Contact charities

There are thousands of charities out there whose very purpose is to help. There are general ones for anyone who is ill or disabled. There are condition specific charities too such as the British Lung Foundation. They can help in so many ways from financial grants to counselling, from advice on benefits to respite care. Many charities have to prove they are used in order to obtain funding to carry on so contact a charity today.

Contact your local authority

Your local authority can offer you a community care assessment which will help you work out what support you need and can get from them. If you have an unpaid carer they also offer a carer’s assessment looking at their own needs too. We can only help others when we are looking after ourselves well.

Equipment

Your disability or chronic illness may mean your struggle to get around the home. It may also mean you are worried about going out and about to pursue work, learning or leisure opportunities. There is so much clever equipment out there from places like Millercare including mobility aids, adjustable beds and incontinence products.

I hope I have given a few ideas of things that can improve your quality of life when you have a disability or chronic illness.

Do you have any tips on living positively with a disability or chronic illness?

Mummy in a Tutu

The number of people aged 65 and over in the UK has grown by nearly 50% in the past 30 years. While it’s great news for the population that people are living longer, it does mean that older people are more vulnerable to physical and mental health problems.

Unfortunately, many people will experience a physical decline or deterioration in the fifties, which is why some people can find it difficult to secure employment or start to plan for their retirement. As people grow older, they may need to lean on their family members for physical and emotional support. Learn how you can help to care for an aging parent.

How Can I Preserve My Parent’s Independence?

It is essential for your parent’s self-esteem to preserve their independence for as long as possible. Unless they are living with impaired mobility or a serious health issue, you should allow them to perform daily activities whilst they can, such as personal hygiene, functional mobility, self-feeding, bathing, and dressing. Once they can no longer perform the tasks, you will need to provide your mum or dad with the appropriate help, such as an at-home caregiver or nursing home.

Which is the Best Personal Alarm for the Elderly?

Personal alarms can provide peace of mind to both you and your aging parent. After all, while you might be worried about their health and safety at home, they might feel vulnerable when living alone or with a spouse who also has a health condition.

There are options with Helpline, a personal care alarm service that’s available 24 hours per day, seven days per week. So, in the event of an emergency, your loved one will press a button to instantly reach their Emergency Response Centre, who will alert a family member, emergency services, or a doctor, depending on the accident severity.

What Tasks Should I Perform for an Elderly Parent?

Performing chores and errands for your loved one could simplify their life, especially as the effects of aging start to kick in. For instance, you can help them remain in the home alone by preparing and cooking their meals, cleaning, buying groceries, and providing them with their medications. Gain an understanding of their health and attempt to identify their limitations, so you can make a judgement on what they can or can’t do each day.

Could My Mum or Dad be Living with Depression?

Living with a health issue, limited mobility, and decreased independence can all eat away at an elderly person’s happiness. It’s for this reason why 28% of women and 22% of men over 65 years old are living with depression. Yet, it’s believed 85% of this figure receive no help from the NHS. It is, therefore, crucial to look for signs of depression in your aging parents, such as sadness or despair, sleep disturbances, low self-worth, weight loss, unexplained pains, or a lack of energy. Depression is not a natural part of aging, and it’s vital they receive medical attention to lift their mood.

What’s more, you should also find ways to improve your loved one’s quality of life. For example, their depression could stem from isolation or loneliness, which is why you should regularly visit your aging parent, and encourage your loved ones to do the same. You should also encourage them to embrace their passion and hobbies, and take them on trips outdoors to provide them with a change of scenery and fresh air.

Winnettes

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home. Many families spend a significant part of their day in the kitchen. It is used for the preparation and the taking of meals. If you are have a large kitchen, your children might do their homework at the table and many a small business grew into a large one from dreams at the kitchen table.

Jazzing

So a kitchen is worth investing in but how do you jazz it up when funds are low? Let’s look at some budget ideas for jazzing up your special room.

Shop around

Don’t assume cheap kitchens mean you have to go without style. Do plenty of research  and don’t fall for the first thing you see. More affordable options will be available if you take the time to look.

Consider quick fixes

Do you really need to replace the whole kitchen? Could you perhaps just replace cabinet doors or even given them a fresh lick of paint? If funds are really tight, even some clever new handles can make you feel a bit better about your kitchen. Don’t forget accessories from places like Kitchen Warehouse as these can really add to your expression of self in the kitchen.

Charity shopping

You may not want to buy everything from a charity shop but there is always a good feeling when you purchase items that mean you get something new, someone has disposed of their “trash” and a charity benefits too. There are furniture stores run by big charities like the British Heart Foundation in most cities nowadays. On the other hand, you might like to check out bric-a-brac shelves for retro kitchenalia and quirky artwork to put on the walls.

Wonderful walls

I once had a friend who painted his kitchen blue on a whim and hated it. When he felt cheerier he changed it to terracotta which worked well. I have always fancied an orange kitchen. Make choices after due consideration and ensure all the family feel comfortable with them. You could paint the kitchen or invest in some wallpaper and one way to save would be to just have one feature wall in striking design.

Are you jazzing up your kitchen soon? I  would love to hear your plans.