Sleep is a vital part of a child’s life and it’s one of the largest contributors to a healthy life. If you’re a parent or even if you’ve been around babies and kids, you know that a well rested child is often happier and less irritable. Sleep comes easy for some children and for others it can be a bit more of a challenge. But what if the reason for some sleep issues simply came from a poor sleep environment? What if the way we took care of our house and in particular, our child’s room so that the room was conducive to sleep?
There are the obvious ways to make a room a better place to sleep; the same ways that are laid out in every parenting magazine when it comes to the topic. But there are also ways to improve the environment in a room that go unnoticed. The study of the home as a contributor to our health is known as building biology. Building biology as a whole is the idea of creating a home that acts as a third protective barrier from the chemicals and toxins in the world. The second barrier from the world is our clothing and our first protective barrier is our skin.
The amount of time a child spends in their room the first few years of their life is often times just as much as the time they spend out of their room. This is just one more reason that a healthy environment within their bedroom is so vital to their health. A room filled with chemical toxins, organic growth and bacteria is obviously not a place we want our children. The problem is many of these places that bacteria, chemical toxins and organic toxins are is not well known. Parents and grandparents looking to create a healthy space often have to seek out the information.
Not all these solutions will be viable for every family, but changing even one of these things in your child’s room will help improve the indoor air quality and environment of the room. Taking action and taking one step forward will make a different and will improve the health of the room.
If you have young children, you probably know that asthma and allergies are a fairly common occurrence presently. While there are many theories as to why there is such an increase in these conditions, one thing is certain: Our indoor environment plays a huge role in preventing and minimizing symptoms.
The International Institute of Building Biology describes a home as a second skin if you will. Think of the way our skin protects our entire body underneath. Our skin absorbs what is around and on it in and carries it to our bloodstream. Our homes and indoor environment can offer the same protection as our skin if we create a healthy indoor environment. Making sure our home protects us and doesn’t introduce harmful contaminants, both biological and chemical, is key to keeping a healthy space to thrive in.
This is especially true when it comes to homes that have children with asthma or allergies. These little ones can be especially sensitive to allergy inducing irritants found in homes every day. If you have kids with allergies or asthma or you know someone who does, these habits will help create a safe and healthy environment to grow in.
Home renovations can span anywhere from updating flooring in a room to a full-fledged kitchen demo and rebuild. The home renovation process itself can be very unhealthy with the introduction of toxins, chemicals and harmful materials in the process. While you may be doing construction in just one room, the remainder of the house can quickly and easily be affected. Dust and fumes travel from one to another through open doors and ductwork in the home. And believe it or not, it’s actually a lot easier to make a home renovation or project healthy and safe for you and your family. All you need is a little bit of information and a plan in place before you start in order to keep contamination and toxins to a minimum.
When the journey of purchasing a new home is full of excitement, but it can also be full of overwhelming and apprehensive feelings. This is why I encourage all buyers to walk with me the entire inspection and dig through the home’s systems together. When I meet with buyers at their inspection, I can see these feelings are in full force. I love puting their minds at ease in sharing that all things about a house are fixable. It’s more about how much you’re willing to spend and how much you’re willing to maintain. For many this is a welcomed insight.
But knowing what questions to ask when determining if this is the right house is critical. That’s why I’m sharing the best questions to ask your inspector at the inspection. And if you’re about to hire an inspector, don’t make your calls without my Before You Hire a Home Inspector Worksheet. It will save you from hiring the wrong inspector and getting a top notch inspection and report.
Humidity levels within a house can affect many different aspects of our home and lives, yet often times we pay little attention to it. Whether you live in a dry or humid climate, the indoor climate of your home can have a huge impact on the health of your home and ultimately the health of your family. Not only do they affect the general comfort of those at home, but the amount of moisture in the air affects biological contaminants in a home like mold, mildew and dust mites.
Indoor humidity is the measure of moisture within your indoor air. Most homes will have excessively high humidity levels without the homeowners even being aware. There are many ways to tell if you have high or low humidity indoors, but the best way is to use a hygrometer or indoor air quality monitor.
How we clean our homes is one of the huge contributing factors when it comes to polluting our indoor air. The air we breathe in our homes can become even more harmful than the outdoor air because we add chemicals on a daily basis, but rarely filter it out with fresh air from outside. While this problem is one of the worst in terms of air quality, the good news is it's extremely easy to reverse.
The second way that cleaning chemicals harm our homes is by coming into contact with surfaces we touch and eat off of. This can be especially harmful to families with small children who tend to frequently put objects in their mouths. Children in general have poor hand to mouth habits and over-spray from a cleaner can end up traveling quite a distance to land on unintended surfaces. Again, this problem is a serious one, but it's also one that can be almost completely avoided at home.
It may seem daunting to switch over all the cleaning products in your home. That's why I've come up with this helpful timeline of just how to start and which products are impacting you and your family the most.
With every season change comes another opportunity to recheck and maintain your home. Summertime is often a time we tend to focus on the outdoor repairs that come with homeownership simply due to the weather.
And one of the best ways you can continue to keep a healthy home environment on the inside is by taking care of the outside of your home. Water, moisture and humidity are public enemy number one when it comes to keeping your home healthy and free from potential problems and issues.
Many first time homeowner find out the hard way just how to keep water and moisture away from different areas of their first home. Often times it takes a leak or a moisture problem within the house to find out what kind of maintenance needs to be done. Homeowners figure out really quickly just where to seal up the exterior after a leak happens.
Last week I shared some ways that you can use landscaping to create a healthy indoor environment. This week I’m sticking with this outdoor theme since the weather is beautiful and I’m spending as much time outdoors as I possibly can.
Spending time is so important to our bodies. It not only gives us a break from the indoor toxins we face for the majority of the day, but it also allows our bodies to reap the benefits from sunshine and naturally filtered air outdoors. One of the best ways to get motivated to spend more time outdoors is to create a space that you can truly enjoy outdoors. An outdoor living space is a space that you can use outside as you would an indoor space. The idea of entertaining, cooking and playing outdoors can be enhanced by a beautiful space that’s comfortable too.
Living in the Midwest, it can be tough to get outdoors all year-round, but that means in the summer we really take advantage of that outdoor space and outdoor area to entertain, cook and play.
When the early months of summer hit it seems like everyone is making some sort of change to their yard. Whether it be adding a few flowers or doing some major landscaping, most houses can benefit from a little TLC in the yard department. Many homeowners aren’t aware of the fact that the choices they make on the outside of their home can play a huge role on the overall health on the inside of their home as well. I’ve also found that a home with great outdoor spaces encourages those living their to get outside and breathe fresh air. Being outdoors is so important to our overall health. Typically, the average person spends about 80% - 90% of their time indoors never giving their body a break from the indoor toxins it’s surrounded by. But when you take time away from those indoor toxins and get outside, the body has a little time to recuperate and begin to heal.
If you walk down the home and garden aisles at the hardware store, you know that there are more landscaping ideas than you’d ever know what to do with. When it comes to a healthy house, inside and out, there are some choices that rank higher when it comes to landscaping.
Furniture in our homes is what creates the feeling you get in a space, it elevates the comfort factor and it is usually the focal point of the whole room. Most of us would agree that furniture is one of our largest purchases, and one that gets the most use. For my family our furniture is definitely a large part of each and every room we have, from our couches to our kitchen table, to our dressers and beds. These pieces make up each and every room and we put them to good use every day.
But what we fail to remember often times is that by purchasing a new piece of furniture and introducing it to our indoor space, we are also bringing in potentially harmful chemicals. The biggest problem with bringing toxic chemicals inside our homes is we often offer very little ventilation to the new furniture and keep all the chemicals trapped inside our homes.
Chemicals brought into the home through furniture and furniture manufacturing not only remain in our homes for a long time due to little ventilation of fresh air, but they will continue to off-gas for the lifetime of the furniture. Some toxins actually off-gas more as they mature in age, meaning you’ve just introduced a long-term toxin source to your indoor air.
Furniture like couches, chairs and beds have the potential to off-gas at higher rates than other sources around your home. Many chemical toxins release their VOCs into the air at higher rates when the environment around them is warm and has higher humidity. Think of when someone sits on a sofa. The sofa cushion is warmed by the body heat and the skin is often releasing some sort of moisture, creating a humid environment for the cushion to off-gas at a higher rate every time someone uses it.
Still yet another problem with allowing toxic furniture into our homes is the sheer amount of time we are spending on them, sitting, sleeping and resting. When we’re spending this much time on our furniture, it means not only is our skin often times in contact with these toxins for an extended period of time, but often times our faces are in extremely close proximity. In other words, we are breathing in many of these toxins in close range when we’re using these furniture pieces.
If you’re in the market for new furniture, there are many great options and some very specific things you can look for and avoid. And if you’re not in a position to change out all your furniture, there are definitely great ways to work with what you have.