Trick or Treat Safety in the Neighborhood

Trick or Treat Safety

It’s that time of year again when the spooky ghosts and superheroes come around your neighborhood to collect candy!  If you have little ones, consider these safety tips when going out for trick or treat.

  1. Adult Supervision is crucial. Little ones should not be out and about alone and even older kids can have trouble navigating dark streets in costumes.   If you have to work, find a group your child can join.
  2. Check the Candy. Don’t let the kids start eating the candy until you go through the bag and make sure nothing is already open or tampered with.
  3. Stay on Sidewalks. Kids get excited and might try to cross streets and run to houses without looking for cars.  Make sure they know safety rules and stick together.
  4. Check costumes and face paint. Make sure your child can see where he or she is going. Costumes can obstruct viewing and face paint can get in children’s eyes or create an allergic reaction on skin.  Also, make sure costumes are bright enough to be seen in the dark and not to big to cause trip hazards.

Have fun and happy Halloween!

Tips for Moving to a House or Apartment in the Rain

Our number one tip for moving during a rainstorm is NOT TO DO IT! But all kidding aside, often you have a small window of time to do your house move and rain can really put a damper on things. Here are some tips to survive the gloomy day:

  1. Tape down tarps or mats to cut down on trekking mud and water through your new place. Take the time to do this upfront will save a lot of clean up later.
  2. Take care with cardboard boxes. Leave these until rain subsides, or find a staging area (tarp inside apartment or garage works well) to stack all these boxes so you don’t have damp cardboard in your living spaces.
  3. Wrap furniture in plastic. Often, bulky couches and mattresses take time to maneuver into your new home. By wrapping these upholstered items in plastic or covers, you ensure a dry place to rest after moving!
  4. Invest in Trash bags. Buy a box or two of plastic garbage bags—these can be thrown over boxes, placed down to keep muddy feet at bay, and wrapped around clothes on hangers. These can be a lifesaver in a downpour.
  5. Organize wisely. Prioritize your move. During the biggest downpour, carry plastic tubs and things that won’t mold or be damaged. Time may help the moving situation so that cardboard boxes and furniture can be moved during lessened rain.
  6. Ask for more help. Put out a call to get more volunteers. This way you can set up an assembly line to move more quickly and efficiently. Many people who had plans might be rained out and for the price of free lunch could help you get your move done!

How to Declutter Your Apartment

How to Declutter Your Apartment

Clutter causes us all problems.  If we have too much stuff everywhere, it can be a safety hazard and can keep us from full enjoyment of our space.  And mess can equal STRESS!  Here are some tips to get clutter under control:

  1. Consider a 30 day challenge. It can be stressful to think about trying to get cleaned up all in one day. Breaking the task into small parts makes this much easier.  The internet is full of 30 day calendars and lists to make this manageable.  For example, one day you might tackle your Rubbermaid/plastic storage cupboard and the next day you dump out your junk drawer and sort.
  2. Use a 3 box system in the room you plan to declutter. Get three boxes and label them: KEEP, TOSS and STORE. One day you can sort and the next you can execute the plan of putting things away, dropping off stuff to the Goodwill and boxing up items to store.
  3. Enlist help. Sometimes we need an honest opinion. When you are sorting clothes, ask a trusted friend or relative to come over and help you decide what is still trendy and flattering and what should get a new home.
  4. Use the 80/20 Rule. Experts say we only wear 20% of items in our closet 80% of the time. This principle works with kitchen gadgets, children’s toys, boardgames, etc. Figure out your 20% (with some wiggle room!) and donate the rest!
  5. Be ruthless in your first sort. Then sleep on it.  The next day if you still are OK with getting rid of an item, then you are making the right decision.  Giving yourself an extra day to decide if you love the item makes it not so difficult to decide in the moment.

It is Fall Cleaning Time

It’s that time of year—football games, bonfires and a slight chill in the air.  It’s also the time to get your house cleaned up from summer and prepped for winter.  Here’s a list of chores to help you get ready:

 

Outside Chores:

  1. Wash windows
  2. Wash down patio furniture and put it away for winter.
  3. Clean and store all outside children’s toys
  4. Check caulking around windows and doors. Put plastic over windows that allow cold air to come in during the winter. Install weather stripping as necessary.
  5. Clear out gutters
  6. Clean fireplace and chimney
  7. Vacuum and clean out all air vents and covers in your home
  8. Change your furnace filters.
  9. Drain and store garden hoses
  10. Check laundry machines to make sure there are no birds nests or lint build up in the exhaust.

 

Inside Chores:

  • Focus on public rooms, so you are ready for upcoming holidays and the long winter. Clean and vacuum well and touch up paint as necessary.
  • Have carpets and upholstered furniture professionally or rent/borrow equipment to do yourself.
  • Wash interior windows
  • In the bedrooms, turn mattresses front to back to minimize wear and vacuum to get rid of dust and skin cells.
  • Launder and clean all bedding, getting out blankets and comforters to keep your family cozy in the cold months ahead.
  • Think ahead to holiday cooking and prep your kitchen now. Clean off all counters and check/organize all your cabinets. Get rid of old spices and clean out the pantry, donating all food that is still good but that you aren’t using to the community food pantry.
  • Pull refrigerator away from the wall and vacuum the condenser coils to keep it running efficiently.
  • Clean your oven now to be ready for holiday cooking.
  • Wash your vacuum sweeper out well, changing the bag and cleaning the filter so this machine is ready to keep your home clean all winter.

 

Managing Stress During a House or Apartment Move

Staying sane During a House Move

Moving into a house or apartment can be a stressful time. There are phone calls to make to change utilities, packing up, people to tell, paperwork to fill out to change addresses and let’s not forget, the move itself!

Here are some tips to stay healthy and sane when you get ready to move.

 

  1. First of all, make a list! If you are not a naturally organized person, ask for help. If you are a tenant, your landlord can clue you into important things to remember about leaving your place rent-ready and getting geared up with utilities and the neighborhood at your new place. The internet is a great resource also, for finding moving lists.
  2. If possible, overlap your move by paying extra rent or making a deal with a buyer so you have a week to leisurely move stuff and clean. If you try to do it all in one day, you will put undue stress on yourself and your family.
  3. Ask for help. Instead of trying to do everything, now is the time to tap into your family and friendships. Most people are willing to donate an hour to carrying boxes or helping you take down pictures and wrapping dishes. And pizza is a great motivator on the big day to reward people who come to help.
  4. Most importantly, take care of yourself. A move can wreak havoc on your eating/drinking/exercising schedule. Try to keep to your usual events as much as possible and pay particular attention to drinking enough water to stay hydrated. Remember to breathe.  When things get crazy in the middle of the move, take a moment to do some mindful, deep breaths.  It sounds weird, but it works!
  5. Reward yourself after the move. Positive feedback is important for everyone, including yourself!  Just as you might reward yourself with a new outfit after losing ten pounds, rewarding yourself with something new for your new home or apartment is a great way to feel excited about your new place and to pat yourself on your back for a job well done.

How to Pack for Moving to a New House or Apartment

How to pack for a move

Packing your stuff seems monumental. But try these tips to make the packing more peaceful for your soul.

  1. First, DECLUTTER. Now is the time to get rid of stuff you no longer need or want.  A good rule of thumb is to eliminate stuff you haven’t used in a year.  If you never wore that sweater all winter, most likely you won’t wear it again this winter.  Many of us have way too many pots and pans.  You tend to use the same kitchenware every day; keep that stuff and donate the rest.  You can plan a yard sale to make money to help hire people to help you move or to buy a new piece of furniture for the next place.
  2. CREATE A PACKING STATION. No matter what you think, packing takes more time than you think. Having a packing station stocked with boxes, markers, newspaper, bubble wrap and sealing tape will make that job easier for everyone in your household.  Talk to your local grocer or shop owner to get sturdy boxes.  Wine boxes are extra sturdy and copier paper boxes from offices are great for files and books.
  3. BE MINDFUL. Pack light items in big boxes and heavy items in smaller ones. This will save your back and help out any volunteers you have that day to help.  Keep your dresser drawers full; that’s the easy way to transport your clothing.  And fill every suitcase with towels or clothes; don’t transport empty containers! Trash bags can be helpful to pack toys or stuffed animals and can fit into spaces on your moving truck that cannot be filled by boxes.
  4. LABEL EVERYTHING. When you seal the box, use a black permanent marker to list contents and the room where you want the box to go.  When you have family and friends to help, it will make it easier for boxes to go where needed and for you to know which boxes to unwrap.  Using different color markers might help too. Label urgent boxes (diapers, kitchenware, etc) with red, less urgent with black and items to store (collectibles, memorabilia) in green.
  5. PROTECT VALUABLES. There is nothing more distressing than moving to your new apartment or home to find your favorite vase smashed into pieces.  To protect against heartbreak, invest in sturdy boxes, bubble wrap and tissue paper. To wrap dishes, line boxes in bubble wrap and make sure you wrap each piece in paper towels, kitchen towels/dishcloths or tissue paper.  Make sure to fill the box to the top so items don’t rattle around and break.  Newspaper can fill those voids.  Write FRAGILE on each box to alert any volunteer movers.  Consider moving all fragile items in a separate car with your most trusted helper.

Good luck! Packing is a big job, but with some upfront planning and mindful tips, you can make the day a success.

Rain Rain Go Away: How to Keep Water from Coming in Your Home

Rain can bring on more than rainy day blues; excessive rainfall and storms can wreak havoc on your home.  Here are some tips to deal with extreme rain and keeping your home dry:

  1. Make sure your gutters, drains and downspouts are clear from any blockage.  A simple check and cleanout will do wonders for rainflow.
  2. Extend drainpipes out away from your home. Just adding one more piece might get water away from your foundation.
  3. On rainy days, make note of where water pools and collects.  Often, landscaping and flower beds can impede water.  Take care to make sure these areas are clear or have pathways for waterflow.  Also make sure if you plant near your home, that you build up soil next to the foundation.
  4. Cover air vents with heavy plastic when excessive rain is expected. This is an easy way to keep water out.
  5. Check sealant around windows, doors and skylights.  This will keep water at bay.
  6. If you do get water in your basement or home, run a dehumidifier and fan to clear things up quickly.

Daily, weekly and quarterly cleaning checklists for your apartment or home

How to keep your apartment or rental house clean

Cleaning is a chore most of us hate. But to keep your sanity and protect your family’s health, it has to be done.  Breaking down the tasks by day, week and month can help you stay on top of having a nice, clean living space.

Here are some lists to help you and your family stay on task:

Daily tasks:

  • Make the beds
  • Put things away. Toss clothes in hampers and have kids put toys away
  • Clean up spills and messes as they happen. It is easier now than later!
  • Wash your dishes after every meal. Piling them up invites mold and bugs.
  • Wipe down kitchen counters and appliances after making food.
  • Deal with your mail. Doing this on a daily basis will keep clutter under control. Sort into piles and recycle all junk mail.
  • Vacuum high traffic areas. A lightweight, handheld vacuum will help with this daily task.
  • Take out trash as needed to keep odors at bay.
  • Do a quick wipe down in bathroom sinks to keep this area healthy

Weekly Chores:

  • Wash clothes and put them away.
  • Wash sheets and change the beds.
  • Vacuum or sweep all floors.
  • Mop all hard surface floors.
  • Wipe down the rest of kitchen including cabinet doors and hardware. Using Lysol on handles will help keep germs under control during cold and flu season.
  • Dust all furniture.
  • Scrub the bathroom, including all sinks, tubs, toilets and showers.
  • Replace/launder bathroom rugs and towels.

Monthly/Quarterly Chores:

  • Clean and organize your bedroom drawers and closet. Switch out seasonal clothes and donate or sell items that you no longer wear.
  • Vacuum all hard to reach areas and under furniture.
  • Clean the inside of your oven
  • Clean inside of trash cans/recycle bins.
  • Cleanse your dishwasher. Use a cleaner recommended by your manufacturer or some baking soda/vinegar.
  • Polish all wood and condition your leather furniture.
  • Wash ceiling light fixtures and wipe ceiling fan blades
  • Wipe down all light switches and door handles.
  • Wash comforters and duvets on beds. Don’t forget pillows and stuffed animals too!
  • Clean inside of washer/dryer machines.
  • Dust/vacuum or wash window coverings.
  • Wipe down baseboards, moldings and door frames.
  • Deep clean refrigerator, freezer and pantry.
  • Steam clean all rugs/carpet. You can rent a carpet cleaner from most grocery stores.

Cleaning never ends but staying organized with these lists can at least help you stay motivated and on-task!

Should I get a pet?

Pets can add a lot to your life in the form of companionship and shared responsibility in caring for another living thing.  Apartment living, however, can present a challenge for tenants wanting to own pets.  Some buildings are not conducive to animals that need to be taken outside.  Also, pets can be a source of noise or mess disturbance to neighbors.  So before deciding to get a pet, tenants should check with their landlords to see what pets are acceptable.

Often if dogs or cats are not allowed, landlords might still allow fish or hamsters.  Also, landlords can alert you as to whether or not their insurance will allow pets.  Sometimes, snakes and vicious dog breeds are prohibited and can be a source of liability.  You will also need to check your tenant insurance policy to make sure that you are covered if your pet causes harm to someone.

Other considerations to take into account are the extra expenses that come along with owning a pet.  You might have to pay extra rent or a deposit to your landlord.  In addition, you will have vaccinations, veterinarian bills, accessories like cages and leases and of course you will now have an extra mouth to feed!  In addition, you have to consider who will help when you are out of town and your pet needs watched and cared for.  And some pets need exercise, so take into account your own physical limitations when caring for a pet.

 

Pets can add so much love to your life.  Taking the time now to think through the considerations will ensure that you make the best choice for pet ownership.

Back to School Tips for the First Day

Going back to school can be a fun time for families, but it can also be a busy, stressful endeavor!  Check out these tips suggested by the American Pediatric Association to ensure your kids have a healthy, happy start to a successful school year.

MAKING THE FIRST DAY EASIER

  • Parents should remember that they need not wait until the first day of class to ask for help. Schools are open to address any concerns a parent or child might have, including the specific needs of a child, over the summer. The best time to get help might be one to two weeks before school opens.
  • Many children become nervous about new situations, including changing to a new school, classroom or teacher.  This may occur at any age. If your child seems nervous, it can be helpful to rehearse entry into the new situation. Take them to visit the new school or classroom before the first day of school. Remind them that there are probably a lot of students who are uneasy about the first day of school. Teachers know that students are nervous and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible. If your child seems nervous, ask them what they are worried about and help them problem solve ways to master the new situation.
  • Point out the positive aspects of starting school to create positive anticipation about the first day of class. They will see old friends and meet new ones. Talk with them about positive experiences they may have had in the past at school or with other groups of children.
  • Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school or ride on the bus.
  • If it is a new school for your child, attend any available orientations and take an opportunity to tour the school before the first day. Bring the child to school a few days prior to class to play on the playground and get comfortable in the new environment.
  • If you feel it is needed, drive your child (or walk with her) to school and pick her up on the first day, and get there early on the first day to cut down on unnecessary stress.
  • Make sure to touch base with your child’s new teacher at the beginning or end of the day so the teacher knows how much you want to be supportive of your child’s school experience.
  • Consider starting your child on their school sleep/wake schedule a week or so ahead of time so that time change is not a factor on their first couple of days at school.