No family is perfect. That much we can accept is a universal truth. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot we can do to change and improve our family. We can be kinder to one another, we can have more fun together, we can help fulfill each other, we can do better for our part in the world. But you have to work to change your family. Here are a few changes that you might have to take the lead on making.
Appreciate the bright spots
Let’s start by saying that you should never think about changing absolutely everything about your family. There’s a good chance that some shared interests, rituals, or even ways that they help out you, each other, and the community already exist. If that’s the case, make sure you show that you appreciate that behavior. Praise it in your children, be thankful for it in your partner. Focus on those bright spots in the family life and show appreciation for them. Not only is it a way to show the family that you value them, but it’s also a bit of positive reinforcement that gets them on board to get more of the same, which can be a great facilitator for change.
Building family rituals
Bonds are best made by shared experiences and there’s a lot of opportunity to get them in the family. Some of these can become family rituals that are repeated every year or every other year. They might be silly and even a little mundane, like having a family video night or the occasional bowling trip with one another. They are also likely to evolve in time based on interests or what kind of availability the family has as they grow up. Accept those evolutions, but make sure that you always have a ritual or two to come back to. It can form the backbone of warm memories that last a lifetime for your children.
Finding fun together
A shared hobby can go a lot further than a ritual that the whole family can get involved in. If you have the time, consider finding the hobbies that you can share with individual children. If one of them is sporty, perhaps you can join a tennis or golfing club with them. If one of them is showing a creative streak, then getting into new crafts projects with them can give you the chance to collaboratively express yourselves. If you have a reader in the family, a book club of two can be hugely enriching for both of you. Hobbies are great connecting forces and encouraging shared hobbies between family members can bring everyone a lot tighter together.
Getting away from it all
One of the most exciting and positive ways to get the family to change is to give them a change of scenery. Sometimes, sticking to a familiar environment exclusively can be something of a catalyst to rising tensions, frustration, or boredom. Having somewhere you can get away to now and then can make a huge difference. Whether that’s taking a road trip, having a favorite camping spot, or looking at a new condo launch to find a vacation home. The change in environment can offer a change in perspective, and it also allows you to get away from many of the mundane challenges of home that can build up and really become an issue for some members of the family. More than anything, it provides another opportunity to build shared memories.
Making the world better
Perhaps you’re worried that your family isn’t contributing much. You might be worried that they’re not playing an active enough role in being better people, being responsible, and doing better for the world. When it comes to instilling such deep and important values, you have to lead by example and get them learning as soon as possible. Start making green changes to the home and start talking to them about how to be more environmentally ethical. It’s a great idea to show them exactly what you’re hoping to protect with them, as well. A trip to a national park every now and then and the chance to spot natural beauty on any family vacations abroad serve as a better example for younger minds than facts and figures.
The community is suffering, and that’s partly because families no longer have the close connections that they used to. However, good friends and the support of people outside the immediate family can be tremendously important to growing up with a healthy sense of connection to the world. To that end, it’s a good idea to find opportunities for you and the kids to get more involved in the community. It might mean joining a local organization doing volunteer work in the area. Perhaps it might involve setting up a book club or finding playdates for them. It’s becoming harder for parents to teach their children how to socialize, so finding those opportunities to make a big difference.
Having the big talks
Activities, opportunities, and shared experiences are all well and good. But they are no replacement for good communication. The ability to get your child to share (almost) everything with you and the ability to be able to talk to them maturely about important concepts such as money and values can seem like a rare treasure. But it’s not truly all that difficult to build up. You just have to make the time. Ten minutes of uninterrupted talk with each child, where they don’t have video games or homework as a distraction and you’re not trying to push any agenda, can be a huge help. Ask them about their day. Be a good listener. Show empathy if they’re talking about bad or sad feelings by offering a simple touch or a hug. Take time for what they want to communicate, so they know how it’s done when you have something you want to communicate.
The idea of changing the people you love, or even yourself, might sound scary to a lot of people and you shouldn’t try to force change. Rather, you should work to lead the way, inviting the family to join you. Get them excited and collaborative, rather than trying to pressure them.
Toxic Chemicals That Could Be Hiding In Your Laundry Detergent
In the past few years, there has been more news coverage about the chemicals that are commonly used in both household cleaning products and personal care products. The most dangerous product in our homes is also one of the most used cleaning products. Laundry products are full of harmful and toxic chemicals that can easily enter your body and the environment. The question of how are these chemicals dangerous and what can you do to limit your exposure to them is an important one.
The Danger of Using Certain Laundry Products
A study conducted by the University of Washington revealed that many popular laundry products have hidden ingredients. This can include over a hundred of chemicals hidden behind ingredients like fragrance. The worst part is that at least one of these hidden chemicals have been classified as hazardous or toxic under federal laws. In the same study, there were almost 100 volatile organic compounds or VOCs found in six products.
Another study that was done in 2011, by the same researchers, found the air that was vented from laundry machines using the top-selling scented laundry detergent and dryer sheets contained high levels of toxic chemicals. The worst part is that even when you stop using these products, the chemicals are still being released for a few loads afterward. The analysis of the captured air from the air vent of the test dryer had over 25 VOCs, which included 7 hazardous pollutants. Two of these chemicals were Benzene and acetaldehyde, which are classified as carcinogens.
Chemicals That You Should Be Avoiding In Your Laundry Products
Most laundry products have long lists of ingredients that are printed in small print because most people never turn the bottle around to read what is in these products. However, turning the bottle around can tell you a lot about a product and how ‘green’ the product really is. Here are just a few of the laundry product ingredients that you should be avoiding for health reasons.
As stated above, fragrance is one ingredient that can hide hundreds of chemicals. The worst part is that most of them are not used to clean or scent our products. Most times, fragrance is used to trick us into believing that clean clothes need to have a smell.
According to EWG, fragrances are one of the top five allergens in the world and can easily trigger asthma attacks. The Environmental Working Group also revealed that around 75 percent of fragrances have phthalates in them. Phthalates are linked to hormone disruption, obesity, and diabetes. You should also be careful with essential oils and natural fragrances because they could have processed using harmful solvents to save time and money.
Stabilizers are a group of chemicals that are used to stabilize the formula of the laundry detergent. Some stabilizers include ethylene oxide and polyethylene oxide, which have both been linked to lung and eye irritation. They can also cause dermatitis.
Sodium hypochlorite or household bleach is well-known for having extremely toxic properties. There are people who attribute bleach to more home poisonings than any other cleaning chemical. When bleach reacts with organic materials, it creates chlorinated VOC’s, which can be very toxic and are classified as human carcinogens. When bleach is used in workplaces, OSHA requires gloves and a mask to be worn by the user and people who are working in the area. Scientists also only handle bleach when they have a mask and gloves on and the room is well ventilated. Now think about all the times that you have not used gloves and a mask when using bleach for laundry or cleaning.
Chlorine bleach is commonly used in cleaning products, include laundry soap. It is both highly potent and corrosive. Even breathing the fumes in can cause irritation to the eye and respiratory tract. If it happens to get on skin, it can cause chemical burns and bleached areas. However, it gets worse when you start adding in other chemicals. Depending on the chemicals that are mixed with chlorine bleach, a noxious gas can be created, which can be fatal. Ingesting bleach in any amount can create permanent damage to the mouth and throat, which can also be fatal if left untreated.
Continued bleach exposure is very dangerous because the toxins in the body start building up, so these toxins place stress on the lungs, kidneys, and liver. Most times, exposure to chlorine on its own is linked to the development of breast cancer.
Surfactants are cleaning agents, which are added to formulas to improve the cleaning power of the laundry product. There are many surfactants that are used in laundry detergent, but Naphtha or petroleum distillate is one of the most common because it is made from synthetic crude oil, which is used to dissolve dirt and grease. There is research that links Naphtha to damaged lung and mucous membranes, along with asthma, inflammation, and cancer.
Another common surfactant is phenol. There are people who are sensitive to phenol and experience severe side effects including death. Phenol is absorbed quickly by our skin and spreads quickly throughout the whole body, damaging the kidneys, heart, blood vessels and the nervous system.
NPE can also be listed as nonylphenol ethoxylates, which is an inexpensive, non-ionic surfactant. This chemical has been banned in both the EU and Canada, but it can still be used and found in products sold in the USA. NPE has a long list of health concerns, which includes damaging fetal development. It has also been shown in research to cause fish and shellfish to develop both sex organs because NPE interfered with the hormones during development.
LAS is also called linear alkyl benzene sulfonates, which are a type of synthetic petrochemicals. They can also be listed as anionic surfactants in ingredient lists. LAS is a common surfactant that is used in laundry detergents and can take up to 30 percent of the total product weight. LAS is a carcinogen and reproductive toxin. The EWG has classified LAS as a product that causes ‘some level of concern’ for the environment.
Phosphates and EDTA
Phosphates are added to laundry products to make them more effective in hard water. They can remove stains and dirt by softening the washing water and allows more suds to form quickly, which helps the cleaning power of a product. The main issue is that phosphates remain active even once the water enters that waste-water treatment process. These chemicals end up in lakes and rivers and cause increased levels of algae growth. Increased algae growth can kill all types of marine life because it removes the oxygen in the water. Phosphates have been known to be dangerous since the early 1970’s, so most laundry companies have stopped using them.
Today, EDTA or Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid is used. While it is not as harmful as phosphates, this chemical is still toxic. In lab tests, EDTA has been found to damage DNA and kill cells in lab animals. EDTA matches phosphates ability to withstand water treatments, so it is not normally biodegradable.
This chemical can be listed as Dioxane, Diethylene Oxide or 1,4–Dioxane and is a chemical by-product of ethoxylation. This is one of the ways that companies make sudsier, softer detergents, without having to spend a lot of money. Since 1,4–Dioxane is not an intentional ingredient, manufacturers are not legally required to list it, unless they add extra amounts of the chemical in their products. 1,4–Dioxane is a well-known carcinogen.
The problem is that dioxane is very toxic and is currently in over two-thirds of the laundry detergents on the market. Since it is so commonly used in laundry detergent, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has started to consider dioxane an increasing threat to water supplies.
Just about every laundry product on the market advertises that they brighten your clothing but these products are not really brightening your clothing. Instead, there are chemicals that stay on the items and absorb UV light, which makes them ‘appear’ to be brighter. So, when brightening chemicals stay on the clothing, we are exposed to higher amounts of them because our skin absorbs the chemicals. Common brighteners include benzoxazolyl, diaminostilbene disulfonate, and naphthotriazolystilbenes, with many of them being linked to changes to reproductive and developmental processes.
Many people believe that they are not exposed to enough of these chemicals to have any adverse side effects. However, the average family in the US washes about 80 pounds of laundry every week. That is a huge amount of laundry and chemicals that you are being exposed to. The budget concerns about switching to natural laundry products are a concern, but there are ways that you can limit your exposure without spending excessive amounts of money.
Wear Gloves and a Mask
If you have to use harsh laundry products like bleach or other whitening products, you should make sure that you are at least wearing gloves. It would be a better option to also wear a mask, but this is not always an option. So, ventilating the rooms can limit the exposure. If there are not any gloves available, you should make sure to wash your hands afterward to remove any chemicals that may have gotten on your skin.
Buy the Safest Option that You Can
If you are not a huge fan of making your own laundry products or do not have the time, there are safer laundry products. The EWG has a great guide for laundry products and scores most brands using an easy ranking system. There is also an app that makes shopping easy since you can scan the bar code to find out more about a product.
Clean Your Washing Machine Regularly
Along with chemicals and soap scum, your washing machine can be a breeding ground for bacteria. The easiest way of cleaning out your washing machine is to add white vinegar to your machine and run on the hottest cycle. This should be done once every month, but if anyone has allergies, it should be done more often to help combat excess bacteria in the home.
No More Dryer Sheets
If you want to limit the number of chemicals in your laundry, but still want to reduce the amount of static cling, using a dryer ball is a great option. You can make your own or you can buy some online. You can easily add scent to your clothing because you can add some essentials oils to a damp rag and put it in with your laundry for drying.
Remove Stains Naturally
Instead of using harsh chemical stain removers, you can easily remove stains by creating a pre-treatment using baking soda, washing soda, and water.
For Softer Clothing
Adding a simple half-cup of vinegar to a rinse cycle has the same results as commercial fabric softeners, without the chemicals. This also is cheaper than most commercial fabric softeners, so you can save a huge amount of money on your laundry bill.
The number of chemicals that we expose ourselves to regularly to have ‘clean’ clothes is insane. Many of the chemicals that are still used today are known to be toxic. However, we are not even sure how toxic many products are because many of them are hiding ingredients behind terms like ‘Fragrance’ or are by-products of other chemicals being mixed together. This is a concern since there are limited laws about what chemicals can and cannot be used in household cleaning products. Even ‘green’ products and companies have been found to be using toxic chemicals.
While we cannot stop washing our clothing, we can make the decisions about the brands that we are going to be supporting. EWG makes it easier to find safe products because they rank most products available on the market. This ranking system also includes clear information about the chemicals and their side effects on their website and apps. No matter what choice you make, you should understand the risks that many commonly used chemicals in commercial laundry products are toxic, especially when combined with other chemicals. So, you also have the option of making your own laundry products to reduce the possibility of toxic chemicals when doing your laundry.
These are safe options in laundry detergent. Click pictures for more info
I just read an article saying that dental sealants are dangerous. This was an eye opener considering I just had sealants put on my sons 6 year molars. After reading the article I called the dentist and asked if they can be removed and told them why. Of course, I was told that they never heard of this. They are supposed to call me back to let me know if they can remove them. Sealants contain BPA. The same chemical that was once in baby bottles and was removed. Recent studies have further detailed the health impact of this substance, reported on at News Inferno:
The latest research, the first large BPA study in humans, published last month by the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found a “significant relationship” between exposure to the ubiquitous estrogenic chemical and heart disease, diabetes, and liver problems. Long-standing research points to hormonal disturbances and a variety of cancers and neurological and behavioral problems in adults and children. Also, the National Toxicology Program, part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has raised concerns about BPA. Of particular concern is childhood exposure BPA that leaches from polycarbonate baby bottles and the linings of infant formula cans. The 2003-4 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found detectable levels of BPA in 93 percent of urine samples collected from more than 2,500 adults and children over the age of six. BPA may accelerate puberty and raise a potential risk of cancer and, this month, the journal Environmental Health Perspectives reported that BPA might interfere with chemotherapy treatment.”
I can’t believe that dentists are using a chemical like this in sealants. I know to avoid fluoride but I didn’t know anything about sealants. If you or your child has these sealants I would encourage you to call your dentist to see if they can be removed. I was told that sealants wear off after a while and would need to be put on again. If they wear off that means that your are swallowing the substance. This is scary considering what the effects can be.
BPA information source www.newinferno.com
For many people, the kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s a place where we prepare food to nourish and protect the whole family, and it is where we gather together. In the kitchen, we eat together and discuss our day, and our hopes and dreams. It’s a place friends sit when they call in for a coffee and a chat. And it’s the place our kids spread out their homework each evening. This room is important to us, and so it’s vital that we make it as safe, comfortable, efficient, and green as possible.
Pots, Pans, And Utensils
When it comes to pans and kitchen utensils, opt for versions that will stand the test of time. Items that require replacing regularly place a burden on manufacturing processes and landfill. Cast iron or stainless steel are healthier choices than non-stick varieties. Opinion is often split on this, but the former will certainly last longer.
Wooden spoons, spatulas, and other utensils tend to have a limited shelf-life. Opt for quality items, rather than their cheaper counterparts that will soon break down.
Limit the number knives you purchase by opting for those you can sharpen yourself. This will ensure that they remain efficient and will require fewer replacements.
Cups, plates, and bowls, etc. don’t last forever. At some point, they’ll lose a handle or become broken. Rather than binning them, find ways to repurpose them, so they are useful elsewhere. They could be used in the garden, perhaps. Or you could smash them into smaller pieces and use them to create a mosaic.
When it comes to cleaning, ditch the harsh chemicals that are harmful to the planet and health. This includes dishwasher detergent, washing powder, soap, floor cleaners, and countertop cleaners, etc. And don’t forget specialty cleaners for surfaces like granite or stone. Opting for natural cleaners will give you the peace of mind that you’re not introducing toxic chemicals into your living space.
Toss out your paper towels and disposable cloths and choose long-lasting washcloths and tea towels instead.
The kitchen generates the most waste, not just in terms of food products, but also packaging. There are several ways you can reduce the waste you create.
- Wherever possible, purchase food that isn’t already pre-packed.
- Take your own reusable shopping bags to the grocery store and keep a supply in your trunk, so you never forget.
- Create your shopping list based on meals for each day of the week to avoid wastage.
- Reuse and repurpose bottles and jars. Even tins and milk cartons can be used as planters, etc.
- Make your own meals rather than buying processed food or ordering takeout.
- Buy in bulk to reduce packaging and transfer items into bottles and jars.
- Plan your meals in advance and create food that can be used for several different meals.
Establish a compost bin for food-based waste such as vegetable peelings, egg shells, etc. Make sure you sift through any waste and recycle wherever possible. Keep an eye on what goes into the bin and find ways to either reduce or repurpose it.
Selecting eco-friendly kitchen appliances and running them in an efficient manner benefits everyone. It helps reduce resources and, therefore, saves you money. Appliances are becoming more energy efficient and so become familiar with the Energy Star rating system.
Using your appliances efficiently is also important. For example, the refrigerator can consume from 9% to 15% of your overall electricity. There are several ways you can optimize its efficiency.
- Purchase a fridge that is big enough for your needs, as packing it full of food will use extra energy.
- Close the door between uses, even if you’re going back and forth.
- Ice makers and dispensers consume more energy, so select a model without these if possible.
- Place the refrigerator away from heat sources such as the oven, which will require it to work harder.
- Allow food to cool first, before placing it into the fridge or freezer.
There are pros and cons of gas and electric cookers. Usually, this will come down to personal choice. However, whichever you opt for, cook efficiently to reduce the fuel you’re using. Simple changes like using a pan lid will help food to cook quicker and thus reduce fuel. Don’t keep opening the oven door to check on progress.
Kitchen Furniture And Fittings
If you need to replace cupboards, countertops, tables, chairs, etc. figure out the best way to do this. Do you have to replace them or can they be upgraded or repaired? Where replacements are needed, can the old items be put to use elsewhere? For example, in the garage or shed? Where possible, opt for secondhand items from places like Craigslist or Freecycle. When buying new items, look for furniture made from eco-friendly materials and created using green production methods. You may need to do a little research, but the results will be worth it.
When it comes to food shopping, buy local. The fewer miles your food has to travel between the farm and the kitchen, the better. It will also cut down on your own gas consumption. Find local co-ops and farmers’ markets and shop there wherever possible.
Arrange your family’s meals around the seasons. It may be a novelty to have access to a diverse range of vegetables all year round, but think about how far they have traveled and the fuel they have consumed. And don’t forget all those emissions as a result of travel. It’s good to know where your food is coming from and eating seasonally is healthy. Seasonal food is picked at the right time, meaning it’s had optimum sun exposure and is full of vital nutrients. This also adds to the taste.
It is often the case that making eco-friendly choices promotes a simpler and safer way of life. If you think about it, this makes sense. Eco-friendly suggests being in balance with the planet and its natural cycles. We eliminate unnecessary processes that consume resources and go back to what is readily available and in abundance.
Public speaking can be scary, no matter what age you are. For children, the experience is entirely new and even more petrifying. Mastering public speaking from a young age can be fantastic for you child’s confidence. Children are uninhibited, so it’s the best time for them to get used to those scary things. You can see the benefits of social speaking for your child’s career prospects on sites like gingerpublicspeaking.com. You should encourage your child to take part in as many public speaking opportunities as possible. Be careful not to push them into anything they don’t want to do. Pushing too hard could cause them to be even more against public speaking! Gentle encouragement is all it takes. If they do have an event coming up, it’s your job to ensure they’re ready. Here are some things you can do.
Image from Pixabay
PLENTY OF PRACTICE
Practice makes perfect. Never is that more true than with regards to public speaking. The more your child knows their speech, the more confident they’re going to feel. Help them practice as much as possible. It’s important they’re performing to an audience, rather than alone in their room. If they’ve only practiced in front of the mirror, it’s possible their mind will go blank at the time. Help get them ready by listening to their speech. That way, you can encourage them and suggest improvements. It may be worth inviting other people to hear, too. Performing to other adults will be much better practice for the main event. If they get used to performing to your friends, the speech itself won’t seem so daunting.
Image from Flickr
TEACH THEM TO HIDE NERVOUS HABITS
Nervous habits, such as those discussed on CalmFocused.com, can affect public speaking. During your practice sessions, help your child conquer their nervous habits. When we’re nervous, we often fidget and avoid eye contact. Point these behaviors out to your child to enable them to recognize when they do it. The more confident your child looks, the better their speech will go! Talk to your child about projecting their voice and looking into the crowd. If it helps, show them examples of good public speakers. Children are good at imitating behavior. Once they’ve seen how to do it well, they’re more likely to get it right.
MAKE SURE THEY GET PLENTY OF SLEEP THE NIGHT BEFORE
Even with all your preparation, your child will be nervous the night before the event. If they’re tired on the day, they’re less likely to perform to the best of their ability. Do your best to ensure you child’s sleep is as good as possible. Do everything you can to take their mind off things the night before. It may be worth waking them earlier than usual the morning before. That way, they’re sure to be tired come that night. Stress to them the importance of being well rested. They may want to keep practicing when they should be asleep. If that’s the case, put their speech somewhere they can’t find it.
This is a collaborative post with Yourorganicchild.com
Do you have a passion for arts and crafts? Perhaps you create hand-crafted jewelry. Maybe you like to paint designs on mugs and dishes. Even if you enjoy knitting sweaters and bags, you could turn your hand-crafting hobby into profit.
There is a huge market for crafts, which continues to grow year by year. The internet has only seemed to boost this, as there are many resources for selling and marketing handmade crafts. Here’s how you can make money from your hobby.
Open An Online Shop
There are online shops designed specifically for handmade goods. Etsy is the most popular, but you could also use Shopify or even eBay. Be ready to cater to the demand and offer good postage options. This can help you sell to customers all over the world!
These online shopping systems also offer reviews, so you will be able to get customer feedback and build your reputation. If people are satisfied with your crafts, you could find even more customers through word of mouth.
Market Your Goods
An important part of any business is marketing. Be sure to make use of multimedia marketing to reach as many potential customers as possible. Internet advertising is usually the most effective. You can use search-engine marketing to hit your target demographic. You could also promote your goods on crafts forums.
Don’t neglect real world marketing. An excellent way to get noticed is by visiting crafts fairs and markets. People who love crafts will stumble across your market. Be sure to promote your online shop with your physical sales- a customer can quickly become a repeat customer if they know how easy it is to buy from you.
Expand Your Operations
As your customer base grows, you’ll need to work harder to keep up with demand. You may want to turn your profitable hobby into a fully-fledged business. This can involve renting office space and hiring new employees to teach them your craft.
You’ll need money for purchasing materials, along with other business costs. It’s worth getting business funding. You can quickly pay it back with the boost in profits you’ll get from expanding.
You should also create a website. You can add ecommerce software to your own site, so you can sell your goods directly without paying commission to online shops. What started out as a hobby can now be built into a brand. A business name and logo can help you become more recognized and build a professional reputation.
Use Social Media
Social networks are a great place to promote your crafts. A lot of social media websites, such as Twitter, allow for hashtags for particular interests. You could post sales promotions with hashtags like #crafts to get the attention of new customers.
Social media is also perfect for posting high-quality pictures of your products. Many people create albums of their favorite crafts on Pinterest. Instagram is the most popular social network for images, so posting photos of your products with links to your shop can attract more people.
You could also contact people with good social media followings to advertise your products. YouTube stars may be willing to review your crafts in return for getting them free. Instagram models might show off your goods to their fans for a price.