There are three main rules of parenting, some are easier to achieve than others. The first is to feed them, which I try to do with at least lip service to nutrition and with something vaguely resembling regularity. The second rule is to make sure they get enough sleep. Sleep evaded us for the first few years (who’s with me?) but we seem to have got the hang of it now. The third one is to keep them safe – this one is harder, especially with young children at home. My son happily plugged himself into sockets, hurled himself into obstacles, and, in a two-second lapse in supervision, ate an entire tub of blueberries and was promptly sick. Toddlers with suicidal tendencies aside, preventing your home from becoming a hazard not only costs very little but could save bigger costs down the line.
Use cupboard ingredients like vinegar and bicarbonate of soda for cleaning jobs. These are cheap, efficient, and non toxic. Use bicarb in warm water to wash your fruit and veg if you don’t buy organic. Add a small container of bicarb to your fridge to soak up fridge smells, and it can also be sprinkled in the bottom of your bins to stop nasty whiffs, or added to a wet pan and left for an hour to soak off stubborn burnt bits.
Damp causes structural damage and can have health implications. Avoid it setting in with some good habits. After a bath or shower, the bathroom should be ventilated – even just opening a window (and closing the door) will help. Dry clothes outdoors or in a cool area. Dryers should have external air extraction. When people come in with wet coats, hang them up outside the living areas. Avoid carpets in bathrooms and kitchens (where most damp occurs), and remove carpets/upholstery if they ever become soaked.
Install a carbon monoxide and smoke detector
Carbon monoxide alarms warn of invisible, toxic gasses. Many local fire brigades offer free carbon monoxide detectors and/or smoke detectors. For London tenants and landlords, visit the London Fire Brigade website, or contact your local fire brigade. Alternatively, you can purchase a carbon monoxide alarm for around £15 to £20 at your local DIY store, supermarket, or from your energy supplier. Test your smoke detector batteries regularly. It’s also good to be aware that insurers routinely reduce premiums for households with these alarms installed.
For helpful advice, arrange a free fire prevention visit. Have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year – why not set up this free, handy reminder for extra safety. Your energy supplier may provide a free gas safety check if you receive certain benefits or meet their other criteria.
Get the children involved