Better Family Living Checklist

Anyone who comes from a large family will tell you: it can, at times, be immensely challenging. Strange odors, big messes, unwanted noise, cosmetic damage, and everything else that happens when an army of people live under the same roof all amplify the difficulties of day-to-day life.

I know this because I grew up in a big family, and being the youngest of six, I can tell you that there are plenty of ways to help lessen the impact that a large group of people can have on a home. That being said, here are a few tips and tricks for better family living that you can use in your home.

Odors

You don’t have to have a big family to appreciate the importance of eliminating unpleasant odors, but it certainly helps. Whether it’s accumulating in the bathroom, festering in the garbage can, lingering in the kitchen, or emanating from the carpet, odors play a foul role in every home. That’s why these tips can prove to be invaluable in your everyday life.

Clean regularly

I know this one should be pretty self-explanatory, but you’d be surprised at what a little cleaning can do. Stray crumbs (or even whole pieces of fruit if you have small children), spilled drinks, and a number of other things can all add up over the course of a few weeks, so cleaning regularly can minimize the amount of odors they can create.

Feel free to use home remedies (like vinegar and baking soda) or the all-purpose cleaners you find in the store, just as long as it works for you.

Ventilation

Having proper ventilation is important for a number of reasons. In bathrooms, it helps moisture evaporate, which reduces the likelihood of mildew and mold forming. Another reason is that it gives odious particles a place to go.

Of course, this may not be an option in the dead of winter, but opting to keep the windows open on some summer days instead of using the air conditioning can definitely help cut down on foul odors.

Air Fresheners

As with anything else, there are a variety of options available these days. Whether you opt for a plug-in, potpourri, an open container of coffee (which absorbs odors), the sprayable products, or even just the old fashioned air fresheners, anything that can help get rid of a bad odors is a good thing. Do your research, a little trial and error, and see what works for you.

Noise

One of the biggest hurdles for a large family to overcome is noise. Whether you have small children, teenagers, pets, or musical instruments, there is always noise that disrupts other areas, and people, in the home.

It may just be that someone has to practice the trumpet the night before a big school concert, or maybe you have an army of kids playing football in your living room. Either way, these tips on reducing noise in your home will not only prove to be helpful but also priceless.

Compartmentalize

The best way to reduce noise in your home is to compartmentalize. If you have the space, then assigning different areas of the house for certain tasks (e.g. only practice musical instruments in the basement, TV doesn’t go above a certain volume level, etc).

Soundproofing

Soundproofing certain rooms in your home, or even your entire home, can be a great way to reduce noise, and there are options for every budget. One of the best options, as far as both quality and price are concerned, is soundproof foam.

These affordable foam squares are what recording studios use to block out unwanted noise. Another good option, if you don’t want to spend the money, is to hang blankets on the walls. This should only be done if it won’t be a fire hazard (note lights, switches, or outlets close by).

Remodeling

Remodeling your home for the sole purpose of soundproofing is not especially practical, but if you’re already in the process of remodeling, then it can be helpful to have a few things done. Insulating all walls and ceilings, rather than just the exterior ones, is a great way to keep unwanted noise isolated.

Framing a soundproof wall, where two walls are built together but aren’t touching, can also reduce the amount of sound that will travel between rooms. Acoustic ceilings are also a great option to achieve the same result.

Minor Damage

Minor damage to the home of any large family is almost an inevitability. Floors can be scuffed, walls can be drawn on, paint can be chipped, light fixtures can be broken, and even drains can become clogged with random objects. Knowing how to fix some of that damage, quickly and in an affordable way, is absolutely necessary.

As a side note, it can never hurt to pick up a how-to book on home repair. That being said, here are a few tips on repairing minor damage in your home.

Flooring

Whether you have hardwood, engineered wood, or laminate, floor putty (or wood filler) is a great way to repair minor damage. It can be hard to get the color to match exactly, which is why the home remedy of using nail polish works so well.

If you have ceramic or vinyl tiles, then using a porcelain epoxy (which can also be used for chipped sinks, toilets, and bathtubs) can get the job done.

Drywall or Plaster

Perhaps the most common damage that can occur in a home is damage to the drywall or plaster. Luckily, a little Patch-N-Paint takes care of small holes and is even great for fixing areas on the wall where pictures, hooks, posters, and other decorations have been placed.

Like wood flooring, it can be tricky to get a color that matches, so it’s sometimes a good idea to get a few different types and test them on a scrap piece of wood or cardboard before putting it on the wall.

Plumbing

Any house with more than a few people can mean a lot of stress on the plumbing. Whether a toy has been flushed down the toilet, or the faucet is leaking from so much use, it’s good to have some plumbing skills.

The three best things to invest in are: a snake (auger), a pair of Channel Locks, and plumber’s tape (Teflon). As long as you have those three things, and a good beginner’s guide to plumbing book, you should be able to handle anything you come across.

Pets

Everyone loves their pets, but we all know how much work they can be, and in a big family, they can certainly add on to an already elevated level of stress. That’s why these tips should help ease that stress, so you can stop worrying and start enjoying the time you have with your family.

Designate an Area

Training can be difficult, and unless you have it done by a professional, there can always be snafus. However, one simple step you can take to minimize the stress caused by pets is to assign them their own areas. By choosing one room, one area of a room, or even just the yard, you give them a domain that’s solely theirs.

This lessens the chance of accidents occurring inside the home, shoes being eaten, and unwanted hair on the furniture.

Make Your Home Pet Safe

This one may go without saying for a lot of people, but a safer home also means a happier one. Make sure cleaning products are kept out of reach (which is also true if you have small children), keep lids on trash cans, and keep electrical cords organized and out of the way.

Keep Your Home Clean

This was partly covered in a previous section, but being diligent about cleaning up after your pets can go a long way. This includes accidents, stray hair, and anything that gets chewed.

You may feel like Sisyphus at first, pushing the boulder up the hill only to have it fall back down; but you’d be amazed at the positive results you can gain. Cleaner air, a more efficient HVAC system, and even the disappearance of minor allergies (which you may not be aware of), all from a little cleaning.

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