Avoid Sneezy, Scratchy Holidays with the Family

Holiday Preparation for Allergic Family
With Halloween now in the books, the holiday season is nearly upon us, and for the next couple months, many of us are likely to have a veritable parade of family through our homes. So while family, and some of us ourselves, visit for the holidays, there can be a variety of needs to accommodate. From Aunt Rita's dog allergy to cousin Jimmy's peanut allergy, visiting family members' needs can be a chore to negotiate. Here is how we handle the situation in our home during this fun-filled time of the year.
In addition to these tips, we have put together some fun allergy-related games for kids!
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Rita is Coming

My Aunt Rita is flying in for five days, and no visit by her would be complete without her story about her mailman or "the most amazing matzo ball soup in Boca". One thing that always comes with Aunt Rita though, is her pet allergies, and that is not lost on Pickles, our four-year-old Schnauzer.

Trying to reduce dog dander can be difficult for pet owners, but with many family members in and out every few months we had made a decision a long time ago that made this task much easier. First, Pickles is only free to roam throughout the first floor of the house. While this does mean he can make his way into the kitchen (he loves to keep a watchful on whatever is cooking), it also means he rarely makes his way into any of the bedrooms on the second floor. This is key for anyone who loves pets but has to negotiate pet allergies. By limiting where the pet can roam, you can dramatically reduce the allergens in certain parts of the house.

Encase Your Bedding with Allergy Armor We also made a decision to encase our mattress and pillows. This has helped in two very big ways. First, the covers block allergens. So Pickles' dander and pollen stay out of the mattress and pillows. On top of this, they protect the mattress from spills and dust. So even if the bedroom sits empty for a couple months, we can easily wash the bedding and covers to bring things back as good as new!

As for Pickles, he gets a bath right before Rita arrives. An anti-allergy shampoo removes the dander and keeps him smelling fresh for several days. While one of us bathes Pickles, the other vacuums and dusts throughout the house. Here, using a sealed HEPA vacuum cleaner we can remove any dander that settles on the tables, chairs, floors or just about anywhere in our home.

With those things in place, the last thing we try to have is plenty of coffee. When Aunt Rita gets on a roll with one of her stories, we could be there a while!

And Then There's My Cousin Jimmy

In our family, our cousin Jimmy is the only other person we really need to prepare for. Unlike Rita, Jimmy has a peanut allergy and mild eczema. While the same approach we take with preparing the house for Rita won' t hurt in this case, it does leave a few other things to be adjusted.

Organic Cotton BeddingWe keep a few articles of organic bedding in the closet for Jimmy, so even if he decides to bunk on the couch, he can throw an organic cotton sheet down and curl up with the blanket. The only reason we do this is because in the past he seems to have enjoyed his stay more when we began using organic bedding that lacks chemicals, dyes, or finishers.

No matter where he sleeps, we put a small humidifier near him. Our house gets fairly dry during the winter months and that lack of moisture in the air can cause eczema to flare up.

Lastly, in terms of his allergies, we take particular care in the kitchen. This means substituting some ingredients or even dishes and properly rinsing and cleaning all. While most of our holiday dishes do not have peanuts in them, you might be surprised how many prepackage and processed foods do have trace amounts of peanuts. For potlucks, it's actually easy to get an idea of ingredients of someone's covered dish - just ask for the recipe!

Though none of the steps we take are a cure, and none mean everything will go smoothly (holidays, families... always some friction), they do help to make everyone comfortable and not as worrisome as they might normally be. Doing what you can is also a great way to let family know that you care, and that peace of mind can go a long ways in making for a happier holiday.

A Few Good Tips - Cleaning Up for Holiday Allergy Sufferers

Though none of the steps we take are a cure, and none mean everything will go smoothly (holidays, families... always some friction), they do help to make everyone comfortable and not as worrisome as they might normally be. Doing what you can is also a great way to let family know that you care, and that peace of mind can go a long ways in making for a happier holiday.

As a few additional tips:
  • Dump the Furniture Polish - A microfiber or electrostatic dust cloth works great in collecting dust and dirt and doesn't leave behind chemicals residue or fragrance.

  • Shoes Off - Not only does it help keep kids from tracking dirt and mud through the house, but it prevents allergens that are on everyone's shoes from being spread all through the house.

  • Vacuum Regularly - As Martha Stewart says, "It's a good thing" and in more ways than one. Not only does regular vacuuming keep pet hair, dust, dirt and debris out of your carpet, but during winter months, dust that normally settles on floor can easily become airborne in drier-than-normal indoor conditions.

  • Don't Forget the Detergent - If you do have family or friends staying who have allergies, it can help to use a high quality anti-allergy detergent. Most denature allergens regardless of whether you wash in hot or cold water, and many are great for people with eczema or those who are sensitive to the heavy fragrances used in modern detergents.Ladybug Steam Cleaners

  • Some Like it Steamy - A steam cleaner can be extremely handy when cleaning and removing allergens. The heat and steam both sanitizes, which can kill even Boca-tough germs, and it safely destroys allergens on any surface.

There are a variety of other ways to help make your home accommodating and welcoming to allergic guests, and while it may sometimes seem like a chore, seeing loved ones during the holiday season is something we can all enjoy.

Author: K. Gilmore

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