Camping with Kids

Camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and make lasting family memories. Whether you’re pitching a tent or cruising the countryside in an RV, here are a few things to keep in mind to stay safe and be well on your trip. camping 300x225 Camping with Kids

  1. Bring plenty of water. Having enough water for drinking and cooking is crucial. Since it’s not always possible to verify a safe, clean source of water at your campsite, bringing water with you rules out any problems.
  2. Pack sunscreen, DEET-free bug repellant (if you must use DEET to protect against ticks make sure you only apply to clothing and not directly to skin), first aid supplies and any important medications. Try a natural, all-in-one product that soothes burns, stings, and wounds. Before you leave, get an unscented soap and shampoo. Use them before leaving and bring them with on extended trips. Often, bugs are attracted to the fragrances in our personal care products.
  3. Cover basic fire safety guidelines for the wilderness. Learn to start a fire for warmth and cooking and how to keep it under control.
  4. Implement a buddy system so that no one goes anywhere alone. Give kids a whistle to wear around their neck and teach them to blow it if they get lost.
  5. Inform kids about common camping dangers and how to deal with them.
  6. Avoid poison ivy and check for ticks often, especially after hikes or being in wooded areas.

Sending your kids off to summer camp? I’ve got some tips for you, too!

May Every Step You Take Be Healthy!

Best Regards,
Debbie Greenspan's signature
Debbie Estis Greenspan
Founder/CEO/Mom
Dr. Doormat, Inc.

Summer Safety at the Swimming Pool

Nothing says “Summer Fun” like a trip to the local swimming pool, but your fun can quickly be spoiled by an injury or worse if you don’t follow some basic safety guidelines. Keep these in mind as you head off to the pool!

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Keep your trip to the pool safe and fun with these pool safety guidelines.

Supervision

Children should always be supervised when swimming in the pool. Small children should be within an arm’s reach of an adult at all times. And of course, the supervising adult should be able to swim well!

Off Limits at The Pool

Some things should not be poolside for safety reasons, including:

  • Electrical appliances – radios and other appliances can cause electric shock at the pool
  • Tricycles, bikes, and walkers – poolside is not the place to play with these particular items
  • Use only plasticware for drinking or eating to prevent broken glass near a pool.
  • Running – it’s all too easy to slip and fall

Swimming Lessons

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swimming lessons for children aged 4 years and older. Learning to swim well is the most empowering thing families can do to stay safe at the pool! Personally I started my kids at age 2 because we were surrounded by water in the summer and it proved to be a good idea.

Pool Hygiene

Shower before and after using the swimming pool. Not only is this the most hygienic practice, it helps protect hair and skin from chlorine. Pull long hair back away from the face and tie it back. Use of swimming goggles helps to protect the eyes from strong chemicals.

Swim diapers should be changed immediately upon soiling. While swim diapers do help contain waste, they are not leak proof.

Prevent swimmer’s ear by keeping your ears as dry as possible. Dry them with a towel after diving, and wear a swimming cap if your ears are especially sensitive. For kids that have a propensity to ear infections I don’t recommend diving, jumping in, cannon balls or handstands. These activities can cause the water to shoot up inside the ear and get stuck. Try the silicone putty earplugs and a variety of ear drying aids are available at your local pharmacy.

Safe Diving

Find out how deep the water is first. Never dive in the shallow side of a pool and only those who can swim well should attempt diving. Learning to dive from a professional swimming instructor is the safest way to learn.

May Every Step You Take Be Healthy!

Best Regards,
Debbie Greenspan's signature
Debbie Estis Greenspan
Founder/CEO/Mom
Dr. Doormat, Inc.

Bicycle Safety Tips

Riding a bicycle is a great way to stay fit, encourage independence in kids, and have fun! There are some bicycle safety concerns to be aware of, though. According to the CDC, bicyclists face a higher risk of injury than motor vehicle occupants do. Bicycles are even legally considered vehicles in many states.

Avoid injury by observing these basic bicycle safety tips.

bikesafety 300x175 Bicycle Safety Tips

Follow these bicycle safety tips to avoid injury!

Wear a Helmet

Protect your brain from injury by wearing a properly fitted helmet. Check kids’ helmets for proper fit.

Maintain Your Bicycle

Is your bicycle well-maintained? Check the following regularly:

  • Proper fit.
  • Tire air pressure.
  • Brakes.

Be Seen (and Heard)

The most common type of collision between cyclists and motor vehicles is a “right cross,” which is when I car is pulling out of a parked position on the cyclists’ right. This and other collisions usually occur because the driver of the motor vehicle doesn’t see the bicyclist approaching. Be seen and heard more easily by:

  • Wearing bright and/or reflective clothing.
  • Using a headlamp at night.
  • Waving when approaching a car ready to pull out.
  • Shouting, ringing a bell, or honking a horn when approaching cars.

Of course, always ride defensively and slow to a possible stop if you don’t make eye contact with a driver pulling out.

Ride Smart

Don’t forget the rules of the road. Learn your community’s local laws on bicycling on the road amidst motor traffic.

May Every Step You Take Be Healthy!

Best Regards,
Debbie Greenspan's signature
Debbie Estis Greenspan
Founder/CEO/Mom
Dr. Doormat, Inc.

Keep Your Family Safe at Summer Events!

Many of us are visiting theme parks, fairs, and other events with our families in the next few months. These trips are so much fun and a great way to make family memories. Keep your experience positive by observing these safety precautions.

Preventing and Planning for Separation

Losing track of a child in a crowded, unfamilar area is a nightmare for any parent. You can reduce the odds of this happening by talking with older children about why it’s important to stay together. Larger families and groups might even find a “buddy system” useful.

eventsafety 300x200 Keep Your Family Safe at Summer Events!

Keep your family safe with these event safety tips!

Smaller children can be a a bigger concern. Baby carriers can be used to carry children up to 35 pounds. Having little ones in a stroller can help as well, but they are more difficult to navigate through crowds. And if there was ever a time and place for a child safety harness, it’s at the theme park with a toddler!

No matter how well you plan, crowds make it easier to get separated. There are a number of ways to plan ahead and make the best of a bad situation if it does happen:

  • Teach kids your cell phone number as soon as they are able to learn!
  • Teach kids how to find a phone in a public situation or locate a trustworthy adult such as an employee or police officer, depending on their age.
  • You can find or make bracelets with your phone number, or write it on their clothing or skin with a marker. Also write on paper and pin inside their pocket.
  • There are GPS clips available that you can attach to a necklace or pin to clothing, which can then be located with a cell phone app.

Stay Hydrated

Bring your own water to events, if you can. Staying hydrated when spending extended time outside is crucial, and you’ll appreciate not paying an arm and a leg for bottled water!

Wear Sun Protection

Sun screen is a must at any outdoor event! Slather it on before you head out and bring a bottle with you – it does wear off over time, especially if you end up getting wet from any theme park rides.

Protect Your Belongings

The sad truth is that crowded events often attract thieves – keep your personal belongings safe by keeping your wallet in a front pocket and carrying only the amount of cash you need to have on hand. Don’t hang purses on the back of a chair or cell phones left on the table, too easy for thieves to grab and run.

May Every Step You Take Be Healthy!

Best Regards,
Debbie Greenspan's signature
Debbie Estis Greenspan
Founder/CEO/Mom
Dr. Doormat, Inc.

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

Our bodies need Vitamin D for a number of important functions, but studies show that most of us are deficient!

Vitamin D is most famous for its contribution to joint and bone health by helping the body absorb calcium. It has been shown that people who take in enough vitamin D are less likely to suffer from osteoporosis and joint pain. This vitamin can also slow the affects of arthritis and lessen back pain in many individuals. New research suggests that vitamin D can even prevent certain types of cancer.

sunlight 150x150 Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

Smart sun exposure helps our bodies make vitamin D.

Vitamin D is one of the only vitamins produced naturally by the body. However, in order for the body to produce vitamin D, it has to be exposed to an adequate amount of sunlight. Generally, an hour per week is more than enough, but surprisingly, many people are still not exposed to enough sun to produce beneficial amounts of vitamin D. Also, studies have shown that as we age, we tend to produce less vitamin D even with adequate sun exposure. These are the primary reasons why many adults have to monitor their diets to make sure they are taking in enough vitamin D.

Signs of deficiency include depression, achy bones, and gastrointestinal issues. If you think that you may be vitamin D deficient, diet changes and supplements can be helpful.

Milk is often fortified with vitamin D, and you can also find good amounts of vitamin D in certain kinds of fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Cod liver oil is an herbal supplement that is rich in vitamin D. Vitamin D supplements are also widely available.

While it is important to have enough vitamin D in your diet, it is possible to take in too much. This often happens when a person receives a good amount of sun exposure and consumes many foods that contain moderate amounts of vitamin D, but also continues to take a vitamin D supplement. For this reason, it is important to discuss with your doctor whether or not you require a vitamin D supplement as part of your diet.

May Every Step You Take Be Healthy!

Best Regards,
Debbie Greenspan's signature
Debbie Estis Greenspan
Founder/CEO/Mom
Dr. Doormat, Inc.

Get Better Sleep – May is Better Sleep Month

In our efforts to live a healthy lifestyle, most of us know the importance of choosing healthy foods to eat and getting enough exercise. One area of health that many tend to ignore, on the other hand, is good sleep habits. 

May is “Better Sleep Month,” according to the Better Sleep Council – the perfect time to take a look at your sleep life and make sure you are getting the rest your body needs.

The Importance of Sleep

Lack of sleep can lead to a number of serious concerns in all areas of life, including your health and relationships. According to BetterSleep.org, married couples who don’t get enough sleep, on average, have twice as many disagreements each week. That explains it.

Getting a Good Night’s Rest

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A cool, quiet room is the best environment for a good night’s rest.

There are a few habits that can significantly improve your quality of rest.

  • Establish a routine. Going through the same motions each night as you head to bed trains your body to relax. Going to sleep and waking up around the same time each day is also helpful.

  • Are you getting enough? Adults need an average of 7-9 hours per night; children need more. Each person is different – the goal is to wake up feeling refreshed without an alarm.

  • Pay off ‘sleep debt.’ Ideally, we’ll all get enough sleep each and every night. At the very least, do try to squeeze in extra hours on the weekends if you need to.

  • Exercise daily. Getting physical activity in during the day is correlated with deeper, more restful sleep.

  • Lower the lights. Follow nature’s cue and don’t expose yourself to too much artificial lighting, including laptops and cell phones at night. Light stimulates the brain. I try and do this for my children before bed so they can get into the zone gradually.

  • Improve indoor air quality. Poor indoor air due to cigarette smoke, dust and other pollutants is linked to poor sleep. Open your windows when weather permits and clean ducts regularly. You can even use Dr. Doormat by your bedroom door to prevent allergens from coming in. Clean off that nightstand! Piles of magazines and papers attract dust and dust mites and will effect your breathing. HelpGuide.org offers a comprehensive resource for good sleep habits.
  • Some tricks to block out annoying or distracting sounds can include ear plugs and sound machines creating white noise.

Sleep Disorders

Some sleep issues are best solved with the help of a healthcare professional. Signs you should seek help for a sleep disorder are:

  • chronic daytime fatigue

  • loud snoring with frequent pauses

  • morning headaches

  • tingling sensations in your arms and legs at night

  • falling asleep at inappropriate times during the day.

Getting a good night’s rest is one of the most important things you can do to improve your well-being. Encourage your family members to make sleep a priority as well!

May Every Step You Take Be Healthy!

Best Regards,
Debbie Greenspan's signature
Debbie Estis Greenspan
Founder/CEO/Mom
Dr. Doormat, Inc.

Understanding Seasonal Allergies

All of the blooming trees, flowers and other plants that make Spring such a beautiful time of year actually come with a very unwanted side effect for a number of people.

Seasonal allergies affect approximately 40 million Americans in severity ranging from mildly annoying to severely debilitating. According to John Sheffield, a Physician Assistant Studies instructor at South University in Savannah, GA, “Spring tends to be unique as, in most places, it is when a wide variety of plants begin to pollinate. It is these pollens that become the allergens.” Dust and mold can also contribute to seasonal allergies.

Fortunately, there are a few ways to manage allergies, sometimes even without medication.

Herbal remedies can be effective. Butterbur (Petasites hybridus), for example, has been shown to be just as effective as popular antihistamines in treating the symptoms of hay fever. Also topping the list of herbs for allergies, according to WebMD, are nettles and goldenseal.

While the pollen is flying, wear a hat and wash your hair everyday to rinse it out.

Saline nasal sprays are another effective natural option for treating the symptoms of seasonal allergies. Mary Hardy, MD, director of integrative medicine at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles explains, “”The saline works to wash out pollen and reduce or thin mucous.”

Those with allergies can also wear a paper dust filter in high pollen areas to decrease their exposure. file000192996392 300x292 Understanding Seasonal Allergies

Making your home a haven from allergens starts at the door. Don’t forget to wipe your feet on Dr. Doormat to destroy microbes on contact and trap allergens.

As frustrating as seasonal allergies can be, learning to manage them is key to feeling your best. Keep a record of when your allergies are worst and the plants that trigger symptoms to come up with a plan that works for you.

May Every Step You Take Be Healthy!

Best Regards,
Debbie Greenspan's signature
Debbie Estis Greenspan
Founder/CEO/Mom
Dr. Doormat, Inc.

Keeping Pests and Rodents at Bay

The weather’s warming up (finally!) and with the sunshine comes unwanted pests like insects and rodents. As these creatures venture out of their hibernation nests and start exploring, they’ll sometimes make their way into your home. What’s a healthy mom to do?

Well, you don’t want them bringing germs into your home, but using poisons to keep them away can harmful to children and small pets. Fortunately, there are safer and more natural ways to keep your house free of pests.

file0001062282119 300x200 Keeping Pests and Rodents at Bay

There are ways to keep pests away without dangerous poisons.

1. Keep it clean. Bugs and rodents usually make their way inside for two reasons: to stay dry and to find food. Keeping your home clean, particularly in the kitchen, removes one of those incentives.

2. Seal holes. If mice and insects are finding their way in, find out where and seal those holes up tight. Common places include areas around doors and windows, especially in basements and garages that tend to be more neglected.

3. Deter with peppermint. Mice and many unwanted insects dislike the smell of peppermint. Spray a solution of peppermint extract or essential oil and water around windows, doors, the foundation of your home, and any problem areas. Planting peppermint in your yard can also help!

4. Use sound. You can buy devices that emit a high frequency sound that keeps away bugs and rodents!

Mice and bugs aren’t just annoying – they can carry harmful germs and illnesses into your home! Keep them away with these natural methods.

 

May Every Step You Take Be Healthy!

Best Regards,
Debbie Greenspan's signature
Debbie Estis Greenspan
Founder/CEO/Mom
Dr. Doormat, Inc.

Spring Cleaning Tips for Busy Moms

Spring is technically here – even though it doesn’t seem like it yet for everyone! Purging the winter dust and clutter makes home feel so much more energizing and inviting. That’s why spring cleaning is such a popular notion – the mess and dirt can really build up after a long winter cooped up inside!

busyspring 300x224 Spring Cleaning Tips for Busy Moms

You don’t have to tackle your whole house to reap the benefits of spring cleaning!

But what about those of us who simply don’t have time to scrub our house from top to bottom this Spring? Fortunately, you can break the spring cleaning process down into manageable chunks to get it done – even if you have a busy lifestyle.

  • One room at a time. Don’t try to get your whole home done at once – just take it one room at a time. Start with your most lived-in rooms; you’ll appreciate the results so much more. The kitchen, for example, is a great place to start. 
  • Follow the same process for each room. You’ll get into a “groove” and work much more efficiently if you follow the same routine each time. For example: purge clutter (to trash and to donate), organize what’s left, and clean from top to bottom.
  • Update your decor. Add fresh flowers and other “Spring” touches to freshen up the way your home looks and feels.
  • Clean the window treatments. If you can’t get to all the “extra” jobs in a room, at least do this! It will really make a difference when you start opening up the windows as it warms up.
  • Tackle fix-it projects. As you have time, tackle any little projects you’ve been putting off all winter. Any broken door latches, handles, etc. getting fixed will be appreciated far more than a squeaky-clean floor under the fridge. icon wink Spring Cleaning Tips for Busy Moms

If you’re too busy to tackle the whole house this Spring, don’t worry. Just focus on the tasks that you and your family will notice and appreciate the most.

May Every Step You Take Be Healthy!

Best Regards,
Debbie Greenspan's signature
Debbie Estis Greenspan
Founder/CEO/Mom
Dr. Doormat, Inc.

Beware of The Bait & Switch On-Line!

In keeping with my theme of how to protect the ones we love, I wanted to share a recent experience. I typically write about home environmental issues but this is about protecting yourself financially when planning a trip.

Don’t Be Mislead By On Line Reservation Sites 

imgres Beware of The Bait & Switch On Line!

The hotel reservation agent is trained to assist you.

Ever try to book a hotel reservation on line?  Years ago when you wanted to make a reservation, you called the hotel directly, the 800# for the hotel company or your travel agent. Today it’s far more confusing with many listings of hotels on the Internet and many services claiming to offer the best deal to book your room. Last May I searched the Internet for a Marriott Courtyard near Westchester, PA. I was attending a training class and needed one overnight stay. I went on-line for the hotel phone # and called directly since I had several questions. When I searched for the hotel many hotels popped up in Philly and Exton, PA, and many listings, making this simple task very confusing. I tried to carefully look for the Marriott name in the URL, which is the search name or store sign that would lead me to the correct place. It was late, 6pm already and a person answered, quickly put me on hold, and then my call was rolled over to a reservation center. I thought perhaps the hotel was too busy to take my call and automatically connected me to the Marriott reservation center.  The agent answered the phone “Reservations, can I help you?” I told her I wanted to book the Marriott Courtyard in Westchester, PA and asked if this was Marriott. She replied, “I can book your Marriott room for you.” Then I was told she had a Marriott in Exton, PA and could go ahead and book it. I told her I saw a Fairfield Inn by Marriott listed in Exton but I only wanted a Courtyard by Marriott.

I asked a few questions regarding the distance to my meeting etc. and then told her I may wait and book it after dinner. It was late, I was debating to leave very early in the morning or drive the 2 ½ hours that night. I still wanted to have dinner with my kids and then I would decide if I still had the strength, I was exhausted. The agent became aggressive and explained there must be something going on in the area because there were only 3 rooms left. I should really book the room now.  It all went down hill from there.

  1. images Beware of The Bait & Switch On Line!

    Hotels.com is eager to take your money and has little regard for how and where you sleep.

    The reservation agent was not Marriott Worldwide reservations but Hotels.com. The bait and switch.

  2. The agent was persuasive and pushed me into making the reservation making me feel I may not get a room and I should book it now. There were in fact many rooms available that night.
  3. Although the room was being booked after 6pm and I called 1 ½ hours later to cancel, it was considered non-refundable since any reservation cancelled after 6pm would be charged.
  4. When the email confirmation showed up on my cell phone it was a Fairfield Inn by Marriott not a Marriott Courtyard.

I did go ahead and have dinner with my kids and realized as I was driving up the highway, I was too tired. I pulled over and called the Fairfield Inn of Exton, PA direct. The hotel explained that it was booked by a 3rd party reservation company and they couldn’t do anything about it. They are charged by Hotel.com and can’t refund the money. When I contacted Hotel.com they directed me to an email address where I could send my complaint. Hotels.com responded by telling me it was cancelled after 6pm and I would have to contact the hotel to have my money refunded.  Each of them pointed a finger at the other.

After almost an entire year, I forwarded this NY Times article to both Hotel.com and the hotel management company where my room was booked. The hotel manager called to apologize giving me a refund on my credit card for the one night stay plus tax and offered me 20,000 points on my Marriott rewards program.  Hotels.com did nothing. I am now aware that the third-party booking sites often give consumers confusing and inadequate

information about rates and restrictions. It may not be fraud, but it’s absolutely consumer deception. In the future when you book reservations be sure you know who you are talking to and it’s always safer to book with the hotel company directly.

May Every Step You Take Be Healthy!

Best Regards,
Debbie Greenspan's signature
Debbie Estis Greenspan
Founder/CEO/Mom
Dr. Doormat, Inc.