Wellness Strategies for Navigating the Holidays

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The holidays are all about Peace and Joy…until they’re not. If you find your anxiety levels rising as the holidays approach, check out these 25 Ways to Fight Holiday Stress from Health.com. Here, we add a few of our own ideas for coping with four common holiday-stress triggers:

Scenario 1: Gift-Shoppers’ Nightmare. You’re on your fifth loop of a way-overheated department store, searching for that perfect something to give a person you either don’t know very well or who doesn’t need another material possession in their life. Think outside the gift box! Is there an experience you can create? A service you might provide? Some personal talent you can share? Maybe there’s a charity or cause to which you can donate in their name.

Scenario 2: Dinner Disaster. You have a glossy-food-magazine vision of perfection for your holiday feast. Now you’re thirty minutes out from mealtime and things are spinning out of control in the kitchen. Ask. For. Help. Most people would rather contribute and feel useful than stand around sipping cocktails while you struggle. Graciously accepting help creates a wonderful opportunity to connect authentically with your guests and will be far more memorable than your picture-perfect meal.

Scenario 3: Dieters’ Paradox. You’re walking into a lavish party. You’ve read all the articles and tips about how to ‘stick to your diet’ and ‘beat the holiday weight gain.’ But, oh, so much temptation! In floods the guilt, so even if  you do blow it (as you very possibly will), you don’t enjoy it at all. Accept that, no matter how disciplined you are throughout the year, there’s a very good chance you’ll indulge at least once or twice during the holiday season. Give yourself permission to truly enjoy and find solace in NEDA’s Declaration of Independence from a Weight-Obsessed World.

Scenario 4: Cranky Relative Syndrome. You’re staring down 4–6 hours in which you’ll be captive audience to Uncle Frank’s inebriated political rants. Or maybe you’re just the one person in your family with a radically differing lifestyle or viewpoint, and, for one reason or another, you don’t have an option of simply refusing to attend. First, take a moment to appreciate that you have people with whom to celebrate the holidays (many don’t). Then, arrive well prepared with a list of noncontroversial subjects and talking points to which you can redirect conversation. Or bring and encourage plenty of distracting activities such as card, board, and parlor games; a nostalgic singalong; a look through old family photo albums and yearbooks; or maybe just a long walk in nature after the meal.

Before and after the holidays, set aside at least a few hours to indulge in real self-care. That might involve exercise, physical pampering, hiring a professional team to clean your house, or maybe just a perfectly solitary afternoon with a cup of tea and a great book. Happy holidays!

Invisible Things to Clean Before Houseguests Arrive

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Holiday season = houseguest season. Here’s a zone-by-zone checklist of all the invisible things you’ll want to clean so you can feel perfectly comfortable telling your guests to: “Make yourself at home!”

BATHROOMS

There’s one level of clean that’s good enough for your family. But, with guests coming, you need to go deeper than usual: attacking soap-scum buildup, neglected toilet tanks, partially clogged drains, and any signs of mold or mildew growth—all of which contribute to odors your guests are much more likely to notice than you are.

KITCHEN

Deep clean, defrost, and organize your fridge, making extra space for all the leftovers your entertaining will yield. Assuming at least one or two guests will offer to help with the washing up after meals, make sure your dishwasher is sparkling and that the insides of drawers and cupboards are spacious, well organized, and free of crumbs and other debris. Inspect ovens for burnt-on bits that could set off your smoke alarm at the worst possible times. And wow your overnight guests with great morning brews by deep cleaning and decalcifying your coffee maker.

BEDROOMS

Offering clean sheets to houseguests is a no-brainer, but, consider also cleaning heavy linens and even rugs, which may be harboring odors you don’t notice simply because you’re so used to them. Another nice touch is to declutter and clear closet and drawer space for guests to stow their possessions, thereby avoiding that unanticipated yard-sale effect that can wreck your perfect holiday décor.

LAUNDRY AREA

If you’ve got guests staying for more than a day or two, you’ll want to offer access to your laundry facilities. Sanitize your washer—newer machines have built-in cycles for this or just run an empty load with bleach followed by another water-only load to rinse thoroughly—and clean lint vents to ensure your dryer operates at max efficiency.

ALL OVER

Inviting people into your home creates many opportunities for germ transfer. Before and after entertaining guests, do everyone a favor and sanitize or disinfect all the things people touch frequently, including doorknobs, appliance handles, drawer and cabinet hardware, light switches and plates, TV clickers, and all kitchen and bathroom fixtures.

If you don’t think you’ll have time for all that cleaning, MaidPro’s got you covered! Our standard 49-Point Checklist tackles nearly everything above except for the decluttering, drain- and appliance deep-cleaning.

Take a Stand in Your Own Personal Work Style

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You’ve probably heard by now that ‘sitting is the new smoking’—at least according to scores of media stories referencing the catch phrase widely attributed to treadmill-desk inventor Dr. Jack Levine. Even worse news is that regular exercise might not be enough to offset the ill effects of copious sitting. If you work long hours at a desk job, you might greet this news with fear and trepidation—but there is actually quite a lot within your power to change. Standing doubles your metabolic rate, keeps core muscles strong, and is essential to both basic and dynamic anatomy and physiology. Here is a 7-step plan for transitioning to a lifestyle of less sitting at work:

  1. Go gradually. Acknowledge that your body needs time to re-learn how to stand comfortably for long periods. Start with a small daily goal and build from there.
  2. Check your posture. To avoid muscle and joint pain, cultivate a correct standing work posture, which is probably very different from how you’ve been sitting. If you struggle with this, seek the advice of an orthopedic specialist, chiropractor, physical trainer, or certified yoga instructor.
  3. Invest in equipment that enables you to stand and work comfortably. Purchase or request an adjustable/standing desk and a balancing type of chair. Less stable than regular chairs, balancing chairs force you to keep core muscles engaged, both strengthening your core and burning off calories and blood sugar to boot. If not in control of the office budget, ask for the right equipment anyway! The worst that can happen is your request will be denied.
  4. Look for any opportunities to stand and move more throughout your day. Walk around when taking calls. Drink lots of water and use the least conveniently located restroom. Park far away from your office or cubicle. Choose stairs over elevators. Get your computer reassigned to a printer at the far end of the building. Walk for at least half of every lunch hour and on breaks.
  5. Evaluate all the tasks you do each day; reserve sitting for only ones requiring the greatest concentration. You will be amazed at how many medium and low-concentration tasks you can complete more effectively and energetically while standing and moving.
  6. Preach! Think about it. If you can get enough coworkers onboard, entire meetings might be conducted either standing or walking, which is certain to make them shorter and more productive. Be prepared with examples and evidence to support what you’re doing and willing to evangelize a bit to bring others around to your way of thinking.
  7. Be patient with yourself. Keep reminding yourself that, even when you don’t feel 100% in control of your work situation, there are always opportunities to make choices and to take micro-actions that support your own good health and well-being!

Summer Home Prep: Indoor Comfort

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The unofficial start to summer is here! With it can come lots of hot, humid weather. To keep your body as cool as possible—and conserve energy while you’re at it—brush up on these tips for beating summer’s heat. Meanwhile, here’s a checklist of cleaning tasks to prepare your home for a most comfortable and pleasant summer:

Clean and/or replace home ventilation and air conditioning filters. If you’ve not done so at least once in the past year or two, it’s also a great time to bring in a pro service to inspect and clean all central HVAC equipment, ducts, vents, and air filters.

Inspect for and address any signs of mold and mildew growth, which summer’s humidity will be sure to feed.

Clean ceiling and portable fans. Note that most portable fans can be easily disassembled, enabling accumulated dust and grim to be washed from blades and grills. If you don’t have the proper tools—such as an extender pole – for cleaning ceiling fans safely, recruit at least one person to spot you on a ladder. Since you’ll have the ladder out anyway, remove and clean lighting fixture covers, recessed fixtures, and bulbs too to brighten up your space.

Wash windows and clear away dead bugs and other debris that might have collected inside window casings over the winter and spring.

Clean and inspect screens; patch holes. If you have an outdoor water source, window screens can be cleaned quickly and thoroughly with just a hose and sturdy rag to wipe away accumulated dirt and grime. Dry in the sun before installing.

Clean blinds, curtains, window shades, and valances. Keeping blinds and curtains closed is a great way to keep your home cool and save on energy costs if you air condition. Since you’ll be seeing much more of them soon, it’s a great time to clean all window treatments and consider lightening up on fabrics and colors.

Lighten the bedding. Think cotton in airy colors such as pure whites and pastels. While you’re at it, flip, rotate, and vacuum mattresses (which should be done at least twice a year) and dust thoroughly in and around beds to remove accumulated pollen and other spring detritus.

Deep clean your fridge and defrost the freezer to maximize space for lots of fresh, light foods; stock your pantry with essentials for making salads, grilled specialties, and other cooling summer fare.

Finally, if you expect to keep your windows mostly closed for A/C, consider freshening indoor air with a few new air-cleaning plants.

In our next post, we’ll look at summer prep for patios, balconies, and other outdoor living spaces, so stay tuned!

The MaidPro House Cleaning Difference Newark, DE

New Castle County’s premier home cleaners.

At MaidPro Newark, creating clean houses is our priority. We are located in Newark, and deliver personalized, precise services to Bear, Christiana, Claymont, Edgemoor, Elsmere, Greenville, Hockessin, Manor, Marshallton, New Castle, Newark, Newport, Pike Creek, Port Penn, Stanton, Talleyville, Wilmington and Yorklyn. Whether you want shiny floors in Claymont or sparkling bathrooms in Yorklyn, just call us for all your Wilmington area residential cleaning needs.

Professional maid service, with a personal touch.

We know and trust our MaidPro employees on a personal and professional level. Our cleaning PROs undergo thorough background checks prior to employment and are bonded and insured. They also receive extensive maid service training to instill the skills needed to clean to the highest standards—yours! And while we strive to help our employees work to their greatest ability, we also make sure to have fun. Because when you love what you do, it shows in your work.

Tips for Keeping Kids Occupied During Holiday Gatherings

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If you have ever hosted a large holiday gathering featuring kids as guests, you’ll know they tend to feed off each other’s energies and create chaos. Here are some ideas for helping the kids at your holiday gathering to channel their energies in positive—and occasionally quiet—directions:

Crafts. Have a few age-appropriate, easy table craft projects set up before kids arrive. The key is to make sure the crafts can be done independently or with help only from elder children in the group. Pick crafts with practical applications, such as holiday decorations or this TP-roll winter bird feeder.

Science experiments. It’s a fair bet that not every kid in your group will have an interest in doing crafts. Where crafts fail, science experiments often succeed! For inspiration, check out these recipes for play snow, dissolving candy cane experiment, making frozen bubbles, or this collection of 20+ winter science experiments for kids.

Hunts. Kids need to move, so plan at least a few activities that promote big positive motion. You might organize a candy cane or similar type of hunt. If entertaining during the day, you can send kids outside to collect pinecones, acorns, evergreen branches, and other seasonal items you might use to decorate your home for winter. Offer an incentive prize to the kid who collects the most, but have plenty of consolation prizes to avoid drama and meltdowns!

Group exercise. There’s also a very good chance the kids at your holiday party will consume more sugar than they are accustomed to doing. Soon after you serve dessert, suggest a group walk outside. Or, crank up a contemporary playlist for a 20-30 minute dance party to help the kids—and any willing adults—at your gathering to burn extra energy just as their glucose levels are spiking.

Talent show. Most kids these days participate in a host of extracurricular pursuits—music, dance, martial arts, singing, sports, and so forth—and love to show off their accomplishments. Provide a quite space far removed from the adult party (playroom, basement, etc.) and encourage the kids to collaborate on developing a talent show to put on for the adults. Let parents know in advance in case they need to bring instruments or other items, and provide props such as costumes, microphones, and music clips, and encourage the kids to spend sufficient time planning and rehearsing their show.

Recruit kids into service. Kids love to play in adult roles, such as waiters and waitresses. Use this to your advantage, recruiting them to make place cards and seating arrangements, escort people to their seats, take beverage orders, pass hors d’oeuvres plates, and to help set and clear your table.

Games. Most kids are quite capable of making their own fun in groups. When fights break out—as they are wont to do—organized games are a great way to quickly restore peace and harmony. Provide a distinctive holiday item that the kids can take turns hiding in creative places for others to find while taking ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ directions from people in the know. Or set up a game of indoor snowball toss.

The possibilities are endless. All you need is a little creativity, research, and planning to keep kid-driven chaos to a minimum at your next holiday gathering.

Fall Chores to Ensure a Bright, Healthy, and Safe Home for Winter

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There are certain big household chores that need to be done only once a year, and fall is the perfect time. Here is a quick checklist of things you can do to ensure a bright, safe, and healthy home now that temperatures are beginning to drop and winter lies just around the corner.

Wash your windows inside and out. Now that windows will be closed more often than open, you’ll want them to allow in maximum light and to keep views crystal clear. While you are at it, remove and wash all screens and thoroughly vacuum outer sills.

Replace batteries in all smoke detectors (even hardwired devices use batteries for backup). Also, test all carbon monoxide detectors and check original paperwork so you know exactly when your CO1 devices are due to reach end of life. Typically this occurs every 10 years or so and will be indicated by some type of signal, but better to be safe than sorry.

Disconnect and thoroughly clean your clothes dryer vent. Unplug and move the machine, so you can clean both behind and underneath as well. Consider removing the back panel to clear lint trapped inside the machine. Trapped lint is a big fire hazard and also reduces the drying efficiency of your machine.

Unscrew, clean, and disinfect all airflow vents, and replace HVAC filters as needed. With less fresh air circulating throughout your home, you’ll feel good knowing your vents are free of added dust, dander, and pathogens.

Remove and clean all permanent lighting fixtures so your lights can burn more brightly. For the same reason, consider taking the time – or hiring a professional – to give your walls a good scrubbing down. Clean walls reflect light better, which is definitely what you want as the days grow shorter and darker.

Clean and inspect all fireplaces, chimneys, and flues. This is one task for which you definitely want to hire a professional who is trained to look for cracks and other damage that can pose winter home safety hazards.

Stretches For Office Workers

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By Dan Mahoney, MaidPro Health & Wellness Coach

Google “the dangers of sitting all day” and you’ll get a whopping 3.36 million search results! Worry not, however. There is plenty you can do – without even breaking a sweat – to combat the hazards of sedentary office work. Here are seven stretches you can do to promote flexibility and to get your blood circulating:

Standing quad stretch. Stand tall, bring your heel up toward your buttocks, and grab the top of your foot. Hold for 30-40 seconds and switch sides. If balance is an issue, use a wall or desk for support.

Ankle circles. This is especially great for women who wear high heels. Make large circles with your ankles inboth directions.

Shoulder rolls. Shrug shoulders toward your ears as if you don’t know the answer to a question. Then roll your shoulders backward and down.

Hamstring stretch. Lift your toes off the ground and squeeze your legs together. Touch your toes 15 times, even if you need to bend your knees to get there. Then elevate your heels and squeeze your thighs together; repeat for another 15 reps. After 30 reps, test your range of motion. Even if you can’t touch your toes in the beginning, you’ll get there in no time if you do this exercise regularly.

Arm circles. Hold your arms out to the side. Start with small circles and gradually increase circumference. Reverse direction and repeat.

Neck stretch. Bring your ear to your shoulder, alternating for 10-15 repetitions on each side. Rest, then move your head in the opposite direction, bringing chin to chest and back of head toward spine.

Triceps stretch. Stand tall with a neutral spine. Raise one arm toward the sky, bend at the elbow, dropping your hand toward the space between your shoulder blades and hold. Repeat 2-3 times on each side. Move only as far as is comfortable and adjust distance from the wall to suit your shoulder’s natural range of motion. Repeat on the other side.

The key is to get out of your chair and move for at least a few minutes every half and hour or so. Set an alarm to remind yourself, and dress mindfully to increase your options for fitting more small bursts of exercise into each workday.

Six Habits of People with Perpetually Tidy Homes

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You know who we are talking about! Those people whose homes you can visit at virtually any time of day or night to find them perfectly tidy, with a distinct feeling of peace and calm flowing throughout. Here are a few things we have observed about the way these homes are typically organized and the habits of people who live there:

 

  1. Every item has a proper place – and everyone who lives in the home knows what it is. This last bit is super important, so when an item’s place changes suddenly due to major reorg effort, everyone gets informed!
  2. They constantly purge excess stuff. Not twice a year or with each new season, but every day, all the time they are thinking: Do I need this? Do I want it? They also have ready lists of places where they can donate unwanted items rather than stuffing them into storage.
  3. They treat storage spaces differently – as places to contain items they use often rather than to stash away items they don’t really want or need but aren’t quite ready to part with. With adequate storage space all around, tidying becomes a fast, easy exercise.
  4. They decorate for double duty, locating attractive bins, baskets, bureaus, and other furniture items that double as design elements and storage. They also strategically place containers where they can accumulate items that need to travel, up or down stairs, for example, for greater tidying efficiency.
  5. They strategically locate supplies and tools. For example, an upstairs bathroom or linen closet might have its own complete set of moist wipes, cleaning rags, trashcan liners, a broom, dustpan, handheld vacuum, duster, and so forth for quick, convenient cleanups.
  6. They “do now”. No walk from one room to another or up and down the stairs is made empty handed. As soon as an untidy situation arises, they simply dedicate the few seconds or minutes it will take to address. Scrap of paper on the floor? Pick it up (1 sec). Dirty dishes in the sink? Put them in the dishwasher (1 min). Dishwasher clean and full? Empty it (3-4 mins). Dryer buzzer just went off? Fold and return clean laundry to its proper place (6 mins). You get the picture.

Happy tidying! Need Help?