Thursday, February 10, 2011

Children, Environment, and Allergies

One Toronto Star Article in particular caught my attention today. This one indicates that a British Study found higher rates of peanut allergies in boys among more affluent families.

The article states that, "“Fussy parents” – parents who shield their children from all potential allergens in a hyper-clean environment from before birth – could be one explanation for the higher rate in more affluent homes".

Not sure how I feel about this hypothesis. Our family would definitely be considered to be among the middle class and despite recommendations to hold off on offering peanuts until the age of 3, we still introduced peanuts to our son earlier. However, we were careful to offer small amounts initially and monitor to determine whether or not there were any adverse effects. I am sometimes sad that the old "staple" peanut butter sandwich or peanut butter and crackers are no longer allowed in schools. That being said, I have become extremely sensitive to many foods since cutting them out of my diet initially for an elimination/reintroduction phase. Foods that previously did not bother me, now in some cases invoke a mild anaphylactic reaction which is somewhat remediated by anti-histamines. Maybe there is something to the hypothesis of the "fussy parent".

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Toys, Toys, Toys

One of the bloggers I read regularly recently featured a series of posts on "How We Do It" - I thought it was a great idea since everyone does things differently in their homes, it is nice to see different ways of running house without having someone tell you this is how it ought to be done. I decided to talk about toys since a number of visitors always comment on our house being rather "unconsumed" by kid paraphernalia. Maybe you're one of those people who cannot walk into a room in their house without seeing a number of toys either organized or strewn across the floor. At our house this is it....

Might I first say that our house is less than 1200 sq. feet which is "small" by today's starter home standards. We also don't have many closets or dedicated storage space and well since the rooms are small, sometimes it is difficult to fit in an extra piece of furniture to house toys.

Reasons why this system works for us:
  • Aforementioned small house/lack of storage situation

  • I don't like to dust - yet have bad allergies (dilemma) - and cleaning toys is pretty much last on my list of priorities - less toys means less toys to harbour bacteria and germs and ultimately less toys to clean

  • Everything has its place and everything is easily seen. Before we had a toy bucket and only the items at the top were played with

  • Toys don't end up in many rooms usually just the living room, adjoining hallway and kitchen and are always close to their "homes" when it comes time to clean up

  • Less toys means less mess to clean up and since we always enforce a tidy prior to afternoon nap and bedtime, having fewer toys means a more manageable clean up for a 2 1/2 year old with a little bit of help from mom or dad if he's lucky

  • The toys that are actually played with are limited to a wooden Thomas the Train Set (limited to as much track will fit in the small pink bucket), Mega Blocks (we had to buy an additional smaller bag - a $2 find at Value Village), about 1/2 bucket of Hot Wheels Cars (to drive on the train track - naturally), and occasionally the wooden puzzles and wooden tool set when mom and dad are around
I know many families have a toy room - we just don't have the additional space to have a dedicated toy room and since B likes to have us nearby while he plays, the living room is the natural play room of choice. Also..see ablove comment on not liking to clean.
What about they boy's bedroom? No toys there. There is a basket at the end of the bed which contains books for our nightly story - some of these books end up on the shelf in the living room from time to time.

I might have lied just a bit.. we do have a second small shelving unit for toys in the basement. When things aren't getting played with we rotate them up.

Other notes... the toy selection is going to go down even further 6 months from now as some space will need to be allocated for baby #2 as well! Also, we have bought very few toys for B. Most have been given to us second hand from families and friends. Since B has never seemed bored with what he has, we've never felt the need to go out and buy more toys. Also, many of our friends have rooms full of toys and their children only play with a few and make a mess with the rest.

How do others manage toys??