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HEALTH FIles

Health and happiness:  The journey begins at home

No two homes are the same, but the best ones have two things in common: They are happy, and they are healthy.

Margaret Nelson, executive director of The River Center in Peterborough, and Kelly Tourgee, a home visitor for The River
Center, both have plenty of experience with different types of families and homes through their work with the family and
community resource center. Though Nelson and Tourgee both listed various ways to improve one’s home —some of which are below — it all comes down to one thing, according to Tourgee, who says, “We’re all in this together.”

1 Make your home welcoming

“You want your home to be inviting,” says Tourgee. “It should be loved and lived in, and it should express everyone who lives there.”

Nelson pointed out, “A house doesn’t need to be grandiose for you to want to come back to it.” Simple things like hanging children’s artwork or report cards on the refrigerator, or putting up photographs of the family around the house, can create a warm and welcoming environment for family members and visitors alike.

2 Organization and cleanliness

In addition to general healthy practices like good hygiene and avoiding secondhand smoke in the house, eliminating clutter and stress are key to a good living space. Organizing one’s home by finding a place for everything and everyone, as well as taking the time to do the little things, like winterizing one’s doors and windows for greater warmth and cost-savings on heat, are also effective ways for making a home more comfortable.

3 Include everyone in the family

“Everyone should have a sense of pride in their home,” says Tourgee. With her own family, Tourgee has a “Help Our Home” chore system that allows everyone to be involved. “People should be teaching their kids responsibility and how to care for a home,” she says.

Tourgee also recommends routine in-the-home activities with children, like baking, gardening and family meals, to help create an inclusive and stable atmosphere.

— By Elodie Reed

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