Family-Friendly New Home Features That Reduce Stress

White family smiling into the camera. The man holds the elated baby while his wife, who sits behind them, smiles at the baby.

Today's families are busy. Between work, school, extracurricular activities, family, friends, and community obligations even kids as young as elementary school are overscheduled and stressed out. Coming home at the end of a long day or a busy weekend might look like flopping on the sofa and zoning out to the latest Netflix programming. We get it, there's nothing like binge-watching your favorite shows, but does that really cultivate a mindful environment in the home? No, it just distracts you from that day's stressors.

A more effective solution is to create a mindful home environment. What does this look like? It varies from family to family, but a mindful environment is one where you walk in the door and just relax. Feel the tension leave your body and experience the feelings of peace and serenity as you realize, "Ahhh, I’m Home".

Here's a look at some simple, but effective, ways to bring serenity into your new home – even when you have kids:

1. Water

From small tabletop fountains in the foyer to a backyard fountain by the patio, the gentle sounds of water tinkling are calming any time of day.

Think of the last spa ad you saw – we bet there was water featured somehow. Kids love water. Younger kids may enjoy dipping toes and fingers in the fountain while older kids might like to relax nearby with a book (or their phones or tablets).

The nice thing about water features is that they can be as simple or as complex as you'd like. They provide soft background noise that calms us subconsciously and can focus the attention of younger kids to the point where they slip into an almost meditative state.

2. Fire

Fire features are one of those things parents have to careful with, but they are undeniably popular when it comes to creating a peaceful environment.

Fire evokes feelings of warmth and hearth. It brings people together in ways none of the other elements can. Families usually opt for fireplaces or fire pits as opposed to lots of candles in the house, and fortunately there are many more choices of fire features on the market today than ever.

Today, electric or gas fireplaces can be added to any home. Flames are spellbinding, providing an almost hypnotic retreat for kids and adults alike. Of course, there's always a good old-fashioned marshmallow roast to help the entire family de-stress, too!

3. Grounding Space

Empty space is usually at a premium for growing families, making a dedicated tranquility room out-of-reach for many. However, there are many ways to achieve a similar sense of grounding. Floor cushions are one way families can create a literal grounding space.

"Floor cushions are great and very popular right now. They can be stacked and used as a side table or for seating. It's very cozy and comfortable; a very casual seating stance. It gives you a place to sit and think and calm down. Kids love it," explained Dan Zelen, interior and exterior designer of D. Zelen.

If floor cushions aren't your thing, even something as simple as a feel-good focal point can help ground family members. The focal point can be placed somewhere so that it's the first thing you see when you walk in the home.

"Much of what draws people in is a matter of personal preference," explains John Egnatis, co-founder and CEO of Dallas-based Grenadier Homes. What relaxes Mom probably won't have the same effect on the kids, but that's okay. Kids can choose their own feel-good focal point and place it in their bedrooms. Artwork, flowers or plants, and souvenirs can all work as focal points and can be relaxing without taking up in-demand space.

Mindfulness isn't about spending millions of dollars to achieve the ideal tranquility home; it's about present in the moment – wherever and whenever those moments occur.

Mindfulness is feeling peace and fulfillment and is deeply rooted in our senses. Anything that has a calming effect on a person can contribute to a mindful home. Even something as simple as a scented candle or a calming wall color can promote feelings of relaxation and serenity – and who doesn't want that from their home?
Sarah Kinbar is a freelance writer and editor for leading print and online publications. Formerly editor in chief of Garden Design, she has also written and edited for Cottage Living, Modern magazine and Orlando Arts. You can find her on Google+.

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