American homeowners fully appreciate what an investment their house can be. Statistics say that on average, a homeowner will spend 1-4% of their home’s value on repairs and maintenance, and this percentage may climb as the house ages. A $200,000 home, for example, may have at least $2,000 worth of repairs done to it per year, if not more. But all the same, nearly all American workers agree that taking vacations now and then is important for their happiness and mental health, and a vacation can be taken anywhere in the U.S. or abroad. While a homeowner is soaking up the Hawaii sun or touring Paris, though, their household will need some care while they are away. This is especially important if that vacation is a lengthy one, such as a two-week trip. What can be done to keep the household running smoothly during that time?

Preventing Illness

Various households will look different, but suppose the household includes children who will be supervised by a relative, babysitters, or some other responsible party. Will the kids get sick? What to do if they indeed get sick? This may be especially important during the flu and cold season, and parents should note that children aged five and under, and seniors aged 65 and up, are at particular risk of catching the flu.

Fortunately, steps can be taken, such as wiping down all doorknobs and countertops and related surfaces right before leaving on that trip. All adults in charge of the household during the vacation must be told to regularly wipe those same surfaces at least once per day, if not twice. These surfaces may also include faucet handles and computer keyboards and mice, and even cell phone cases (which are often germy). The kids can also have their flu shots done at a local flu shot drive right before the trip. The fridge and freezer should be cleaned out too, and all old food can be disposed of and the fridge can be freshly stocked for anyone who will be around. If the household is empty, the owner should cook and eat anything that might go bad during the trip, and go shopping for new perishables when they get back. It would be a shame to come back home to moldy cheese or mushy vegetables.

Finally, it may help to hire a maid service to visit the house halfway through the vacation and have those workers vacuum and shampoo the carpets while also wiping down all surfaces, including windows. This is a particularly appealing option for large houses.

Pet Sitting Done Right

Many households have pets, most often dogs and cats, but some also are home to birds, reptiles, fish, and small mammals such as rabbits or hamsters. Some pets need a lot of care to stay healthy and happy, and some may get agitated (mainly dogs) if their owner is away for so long. If no one else in the household can care for them, or if the homeowner lives alone, then it is time to look for a pet sitter. Dog sitting and cat sitting is quite common, though pet sitters can also feed fish and birds.After all, 46.3 million households include at least one dog, and even more have a cat. This means plenty of demand for pet sitting

If a reliable relative or friend cannot handle the pet sitting job, then a homeowner may look for professionals, many of whom work for an insured pet sitting company (others are independent contractors). Well before the trip, the homeowner is urged to look up pet sitting companies like these online, and compile a shortlist of candidates. Any number of pet sitters can be consulted, and the homeowner can pick and choose among them. A pet sitting consultation is best done in person, so the pet owner and sitter can each get a fair impression of each other, and the pet sitter can meet the pet itself. This is a fine way to determine if the sitter and pet will get along.

If all goes well, a pet sitter will only have to feed the pet and let dogs outside, among other simple duties. But the homeowner may have more peace of mind knowing that the pet sitter can give first aid to a pet, such as CPR and aiding a choking pet. Basic first aid can easily save a pet’s life, and it is believed that preventable accidents are the leading cause of death among pets today. Should a dog or cat start choking on something, the sitter must be able to perform the Heimlich maneuver and clear its airway. And if the pet suffers a serious injury, the pet sitter must be ready to give the animal temporary first aid and then take it to a nearby animal hospital right away.

Gardens and Landscaping

Many Americans put a lot of effort into their front and back yards, and they want their greenery to be in good shape while they are away. Landscaping is an excellent investment, but it also requires some regular care. A back yard can feature anything from a swimming pool to a wooden fence, an outdoor fireplace, a flower patch, a home garden, or shrubs, among other things. If a homeowner is taking a lengthy trip, they might want someone to tend to their plants and other care. Leaving a home garden alone for two days is one thing; if the trip lasts for two weeks, those plants need human hands available.

Right before leaving, the homeowner can remove dead and decaying leaves from their garden, and they can also add mulch such as grass clippings, dry leaves, and thin bark bits (among other plant debris) to help the soil lock in its moisture. Speaking generally, mulch and bark dust can act as a protective layer for soil and prevent it from drying too fast, and this can help protect a garden before a trip. A container of water can be set up next to a potted plant, complete with a wick, and that wick can lead into the soil. In this way, water is added to the plant on an as-needed basis, no human help needed. Commercial products such as self-watering planters can be bought and used, too. As for outdoor plants in direct sunlight, it is a good idea to stretch some thin white sheets so the plants are not over-exposed to strong sunlight, as long as there is plenty of air circulation. A slow-release fertilizer product can be bought and used to keep the plants fed during the owner’s absence.

On a final note, home gardeners should make sure that wildlife can’t easily get to their plants. A home vegetable patch is a banquet for rabbits and other animals, so homeowners tend to set up chicken wire and other barriers to keep wildlife out. The owner should double-check all protective measures for their garden before leaving on their trip.

Conclusion

Taking a vacation is a wonderful way to get a break from the rigors of working life and have a good time seeing new sights and sounds. But of course, the household will need care, from kids to plants to dogs, and the above tips can keep a household safe and healthy for everyone and everything living there. Pet sitters, maids, automated watering devices, and more can keep everything in line so a homeowner can come back home to a household that’s the same as when they left it.