Flailing Greenward: Balancing A Hectic Life and Green Choices

I have no time.  Seriously.  As a mother, a middle school teacher, a writer, and a wife, I often feel like each minute of my day has to be carefully attributed to a specific task.  In the time it takes to get from work to daycare I’m planning dinner, thinking of tomorrow’s social studies lesson, wondering whether I can take my son out for a walk, and remembering that the diapers need to be dried and folded by tomorrow.  Am I a wonder woman—a model mother who gracefully balances work, family and a green lifestyle?  Hardly!  I’m fumbling toward green parenthood and often failing along the way.

When I get discouraged about my progress, I think about my son learning how to walk.  It’s miraculous that babies accept falling down as part of the process without any embarrassment. My favorite Chinese proverb applies to motherhood, writing, green living and just about everything else: “Fall down seven times.  Get up eight.”  Balancing eco-friendly living and everything else isn’t as difficult and noble as it’s cracked up to be, especially if we’re willing to take a tumble every now and then.   

Every time I feel overwhelmed, I think about moms like Eileen Spillman, who is choosing an eco-friendly lifestyle while working full time and raising two children on her own.  Check out her perspective on living with green guilt here.  There are hundreds of parents who manage to consider the environment despite extremely hectic circumstances.  How do you manage to balance all the aspects of your life while making eco-friendly choices?  We’d love to hear your story. 


  1. I’d love to share, Joy – but I don’t have time! 🙂 LOL… it’s all about balance at our house. With a 2 1/2 year old who never stops moving and a 6 month old who has decided he doesn’t ever need to sleep again, me working full-time during the days and JD now working nights – we are nuts! Gotta keep things in perspective and prioritize… and not let yourself feel guilty when you can’t be super-mom, super-employee, super-green and super-wife. We used cloth on Riley until, frankly, it got too gross and now use cloth on Gus and I feel great we are able to do that much. We recycle, of course, buy organic when we can… re-use/re-purpose things a LOT… don’t use yucky chemicals to clean our house. A person could always do more and better… but making yourself crazy about it, well… I just don’t have time! 😉

  2. Personally, I suggest building “greenness” into your life and focusing on the low-hanging fruit. We’ve been thinking about making some alterations to our shopping habits (more organics), but we already do some, and any further alterations aren’t going to add to our already hectic lives. Things that do take extra time, we simply don’t do. Guilt about it doesn’t help anyone, so I just try not to feel guilty. My wife is at the beginning of her second trimester and we had to cut back recently on some of the things we were doing (e.g. the cloth diapers we were still using for nights were replaced by disposables). But rather than focusing on those things, I try to focus on not making purchases, walking and biking, and other things which enhance our life AND the environment.

    Another suggestion that I would have is to split all of the work with a partner. If you are both sharing in the tasks of parenting and eco-friendly living, you have more time and energy on your hands.

  3. Karalee and Angela-
    Excellent points! I think it’s best to do what we can and keep tweaking in small ways without making ourselves crazy. It’s tough to take on any major changes when our lives are in transition and parenting is all about constant change. It’s true that teamwork (for two parent families) and letting go of perfection are critical to staying sane in this whole adventure.

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