We’ve gone on the record saying that wipes warmers are completely unnecessary and probably even evil. They’re made of plastic and require electricity—they represent everything we abhor! At least, that’s what I used to think. Lately I’ve been reexamining some of my long-held convictions and I’m confronting some painful realities. For example, after years of denial, I’ve come around to accepting that diaper sprayers might be a good thing. (Or—even better—try the DIY diaper sprayer option.)
Today the difficult philosophical question I’m asking is this: Can wipes warmers be green? Here’s a little story to help us decide: Joy admitted she didn’t use cloth wipes with her first child. Why? Because she thought it would be too much trouble to take the five seconds to wet the wipe with a spray bottle or squirt bottle. I’m happy to report that she changed her tune with her second baby.
I’ve heard of cloth-diapering parents using a wipes warmer for cloth wipes—thus eliminating that five-second hassle of wetting each cloth. As a bonus, the baby’s bottom gets treated to a nice, warm wipe instead of a bracingly cold one. If this little contraption keeps thousands of disposable wipes from getting used and discarded, is it—in its own roundabout way—a green product?
Rebecca and I survived years of poopy cloth diapers in our households without the help of a diaper sprayer. Still, if I would have seen this video and learned how to make one for so little, I may have taken the leap! (They’re about $50 on many websites but the do-it-yourself version comes it at less than $20 and takes just 20 minutes to set up!) Do you have a diaper sprayer? Have you yearned for one and felt they were too expensive? Check out this link to the video and you’ll have one for much less in no time at all!
DIY Diaper Sprayer for Less!
Do you have a complex system of soaking and pre-washing, or are you cloth diaper slackers like Rebecca and me? How do you handle smells and stains? Do you use hot or cold water? What’s your favorite detergent?
Cloth diapers were a total mystery to me in those early days of parenting–as was cloth diaper laundering. I didn’t have a copy of our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, to help me with selecting and caring for cloth diapers, so I was lost! I have to confess that I even bleached our pre-folds a few times at first before a friend taught me that it’s unnecessary and also very tough on the fabric.
These days we are incredibly lax about our diaper washing system and are quite happy with the results. We use a dry pail and when it fills up, we simply toss them in the washer. We use cold water most of the time and throw in a little Bac Out to help freshen them up. We don’t hang up our diapers at this point, although summer is a different story. Our diapers are no more complex than any other load of laundry and come out smelling great!
Please feel free to share your cloth diaper laundry struggles and victories!
Saving the environment takes time and energy that we don’t always have. The more I write this blog and raise my kids, the more I’m convinced that sustainability has to include more than just the environment. To be great parents and environmentalists, we have to sustain ourselves.
And by being happy!
Think about it, how many truly effective green moms are exhausted and bummed out all the time? How many guilt-ridden women are motivated to keep tinkering with their lifestyles to make eco-friendly shifts?
So maybe, every once in a while, we need to take a hot bubble bath (regardless of the gallons of water it requires) or go for the nap instead of whipping up a batch of home baked bread from flour we milled ourselves.
As our children grow (and our hours of sleep slowly increase) we will have time to keep working at green shifts. In the meantime, we need to make sure that this journey is fun. If not, our sustainability efforts simply won’t be sustainable.
Personally, I want my children to see that this simple, green lifestyle is jam-packed with secondary benefits that will enrich their lives while helping the environment for generations to come. Hopefully if they see me enjoying it, they’ll jump on the bandwagon later. (After a brief period of parent-directed mockery during their teen years.)
How do you sustain yourself in the midst of trying to make green changes? Do you suffer from green guilt?
This year will be a banner year for reading in my household. Right after my daughter’s fifth birthday, I made an amazing discovery: Audrey finally has the attention span to listen to me read chapter books out loud!
The first book we tried was The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. She surprised me with her ability to follow this 111-year-old tale of Dorothy and her little dog Toto’s extraordinary adventure. There are some scary parts (the flying monkeys creeped her out), but she stuck with it until the end.
I had fond memories of the Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner, so we tried that next. Success!
After that we began working our way through the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. Ramona’s antics have provided us both with hours of amusement. So far we’ve finished Beezus and Ramona, Ramona the Pest, Ramona the Brave, Ramona and Her Father, Ramona and Her Mother, and Ramona Quimby, Age 8.
Another Beverly Cleary classic we read and enjoyed was The Mouse and the Motorcycle.
We’re almost finished with Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. This one has required more interruptions than most of the others, while I stop to explain, as best as I can, why the Ingalls family must churn their own butter and make their own bullets.
I’m thinking of giving the Roald Dahl books a try this summer. James and the Giant Peach was one of my favorites in elementary school.
Do you read chapter books out loud to your kids? Please give me your recommendations–we need a healthy reading list to get through the summer before kindergarten!
Today I’m on a family trip in Denver but gathered up a few quotes from Natural Life Magazine to provide a bit of Monday inspiration. Enjoy!
“There is no single effort more radical in its potential for saving the world than a transformation of the way we raise our children.” ~ Marianne Williamson
“People will always try to stop you from doing the right thing if it is unconventional.”~ Warren Buffett
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead
A hilarious quiz in Tina Fey’s new book, Bossypants, made me think about the difference between support and pressure when it comes to breastfeeding. Nursing is hard work, especially in those early days, and new moms need encouragement, meals and commiseration. (And humor. They might need a copy of Tina’s book, or just a glance at the photo to the right.)
My best strategy for supporting new breastfeeding moms is to let them know that the really hard part comes right at first in those grueling early weeks. It does get easier month by month, and more precious as babies start to become toddlers and those moments of snuggling start to disappear.
I also candidly share that I often totally felt exhausted and frustrated by nursing early on. New breastfeeding moms can feel physically chained to an infant and then have secondary feelings of guilt that they aren’t enjoying nursing. It’s a relief to know that lots of breastfeeding women feel that way at some point.
What happens when we provide all of that support and advice and a few of our friends decide to switch to formula anyway?
Hopefully, we veer far, far away from pitying their child, loading them up with guilt, or reflecting on how great our breastfeeding experience was. Hopefully we let them know that they don’t have to make a hard and fast choice–that it’s possible to part breastfeeding and part formula and alter that ratio in whatever way works for mom and baby. And if they do switch exclusively to formula, we respect their choice.
What do you do to support new moms in their breastfeeding efforts? What was helpful (or unhelpful) to you in those early days?
Some of us come by thriftiness naturally. Because of my depression era, midwestern relatives, I’m genetically programed to avoid waste at all cost. In college, while other students were buying extravagant items like milkshakes and cheeseburgers, I was preparing ramen noodles in my hot pot. (and feeling ever so resourceful)
For the last nearly four decades of my life, I have embraced adventurous frugality with humor and sometimes even a bit of moral superiority. During the decade that we drove my un-airconditioned car while holding frozen wash clothes in our armpits, my husband and I were proud of our sweaty sheen when we arrived at our destination. This was after hours of heat exhaustion interrupted only by squirts of ice water that we kept in a squirt bottle in the cup holder.
But does this frugality ever go too far? Yes! Let’s face it, ramen noodles have absolutely no nutritional value and riding for four hours in a car without air conditioning is exhausting (with or without the frozen wash clothes) But beyond sacrificing health or comfort for financial savings, I’ve made other bad frugal choices as well. Sometimes my creative money-saving efforts end up being more expensive. Sometimes I am blind-sided by low thrift store prices and buy more than we really need. Most often I forget that it’s o.k. to be generous with myself now and then.
On the whole, I’m so grateful that I’ve had the natural tendency to save over the years. It’s given us freedom to spend more time with our children and make choices based on our values instead of our bills. Still, I’m glad to be drifting more towards the middle ground where the occasional splurge can actually be enjoyed!
I have a new garden experiment this year: DIY garden cloches. Here in the Pacific Northwest, our gardens endure cool temperatures and abundant rainfall until mid-July. To keep my young starts warm and slugproof, I’m protecting them with homemade cloches made from recycled soda bottles. Sure, the traditional glass domes over tender green plants add sparkle and class to a garden bed—but my DIY interpretations do the job and feature a nice little air vent at the top.
Chateau cloches $77.89, set of 2. Real glass cloches for a classy veggie patch.
A DIY cloche made from a recycled plastic bottle
How can you construct this wonder dome for your own crops? Simply cut the bottom off of a clear plastic liter or gallon bottle. Leave the top open for ventilation, and place over the plants. So far I haven’t done much to keep them in place—I’ve sort of propped mine up with old leaves. I found some more cloche-making ideas online:
Not up for a craft project? These large garden cloche plant covers (3 for $26.97) have pegs for securing to the ground as well as air vents.
And this kitchen garden cloche is $93—it’s like a clear plant tent, which can cover a sizable chunk of a garden bed.
After all this excitement over my DIY cloches, I still don’t know if they are going to do any good. Stay tuned for updates as the gardening season progresses!
Juley A. from Anchorage, Alaska will soon be getting her copy of 15 Minutes Outside on her doorstep. Enjoy! Now that the weather is getting a bit warmer, it will be even easier to gain inspiration to be outdoors with baby.
In just a matter of days, Andrea B. from Chandler, Arizona will be able to toss a the Smartklean Laundry Ball into her washer without using any laundry detergent–for an entire year!
And, our biggest winner so far of the Hygeia EnJoye Breastpump is….Ashley B from Los Angeles, California.
Thank you so much for your comments and interest. We have some more exciting giveaways coming up so keep coming back to see if you’ll be our next lucky winner!