Exhausted Eco-Friendly Motherhood

I’m bone tired.  The kind of exhaustion where you sit and look at all you have to do and then just sit some more.  After seven rough vacation nights full of nighttime nursing and a full day’s journey back from the East coast, I can’t seem to get anything done.

And green parenting requires us to get things done!  There’s a garden to water, cloth diapers to wash, food to prepare and summer produce to pick and preserve.  How do we keep up with all this while so very tired?

And when will my baby resume sleeping through the night?  For now, I have just resigned myself to serving my family pantry food and scrambled eggs so that I can avoid grocery shopping or intensive cooking.  I’ve watered enough to keep the garden alive, but the berries will have to wait.

Guilt-free Disposable Dishes: Chinet!

Here is a friendly reminder: Chinet paper plates are eco-friendly! We discovered this two years ago when Chinet wrote us. Did you know they’re made from 100% recycled material AND they’re biodegradable, so you can home compost them?

Normally we endorse reusing, but we realize some summer festivities do require disposable dishes. Chinet is a guilt-free way to do it!

Drying Your Cloth Diapers

I’d love to tell you that I spent the morning stringing my cloth diapers from the clothesline in the early light.  And then hours later, tucking the soft white laundry into neat folds.

The truth is, when I hang them to dry, my cotton prefolds resemble white shingles.  They are hardened, rough, and rigid and have to be bent instead of folded.

Now, I could still hang them and them cart them all into the house while slightly damp for a quick fluff in the dryer.  Or I could just dry my prefolds and hang the polyester diapers and covers out to dry, but both of those seem too labor intensive.

Green Dishwasher Detergent and Rinse Agents

We have a magical contraption at my house.  You put dirty plates and cups onto its gleaming white racks, push some buttons, and they come out clean!  Well actually, they’re often a bit filmy with bits of goo here and there.

Having a dishwasher is a huge life change after eight years of hand washing, but we were sad to see that our dishes don’t come clean when using Biokleen Dishwasher Detergent.  Rebecca is also the proud owner of a new dishwasher, and she wrote a great post about the merits of Biokleen powder over even traditional detergent, but we were only able to find the liquid locally.  And shockingly, it didn’t work as well for us as other cleaners.  Should we chuck the rest of the bottle and give up on our dreams of gleaming dishes, or invest in mainstream rinse agents that may or may not work?

Are You Breastfeeding Your Toddler?

I had every intention of weaning my child at one year.  Breastfeeding while working had been burdensome and I dreamed of the days that my body would be fully mine again.  Then my son became very sick and had to be hospitalized for days.  The only thing I could do for him was offer the breast, and it was a huge comfort as he underwent endless tests.  After that I realized that I could feed him just in the morning and before bed, and wouldn’t need to pump ever again.  Since my supply fit perfectly with whatever demand we worked out, it wasn’t such a burden.  I ended up breastfeeding him until he was two.  I’m glad I did it as long as I did, and was also at peace with my decision to stop.

Stinky Cloth Diaper Solutions

Does baby’s nursery smell like a port-a-poddy? Do you hold your breath every time you flip open that diaper pail?  Fear not!

In our new book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, Rebecca and I recommend the “slacker” method of cloth diaper laundering.  It doesn’t involve intensive prewashing or excessive toilet dunking, and it should keep your nursery smelling fresher than it would with disposables.  (Remember that with cloth the feces is properly disposed of in the toilet rather than smelling up your home.)

So, what happens if your cloth diapers seem to give off a distasteful odor of fermented waste?  Try these handy tips.

  1. Baste them with Bac Out.  Every so often, squirt a dose into the diaper pail.  It has a lovely lime scent and it’s live enzyme cultures go to work on odor right away.  You can also use it for stains and odors on any of your other laundry.
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Purging Your Child’s Toys

Shocking Truth #1:

No matter how many limits you put on the playthings that enter your home, you will find yourself amazed by how the toy paraphernalia builds up.

Shocking truth #2:

Although you may beg people not to shower your tiny infant with a million rattles, shiny singing doodads and plastic xylophones, they will.  Then they will do it again annually.

Shocking truth #3:

Your child will play with just ten to twenty percent of her toys.

Am I wrong?  I hope so, but in our household we have been amazed by the sheer quantity of stuff that entered our lives with our children’s arrival.  I co-wrote The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, a book in which we clearly state that voluntary simplicity is the way to go with baby for a myriad of economic and environmental reasons.  And yet, somehow gifts found their way into our lives and my son’s room was overrun with clutter.

Have You Read The Eco-nomical Baby Guide?

Do you like it?  I’m blushing a bit right now, but we are really proud of our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, and are hoping that many of you find it helpful as you prepare for baby or select a gift for pregnant friends who are looking for eco-friendly, budget friendly solutions.  Please let us know if you’ve read it!  Also, if you have ideas on how to spread the word on our little gem, please let us know.  We loved writing it and editing it hundreds of times, but marketing isn’t our favorite hobby.  Still, we’d like to let expectant parents know how to save thousands of dollars while going green.  Thanks for your creative ideas!

Lowering the Grocery Bill While Staying Green: Is It Possible?

With my husband being a stay at home dad last year, our income took a dip and we vowed to cut back.  We carefully recorded all our expenses and tried to spend less.  And we did in many ways, but not at the grocery store.  We went to one budget store for dry goods and hit another one for organic produce and healthier foods.

We felt great about our choices until we recently checked our overall grocery spending.  It had skyrocketed to nearly as much as our mortgage payment!  (I must confess that we have a really low mortgage payment, but still!)

Now that I’m the one at home, our income has dipped even further and I’m in charge of trying to cut back expenses.  The grocery bill is our biggest monthly cost, and I’m eager to bring it down, but I don’t want to give up on organics.  So far I’m trying to offset the cost of organics by couponing a bit more and checking out Grocery Outlet for organic deals.  We’ll also be eating a lot from our garden this summer and picking local fruit, but I hope that I can figure it out without feeling like I’m sacrificing my ideals.  We don’t need processed foods now that I have more time to cook, but somehow just produce, dried beans, and basic canned goods add up to quite a lot!

Welcome to Motherhood!

I see you everywhere, your bellies budging, your skin glowing, and your eyes lingering on my chubby baby.  The secret smile we exchange signifies that we both know that you’re on your way to my new native land: motherhood.

For me, in the beginning, it seemed as though my baby would never arrive. And then, it happened.  Suddenly we were hurtling forward in a free fall towards the biggest transition of our life.  My biggest maternity clothes didn’t fit, but even more immense than my belly was the feeling that I might just not be ready.

Not ready to push this person out of my body, or settle it into the incomplete nursery.  Not ready for the sleep loss, and not ready for giving up everything (and I mean everything)  I once thought was my own.  (That includes sleep, time, personal space, and clothes not covered in kid-generated goo.)