For the last four years I have clumsily struggled as a working mom. But here’s the secret: all along my heart’s desire has been to be at home folding cloth diapers and whipping up homemade delights. In fact, my yearning to get home with my baby is what started me on the journey towards being a published author and a blogger.
So was it our massive profits that finally earned me the freedom to take a one year leave of absence from teaching? Hardly. (Although we do expect our book to become wildly famous and translated into sixty four languages one of these days.) A robust savings account combined with my husband’s new job allows me to finally take a break from thirteen straight years of teaching adolescents.
Maybe I crave the opportunity to stay at home simply because it wasn’t an option all this time. I’m a highly extraverted person and a bit worried about how I’ll fare without structure or schedules, but so far it’s just sheer joy. If I still had a newborn it would have been harder, but since my oldest is nearly four and my one year old is now sleeping through the night, it’s glorious to be at home with them. (Note, although their ages are just about right, the photo is not of us!)
Am I torn about leaving my job? Nope. Because although I adore working with middle schoolers, I love this grand and humbling task of parenting even more. I know that I’m still in the honeymoon stage as a stay-at-home mom and that sometimes the tantrums and endless dishes will nearly defeat me, but for now I’m grateful that our lifestyle of voluntary simplicity has provided us with the opportunity to take this leap. If you are aching to work less and spend more time at home, read The Eco-nomical Baby Guide for tips on how to save thousands in the first year alone. It worked for us!
It hasn’t been a banner year for organic food at my house. Overwhelmed by rutabaga and kale, I quit our CSA while I was eight months pregnant. My son needed interaction, my feet needed rest, and the idea of peeling and sautéing veggies after a full day of teaching made me want to weep with exhaustion. With the birth of our second child, the sleep loss continued and seemed to wipe out all my dreams of canning hundreds of pounds of peaches and growing all my own produce.
Finally, we’re back on track! This summer I plan on picking heaps of local produce and freezing and canning up a storm. Our garden is already in and I have dreams of adding a raised bed if I can find a way to get more cedar planks home in our small cars. Since I’m hoping to cut way back on work next year, I hope to also do a fall garden and extend our growing season as long as possible.
We even join a CSA again too. It was a wonderful way to get our whole family eating better and to support local farmers. What are your summer dreams for beautiful, healthful food?
Breaking my arm, being pregnant and having a tiny baby put us through a three-year period of being car dependent. (Our car-free trip to San Francisco was the one exception.) This summer, now that our baby has reached one year of age, we’re finally back to car-free creativity.
With our second child, we’ve come to appreciate our bike trailer even more! It works beautifully for hauling both kids across town behind a bike and easily converts to a double stroller. It’s also our most rain-proof baby toting device because of the clear plastic cover. As you can see, it’s a bit cozy with both kids but as long as they have snacks, everyone stays happy!
We have a bike helmet for my son but haven’t yet found one that works for our one year old. As a result, we just stick to side-streets and bike extremely carefully. My husband transports my son to preschool every day in the bike trailer and they both thoroughly enjoy the ride.
Another fabulous development in our summer is my husband’s bus pass, acquired through his new job. Now we can simply pay my fare and our whole family can travel the town by bus to our favorite destinations. This is an utter thrill for my son and doesn’t require us to snap in car seats or fill up our tank!
Car free travel with kids can be an adventure, but if I was willing to sit atop a bus with the goats, why shouldn’t I be willing to embrace the challenge? In our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, we feature a story from the authors of Car Free With Kids, a blog written by a family that lives completely car free. We are inspired by them each time we read a new post!
What are your creative ways for moving your children this summer? Do you move on foot or have great public transportation to depend on?
Our new book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, costs $13.57 on Amazon. Is it truly worth that much when you can read our tantalizing posts for free?
Only if you want to save thousands on baby’s first few years. Thousands? Seriously? How can that be? Here’s a quick outline:
Nursery Gear. If you use our tips for scoring quality, safe secondhand gear or repurposing what you already have, you’ll save several hundred dollars on nursery furnishings alone. Plus there’s a directory of quality green products for your eco-splurges.
Diapering. Want to avoid spending nearly two thousand dollars on diapering per child? Check out our tips on using cloth! It’s easier than ever and your savings will accumulate without regular runs to the store to stock up on pampers. When your second or even third baby arrives, you won’t need to spend a dime on new supplies. Plus you’ll keep several tons of waste out of our landfills!
Clothing. Secondhand clothing is hip, cute, and infinitely better for the planet. Prepare to dress your baby in the best brands for seventy to ninety percent less than retail!
Food. Packed with tips on breastfeeding, using organic formulas, and making your own baby food, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide will help you nourish your child with healthy foods for hundreds less.
Still not convinced? You can request that your local library purchase our book and then check it out for free! You just might find that it’s worth having on hand for as a trusty resource for eco-friendly, budget friendly living in baby’s first few years.
My favorite natural products include vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and Borax. Do you have any of your own secrets for easy eco-friendly house cleaning? Do tell!
How do we counteract this onslaught? With treasure! We have taken a shelf in our mud room and used it display our most precious discoveries. They include several jars of oddly shaped rocks, a vase stuffed full of sticks, scattered acorns, a few shells, six black feathers, a pressed flower, and a handful of agates.
Honestly, the idea started just because I hated that bare shelf in the mudroom. I couldn’t figure out what to put on it until my son showed me his first treasure, a pinecone complete with intricate spirals, perfectly spaced. Once we proudly set it on the shelf, every walk turned into a treasure hunt.
Two years since the treasure room’s inception, we are constantly finding new additions on a weekly basis. We sometimes have to clear it out, or pull another glass jar out of our recycling to contain a pile of loot, but it’s worth the effort. Noticing the supreme perfection of nature is a great way for my son to connect with his environment, and to redirect his appreciation away from those piles of plastic.
Does your child have treasure trove of goodies somewhere in your home? Do you find that they’re especially obsessed with acorns, seashells or some other spectacle of nature?
You love your baby with your whole soul, right? Well that is how Rebecca and I feel about our new book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-To-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and The Planet. (We love our actual children more, but this creative work is a close second…) It has taken us years to write this gem and it may take us years to celebrate its arrival. So bear with me for today’s adventure in substandard poetry….
Ode to The Eco-nomical Baby Guide
Oh manifesto of glorious green thriftiness
How I love perusing your pages
And deeply understanding
Every cloth diaper in existence.
Oh treatise of eco-frugality,
Your creativity and humor
Fill my life with laughter,
my wallet with cash,
and the nursery with adorable
secondhand baby gear.
Oh green gift of practicality,
You help new and expectant
parents with your kind wisdom, and tips
from the trenches. You make
eco-friendly, budget friendly parenting
a spine-tingling adventure.
Thank you, humble guidebook,
for your emphasis on progress, not
perfection, as we seek to go green
despite our lack of sleep and the spit-up
smudged perpetually on our shoulders.
I hate them. If I was truly zen I’d make lovely dandelion chains and just get over it. But when they raise their fluffy white heads out of the rest of the lawn, I want to leap from my chair and choke them out.
Instead, my children usually reach them first and make wishes while blowing the seeds all over the front lawn. At that point I usually surrender.
Luckily, we did figure out some natural dandelion solutions last year that are far superior to polluting weed killers that keep our kids off the grass for a few days.
We tried corn gluten since it both fertilizes and doesn’t allow the dandelions to flower. Great, right? Nope. Those persistent yellow spots kept appearing on our lawn. Then we used Burn Out(which is made out of natural clove oil) to zap the dandelions individually. It worked! You have to wait for the right temperature and sunlight, but they die in just a few hours without all the chemicals! Then the corn gluten can do its thing and the lawn really looks nice without any caution warnings about kids and dogs.
Problem solved! My next goal is to sauté the dandelion greens and make a lovely, nutritious dinner some evening. Apparently they’re incredibly nutrient-rich and delicious. Have you tried adding them to your dinner menu? Have you made peace with them? Do tell!
I’m not. Believe me, I want to be, but it seems like the sheer effort of taking care of both of them makes it harder to do certain things. Also, I’m working full time while my husband is home, and he doesn’t always share my green ideals. In the photo my daughter, Jovi, looks worried about the planet while Roscoe seems to be happy with our conservation efforts.
Of course in some ways I guess I am greener since I know more the second time around. I don’t use bleach with my cloth diapers, we now use cloth wipes, and I’m totally comfortable going out on the town in cloth.
But I’m not hanging as many loads of laundry to dry or making homemade meals out of beautiful vegetables from our local CSA. Still, I hope that this summer when I’m home I can shift to an even greener lifestyle as my garden starts to sprout and I’m not heading to work.
What about you? Has having multiple children challenged some of your green ideals?
Just a few weeks ago our cupboard was brimming with paperclips, post-its and postage stamps. Every time I opened it a flurry of papers spewed out, making our kitchen’s organization center an utter mess. It was imperative to get things in working order soon, but I didn’t want to shell out big bucks in the process.
Happily, my first (and only) shopping stop was the local thrift store. The shelves were heaped with all sorts of gizmos that could be used to store a number of things. I could have gone for a creative and aesthetically pleasing look if the stuff was exposed by using multicolored shot glasses, small ceramic bowls and even tiny terracotta pots.
Since the cupboard’s contents are hidden, I opted for more practical gear. In the office section I picked up a few black mesh wire organizers for a total of three dollars, plus a quality stapler for a buck more. Now my cupboard that seemed to be dripping with paper has been harnessed into a very functional storage area.
The same three items I bought would have cost well over twenty bucks at Target, and all would have had to be manufactured and shipped there. How nice when recycling can save you money while infusing your house with beauty and order!
Have you stumbled on any simple, beautiful organization solutions in your home? Do share!