How Do You Handle Household Chores?

Time-consuming and endless.  That’s how I’d describe my domestic duties.  But perhaps you’re more enlightened and would pick adjectives like “Rewarding and fulfilling.”  If so, please inspire me!

Do you incrementally work on general household cleaning duties, or do you prefer for things to build up to near disaster before you attack?  Who is in charge of washing cloth diapers or buying groceries?  Do your children do small tasks for you as well?  Is your partner involved in domestic upkeep or do you shoulder the responsibility yourself?

Any tricks you’ve implemented might be a help to the rest of us!  (My resolution for order and focus this year has me using the quicken calendar to remind me of three chores each day.  It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly an improvement from what I was doing before!)

What Are Your Baby or Toddler’s Favorite Foods?

We’ve just discovered that humble ranch dressing helps our children wolf down carrot sticks and even raw spinach! But other quirkier favorites around here are dollops of peanut butter in applesauce, Laughing Cow Cheese spread on Ak Mak crackers, boiled edamame with salt, and homemade macaroni and cheese. (I’ll be posting the recipe for an incredibly easy and delicious mac and cheese very soon!) What are your children’s favorites? Inspire us!

Favorite Light Nighttime Snacks?

Every night for about three years, we indulged in the same late night snack: stovetop popcorn. What a tasty, cheap, and relatively healthful snack, right? Well . . . it turns out we were each consuming about 250 calories of popcorn every day!

Sure, we could lighten it up by switching to air-popped corn or we could simply eat less popcorn, but we didn’t want to do that. Instead, we aimed to diversify our nighttime snacking options. We now eat popcorn just a couple nights a week. Other nights feature sliced apples or some light dessert such as pudding (surprisingly much lighter than our popcorn!). But we could use more nighttime snack ideas. What are yours? (And please don’t extoll the virtues of not snacking. We’re unwilling to part ways with this evening ritual!)

Which Detergent Do You Use for Diaper Laundry?

I have gone on record with my love for Biokleen Laundry Detergent. (I swear I do not work for Biokleen! I just have had good luck with both the laundry detergent and dish washing powder.) What do you find works best for diaper laundry? Do you use the same detergent for the rest of your laundry, too?

How Do You Green Your Valentine?

Organic chocolates? Organic, local flowers? Or just a simple night at home with soy candles and some toothsome homemade concoction? How will you celebrate Valentine’s Day to show how much you love the planet?

I would be baking my famous chocolate beet cake . . . if my Valentine didn’t hate beets in every form imaginable.

What Keeps You Motivated to Go Green?

Please let me know how you stay motivated to do all those little things that may take a bit of extra effort to help the environment. I have to admit that lately I’ve been slipping . . . relying on the dryer too much, going wild with the plastic produce bags, wasting food. What has happened to me? How do I get back on track?!

How Have You Re-Used Your Baby’s Cloth Diapers?

Have you sold your baby’s used cloth diapers?  Did you pass them onto a friend’s baby?  Did you use a site like Diaper Swappers to trade them in for a different size?  Does your local consignment shop accept secondhand cloth diapers?

We’ve happily passed some newborn covers and diapers onto other parents, but our small prefolds are currently stashed in a kitchen cupboard to mop up floor spills.  Those green-stitched cotton prefolds were purchased secondhand from a diaper service, then diapered both my children, and were also leant to a friend to diaper her two children before they became kitchen rags.  Some of them eventually get so ratty that I toss them into the compost bin, but about two thirds of my original diapers are still going strong!

How Do You Cope With the Exhaustion of Early Parenthood?

My favorite act of support is bringing a meal to the family of a newborn.  Why?  Because I remember. I remember the piles of laundry and dishes.  I remember that crazy insatiable hunger of early breastfeeding.  But more than anything, I remember the free falling fatigue—and the creeping terror that I would never be able to sleep for more than three hours ever again.

We’ve just recently had a run of challenging nights, which puts me back in that familiar fog.  I feel unable to track my own thoughts, I struggle with patience, and more than anything I just want to be able to lay my head on my pillow.  (And I find myself daydreaming about unexpected opportunities to nap.)

I cope by just accepting the fact that I have no control over sleep—and many other parts of my life now that I’m a parent.  Also, I rely on caffeinated beverages.

How do you deal with exhaustion?  Are you lucky enough to have family members that can provide you with a break? Are you naturally nocturnal?  Are you currently in the middle of sleepless struggles? Do tell!

For more sleep-deprivation support, read Pregnancy Exhaustion and the Importance of Self Care, Post Partum Exhaustion and Coping With Less Sleep, Exhausted Eco-Friendly Motherhood, and Sleep Vs. The Planet.

What Reusable Drink Bottle Set Works Best for Kids?

We blush with happiness whenever people write to us with questions and quickly scramble to find answers. This week we’re calling on all our readers to help lend their input on the following email question.

“I have what I realize is a pretty specific question: what are some good ways to pack drinks with our lunches?

I pack a lunch for my preschooler nearly every day, and for myself at least two days a week. But I’m not happy with the drinks that go with these lunches. I either bring or buy a single-serving beverage — and it bugs me to pay almost $2 for a small bottle of milk.

I pack juice boxes for my daughter, but she’s had some trouble with her teeth and I would love to get away from all this juice. And of course, we’re throwing away these bottles and boxes at the end of each day.

I have lunchboxes, tupperware, water bottles, and I’m even considering getting some cloth bags to replace ziplock baggies. But I haven’t found a set of reusable beverage containers for our lunches. I’d love to hear how (okay, if) you and your readers have addressed this problem.

I’d love to find a set of beverage containers, ideally in two sizes, that I can fill with milk or some other drink and pack into our lunch boxes. I realize I may have to repurpose something; I’ve toyed with the idea of getting one of those packs of Starbucks Frappuccinos just for the glass bottles, but I’m not sure how well they’ll hold up.

Do you have any suggestions?”

I’ll give my input below, but please share yours too!

I think your idea about reusing Frappucino bottles is excellent!  They’d probably hold up for years and if they do break or get lost, you haven’t wasted any money in the process.  I’ve done the same thing with Snapple bottles.  I just put them in the dishwasher along with our glasses and they come out perfectly clean and ready for action.

At our house the kids each have one Nalgene sippy cup (which my 4 year old still uses) as well as one Camelbak Kid’s Bottle with a straw. Maybe because I’m really boring, I just fill them up with water for my son’s lunch each day and it’s so much easier!  I just have to rinse the bottles and I can just rotate between the two of them.

For my hydration needs, I have the Nathan Stainless Steel Flip Straw Water Bottle and I absolutely love it.  It’s easy to load up with ice, easy to clean, and easy to use.  For more ravings read my Best Stainless Steel Water Bottle post.

Please pitch in with your water bottle experiences!

What are Your Favorite Holiday Crafts for Kids?

Joy went over our top holiday crafts for kids a couple weeks ago. That post contains classics like how to make a proper paper snowflake and homemade baked Christmas ornaments. Yesterday Audrey and I spent a couple hours decorating construction paper trees and gingerbread men—a highly recommended activity for the preschool set. We also gathered branches and leaves and tied them onto a paper plate ring to make a simple wreath. Even really young children could enjoy gathering the supplies for that one, though I suppose if you live in a snow-encrusted area, that might prove difficult.

What are your favorite holiday crafts?