I certainly didn’t invent this tip myself—I’m not sure where I first heard of it. But ever since I did, it changed the way I clean my house. It’s simple: set a timer before you clean. I do a 15-minute burst if I don’t have much energy. Sometimes I get extra motivated and allow myself a whopping 45 minutes on the clock. What is the purpose of this, you ask? I find I work more efficiently under pressure—even if it’s artificial pressure like setting a timer. Also, it removes the whole “how will I ever be able to tackle this pig sty” from the cleaning equation. And that’s the beauty of it: you don’t have to clean the entire house—you simply have to clean for 15 minutes. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish in such a short burst of productivity!
For many expectant families the new The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) ban on the manufacture of drop side cribs won’t be an issue. It’s easy to pick out a non-drop side crib and there are several eco-friendly option including the DaVinci Kalani Convertible Baby Crib or the DaVinci Richmond 4-in-1 Crib each of which go for just under $250.
Still, what about those of us who bought used cribs, or are still using drop side cribs that we bought for our first child? In The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, we suggest that families consider buying a used crib if it’s in excellent condition. Is that advice suddenly outdated? Should we all turn our cribs into sweet pea trellises and invest in another piece of furniture? What about cribs that we’re done using? Are they safe enough to be passed on to another family?
Happily, families can now get a free crib immobilizer kit that will make any drop side crib into a safe, stationary sleeping space for baby. Most manufacturers offer them at no charge, but if your company is not listed on the previous link you can also buy the crib immobilizer hardware for about ten bucks online and install it in under an hour. Even though we never bought this device, early on I simply stopped using the drop side option for our crib. The intensity of sleep deprivation made my sad memory even worse than ever and I was worried that I’d forget to put the side back up while stumbling out of my baby’s room after a late night feeding.
I will be passing our used Childcraft drop-side model on and sharing the information about a crib immobilizer kit with the next family to use our sturdy baby bed. It hardly seems worthwhile for every family in America to trash their cribs and buy new ones, but I do want parents to feel safe about their baby cribs.
What’s your take on drop side crib recycling or reusing? Do you know of any other resources for green-minded families?
When I first started learning about the toxins lurking in my household cleaners, I went emoted my way through an abbreviated version of Kübler-Ross’s stages of grief. First I was skeptical. I thought these fluorescent yellow, lemon-smelling liquids were supposed to be killing germs and making everything better—now you’re saying they’re bad for me? Then I experienced a combination of anger and denial: How could I have been deceiving myself all these years? Finally, I reached a state of acceptance: I needed to get rid of them.
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day All Purpose Cleaner–a natural alternative to toxic concoctions
For many in a similar boat, it can be overwhelming at first. Once you know the truth, you may be seized by a desire to rid your home of everything at once. That is fine—just make sure to take them to a hazardous waste facility. Don’t flush them down the toilet or let them sit around your house for all eternity!
The other option, if you hate the idea of tossing out all these cleaners you spent good money on, is to phase them out gradually. Simply use them up, then replace them with something better for you and the planet.
Have you phased out toxic cleansers? How did it go? Remember—you, too, can reach a state of acceptance regarding this sensitive topic.
During all nine months of my first pregnancy, our home was littered with books instructing me on how to gracefully cruise into motherhood. Many of them simply freaked me out while others seemed utterly unrealistic.
None urged me to trust myself, buy less stuff, use cloth diapers and opt for used gear–all of which we emphasize in our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide. In fact, back in 2006 I could not find a single book on green pregnancy or parenting! That was part of the reason Rebecca and I were so inspired to write The Eco-nomical Baby Guide. During the months that we wrote and re-wrote the text, green baby books started to pop onto the market, but none of them had the frugal emphasis that was essential to our eco-friendly message. We were also surprised to see that none of the green baby guides had an in-depth section about cloth diaper usage and we were careful to dedicate two detailed chapters to cloth diapering, although we could have filled an entire book with our cloth diaper wisdom. (If you don’t already know, we are rather ardent cloth diaper fans who strike up conversations with total strangers about Fuzzibunz and flushable diaper liners.)
The books I did enjoy were Baby Bargains (which provides a wide range product information and does encourage buying secondhand gear) and Momma Zen, a book which kindly allows you to forgive your imperfection in those first challenging months of new parenting. I haven’t read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, but it has gotten rave reviews from friends.
What are the books you would recommend to pregnant women?
When my son still hadn’t potty trained through the night at age four, I wrote a post about trying to keep him dry through the night. (Most of which totally didn’t work at the time.) Many readers commented that bladder control for boys doesn’t developmentally happen until they’re older—possibly around age six.
Giving up altogether seemed rather strange to me. My post on The History of Potty Training in America, shared that potty training ages in this country have gone up across the board—partly because of the ease of disposables. If everyone waits to even attempt night training until their children are older, there are years of waste (and expense) that could be avoided with some effort.
The only two choices for parents certainly aren’t the following:
A. Torture your child with extreme night training regimens.
B. Just wait. It will happen eventually. In the meantime, buy lots of pull-ups.
In our case, the successful solution was to cut off beverages at 5:30pm and give him a chocolate treat each morning. It’s successful about 95% of the time and my four and a half-year-old son feels really excited to wear underwear to bed.
I’m not saying that all kids can night train at five (or sooner), but it seems worth knowing that some of our efforts may help kids get there a bit earlier.
Have you had success or struggle with night training? The best tips always come from readers so please share your experiences from the trenches of early parenthood!
What if your OB/Gyn was a mother of three who actually invented things to make women’s lives easier as they journeyed through the rough landscape of early motherhood? The bad news is that most of you won’t be able to become patients of Dr. Somi Javiad–she’s busy enough as it is! The great news is that she, along with her business partner, Kim Howell, have founded a website and product line to support new and expectant mothers. Mamadoc was developed by Howell and Javiad to offer practical, eco-friendly pregnancy products to women that can make pregnancy and new motherhood a bit more comfortable.
Some of Mamadoc‘s clever inventions include Nox, a compression bra to help nursing mothers with engorgement when weaning, Preghose to help pregnant moms prevent swollen feet,(I could have used a dozen pairs of those!) and Bellyup to support a pregnant woman’s back and abdomen during the late months of pregnancy.
Mamadoc also carries handmade bamboo cotton diapers that we had the chance to try out with my twenty month daughter. They’re an adorable color combo of grey and pink and the two layers of bamboo fleece are incredibly soft and absorbent. One drawback is that we did notice that the edging frayed and balled up after a few washings. While they look a bit worn, they’re still quite comfortable and cute.
One lucky winner will be getting a bamboo soothing cloth from Mamadoc to share with a new baby. It’s ultra soft small square of fabric with polka dots of texture that baby will enjoy exploring. (Pictured below)
1. Simply post a comment
2. Like us on Facebook (then tell us you did it in the comments)
3. Spread the news about the giveaway! Email someone, post it on Facebook, tweet it, blog it, or send someone a message about it via carrier pigeon. (And again, don’t forget to tell us all about it in the comments!)
This contest ends on March 29th and is only open to U.S. Residents.
While she was in the whirlwind of raising small children (and she has five of them!), she took time each week to escape to a cafe with her journal. For one hour she considered the following questions:
That’s it. At first I thought it was rather silly to spend a precious hour of my busy life journaling about practical matters, but it was an instant success. I considered what my goals were as a parent, as an environmentalist, and as a wife and considered small tweaks that could make a difference. And I did all of this while sipping hot chocolate in a lovely cafe away from screams and laundry.
The thing I had forgotten before I took that time, is that sustainability is about more than the environment. It’s about being sure to take the time to renew, refresh, and step back from the incessant demands of daily life. We have to be sure that we are able to sustain ourselves in order to meet the needs of our children while we strive toward eco-friendly parenting.
What were the results of my meeting? I attacked the items on my list with intensity and found that those small changes made a tremendous difference. Our kids now shower instead of taking a bath. It saves gallons of water each night and gives us an extra twenty minutes to help them get into bed on time. I cleaned out my closet and organized the tupperware. The result, bliss. Truly. It’s amazing what a little tweaking can do!
I didn’t with my first child. They seemed so much more expensive than the standard brand that I couldn’t bring myself to make the switch. Then, with my second baby, Rebecca inspired me to make the leap to cloth wipes. They’re easy, incredibly inexpensive, and much more eco-friendly than green disposable wipes. (I just picked up a few packs of baby washcloths at the dollar store and that three-dollar investment is holding strong almost two years later. We simply spray them with water before using them.) What wipes do you use?
After slogging through three years of motherhood while teaching nearly full time, I was heartily ready for a break. Last spring I took a year’s leave of absence to be with my children and experience stay-at-home motherhood.
I loved the intensity and importance of being with my kids full time, until one day, I didn’t. Was it a dramatic episode? Nope. I simply reached a point where the endless cycle of laundry, meals, and playtime wore me out. My brain felt rather mushy and creating daily structures and routines exhausted me.
Plus, although frugal living is a passion of mine, it felt a bit uncomfortable to have absolutely no spare room in our budget. I longed for the occasional dinner out or swimming lessons for the kids. If we stayed exactly on track and no emergencies came up, we still had to take a little out of our savings each month.
So, just a few weeks ago, I headed back into the classroom to teach high school Spanish a few days a week. Our amazing daycare provider (who also happens to provide eco-friendly childcare options) had a spot available for my daughter and my son added a few hours to his day at preschool. We braced for a horrid reentry, but everyone has slid into their new schedule incredibly smoothly.
What did we do that helped?
Plan ahead. We set up lunches, the diaper bag, breakfasts, and morning clothes the night before I’m going to work. It makes the mornings flow so much more smoothly and helps the kids have an easy transition to childcare and school.
Split the work. My husband and I take turns doing all the preparation for the next morning and also share cleaning and shopping responsibilities. The kids are learning how to clear their plates and empty the dishwasher as well.
Prepare your kids. We always discuss the next day’s plan with the kids so that they’re prepared for what’s coming. We describe the transition and talk about their feelings of being sad to leave us,but happy to play with their friends.
After having the experience of working outside and inside the home, it’s clear to me that neither is easy. Also, every mother has to make the choice that fits her personality and those choices may change as children grow. Whatever we end up doing as moms, it’s worthwhile to consider our own happiness in the equation, since that impacts our job performance as parents so dramatically. For now, I’m thrilled to be getting a bit of mental stimulation, while still being able to hang with my kids at home during the week.
Have you found a balance between your goals as a parent and your career aspirations? Are you naturally inclined toward domestic life or are you happier at work?
Two decades ago, when Rebecca and I were frugal college friends, we experienced a rare snowstorm. Thrilled to be able to enjoy the change of season, but too cheap to buy a large plastic disk we’d never use again, we went to a thrift store and bought two vinyl garment bags. While it seemed like sheer genius (we’d just unzip the zipper, tuck our legs inside, and fly down the hill!), it actually was a total flop.
Still, I love the idea of creative sledding and have seen many solutions while perched at the top of a nearby hill on a snowy day. They all involved recycling something that people already had in their garages.
Of course, you could just pick up a used sled from a local thrift store, but if you have just one or two days of snow per year like we do in the Pacific Northwest, I’m not sure it’s worth storing it. I also happen to love the adventure of repurposing something and laughing hysterically when it doesn’t work out–which is what Rebecca and I did twenty years ago!