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.
Any other ideas? Are you also struggling with smells this summer?
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.
What’s the magic answer for toy purging? For us it was talking about one (hypothetical) child who doesn’t get playthings because his family can’t afford it. We talk about what he might like, and how happy he’ll be to get it. If my son wants to give this imaginary boy toys but feels that he can’t get rid of them himself, he’ll even let his dad sort through the toys that aren’t being played with so that we can ship them off to Goodwill.
We also do a toy rotation, so that the items he doesn’t want to play with can be shifted out every month or so. It feels like he’s constantly getting new toys and there’s less to trip over and clean up in his bedroom.
As for the limiting of the gifts, for our baby we specifically asked for no presents at her first birthday party and will probably limit gifts for her until she’s about three and can actually know she’s getting something. For our son, we do ask family for gift certificates to children’s museums or swimming so that we can have experiences instead of stuff. It doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a try!
Any other ideas? Have any of you had success with actually keeping the wave of shiny new toys at bay in those first few years?
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!
I have to confess that if the choice was between giving up organic foods to allow me to stay home with the kids and working to pay the grocery bill, it would be pretty clear to me that being at home was my priority. Surely things aren’t this black and white if I continue to pursue gardening and try to pick local produce. Right? Please provide inspiration!
My husband thought it would be romantic to get me a steam cleaner for my last birthday. (Okay, okay. I may have planted the idea in his head.) I’d first heard of this miraculous cleaning contraption in Raising Baby Green by Dr. Alan Greene. A woman wrote a testimonial about how great this thing was: It uses no chemicals—just steam—and kills germs and bacteria. It improves the air quality of your home and is essential for sufferers of allergies.
I would have rushed out to buy a steam cleaner right then and there, but she said she paid $400 for it! With a price tag that high, it would really never pay for itself. One of the advantages of the product is that is eliminates the need for cleaning potions. Although the average family supposedly spends $600 a year on cleaning supplies, I’m sure I don’t spend even $20.
Anyway, years later I discovered that there are many steam cleaners for around $100—much more reasonable! They have nozzles for steam cleaning grout and attachments for mopping the floor, washing windows, and removing wall paper. I just had to have one.
I settled on the Wagner power steamer and cleaner (now on sale for only $75!). The verdict? I do enjoy using the steam cleaner once a week in the bathroom for the grout and floors–it completely removed some mold on the grout I hadn’t been able to get rid of, and it made the fifty +-year-old grout white again. I’ve tried out the various attachments on other cleaning adventures, and I’ve been impressed with the results.
However . . . I guess I feel a little guilty for justifying the steam cleaner as a green purchase! If you are a stickler for germ-killing (and I confess that I am not) or need to sterilize things for health reasons, the steam cleaner has to be better than chlorine bleach. For my cleaning needs, I could have survived using old fashioned ingredients such as vinegar and baking soda. But now that I own the steam cleaner, I will enjoy it and make good use of it.
Does anyone else have a steam cleaner? Do you recommend it—or not?
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.)
If you’re expecting a baby, you may feel the desperate need to buy more stuff to brace yourself for the shift. Don’t. Of course, we won’t be offended if you purchase our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, and give it a read, but if you’re short on time, here’s the summary. You can do this. You don’t need stuff. In fact, it will just require you to take care of a whole bunch of objects in addition to your child. All you really need is a few diapers, a place for baby to rest, a few clothes, the crook of your arm, and the croon of your voice. Welcome! You’re going to be great at this!
Is the baby registry list making you dizzy? Are you wondering how best to launder dirty cloth diapers? Do you need baby food recipes? Have you had more than three hours of sleep in the last two days? Are you trying to squeeze more organic produce into your grocery budget? Does pumping breast milk at work seem totally overwhelming?
We’ve been there! But now that our kids are older, we have to be reminded of just what would be helpful to our readers. What are your latest victories and what are your biggest challenges? I’ve shared my weight loss dilemma this week, but there are bound to be issues of far greater consequence. (Like the critical goal of getting enough food and rest in those first few months!) Please give us ideas for upcoming posts this summer and we’ll personally do our best to address your needs.
My weight loss efforts over the last postpartum year have felt largely experimental. When I’m sure I should be shedding pounds, my weight either stays the same or edges up slightly. How could this be happening? And how can I lose the weight without weird diet plans or gym memberships?
Luckily, I discovered Sparkpeople and Babyfit and began to unravel where I could be more effective in my eating and exercise. Both of these sites are free online communities with tremendous support for people wanting to make a healthy lifestyle shift. (Babyfit is specifically for pregnant and nursing mothers and Sparkpeople is for anyone wanting to lose weight.) There are recipes, online chat rooms, videos, exercise plans and more.
In Sparkpeople, I use the “My Nutrition” option to record what I eat everyday and see my overall calorie, fat and protein intake. Is this a bit of a pain? It can be since it does take time to record every snack and meal. But I am astounded to see the calorie count of foods I thought were healthy and to actually get a sense of what small changes I can make that will have a big impact on my weight loss. You can also enter your exercise and the program will subtract those calories from your total. Honestly, it’s tricky to search for the foods and exercises from the list and it can make me feel tied down to do it every day, but it has really affected my choices.
With Sparkpeople you can skip those gym fees, artificial weight loss foods, and make your way towards healthier living on a daily basis. And if you’re still battling those last few pounds, you’re not alone! Please share your weight loss stories (victorious or otherwise) with the rest of us!
I have never bought a roll of paper towels in my life. This is perhaps my greatest claim to greenness. I only wish I had more opportunities to tout this little detail about my life, along with the fact that I’ve never eaten a Twinkie. But I digress.
So how do I wash windows and mirrors, you ask? With crumpled up newspaper, of course. A single sheet of newspaper can serve as my window-washer for a good six months before retiring to the recycling bin.
Would you like to try this green cleaning technique yourself? It’s easy. Just fill a spray bottle with a mixture of one part water, one part white vinegar. Spray a bit on the mirror or window, then wipe clean with the crumpled up newspaper. Voila! You’re done. And congratulations—you saved a paper towel.
For the last year, my body has doggedly clung to ten pounds of baby weight. I could blame it on nursing, but more likely it was caused by the stress induced eating habits and lack of exercise. Now that it’s summer and I’m officially a SAHM, I have the time to make some major shifts toward a healthier lifestyle. This week’s posts are dedicated to the pursuit of green, budget weight loss!
Isn’t this totally obvious? Maybe, but I seem to have to relearn this tip when life becomes hectic. Food processing requires energy, packaging, and preservatives—adding a huge carbon load and calorie count to our meals and making our grocery bills far more expensive. If we stick to foods fresh from our gardens, farmer’s markets or the produce aisle, we can slim down our bodies and our budgets.
2.Don’t wait until you’re hungry.
I keep crisp celery soaked in cold water on hand and load up with carrots or nuts when I know I’m going to be out of the house. My body is designed to avoid starvation and if I wait until I have no reserves left, I can’t make great decisions about what to eat. (Also, my parenting skills tend to suffer…) Furthermore, packing food for myself also leads me to remember to have snacks with me at all times for my children. We can then victoriously cruise past fast food joints without being lured in by desperate hunger.
3. Plan your indulgences.
In my green pursuits, my thrifty lifestyle or my weight loss, when I decide to strictly limit anything, there is an inner backlash. Instead I plan some rewards into my grocery list so that I won’t feel tempted to scarf down a half bag of chocolate chips at 11pm. Also I find that spending money on fresh fruit or fantastic yogurt tends to feel like a treat when I pull it out of the fridge.
In the one week that I’ve been working on eating better and moving more, I’ve lost one pound! To be honest, I’ve lost a few pounds during the course of this year but they’ve crept back every time. I’ll keep you posted on my fledgling progress!
During my first pregnancy, I didn’t know the difference between a pocket diaper and a prefold, but after much exhaustive research, I finally decided on the ultimate cloth diapering system for our family. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the diaper diagrams and descriptions in The Eco-nomical Baby Guide to refer to because we simply hadn’t written it yet!
Four years and another child later, I have been given a huge assortment of absorbent and adorable diapers. My daughter Jovi often sports cow print happy heinys, homemade hemp diaper liners, prefolds with various covers, and even colorful fuzzibunz pocket diapers.
What have I realized after gathering up this diverse collection of cloth diapers? You don’t really have to choose just one type! Of course paying full price for all this loot could be prohibitively expensive, but if you’re open to buying gently used cloth diapers, you can try an assortment and know that you don’t have to rule out any one kind.
What is your cloth diaper philosophy? Are you strictly loyal to one brand or style, or have you too build up a variety of diapers? Have you been lucky enough to inherit hand-me-downs?