Like all wise mothers, I choose my battles. That’s why when Cat was four, I let her wear fairy wings, a tutu and snow boots all summer. It was weird, but in the big scheme of things, it didn’t really matter. With four kids I’ve had to weigh the importance of hundreds of conundrums over the years. Should I let Jack wear his dinosaur t-shirt again today? Should I let Mary Michael get her ears pierced at seven or make her wait until she’s ten, like I had to? Does Chet really have to wear clothes? (He was only two when we faced that battle of wills.) But even now that they are older, still everyday it’s something.
When it comes to living naturally, the battle is sometimes with my kids – what I think they should eat versus what they want. Sometimes it’s with my budget – is organic milk really worth $8 a gallon? Sometimes I struggle with convenience issues – do I have time to make my own laundry soap, baby wipes, or taco seasoning? I admit it. I sometimes find that happy children, a balanced grocery budget, and a little extra time outweigh the healthier alternative. Still, I do what I can. Of course if I could live in a perfect world, we would eat only locally grown, organic food, nothing artificial would ever touch our skin, and our carbon footprint would be negligible. As it is, I’m just looking for ways to live more naturally that won’t make my family or me crazy. Here are a few that I have found:
1. If you must have sugar (and I must) choose wisely. Here are 10-healthy-sugars-you-can-enjoy-today
2. Replace at least one commercial beauty product with a homemade, natural alternative. If you saw my earlier posts, you know that I’m using egg yolks for a facial mask and cleanser and coconut oil as a moisturizer. Here is a great article on why you should make your own beauty products. This site also has loads of great recipes for making your own beauty products.
3. Buy an eco friendly dish soap, or better yet, make your own. The benefits of eco-friendly dish soap are two-fold. Obviously soaps free of phosphates are better for the environment, but my sister-in-law pointed out to me that many soaps, especially the ones for dishwashers, are harmful if ingested. While most of the soap is rinsed off in the rinse cycle, surely residual amounts remain on our plates and glasses. A lifetime of continually ingesting trace amounts of these harmful chemicals can’t be good. Check out this recipe for homemade dish detergent.
4. Ditch the plastic water bottle. From what I’ve read, the jury is still out on whether or not the plastic from water bottles leeches into the water, but why take chances? Besides, why fill up landfills with any more plastic than we have to? Instead, invest in a stainless steel water bottle like one of these Klean Kanteens, or my personal favorite the Life Factory glass water with bottle with the silicon sleeve.
5. Control pests the natural way. I have used diatomaceous earth on my chickens to prevent mites, and Big Hal has used it for the buffalo. I’m not sure what’s in it, but it’s all natural and safe for people and animals. Check
6. Go Feingold. A few years ago my girls had eczema that kept them up nights and made our days miserable. I tried a program called the Feingold diet. When you purchase a membership, you receive your choice of a paper or PDF list of foods sold in your area grocery stores and menu items for area restaurants that are free from artificial additives, preservatives, and dyes. It’s not a cake walk adhering to the Feingold Program – it takes discipline. But you might be surprised how many brands you are already using that are artificial additive free and how many aren’t – apparently the label does not tell the whole story. The easiest part about this program is that following it does not require you to shop at a natural foods store. It might not be for everyone, but if someone in your family has special needs, the Feingold Program claims to relieve symptoms of a multitude of problems including ADHD, depression, headaches, seizures, and asthma. Check it out at www.feingold.org
7. Reap the fruits of other people’s labor. I love my chickens, and raising my own eggs gives me a tremendous sense of satisfaction. Thanks to Big Hal, we’ve got buffalo meat too. So we’ve got protein covered. But, unlike Jill, I am a hopeless gardener. I haven’t thrown in the trowel yet, but in the meantime I have to rely on the skills of others. When the children were little, I made weekly trips to the Farmer’s Market, but now soccer, sleep overs, and laundry keep me tied up most Saturday mornings. Fortunately in our area we have Community Sustained Agriculture (CSA). Last year was our first year to subscribe, and it was thrillng to have fresh, locally grown vegetables delivered each week. Here’s a link to find a CSA near you.
8. Use some scents. For years, I’ve been on a quest to find my signature scent. I’ve tried perfume after perfume. Recently I found one I really like and was tickled to find it also came in a roller ball. I kept it in my desk at school so I could re-apply throughout the day – then one day I dropped it on my floor. It literally ate the wax off the linoleum. Yikes! I don’t think I want that seeping into my skin day after day. I’ve ordered some roller balls online, and I’m going to try to make my own perfume using lavender oil and vanilla. Or maybe I should try out some of these cool perfume recipes. Just be sure to read up on essential oils, not all of them are suitable for direct application or for pregnant women.
9. Use (or make) a natural sunscreen. I thought I was doing the right thing dutifully applying sunscreen to my children every hour on the hour – then I read some scary stuff about sunscreen. (Google it for yourself.) Who knows? There’s a lot of conflicting information out there. But again, better safe than sorry. Here’s a list of affordable, natural sunscreens.
10. Stock up. Start small. I try to use baking soda and vinegar to clean my kitchen naturally, but this summer when I have some free time, I plan to get serious about natural cleaning. However, I know myself, and I tend to jump into things with both feet and then get in over my head. Instead I will try only one new homemade cleaning product at a time. Once I’ve got the recipe down, and I’m using it regularly, I’ll add another natural cleaner to my arsenal. There are a lot of websites with easy recipes for homemade natural cleaning products. Here is a list of thing to have on hand to get started.