Upon meeting my husband, my idea of the fairy-tale family flew out the window. He already had two boys from a previous marriage – something I’d not considered as a teenager, doodling wedding dresses and future children’s names.
However, I quickly fell in love with Lucas & Avery, and I made them mine. I also looked forward to kids of my own. We were pregnant two months after getting married. And then again, when our son turned nine months old. The sisters will bring our total to five children, ages eleven & under.
While it’s enough to make our heads spin, we’re not exactly breaking the bank. I have to smile when I hear parents complain about baby expenses. When it comes down to it, babies really only need the basics. We choose to cloth diaper, breastfeed, make our own baby food, and buy clothes & gear on consignment.
With household expenses, we’ve incorporated green habits into our lifestyle. We buy cloth napkins at thrift stores. They reside in a basket on our dining table – a colorful centerpiece & a fun way to remind the kids to use manners. For kitchen clean-ups, we use flour sacks and dish rags in place of paper towels. Instead of several different cleaning products, we usually grab the vinegar. White distilled cleans glass like a charm, and the apple cider clears up diaper rashes. We cook with both kinds, too!
I’ve discovered two great benefits of going crunchy in our house:
Saves money. I don’t feel guilty when I buy baby clothes at consignment stores or on clearance. Ames might only wear an outfit once before outgrowing it, but it cost me two bucks! In addition, I shop more frequently without spending more. Retail therapy with a twist! It’s fun to pop in somewhere and pick up a special item for one of the kids. Also, we’ve virtually eliminated miscellaneous trips to big box stores. No more “paper towel runs” resulting in hundreds of dollars spent on who-knows-what.
Gets the kids involved. I’m convinced our lifestyle keeps our boys well-behaved. They don’t whine about toys at stores. We don’t have to bribe them to go shopping. Our trips are intentional, well-organized, and almost always fun for the whole family. What kid doesn’t want to dig through a pile of old books at Goodwill? It’s like a treasure hunt! And because our cleaning habits are non-toxic, each child is responsible for helping with household cleaning. Arm an eight-year old with a spray bottle of vinegar & water, and you’ll have a sparkling bathroom in ten minutes flat. Just remind him the walls don’t need cleaning…or do they?
While we care about the environment and do our best to treat it nicely, Chris & I have been pleasantly surprised with the added bonuses that accompany a green family lifestyle. There’s no going back now. Crunch!