more kids, less footprints

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!

16 thoughts on “more kids, less footprints”

  1. this is really great! we are stating to contemplate baby number 4 and how the added ‘expense’ will fit into our lives…i agree though! it really doesn’t have to be a huge expense. we already buy almost all consignment, cloth diaper, breastfeed, and make our baby food-but i love your other ideas!

  2. Rach you look like a BABY in the first photo! I really like this little insight into your life – although I’m already familiar with your “crunchy” ways. We started using vinegar to clean and I love it.

  3. Rachael!! I love the cloth napkin idea…next time I’m at the thrift store I will pick some up! We also breastfeed cloth diaper and use hand me downs from my SIS and neighbors which don’t cost a thing! I also love love love your table! We are thrift hunting for one that will fit 5-8 and hold our lobsters (the best solution I have found for having the twins and Marcus all at the table using limited space…and they fold up and transfer anywhere – super compact!) You must be close to 36 weeks now, hand in there I remember how uncomfortable the last few weeks were :/

  4. I loved this post! I always feel like a big waster of paper towels and for some reason it never occurred to me to buy cloth ones at thrift stores — it’s such a simple idea but one I never considered!

    Could you PLEASE tell me where in the CLT area you do thrift shopping for yourself? You have great style and I’d love to start pile diggin’ myself! :)

  5. absolutely LOVE this! i recently made a big batch of cloth “paper towels” out of a huge length of flannel fabric i had no use for – i swear we’ve already saved a ton of money by not buying napkins/paper towels! i did fail at cloth diapering poppy (i kept it up for about 5 months but got totally overwhelmed by the mix & match of supplies). now p is potty trained so i kinda lost my chance… but if i have a second kiddo, i plan to choose a VERY basic cloth diaper system and stick with it! yay for green family choices! oh and i couldn’t agree with you more about thrift “treasure hunting”. so much fun for so cheap! (;


  6. This post was so inspiring! I think I might try to take example and go green.
    Also, I thought you need to know i ADORE your blog. I found it some time ago and come here frequently and have so much fun with your posts. You keep up the good work! <3

  7. Great post!

    I just had my first and we are trying out cloth, Im breast feeding and we totally thrift!

    There is this great thrift store (near DC) that is as big as a Target and the stuff is seriously cheaper than the salvation army. Tons of baby stuff for 99 cents and on holidays (like presidents day or 4th of july ect) everything is 50% off, so me and my girlfriends go and stock up and share :-)

    love the napkin idea!

  8. I love this! I just bought my kids’ entire summer wardrobe from consignment and love to thrift for myself and my home. I use vinegar for glass, but can’t get rid of my pinesol for every day cleaning. the smell is like my nostalgic heaven! I LOVE that your husband plays along… mine can’t stand to go thrifting, but doesn’t mind all the money I save.

    I wish I could cut walmart out… :-(

  9. I just found your blog and I love this post. My husband and I don’t have kids yet but I’m ALWAYS stressed about the financial side of it. Thanks for pointing out it doesn’t have to be expensive!

  10. Was blog hopping tonight and came upon your blog. LOVE! I especially loved this post. My husband had two kids from a previous marriage, as well. We have also had two boys who are 16 months apart. Everyone thinks we are crazy and that everything is so expensive for us. I always have to show them how inexpensive babies can actually be. I love all of your ideas. We follow along in the same way. :) I’ll be back again soon, for sure!

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