more kids, less footprints

I used to write for a neat website called Modern Parent. I focused on topics related to frugality and natural living, and I figured it’d be nice to have everything in one space. I’ll be posting my articles here every now and again, since my column there is no more. This one was written in the springtime, before the sisters came…

Upon meeting my husband, my idea of the fairy-tale family flew out the window. He already had two children 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 those boys and made them mine. I also looked forward to kids of my own, though. We were pregnant just months after getting married and then again when our son turned nine months old. Oh, and did I mention this last pregnancy turned out to be twin girls?
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 (nice, gently-used) clothes and gear on consignment.
With household expenses, we’ve incorporated the same green habits into our family’s lifestyle. We buy cloth napkins at thrift stores. They reside in a basket on our dining table – a colorful centerpiece and a fun way to remind the kids to use manners. For kitchen clean-ups, we use flour sacks and dishrags 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!

Two benefits I’ve discovered, when it comes to going green:
Saves money. I don’t feel guilty when I buy baby clothes at consignment stores or on clearance at retail stores. He 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 and 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, my husband and I have been pleasantly surprised with the added bonuses that accompany a green family lifestyle. There’s no going back now. Crunch!

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