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Mom to Mom: Overwhelmed by clean living?

Posted by Becca on 6/29/2014 to Green Living
clean living

Do you ever get overwhelmed by clean living?

My son was sick a month or two ago. I posted something about it on Facebook asking for prayers and advice. I received lots of the normal well­ wishes, baltic amberempathies, and advice. It was all very comforting. Then, I received a very, well­ meaning message from one of my friends giving me all this great advice about Essential Oils and how certain combinations would be useful to my child. I loved what she had to say but I’m not going to lie—it was overload for me at the time. It was too much information, yet not enough because I had no foundational knowledge about the matter and it left my head spinning. I wished I could be that perfect mom who used essential oils but I didn’t really know where to start—even though she’d just given me like five recipes to use for Baby Bear’s different symptoms. I’m that way with other things too. For instance, I’m really interested in homesteading.

line drying laundry Problem is, I don’t know much about gardening, and there really isn’t room in our tiny yard to raise chickens since we live within the town limits. I’ve had a garden every year since owning a home and each year it is less and less of a failure, but I’ll never be that perfect gardener who uses every square inch of her property both vertically and horizontally to provide food for her family for the entire year. I look into it and research it, but I’m also overwhelmed by it. There is so much to learn and I know almost nothing. Though I dream of being entirely independent from society and making my own food, soap, and candles; I know that’s not gonna happen.

Diet is another one that can be overwhelming. So many different voices come to you with authority saying things like, “Eat only whole grains!” or “Don’t eat grains,” or “you should never eat gluten,” or “stay away from red meat.” Now, I mostly stick with a whole food diet with organic beef and chicken to avoid hormones and antibiotics, but part of me never feels that I’m doing enough when I see that a friend has successfully stayed with her Paleo diet or that a colleague who’s gone totally Vegan.

Frankly, things like diet, essential oils, gardening, cloth diapering, going paperless, homemade remedies, staying organic, or a pesticide­free, bee­friendly yard are all great; but it’s easy to get caught in the trap that if you don’t do them all, you’re not doing enough for the environment or worse, that you are a bad parent. I would love to know all the edible weeds that reside in my yard and I wish I had time to be out there foraging for them and using them to bolster the health of my family. I wish I were an expert canner and could successfully preserve all my homegrown foods. I can’t do all that. I do what I can, and little by little what I’m capable of increases. If I decided to take a huge chunk out of the clean living lifestyle and do everything at once, I’d probably get burned out and exhausted and go back to using paper towels and eating from the drive thru at McDonalds.

Our clean(ish) lifestyle started back with cloth diapers and continues to grow organically from there. This is basically how it’s gone so far: Why use disposable wipes when we’re not throwing diapers away? Let’s get cloth wipes. Why not save money even more money and use cloth napkins and paper towels? And skip paper dishes? Why not? Did you know that bugs don’t like cayenne pepper? Let’s sprinkle it on our plants to keep them away. Clothesline drying isn’t so bad after all! I think I can get the hang of this on a regular basis. Buying organic beef and milk isn’t all that expensive if you plan it right. Let’s commit to that. Maybe we’ll be better about eating all organic vegetables later on in life, but for now that can wait. Did you know how easy it is to make your own deodorant? Cheap too. Can’t hurt to try it. You know what?

We’ve been eating only whole foods for awhile now. I think we can afford to cheat a little and buy that box of Oreos!

We’re taking baby steps. It doesn’t seem like we’ve come that far when we look at yesterday or last month, but when we look back to five years ago, the huge change we’ve made step by step and bite by bite is huge. Essential oils is next on my “to learn” list. My friend down the street is always toting hers around, but she learned like me, a little at a time. She was overwhelmed at first but started with just one oil—one remedy. Now, she drops by my house and just happens to have a spray bottle of her magic bug repellent that she uses to keep the mites away from my mailbox. She’s not pushy about it, but she happens to mention the ingredients in passing and then moves on. One day, when I’m not overwhelmed, I’ll sit down with her and ask for her favorite EO remedies. Maybe things will snowball from there as they’ve been doing all along. For now, I don’t mind a couple of red bugs hanging around my bricks if it means I can keep my sanity. I’m going to continue to take this one manageable step at a time!

Do you ever become overwhelmed by all the green, clean and healthy choices you're trying to make for your family?



Date: 6/30/2014
Thank you! Being green isn't "all or nothing." We do what we can, and starting small and building upon each step is more effective than diving in head first without a routine, getting burnt out, and ultimately quitting. We were already "quasi-green," but we made an extra effort when we learned we were expecting our first baby. I knew I wanted to cloth diaper, but I allowed us to use disposables for the first 4 days-- I didn't want to worry about laundry at the hospital, and I didn't want the meconium to ruin my new stash. After cloth diapering for a few days, I thought, why not use cloth wipes? And, like your story, it's gone on from there. After making so many positive strides, I still feel guilty sometimes for not doing more. I should be composting! Am I a horrible person for driving to the grocery store 2 miles away instead of biking there? Are we shallow for enjoying our front lawn, instead of re-landscaping it to have less-appealing but more eco-friendly drought resistant plants or, better yet, turn it into an edible garden. I think we ("we" as in people generally, but mamas in particular) need to give ourselves some room, and some credit. Every little bit we do to reduce our carbon footprint helps, especially when we make mindful choices that inspire others to do the same.
Date: 6/30/2014
Thank You for writing this.
Date: 6/30/2014
Yes!!! Yes. Yes. Yes. Thank you for writing this, Becca. I started cloth diapering because we couldn't afford to keep up with disposables, but my journey is almost word for word like yours from there out - cloth wipes, cloth napkins and towels, DIY cleaning products, organic and whole foods - my husband and I even went back to just one car. But when we went camping for a week last summer, I was sick to my stomach that I caved and used 7 disposable diapers on my daughter for overnights - like 7 in one year made me a bad person for not being true and hardcore enough. And when I just really want to buy my kids some Goldfish at the grocery store, I feel like anyone I bump into who sees them in my cart will be judging me, so I skip them. I think it's great to aim high and to live healthy, but we should cut ourselves a little slack now and then. We can all do more, but it doesn't have to be all or nothing every minute of every day : )
Rebecca T
Date: 6/30/2014
I definitely relate to this. It's so easy to think "I should be doing more, I'll never be that perfect mom." But I also value spending time with my family and nurturing our emotional well-being, and it doesn't pay to get so stressed about all the choices that I'm no longer fully present for my kids. I value living as green as possible, but in the future when I look back, I doubt I'll remember which type of chicken I bought for dinner. I'll remember all the good times we had together as a family.
Date: 6/30/2014
I can definately relate!! Thank you for this post!
Jenni M
Date: 7/1/2014
I totally feel you. I'm not that green/clean living, just parts of it. The parts we actually practice (or try to anyway) are because of their money saving value to us. This is why we started cloth diapering and making our own wipes. We used to do local milk, but it was because we didn't have to go as far to get it. My next step towards living more clean and cheap is to make our laundry detergent. I feel the same way about the whole essential oils thing. We add a little Burts Bee's baby oil to our wipes, but for years that was the only type of oil we used (yeah, I know, not an EO, but close enough for us). Now I'm on the hunt for some tea tree oil before school starts. Every year at the beginning of the year there's a lice outbreak. We were lucky last year, so this coming year, I'm not banking on luck. I was given 2352 ways to combat/avoid lice with oils, but adding tea tree oil to my kids' shampoo sounded the easiest and where we're going to begin with the whole EO thing. I figure prevention is far cheaper than eradication, and far less stressful as well.
Stephanie P.
Date: 7/1/2014
I'm just beginning to get into this whole green thing. I've always been adamant about recycling, but that was usually it. I'm expecting my first in August, and have already committed to cloth diapering. My next goal is to try to overcome my very black thumb and start a small garden on the side of the house. We tried several years ago, but failed miserably. Who knows how far we'll go from here.
Courtney Osmanson
Date: 7/1/2014
Wow thanks!
Talia Anderson
Date: 7/4/2014
A lot of the things have a learning curve and are so overwhelming at first. We have slowly started transitioning our house to be more green and adapt to cleaner living. Every small adjustment helps but it does take some time. We are successfully gardening, recycling, cloth diapering and dabbling in making natural products. I am happy with how far we have come but there is always new things to learn so we will happily keep trucking along :)
Date: 7/4/2014
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this!! This is just what I needed to read, when I needed to read this!!
Audrey Glatz
Date: 7/4/2014
I can relate to all of these feelings. When I get overwhelmed by all of the information out there, I just remind myself that I am doing the best I can.
Clair Tolton
Date: 7/5/2014
Thank you thank you thank you for writing this! I am this to a tee! I felt so guilty putting my little man in sposies for a week but he's teething and his poop is burning his bum and leaving open bleeding sores that needed healing and I didn't want to risk using disposable liners and wrecking my cloth diapers! I still only cd part time as we have not found a night solution. I just recently started using eo's, I am making my own reusable snack bags and unpaper towels, I already use cloth wipes, I have been recycling since I was very little, I am making my own mama cloth and already use a diva cup. We try to be a green as possible but I am definitely in over my head right now with all of it! I want to live green and it's a very long road and a challenge when my mother is against some of it and my husband as well. We will take it one step at a time... Thanks for this post!
Jamie Layton
Date: 7/5/2014
Great read and something we don't all think about often. Even a little equals a lot!
America S.
Date: 7/6/2014
This post makes me feel SO much better! I do try to be as green as possible, but I am always comparing myself to friends who "do better" than I do. At least now I know that I am not alone in those feelings and should be proud of what I am doing!
Kylie M.
Date: 7/6/2014
I don't think that I would be able to be completely green. We try our best at our house but I'm glad to know I'm not the only one out there that feels somewhat guilty going through some of these blogs.
rosy moreno
Date: 7/6/2014
Jenelle Sedo
Date: 7/7/2014
It can become very overwhleming, I just stick to a little at a time.
Kim H
Date: 7/7/2014
I have been having the same thoughts on the essential oils! I love the concept but the start up cost seems high for me, at least the 'starter packages' are pricey. Baby steps...
Date: 7/8/2014
Totally agree, this was very encouraging.
Melissa Ramirez
Date: 7/14/2014
I try so hard to be green. My problem: lazy husband. I refuse to buy junk food and to use better house cleaners but he complains there is nothing ever to eat and the house doesn't smell clean. Even after I try to explain it to him he than goes on to say the same thing, "well when I was little my mom..."that's when I get frustrated and just listen. I'll have to look into essential oils though!
Catherine BW
Date: 7/21/2014
Most of these clean living fads are BS. I guarantee you that the essential oil lady is pounding back double stuff Oreos after the kiddos are in bed. Why can't we have gluten? People are omnivores. What a bunch of crap!
Amy Wright
Date: 7/23/2014
Lots of good thoughts here. It's important to show yourself grace. But, I also like to push myself to grow (in knowledge, who I am, etc.) -- which can be difficult at times while raising children.
christine k
Date: 7/25/2014
I'd love to be plastic free but I don't beat myself up over it. I can't afford to have all glass dishes/storage containers, but I Have glass straws.... baby steps :)
Amy Wright
Date: 7/25/2014
I'm intrigued by the essential oils, but I also don't know much about them.
Erin B.
Date: 10/18/2014
Love this! We can't learn everything we want to and change our entire lifestyle over night! You have the right idea, baby steps and one thing at a time! Working on these things myself :)

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