By Tanis Frame
After over a decade spent with parents who are overwhelmed trying to navigate all the STUFF that comes with kids, and in particular trying to sort out what is green and healthy for both the planet and for their little ones, I’ve uncovered a few tidbits that may help. We are in this together, so let’s explore, shall we?
As the marketing machine of our consumerism-oriented society preys on our need to get it ‘right’ and be ‘good parents’, we are sadly led to believe that without oodles of gear we’ll never be able to raise a healthy happy child. In fact, the reality goes something more like this…
All your baby really needs is YOU.
Sigh, what a relief!
Not to say that some gear, like a great baby carrier, some clothes, and perhaps some diapers aren’t very useful- they are! And you will no doubt have those one or two pieces of kid gear that you wouldn’t have survived without. But the thing is…your favourite item will no doubt be on someone else’s list of completely useless purchases.
Yes, we are all different, and so are our little ones. That can come as both a huge relief, and also a burden. When it comes to gear and everything else about parenting, you get the honour and responsibility of figuring out what works for you.
You’re going to get to balance the ‘oh that’s SO cute!!’ with your family’s values regarding health, environment, social justice, budget, local/imported, etc. Wowza – welcome to the matrix! With all the science, label reading, marketing hype and green-washing, it can all certainly begin to feel complicated to say the least. Then you sprinkle in a healthy dose of mama-guilt and you’ve got a recipe for overwhelmed and confused. Deep breaths, don’t worry, you’re totally going to figure this out. Hopefully these ideas will help… Let’s dive in.
More often than not, we can just decide to make it all less complicated. Simplicity is your friend. SIMPLIFY.
When it comes to going green, creating healthy spaces for your kids, and making life less overwhelming – LESS REALLY IS MORE. Plus, you often end up saving yourself money, chores and headaches while you’re at it. Now that’s multitasking!
Make your STUFF multitask as much as you do! Resist the urge to buy products that are disposable, have a short lifespan, or only one purpose. For example, select a wet bag that will work for cloth diapers, then bathing suits, and one day soccer cleats. I know it’s hard to think beyond newborn baby right now, but they do grow up, and fast. Cliché but true.
Simply Green Play? How do we simplify while greening the toys? Let’s take a look at a wool felt carrot- so simple – for baby it’s an ideal teething toy- feels great on sore gums, is a natural and healthy option for chewing (no need to fret about which kind of plastic and thus which chemicals are being dined on), and wool is naturally antibacterial (bonus!). Then, when baby grows, instead of tossing your plastic teething toys, that humble felt carrot moves into the play kitchen and lives on for years! Plus it’s made of a material that is not only natural, but one that can be repaired- rather than tossed- should it get ‘broken’. The lowly felt carrot can give a new perspective on what kind of toys really are more economical.
Share and share alike? In addition to the wonder of hand-me-downs, and visiting your local library…. you could also try a toy exchange with other families – new toys rotate in the door as others rotate out, then they magically reappear a few months later- without shopping, and without buying another storage system. NICE! Save money, save the clutter, and build community while modeling desirable behaviour … that’s some more good multitasking.
Buying less stuff, means less labels to read and decipher, less green-washing to navigate, less to send to the landfill, and less to manage, to trip over and clean up each night! Less is more in this mama’s book.
The good news is that as parents, we are blessed with endless options to select from that will fit our unique family with our unique values, lifestyle and priorities… the challenge comes in figuring that out and being discerning.
So next time the latest coolest gadget catches your eye- check it out for sure, then decide… ‘is this the one for me?’ ‘Is this REALLY going to make our life better or my days simpler? …or shall I treat mama to a massage instead?’ 😉 Now THAT would make a happy, healthy baby.
Then just go outside and play… it doesn’t get any simpler than that.
Tanis Frame is the mom of two, behind Decide to Thrive. A thrive-catalyst and trusted resource, she supports parents as they figure out how to thrive deeply while raising the next generation. Tanis serves up her depth of knowledge and resources with a healthy dose of inspiration and playfulness and truly believes the right choices are different for each family. If you’re curious about what’s going to support you to thrive deeply as you navigate your parenting journey, visit www.tanisframe.com and sign up for her email updates loaded with tips, tricks and tools to thrive deeply.
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