Spring is now in full swing at last. Simon and I have been finding ourselves on-the-go a lot this week, back and forth to the grocery store and the natural foods market in search of the right things for him to eat on his dairy-free diet. (I hate that word… “diet”.) I have been cooking more than I was, which is a positive change for me, regardless of potential food allergies.
I have always been interested in food and nutrition. Especially eating locally and organically. I have always believed in minimizing the dangerous chemicals in our environment and recycling. Our dream of a large vegetable garden and raising chickens remains. However, in the stress of the last year, some of our goals have been on hold. Health issues, and physical location have made us take the easy way sometimes, and I don’t regret that. I have done what I needed to do to get by, as do we all. However, now I am in a place where I have the ability to give a little more effort to my goals for our family and a healthy lifestyle.
Spring seems like a good time to take stock of where we are at. I think it is helpful sometimes, when change seems overwhelming, to make a list of what you have accomplished, and what goals still remain. (Please know that I am not saying this is how you should live, merely how we are trying to live within our family.)
Changes We Have Made:
~We do most of our household cleaning with vinegar and baking soda only. I keep a spray bottle of white vinegar for wiping down surfaces, and cleaning sticky messes. We use baking soda to deodorize stinky drains, scrub the bathtub, and wipe up oily spills. I also sprinkle some into the trash when it is a bit smelly. Sometimes I use a bit of lemon juice for cleaning also.
~We aim to choose many of our food products as naturally as possible. For example: the fruits and veggies of the “dirty dozen**” I will only buy if I can get them pesticide-free. We don’t cook a lot of meat at home, but when we do I look for animals raised on smaller farms, as close to us as possible, with ethical treatment, and fed a natural diet free of hormones and antibiotics. If I cannot find this at the market, I skip the meat and go vegetarian.
~We do not have cable television, and try to minimize screen-time, especially for Simon. We do not let him watch anything with commercials, which means he only watches shows on Netflix and PBS. Sometimes we bring home movies from the library. When he is sick or hurt, we allow a little more television than on an ordinary day. Many days he goes completely without any TV time at all.
~We are trying to keep Simon’s toys as simple as possible. We are battery minimizers, not strictly battery free, but want his playthings to encourage imagination and creativity. He sometimes watches appropriate music videos on our laptops, but he does not have access to tablets or cell phone apps.
~We recycle, and make that a family priority. Simon helps us with the recycling. (A terrific picture book to share with kids about recycling: “We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers” by Lauren Child. I highly recommend it.)
~We try to spend time outdoors, going on family hikes in the woods, or exploring the park.
~I do yoga. For years I hated all of the different types of exercise that I tried, from going to the gym, to walking on my treadmill, to doing crunches and push-ups in my living room. Nothing stuck, and I hated it all. Then I found yoga. When I do yoga I do not feel like I am working out at all. However, it gets my heart rate up, tones and strengthens my muscles, and increases my flexibility. Yoga is amazing for my spine. I have had back and neck issues since I was nineteen, and doing yoga makes me feel good in ways that medication never could. It also improves my mood and mental well-being.
~We try to shop at local markets and small businesses whenever possible. During the holidays, I try to buy gifts at craft fairs. (Last year, most of our family and friends received gifts from here.) When we do go to a large company, we try to research them a bit and know what we are supporting.
Changes We Still Want To Make:
~We want to get rid of a lot of our “Stuff”. We have gathered a lot of knick-knacks, unnecessary clutter, and things we don’t really use over the years, and we have only begun weeding through it all for simpler living. It is a challenge to avoid being a part of the materialistic culture all around us.
~Continuing to make more things from scratch in the kitchen. Eventually, growing our own food in a garden, raising our own eggs, and joining a CSA. Less takeout and processed food, and more homemade.
~When we have a home of our own, living as off-the-grid as possible. Jeramy wants to have a windmill, we would like a wood or pellet stove, and we want to collect rainwater. Solar panels and/or solar water heaters might also be a part of the picture.
~Learning more about natural medicine, and home remedies. Relying on “modern medicine” only when completely necessary.
~Spending even more time outside.
~Composting. Another goal for when we have a yard of our own.
~Switching out our laundry soap, toilet cleaner, and dishwasher soap for better, less-harsh alternatives.
~Being better at unplugging electric items and turning things off when we do not need them. Spending more time “unplugged” in general.
~Being less dependent on paper towels and using rags and washable cloths instead. Also replacing disposable plastic baggies with reusable and washable ones.
As I have said, this is all a process. I do not expect us to transform overnight, and we need to be able to approach these goals with an attitude of self-forgiveness. It is wonderful to have goals and an ideal, but it is no good for our hearts and minds if we push ourselves too hard and do not allow breathing room and time. I struggle with this often. I start feeling like a failure when I think of all the things I still want to do that have not been done. I fall into the trap of comparing myself to others, but every family is different, and everyone has a different set of struggles and obstacles. Sometimes they are hidden, but everyone has them. Before I can accomplish anything else, I have to be kind to myself. Otherwise, none of this will be worth it.
To see my inspiration board for the type of home we dream about, click here.
To read some blogs that I find inspiring, and that exemplify the type of goals we have, check these out:
If you have other blogs or websites to recommend, I would love to hear about them. 🙂
**Note: The “dirty dozen” changes from year to year based on farming practices and where in the world you live. I linked to one list, but that one might not be the most up-to-date. I recommend researching.