Natural mommas sometimes get a bad rap. I don’t know many natural mommas in my personal life, and I often see/hear how those who don’t identify with that label talk about us. They see us as self-righteous, over-the-top, and unbending. And I can see why they think that of us when I see some of the sanctimonious articles out there, berating mom’s who make choices that don’t match certain ideals.
But I’m here to tell you, not all natural mommas are like that. In fact, MOST natural mommas are not like that. We are regular people, who don’t believe we are perfect or better or experts. Just like any other mom who is trying to do her best for her kids – we are doing the same.
In the online world, the natural-living community can feel like a rigid place. There are certain choices that tend to be seen as better or “right”. But what is better or right for one family, simply doesn’t work for another. We are all different and we all have different priorities, lifestyles, challenges, and obligations to work around. So I want to be open with you here and share with you a few places where my family violates that unwritten natural-living code.
1. Processed Food
I’ll admit, I feel the sense of longing when I let in those whimsical images of me working in the garden under a morning sun, carrying in a basket of fresh-picked veggies just in time to pull a freshly baked loaf of bread out of the oven, working away merrily in the kitchen prepping a beautiful home-cooked dinner while my children nap. I would really love to feed my family all fresh, home-grown, homemade food. I really, really would. But that is not my family’s reality.
While we rarely eat out, and I do cook much of what we eat from scratch, we still eat some processed foods every day. My kids get crackers for snacks. We use store-bought sauces and condiments. I even make biscuits from a can. And I’m ok with that.
2. Disposable Diapers
We do use cloth diapers the majority of the time. Our children’s daycare even allows us to send cloth diapers. But I always keep disposables on hand. We use them at grandparents’ houses or any time we are going to be away from our house for most of the day. It really isn’t often, and to us it is worth the convenience in those situations.
3. Store-bought Cleaners
There are some cleaners that I make myself, and others I prefer to buy.
The prime example is glass cleaner. I do sometimes use a vinegar solution on glass (especially if it is my preschooler doing the cleaning), but I really do prefer store-bought glass cleaner (I like this one from Method), especially for the big windows in our living room where streaks are super noticeable. I can’t seem to get a good streak-free finish with homemade glass cleaner.
Another is diaper detergent. I make homemade laundry detergent (I use the dry recipe with borax, washing soda, and soap), but for diapers I use Rockin’ Green. It just works better, there’s no way around that. I’ve used it for years and don’t see myself changing any time soon.
4. Paper Products
As you know, we are mostly paper-towel-free. And when it is just our little foursome, we only use cloth napkins (actually, we use dish towels) at meals and we always use ceramic dishes and metal flatware. But when we have dinner guests, we use paper napkins. When we have a large crowd, like for cookouts in the summer, we use paper plates.
I also try to get creative with gift-wrapping. Rather than buy a gift-bag, I often buy a $1 basket from Dollar Tree (and they have some super cute baskets!). But I do still use tissue paper, and sometimes wrapping paper just works better than a basket, like for bigger or awkwardly shaped gifts.
Finally, we use disposable wipes. I know homemade wipes are super easy (I’ve read the articles too). That just isn’t a leap we’ve made.
5. Plastic Dishes
So, like I said, we do usually use regular ceramic plates and bowls. But when it comes to cups for the kids, my toddler still gets plastic. I know I’ll probably catch hell about the dangers of plastic, and I get it. But glass isn’t fool-proof and it isn’t always practical. She also used plastic toddler forks and spoons until just recently.
I have made great strides in reducing how much plastic we use in the kitchen by switching to Pyrex food storage containers. But, again for convenience, I keep plastic ones on hand for certain situations. When we have people over for a meal, I like to be able to send leftovers home with friends and family and if I send food in a plastic container they don’t have to worry about returning it. I’ve had people tell me “Oh, no thank you, we don’t need to take anything” when they see me bring out the Pyrex, but if I take out a reusable/disposable type of plastic container they gladly accept. If keeping plastic containers on hand makes my friends and family feel more comfortable about taking leftovers home, then it’s worth.
You see, being a natural momma isn’t about being a purist. It isn’t about feeling guilty about choosing plastic or paper products. And it isn’t about making others feel uncomfortable.
Being a natural momma is about being informed, making choices that are healthy for YOUR family, and knowing that sometimes convenience IS a healthier choice. It’s also about continuous improvement, always looking for ways to live better – more peacefully, more contentedly, and more happily. And it’s about caring for others, being cognizant of their feelings and respecting their decisions.