Putting it all out there

Miles models one of his cloth diapers.

Miles models one of his cloth diapers.

I just ran across a video online from a mom explaining how to defend your own natural parenting ways.

I’m troubled that such a thing exists not because the video itself was offensive, but that a mom would feel the need to defend her parenting choices. And while I’m troubled, I guess I’m really not all that surprised.

And to that note, I’m putting it all out there for you guys. No, I’m not defending my way of parenting; I’m just going to give you the Q&D of my own “crazy” parenting choices.

I grew up pretty green, especially for someone my age (gasp, 32). When most people hadn’t heard of recycling in Vincennes, my mom and dad had three huge garbage cans on the back porch where we sorted and stored recycling that we later took to a center. We used cloth napkins instead of paper towels and never left the water running while we brushed our teeth.

In the years since I’ve left home my green practices have expanded and since I had my son they’ve gotten even wider. Not only do my “natural” parenting ways extend to creating a healthier planet, I’m trying to make ourselves healthier as well.

There’s still cloth napkins and cloth rags at our house (I don’t think we use more than a couple rolls of paper towels a year) and I am sure to turn the water off while I’m brushing my teeth as well as only leaving the fridge open for a few seconds at a time. But now I also make my own cleaning products (mostly vinegar, citrus peels and baking soda in various combinations) and laundry detergent. I’m hoping to expand to soaps, shampoos, lotions, toothpaste and other health and beauty items soon.

Of course we recycle (it is so simple to do today, and I’ve been doing it so long that throwing recyclables away physically makes me ill) but more than recycling, I try to reuse items or most importantly not use them at all reducing the impact to the earth (and my pocket book) in the greatest way possible.

Plastic shopping bags and water bottles are a dirty word at my house. Instead I have my trusty colorful owl tumbler and an assortment of reusable shopping bags as eclectic as my personal style.

Miles wears cloth diapers and I use cloth baby wipes with a homemade baby wipe solution. In as many instances as possible we try natural or homeopathic remedies for things like teething and diaper rashes. He was breast-fed and then fed only homemade baby food (made with organics when possible.) Now, at 19-months-old, Miles eats “real people” food, but we still try to ensure it is as “whole” as possible.

I’m sure there are other “crunchy” things we do as a family and I am certain there is more we could (and should) do. But this is what we do. I’ve faced criticism from some friends and family – some direct and others in subtler ways – but have shrugged it off. More frequently though, my less than traditional ways are met with misunderstanding providing me with a chance to explain why we make the choices we do.

The biggest lesson in all of this is to be accepting of each other’s differences. I’m not going to question another mom’s choice to use disposable diapers just as I hope she won’t critique my choice not to.

What kinds of criticisms or doubts have you gotten about your parenting? What are your “craziest” parenting practices? How do you handle judgement from family and friends over those choices?

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