Last night, I hit a work life balance low.
I realized this low point when my family was eating store-brand lasagna and it was still partially frozen. I yelled at them to eat it anyway. The desire is there on my part to serve healthy meals and encourage exercise. I buy produce from an organic buying club. I try to buy organic meats and poultry. I make lots of veggies with dinner. But then, a night like last night comes along when I'm shuttling kids in different directions and I enter desperation mode. When that happens, I'm always mad at myself for not being better organized. We can all be more health and environmental conscious if we plan for it.
That's why I'm particularly excited to introduce my guest blogger today. Carrie Wells, firstname.lastname@example.org, is a wife, mother of two, and educational consultant. She founded her website Huppie Mama in 2010 to share information regarding natural living and child development. Below is her take on a welcome topic:
Making Natural, Healthy Lifestyle Choices When Struggling with Work-Life Balance
Prior to having children, I was the type of woman who worked full-time, went to school full-time, and had a part-time job. Somehow I still managed to get a healthy dinner on the table for my husband and me each night.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I made the decision to leave my full-time position and be a work-at-home mom, eventually balancing two part-time jobs while parenting two children, a toddler and an infant. As an educator and daughter of a stay-at-home mom, it was so important for me to be there for my children. I wanted to help them reach each early milestone and be there to celebrate all of those special moments.
I also desired to teach them to be environmentally-conscious, healthy individuals. Because I do work from home, our funds are limited, which contributes to my desire to choose reusable and sustainable products. Some of the decisions we made for our family required little-to-no additional effort or planning, like recycling, shopping with reusable bags, and buying eco-friendly household cleaners. Some of them involved a true commitment to natural living, like breastfeeding both of our children, using cloth diapers, and cooking wholesome, balanced meals daily.
Now, I don’t expect everyone to ditch their comfy homes in suburbia and opt for a more rural setting where they can grow their own local produce and milk their own cows. That’s certainly not a choice I have made for my family, but I do admire those who have. I present to you some simple things to keep in mind so that you can live a more natural lifestyle, with an emphasis on health and environmental-consciousness:
- Shop locally for food as often as possible. The recent surge of farmer’s markets and smaller grocery stores in South Florida makes it so much easier to shop for locally-harvested produce and meats, locally-caught fish, and specialty products like honey and oils. Plan your meals for the week on Sunday so that you don’t have to struggle daily to pull something together. Incorporate seasonal ingredients to maximize flavors and freshness.
- When buying toys for your children, try to get the most ‘bang for your buck.’ Consider purchasing toys made of sustainable materials, like wood, metal, and cotton. Also, think about how long a child will be able to use the toy from a developmental standpoint, thus reducing the waste when the toy is no longer useful to your family. Remember, too, that toys made of durable materials make great donations to local charities.
- Check your community’s recycling program. My community collects cardboard, paper, metals, plastics, and glass. Large grocery stores often have recycling bins at the front of the store to collect plastic bags and foam packages. You have to throw your trash away somewhere, so making the choice to recycle is such an easy one.
- Opt for reusable versions of products. This could include cloth diapers instead of disposables, cloth kitchen towels instead of paper towels, reusable shopping bags instead of plastic or paper bags, and reusable water bottles instead of disposable water bottles. While some of these may require additional up-front costs and effort to clean them, you also don’t have to worry about running out and having to purchase them last minute.
- Set aside meaningful time to get outdoors with your family. We are so fortunate in South Florida to have beautiful parks, amazing beaches, and warm weather year-round. Take advantage of this by planning outdoor play dates with friends, picnics with your children, and maybe even some time for gardening in your own backyard. Your family will treasure these special times together!
Between raising a family, working to earn an income, and running a household, life can be challenging! However, each day, we are asked to make choices. When there is a healthier, more natural option that requires little to no additional effort, that choice should be an easy one. Remember, if we model positive natural practices for our children, they will learn to do the same when they are independent.