One of the biggest questions I get is how to get started in a more natural or organic lifestyle. How to make a change and how to do it cost effectively. It can seem so overwhelming when you think about making changes to your lifestyle. Often we associate going organic with living a more expensive and costly lifestyle. While this can be true, it doesn't necessarily have to be.
The easiest way to get started on the road to making safer and healthier choices for you and your family is to start simplifying. By reducing the amount of "stuff" you have in your home, you are getting rid of toxins and you are making space. Many homes are filled with large amounts of toys, books, clothing and other "stuff" for babies. Start out by asking yourself:
- Does this toy allow my child to use their imagination? Do they have to do the work? Or does the toy do the work for them? We want our children to have toys that are open ended and have more than one purpose. We want our children to do the work for the toy (our children make the voices and sing the songs for the toys, or they do the walking and jumping for the toy or the popping out of a box). Once you examine your toys in this way, you will notice that most plastic toys do not meet this criteria. Toys that are open ended and encourage play are typically toys made of wood, wool, cotton/silk, or toys from nature (such as rocks, sticks, plants, etc). If you are looking to be more budget conscious, consider collecting rocks, acorns, pinecones, varying sizes of branches and sticks from either your backyard or local parks. Organize them into small baskets or bowls and place them on an accessible shelf.
Ps. If you are worried about how your children will respond to having their toys taken away, I can almost guarantee that they will hardly notice! Most children's play improves greatly and becomes more imaginative once you pare down your toy pile. If my child happens to ask about a specific toy more than 3 times over a week period, I will bring it back into the play for a short period and try removing it at a later date.
- Is this book age appropriate? Simple? Does it have beautiful images and classical stories? Choosing your books carefully and limiting the number of books on the shelf, will help encourage a more natural and healthy love of reading. At any point in time, you will not need more than 5 or 6 age appropriate books on your shelf. Children love to hear the same stories over and over again. It brings them security and helps them better understand the world and how to solve problems. Stories about nature, animals and other children are always popular. Store extra books in a rubber maid or box to be pulled out at a later time. Babies and young children love books with simple images and minimal words. Books without words are even better, almost at any age, because they allow children to create their stories and they allow you the "reader" to create a different story each time or stick to the same one.
- Does my child need all of these clothes? Realistically, a child needs no more than 5-7 outfits. Look through your child's (and maybe even your own) and reduce the number of pieces of clothing. You will feel a sense of relief and you may even feel as though laundry day will not be so daunting. Next time your child grows up a size, consider investing in 5-7 recycled/upcycled/thrifted pieces, wool pieces or organic cotton pieces. Since you will not have as many pieces, you will be able to be more choosy about the pieces that come into your home!
This is a really great starting point for you and it may take some time to get through some of these questions and solutions. Just remember more stuff is really just that...more stuff!