The Benefits of Cloth Diapering in Childcare

by Lia Mack

Childcare, daycare; however you say it, it's the same thing. You're leaving your child somewhere to be under someone else's care for the day. Finding the perfect childcare provider that provides the same type of care you do at home is key for a that all time happy-mommy-happy-baby-happy-provider combo.

However, when it comes to finding a childcare provider – either in a center or a family home – that will allow the use of cloth diapers, most cloth diapering parents are at a loss. Why? The majority of childcare options available fear cloth. And with visions of old fashioned cloth diapers with safety pins dancing in their heads, it's no wonder. What these providers lack is one thing cloth diapering parents can provide: proper information.

I myself used to be a cloth diapering mama of two. I still have a few diapers around. So little, so soft, so cute, I couldn't part with them! I love cloth so much, when I became a childcare provider, I knew I wanted to make myself and my knowledgeable services available to parents like myself who wouldn't want their child wearing anything different, no matter where they spent their day. At the moment I have two cloth diapered children in my care – one infant, one walker. Just like old times!

So I know what I'm doing. I've used them before and liked using them. But what about another childcare provider who's never even seen a cloth diaper before, let alone has experience with them? They might ask, “What are the benefits? How is this going to make my day easier?” To which I would answer, “I'm glad you asked!”

Below is my green mama list of benefits – for provider and the parents. If you've got additional benefits you'd like to add, be sure to leave them in the comments box! :)

The Benefits of Cloth Diapering in Childcare

No Trash!
PROVIDERS: Being the eco-minded mama I am, this one is at the top of my list. With cloth diapers, there is literally NO TRASH. None. Cloth diapers go home at the end of the day and miraculously come back clean and ready to use again. It's awesome. What about the wipes, you say? Most cloth diapering parents use cloth wipes too. They are so much more gentle on little bottoms and do a much better job of cleaning up the mess, if any of your clients don't already use them, ask them to. Can you imagine all the trash you won't have to take out to the curb or pay to have picked up if you used cloth? Dirty cloth diapers and wipes go in the wet/dry bag, parents take it home. End of story. No trash! It's a good thing.

PARENTS: Yes, the dirty diapers are coming your way at the end of the day, but at least you know how often your child was changed while you were away. If you used disposables, you'd never know. Some people – providers and parents alike – leave children in a disposable diaper all day unless they do a boom-boom, number two, have a bowel movement. If you think such a thing doesn't happen, think again. By using cloth diapers, you are making sure your child is being taken care of with the tools you have chosen: cloth! No chemical burns, no recalls, no walking around all day in the same diaper. You send six clean diapers in, you get five, four dirty diapers back depending on your child. Bottom line: you'll know they were changed often and correctly.

No Overhead
PROVIDERS: This one might be a provider's favorite. Cloth diapered babies/toddlers come with all their own supplies, so you don't have to provide anything. I do personally still have a few of my own cloth diapers just in case someone runs out, but you can tell your parents to provide your back-ups. I don't have nor use disposables. I don't want the trash in my house, and my parents don't want their kids in anything other than cloth. To me, it's a win-win situation! I mean, do you know who expensive plastic/paper diapers are?

PARENTS: Parents, we know how pricey disposables are. That's why we've chosen to use cloth. Buy one set, use it for all your children, then pass them on or sell them to the next cloth using family you know. Let the provider know that you will be supplying all diapering needs, so there is no cost to them. Ever. They'll like that :)

No Diaper Rash
PROVIDERS: Cloth diapered babies are notorious for never getting or hardly ever getting diaper rash. That's because, since they can feel they are wet – no chemicals to keep them 'dry' – they want and need to be changed more often. Every two hours or so. Children in disposable diapers can go longer because they aren't 'wet'. Of course they are, but the chemicals in the diapers make them feel dry, thus drying out their skin too. Staying in a dirty, wet diaper with skin drying chemicals all day spells disaster. Diaper rash. Open wounds. We all know this is not how a poor little bottom should be treated, and you'll be happy that the children in your care use cloth so they will be spared the pain. Just feel how soft cloth diapers are (when they are clean). Who wouldn't want to use them? ;)

PARENTS: Parents can feel safe knowing their child's needs will be taken care of. Like mentioned above, when you go home, you can see for yourself that your child was changed on time and when necessary. We know that a cloth diaper will leak if not changed appropriately, so it's a safe bet that if four dirties came home and there aren't any wet pants sent home, that baby was not left in its own filth all day. If you were using disposables, you'd never know, unless your provider sent those home too. I know I do. What parent wouldn't want to know how their child was taken care of during the day?

They Come AIO – All In One
PROVIDERS: This here is cloth diapering terminology, and a good one to keep in mind when thinking of the benefits of allowing cloth diapering in your childcare. Cloth diapered babies come everyday with everything needed – diapers, wipes, wet/dry bag. It's all there in their diaper bag. Keep it close to your changing station, and you've got everything necessary for that specific child. Take dirty diaper off, put in that child's wet/dry bag, put on clean soft cloth diaper. Done!

PARENTS: Packing up for a day at someone else's house can sometimes be a crap-shoot. What do I bring, how much, what do I bring?! For childcare, when using cloth diapers, it's simple. I like my families to pack at least 6 clean, dry cloth diapers, ready to use wipes, and a wet/dry bag. That's it. Providers may be skeptical because they don't know what all goes into cloth diapering. So make it simple for them and have it all ready to go.

Same Change Time, Less Hassle
PROVIDERS: There is no difference in the time it take to change a cloth diapered baby than a disposable diapered baby. And since they take their dirties home with them, you don't have anything to keep around to smell up the place or toss out into an ever growing pile of diapers.

PARENTS: To make it simple for the provider, tell them to not worry about 'knocking off' any solids and just put the dirty diaper in the wet dry bag securely so you can take care of it at home. How is this a benefit to the provider? Changing a cloth diaper will be equal in time and effort to that of a disposable. When that is true, there isn't anything to hold them back from allowing them in their care.

When starting a conversation with a hesitant provider, try turning them around by showing them one of your awesome modern reusable diapers. Seeing a real cloth diaper could be all they need to change their minds. Remember, cloth diapers of the past tend to be seen as unreliable, unsanitary, and complicated. Using words like “modern” and “reusable” will help steer them clear of these old fears and intrigue them into learning a little more about modern day options.

Above all, be positive. Every family – and provider – does what works best for them. If you can't sway them towards using cloth, move on and find someone who does. Then again, don't be afraid to talk to providers about the benefits of using cloth. You might just change their minds.

To find a cloth diaper friendly childcare provider in your area, visit daycare.realdiaperindustry.org.

Lia Mack is a writer and the owner and provider of Naturally Good Family Childcare.

Be a Green Mama Guest Blogger :)

The Green Mamas Blog is opening its doors to all you awesome Green Mamas out there, coast to coast! Whether you're pure green, striped, or spotted in your green ways, if you love to blog and are a green mama at heart, that's all it takes. Oh, and green papas are welcome to guest blog post too ;)

Guest Blogging Guidelines:
  • must be your own original work in whatever medium you choose - written, image, video.
  • if your post has been previously published, please include a note stating such with a link to the piece's original publication.
  • your post should be timely, relevant, and eco-conscious in focus and in the interest of green families.
  • at least 300-400 words. It can be much longer if you like.
  • video no longer than five minutes.
  • a back link to our site (your guest post) from your website/blog.

For your bio, please include:

  • your name with link to your website/blog
  • a thumbnail photo
  • a 1-2 sentence blurb about yourself, including what makes you a green mama/papa.
We do not wish to own any rights to your publication. What you write is your own. The Green Mamas blog is a means to help disseminate information and entertainment to the green mama community.

All contributions will be considered, however not all submissions will make it to post. Green Mama Lia will make every effort to help aspiring green mama writers fix any grammatical errors to make their posts stronger, but she (I) don't have the time to fix everything. If it's not written well, well...polish and shine your posts as best you can.

Smilies are welcome :)

Please email your contributions to LiaMack@yahoo.com or find us on Facebook :)

Reusable Snack Bags... Love Them!

You can find them anywhere these days, and that's a good thing! Reusable snack bags. Forget tossing out once-used plastic baggies. These little bags (and big bags) are washable and more durable.

I found mine at Etsy.com.

Do you make reusable bags? Leave a link to your creations in the comments below! :)

TGIF!! ... What's in your cold/flu season arsenal?

It's Friday!!! Yeah!!! And I have the flu....yeah...ah, not so much.

My eyeballs hurt.

Actually, that's pretty funny seeing it written like that.

So, it's that time of year again. When we get to see if our wonderful immune systems can fend off the 100+ kinds of flu flying around. I would have gotten the flu vax if I thought it'd work. It only protects you against 3 of those 100+ strands.

Three.

To me, that doesn't seem worth the risk. And honestly, it's just the flu.

But it does bring up an item for discussion that I had thought I was going to timely bring up in October - what do you do for cold/flu season? Little did I know I was about a month too late for that conversation! ha

So, tell one, tell all - what do you do to help beat the odds during cold/flu season?

I typically chow down on chicken soup at the slightest provocation of illness and wash hands like it's nobody's business. That, and vit C, Kefir, Kombucha, and staying away from sick people!

But I forgot one. Moms know this scenario well: make sure the kids are all stocked up and clean and healthy, but forget about themselves. Yep, guilty and sick as charged...

It's just the start of the season. Just like having to pull out the winter clothes, it's time to start pulling out our defenses!

Join in with all your wise woman ideas, tips, and suggestions ;)

Leave your hints, tips, recipes, avoidance measures - everything you do to keep you and your family healthy during the upcoming seasons - in the comments below.

OR, on facebook ;)

And stay healthy!

PLEASE NOTE - this is not a blog/forum/comment box location for debates about vaccines. I understand not everyone agrees with my take on the flu vax as stated above. I get that. If you want to debate, please do so elsewhere. Thanks!!

Join Women’s Voices for the Earth to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals

The following guest blog post is by Cassidy Randall, Program and Outreach Coordinator for Women’s Voices for the Earth


Moms know that the ads we see are often the front lines for whether a product gets bought or ignored. A large and increasing number of greener moms may read up on blogs, read reports and articles and try to look up chemical names of material safety data sheets, but not everyone does this. Many moms are still influenced by ads that say “this will get your laundry smelling like a spring breeze!” and buy the bottle—along with the messages and ads that are sold to them.

That’s why I find it so unnerving that Procter & Gamble has issued a complaint to green company Seventh Generation, asking them to take down one of their online advertisements for the inexcusable crime of talking about safety.

The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus’ ruling upholding Procter & Gamble’s claims against Seventh Generation’s commercial implies that companies can’t make claims based on the safety of their products, even though more and more research shows that consumers are increasingly making purchasing decisions based on product safety due to health concerns.

Case in point: a recent report by EcoFocus Worldwide found that the category they term “EcoAware Moms” (more than 51 million women) have $1.45 billion in buying power, and that of the top five products that these women are buying more often, two of them are safer cleaning products: chemical-free cleaners (47%) and plant-based cleaning products (40%). You’d think companies would want to advertise the relative safety of their products to this powerful consumer group.

More disturbingly, the ruling upheld Procter & Gamble’s claim that chemicals in conventional cleaning product chemicals have no connection to a rapid increase in illnesses such as autism, ADHD, asthma, allergies, immune system deficiencies and birth defects. But scientific research continues to mount, linking chemicals in cleaning products to chronic health problems. Women’s Voices for the Earth has released three reports compiling the science on certain chemicals in cleaners and impacts to human health, finding:
  • A class of chemicals called APEs are linked to reproductive harm and fertility problems.
  • Phthalates are linked to genital malformations in baby boys, reduced sperm count, and increased asthma and allergic reactions in children.

  • Triclosan is hormone disruption and is linked to increased risk of breast cancer.
  • Synthetic musks are bioaccumulative, showing up in blood, breast milk, and infants, and may break down our bodies’ defenses against other toxic exposures.
These are just a few of the chemicals of covered in WVE reports—for more, visit the WVE website at www.womenandenvironment.org. For the past several years, WVE has reached out to all the major cleaning product companies, pressuring them to remove these chemicals of concern. Procter & Gamble has not removed ANY chemicals of concern identified in WVE reports (SC Johnson has removed 4, Clorox has removed 5, and Seventh Generation products contain none, for comparison), and has ignored WVE’s inquiries on whether the company uses synthetic musks or phthalates in their fragrances.

Procter & Gamble is the maker of Mr. Clean®, Tide®, Dawn®, Febreze®, Cascade®, Gain®, Swiffer®, and more. It seems like a company with such high-profile brands would want to advertise their safety. And if companies aren’t allowed to advertise how safe their products are, then consumers should be able to look on a product label to decide for themselves—too bad Procter & Gamble is only disclosing a few ingredients on their website, and no ingredients on product labels (as U.S. law doesn’t require ingredient disclosure for cleaners, few do). At least consumers can look on Seventh Generation product labels to see all ingredients and make a choice based on safety at the point of purchase.
The bottom line is that harmful chemicals shouldn’t be in cleaning products to begin with. Join Women’s Voices for the Earth to eliminate toxic chemicals that impact women’s health from products we use every day!


Sign our Twitter petition to the American Cleaning Institute
http://act.ly/2dc

Follow WVE on Twitter
www.twitter.com/women4earth

Join us on Facebook
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Womens-Voices-for-the-Earth/110000049854


If you have something to say and would like to be a guest blogger
for The Green Mamas blog, please contact us. Thanks :)

The Dirt on Cleaning Products

Did you know...cleaning product companies can keep toxic chemicals that could impact your health a secret from you?

  • APEs are linked to reproductive harm and fertility problems
  • Phthalates are linked to genital malformations in baby boys, reduced sperm count, and increased asthma and allergic reactions in children
  • Triclosan is hormone disruption and increased risk of breast cancer
  • Synthetic musks are bioaccumulative, showing up in blood, breast milk, and infants, and may break down our bodies’ defenses against other toxic exposures.
Join Women's Voices for the Earth for this Twitter Party
Wednesday, 9/15 at 6:00PST/9:00EST
Party hashtag: #toxiccleaners
Go to www.tweetgrid.com to join the party!

Join WVE for this Twitter party, which coincides with the American Cleaning Institute’s Annual Meeting! Help send the message that you don’t want disinfectants linked to hormone disruption or laundry detergents contaminating breast milk, and that cleaning product companies can no longer keep toxic chemicals that could impact your health a secret from you.

Follow @women4earth to get the dirt on cleaners, ways to reduce your exposure, and a fun and easy call to action on Twitter and Facebook to make real changes!

Women’s Voices for the Earth is a national organization that works to eliminate toxic chemicals that impact women’s health by changing consumer behaviors, corporate practices and government policies.

http://www.womenandenvironment.org


My Problem with Free Range Kids...


How do you feel about letting your children be Free Range Kids? I don't want to keep my kids shunned away from the great outdoors, but I don't feel it's the same 'world' out there from when I was a kid.

AKA: there's no one around.

With soccer practice, daycare centers, moms and dads at work all hours of the night, people shut up in their homes watching TV, on the computer, playing video games, whose outside watching the kids? Or, more realistically, what kids are left? There is basically no one out there to play with...the place is a ghost-town!

I remember getting to play outside a lot, and without my mother watching over me like a hawk. And I grew up right outside Detroit (12 Mile Road). I was free to roam the block by myself, ride my bike, play in friend's yards.

But the difference between that neighborhood and the one I live in today is that, while my mother may not have been outside to watch me, there was always a handful of neighbors outside in their yards, sitting on their porch, hanging out in their garages. No matter how many houses down the road I went, someone was there who knew me, who knew my parents, and knew when to head me back home.

Where we live now?

There is no one outside. Zero adults. And kids? I know there are some around, but you'd never know it by looking outside. I tell you - it's a ghost town!

But my kids are outdoor animals. They love to run around crazy, dig in the dirt, climb trees. Bikes, hikes, swimming pools. You name it, they're game. And our neighborhood is okay. There's space enough to roam, some street traffic but not much. However, unless I'm out there with them, I can't just leave them out there by themselves. How? There isn't a living soul out there besides them. No one is watching them. There's no one outside ever. No adults. No kids. No one. It sucks.

So enters my problem with free range kids. I think our world has changed. At least in ghost-town suburbia. Of course I can shell out hundreds of dollars a month to involve my kids in sports and classes so they can 'play' and 'make friends'. It seems that's what every other parent out here on the East Coast does. But I want my kids to have time to be kids. I don't want them bombarded with more rules and restrictions and uniforms. So, instead, they have each other and a sea of empty lawns they're not supposed to walk on.

God forbid someone step on grass made of gold...

Yes, I am cranky. I thought this was going to be easy, as in easy to give my kids what I had - freedom. I don't want to say that letting your child have free range is a bad thing. I love it! I want that for MY kids too!

But with vacant neighborhoods and children being abducted right out of their own front yards, I don't know what to do. I don't know what is the safest bet anymore: let them play outdoors with the mosquitoes (benign) and occasional stray wandering adult or teenager cutting through the neighborhood (not so benign); or keep them safely indoors to tear up the place, play Wii all day, never getting time to become acquainted with Mother Earth, bugs, trees, sunshine, fresh air...


What about you? How do you feel about this? Do you allow your children free range of the neighborhood, sans supervision? Or are you like me, possibly letting your imagination get carried away, possibly not.







Hey There, Green Mamas... We're Back! :)

Back from vacations, summer breaks, hot-humid weather that depletes us of energy and makes us dunk in the pool all day long and go to the beach instead of writing and blogging about being green mamas...

We're back ;)

How have you been? What's on your minds? Any Green Mama questions burning to be asked? Any Green Mama dilemmas that you need help with?

As we get our thinking caps back on and start rolling with the flow again, feel free to contact us with any ideas or questions you have! Hope everyone is having a great time with their families and finding fun ways to stay cool during heat waves.

Question: Anyone else find it hard to be green while on vacation?

Green Tips for Green Mamas...Grasscycling

Every week we try to tackle a Green Mama problem with a simple Green Mama solution. Could be one thing to do, one thing to toss,or one thing to purchase. Never know. But one things for sure, it won't be a huge TO DO list. We mamas already have a full day planned, don't we?!

Grasscycling


If you don't cut the grass - I've only ever done it a small handful of times in my lifetime - this tip might be best passed onto your very own Green Daddy ;)

"Cut it high and let it lie! The Environmental Protection Agency recommends leaving grass clippings on your lawn rather than collecting and bagging them to reduce the amount of waste that is collected and processed.

Grasscycling enhances the natural health of your lawn. Grass clippings increase the soil's organic matter, along with its ability to retain moisture and nutrients, resist erosion, and maintain cooler temperatures during the summer. Clippings should be no more than one inch long in order to fall through the grass into the soil." ~ Citizens Information Center

Green Tips for Green Mamas.... Make Your Own Natural Bug Repellent

Every week we try to tackle a Green Mama problem with a simple Green Mama solution. Could be one thing to do, one thing to toss,or one thing to purchase. Never know. But one things for sure, it won't be a huge TO DO list. We mamas already have a full day planned, don't we?!

Make Your Own Natural Bug Repellent

Ok, so it's getting warmer, we're spending more and more time outdoors doing our thing... and the bugs are starting to do their thing too.

Some bugs are great. Take Lady Bugs for instance. They help keep our gardens healthy and bad bug free without the use of harsh chemicals.

Some bugs are not so great. Take mosquitoes for instance (no, their name does not deserve to be capitalized. They suck blood, make us itchy, and won't get the hint to leave us alone!) However, as much as they bug us, we don't want to use harsh chemicals on our bodies just like we avoid using them in our gardens.

So, what's a green mama to do?

Make your own natural bug repellent. It's easier than you might think.

What you need:
  • spray bottle, preferably one that you've been waiting for a way to reuse (some people recommend only using a glass container, but it's debatable IMO)
  • one or all of the following essential oil: citronella, rosemary, lavender, yarrow, tee tree, eucalyptus oil. (I say one or all because we all have different likes and dislikes when it comes to scents. Test them out, see which ones you like, or which combination you like. One will work just as well as all. You don't need to over do it. )
  • a base solution: rubbing alcohol, vodka, olive oil, or witch hazel. I personally like witch hazel, as it seems to repel bugs all on it's own too, and it's great for your skin.
  • a label
What to do:
  • in your spray bottle, add your base solution plus your essential oil(s) in a 10:1 ratio.
  • label it so you know and the kids know and hubby knows what's in it and not to drink it
  • shake well before every use to recombine the solution (oils separate)
  • spray onto skin and clothing when outside
  • keep a bottle near the doors and keep it out of reach of children. Not only if you use Vodka, but essential oils can be pricey!
Easy enough? If you have a favorite concoction when making your own bug repellent, do share, please do (comment below :)

Here's to an enjoyable spring outdoors, minus buggin' bugs!

:)


Green Tips for Green Mamas... Sunscreen

With summer just around the corner it's time to start thinking about how to protect ourselves and our loved ones from sun exposure and worst of all a sunburn. I've always struggled with finding a sunscreen that does not cause irritation of my skin. I have very sensitive skin as does my 7 1/2 month old daughter so as we started spending more and more time outside I knew that I had to find a solution. A sunscreen that didn't give her a rash but also one that I was comfortable with the ingredients. After much research I feel confident in my decision, this is now the only sunscreen for my household. This sunscreen has no synthetic chemicals and the packaging is made from recycled and sustainable materials and is phthalate and BpA free. I love knowing that not only am I protecting my families skin from the sun but I'm also using a safe product.

Green Tips for Green Mamas... Cleaning Up Indoor Air Pollution

This is the beginning of our new Green Tips for Green Mamas blog posts. Every week we'll tackle the big problems with a simple solution. Could be one thing to do, one thing to toss, one thing to purchase. Never know. But one things for sure, it won't be a huge TO DO list. We mamas already have a full day planned, don't we?!

So, here we go...

Everyday presents us green mamas with a new opportunity to do something...green. And there is so much to be done, isn't there? This week we'll take a look at what we can do about our living space...indoor air pollution.

House plants are our best defense against indoor house pollution (which, in most cases, is much worse than the outdoor air pollution!)

So.....What's a green mama to do???

One big problem...One easy answer...Get an Areca Palm house plant!

According to Justin at www.metaefficient.com, using Areca Palms is "[a]n easier way to add humidity to a room... These palms release copious amounts of water into the air, and remove chemical toxins too. They are consistently rated among the best houseplants for removing all indoor toxins tested. "

Ok, so this week, find yourself an Areca Palm (I put a pic up top in case you want to print it to bring with you to the nursery). Put one in each bedroom to help decrease toxins and increase humidity. They are non-toxic, so don't worry about the kids chewing on the leaves. Hopefully your little greenies won't though ;)

So there you have it, women. Being green isn't a huge TO DO list. One simple change a week.

Send in pics of your new house plants on facebook, and let us know if you notice any difference ;)

Earth Hour... Turn Off Your Lights Tonight!

re-posted for Earth Day Network

Earth Day is a month away, but another opportunity to join the fight climate change is just around the corner.

On Saturday, March 27 at 8:30 PM, millions of people across the globe will take a stand against climate change by turning off their lights for one hour - Earth Hour.

Earth hour is a chance to drive the environmental movement forward with one simple action. More than that, your participation will have impact outside of the usual suspects - you will raise climate awareness amongst your friends, family, and neighbors.

Help build environmental awareness - take action this Saturday for Earth Hour.

Earth Day Network is proud to be an official supporter of Earth Hour. We know that when millions of dedicated people gather to demand change, it works. Be the difference between the status quo and the substantive change needed for a more sustainable future: join us by taking action during Earth Hour.

This Saturday, let's demonstrate our resolve and take Earth Hour to the next level. Visit MyEarthHour.org to find out how you can play your part.

We can't wait to see the difference you make!

Thank you for everything you do,

The Team,
Earth Day Network

P.S. Don't forget - Turn off your non-essential lights at 8:30 PM this Saturday for Earth Hour.

Are there any Green Pros to Homeschooling?

I plan on homeschooling my children next year - yeah! - and have been thinking about how this change is going to effect everything from daily routines to our lifestyle.

One change that came to mind this morning, as I drove my kindergartner to school, was how homeschooling is going to help us be even more green.

Transportation
I won't need to drive my kids to and from school five days a week, 9 months a year. We might have field trips here and there, but for the most part we'll be at home and either bike or walk to our destinations, like the park. No brainer there that that will cut down on the amount of fuel we consume in a year, not to mention how much less pollution will be emitted by us.

School Gear & Supplies

New school clothes, new backpacks, new lunch boxes, new school supplies. At home, we don't really need a whole slew of new clothes to 'keep up' with the trends. My kids can keep on liking what they like, coming into less contact with peer pressure to switch from one popular thing to the next.

Curriculum
Besides being able to green the focus my curriculum, there are so many used books and online resources for homeschooling that I won't need to purchase anything brand new unless I want to. Most homeschooling parents I know share and reuse materials from year to year, and that advantage will help not only with costs on my end, but also cut down on the amount of new material needed to produce such books and items.

Food
What better way to teach children how to eat healthier than to involve them in the process, from garden to table. Each of my children have their own 'plots' to grow whatever they choose in the garden. I've always sent my children to school with a packed lunch, and tell them to bring home their recycling. But next year will be different as we'll all be together for lunch! My mother used meals as a way to teach us about many different subjects - math, reading, cultures. She didn't know it, but when we weren't at school, she was always homeschooling us, and it was always fun.

Do you know of any other green pros to homeschooling?

How have you incorporated green teachings into your schooling?

I've managed to make my children's school year this year as green as I could, and I was happy to find that the school recycles paper and school lunch trays, which are made of Styrofoam. It's a start with a lot of room to grow. Wanting to insure my children live green is not my reasoning behind my choice to homeschool. Except switching to homeschooling is wonderful since, by doing so, we will be able to be more green!.

And isn't that always one of our most important goals as a family?

Love each other...Love our Earth...

:)



Garden Porn! Getting in the Mood to Garden...

Yes, mamas look at porn too...garden porn that is ;)

It's one of the sure fire ways to get people in the mood to plant and grow their own garden, teasing them with a bit of what's to come...

You've seen it. Tantalizing displays of plump, ripe tomatoes strewn about on a bed of luscious green romaine. Rosy beets peeking out between long, lanky bright multi-colored carrots and turnips.

Heirloom...Organic...Local...

Gotta have it!!

My first of many garden porn magazines - aka: seed catalogs - came in just a few weeks ago, when there was still feet upon feet of snow freezing the ground outside. So I've had time to ingest and absorb the wonderfully vibrant photos of yummy veggies, fruits, and herbs. I can't wait start planning and plant my garden, now that the snow has melted and the sun it amping up it's warmth.

Some of my favorite seed catalogs that I've been pouring over are:

Seed Savers
Seeds of Change

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
- talk about drop dead photos! Who knew food could get you so in the mood!!! ;)
Amish Land Seeds

Whatever garden porn seed catalog you go with, just make sure that the selection is Mansanto free, organic, and full of variety and heirloom seeds. And when you're done with them, keep the catalogs around for craft activities with the kids. Also, don't keep the pics to yourself. Invite your kids to dream and design their very own gardens!

Don't forget about heirlooms...Heirlooms rook! For the past three years that I've been gardening with a vengeance, I've found that whatever I plant, so long as it's heirloom, not only does it thrive, but it's easier to keep alive (I don't have a bright green thumb yet, I tend to kill things), and the fruit tastes so much better. Maybe because it's closer to the original. Maybe because it's new to my tongue. Whatever reason, don't be afraid to plant purple tomatoes and striped beets. You'll be happily surprised.

If the ground in your area isn't ready for tilling and moving around, this is the perfect time to start planning your garden. With your seed catalogs in hand, makes lists of what you want to grow and where. Read up on companion gardening - growing plants together that help each other out (like tomatoes and basil together; corn, squash, and beans together).

After you have your list, decide where you're going to plant your garden in your yard (note where there is usually shade and DO NOT plant there...speaking from experience here...). Draw up a diagram of how your rows or beds will lay, what you'll plant where, and make sure to add room for paths to walk on and a spot for your compost pile. Container gardening? Start collecting containers on Craigslist and Freecycle now and start prepping your site.

However your garden grows...here's to the grown thawing out, great garden plans, and seed catalogs that get us excited to garden!

:)


Spring Cleaning is Cleaning Green!

The snow is melting, the weather is warming...and we green mamas know what that means. It's that time of year again. Spring cleaning time!

No, no. Don't dread. I actually love this time of the year. After being closed in all winter - kids (and husbands) dragging in dirt and whatnot on snow boots, wood bits and ash from the fireplace, the house closed up tight to keep in the warmth - I can't wait to open all the windows, let the house air out, and clean it like Martha Stewart is coming to town!

I know she's not stopping by, but you never know...

So, that brings us to cleaning, which really isn't all that fun, but necessary to create and maintain a healthy home environment for our families. Plus, if you have a husband like mine, you have to keep the house in tip top shape in the event that he brings home guests, unannounced! I can't even count how many times he just happens to bring hoards of people over, without more than a 5 minute warning (sometimes none!!!). This is why I always keep my house walk in ready.

Husbands...gotta love them ;)

Keeping a house walk-in ready helps keep your house in order so that weekly cleaning isn't a huge undertaking, just as weekly cleaning helps keep your house clean enough so that spring cleaning isn't a month long process! And don't we all just love spring cleaning, as it gives us a chance to dedicate time towards all those things that we 'miss' or 'ignore' the rest of the year.

"Oh, I didn't even notice that closet was stuffed full of crap...now how did that get past me..." Hmmm...

So, what are these things we ignore? Well, that depends on who you are. Me? I ignore the stove and windows. My niece and nephew, when they were young, LOVED to clean windows. Don't ask me why, but whenever they came over to visit Aunt Lia's house, that's what they wanted to do...who was I to deny them?! But they've grown up and, well, I think they're onto me ;)

I'm not a big fan of a huge spring cleaning, so that is why I do a little bit here, a little bit there, year round. The closets I reorganize and rearrange on an almost monthly basis. I think I might have an illness, because I enjoy it...a lot. But it helps keep the overflow of stuff to a minimum since I'm constantly weeding out and donating items that my family no longer uses or needs.

Come March, when the sun shine gets stronger, illuminating the dust and dirt in the house that well, I just didn't notice in the dim winter sun light, I start cleaning walls, ceiling fans, and whatnot as I notice them. And when it comes to cleaning, I use two main ingredients: vinegar and baking soda. That basically takes care of every cleaning need I have. To mask the smell of vinegar, use a few drops of your favorite EO (essential oil). I usually use lavender or lemon. That, dripped into a spray bottle with 1:1 water and vinegar, will clean just about anything, and leave it smelling great too.

Vinegar is great for cleaning everything. Windows, counter tops, bathrooms, carpet stains, all purpose cleaner...and that's just a few things. It's non-toxic, the kids can help you clean, works great in the laundry, and you can cook with it too!

Rub some baking soda mixed with water inside the stove, let it dry, and then wipe it off. It's abrasive, non-toxic, can be used in the laundry, and you can cook with it too!

Great things are worth repeating ;)

For "spring cleaning", I go through the house, room by room, and make a master list of all the things I need to do. If you want to do it all in one shot, select a weekend, a week, or a whole month that you are going to dedicate to getting this list taken care of and stick to it. I post my list by my calendar so I can jump for joy as items get crossed out when they get done.

Here's my list...

Whole house
- windows
- ceiling fans
- wipe down walls (walls get dusty too!)

Kids Rooms
- rearrange room (this freshens up the space, makes it new, and I can clean under furniture)
- consign clothes (out with the old, room for the new)

Living Room/Dining Room
- wash curtains
- rearrange room
- hang pictures (maybe this year I'll actually get to it!)

Kitchen
- clean fridge/freezer
- stove (oh, woe is me...)
- paint yellow (can't wait!)

Outside (don't neglect the great outdoors!)
- clean up after snow plows (I can't believe how much trash they picked up and left!...)
- paint outdoor furniture
- straighten up, get ready to garden!!! :)

So far I've done the fridge and consigned a great deal of kids clothes they grew out of. I think I'll take a day here, a day there during March to finish everything off on the list. That way I'll have all of April to dedicate to getting my garden ready for May planting!!! Now THAT is my most favorite time of the year!

Bring on the sunshine...I'm ready!

;)


Making your home "Walk In Ready"

by Green Mama Lia

Being a stay-at-home mom of a 2 and 5 year old, my home never stays orderly and clean. At first I tried to maintain perfect order and cleanliness and just about drove myself insane! Then I decided to let it all go. I mean, honestly, why bother picking up the same pillows, blankets, toys, and dishes, just to have to pick them up 20, 30, 40 more times in the same day, only to go to bed with the house re-destroyed?

If you just let your house go, it's a hell of a job to get it into OK order if someone is coming over that you know about.

However! If your family and friends are like mine and most of your visitors are totally unannounced, aka: you haven't any idea that someone is coming, let alone have time to clean, until they are on your door step?!?! You need a plan...

Besides reciting your mantra to calm down and refocus, I've come up with a sure-fire way to have my house look better than it is at first sight.

I call it my Walk In Ready method.
  1. First, you have to get the chaos in order. This method calls for a walkable floor area, at least to some sort of seating.

  2. Once you have that done, it won't matter if all the toys and books in the house come crashing down while you have a visitor: All the adult areas are taken care of. The idea behind this: Toys are just toys and they don't lend themselves to an idea that the house is dirty. There is no helping it. The kids will be kids and their toys are their toys.

  3. Ok, so next, stand at your front door and look in, as though you were an outsider walking in. What's the first thing you see? For me, it's the family room (oh, crap...) So my task was to find some way to hide the chaos and instill a sense of cleanliness and order for my guests. I make sure that the blanket and pillows on the couch that you see when you first walk in are in order (this requires me to straighten them numerous times a day, but I like at least something to look nice!) I also have a coffee table that has nice orderly looking bins placed in a line underneath. Who cares that they are filled with junk, toys, and whatnot. They, at first glance, look nice. This is key: the illusion of order ;)

  4. Next, is the beds. Yes, I know, I know. I hate making beds too. Just make them: It doesn't have to be perfect, it just have to be done (that is another one of my mantras.) A messy room doesn't look 1/100th as messy as it really is if the bed is made. Go, try it yourself. Your room, your child's room..it's a mess, right? Well, make the bed and then look at it again. Now it looks like it was fixed up but, with during the day of play, it's gotten some toys on the floor. But it still looks nice. Thus, the illusion continues!

  5. Ok, finally, and this might be a hard one, is the kitchen sink. It doesn't even have to be spotless, just not filled to the rim with a week's worth of food encrusted nasty dishes. Ewe, gross! Your kitchen counters can be unorganized, the tables still with breakfast plates, but if your sink is empty or almost empty, it gives the illusion that it's all a work in progress.
It's pretty simple. At no given time is my house perfect, if there were such a thing as perfect. I've got laundry in progress, dishes cleaning and getting dirty constantly, the floors need to be done, and I don't recall the last time I dusted...However, at first glance, it's all good. It's totally Walk in Ready right now, even though my foyer has toys in it, there are a pair of socks on the front lawn, and the kids have orange peels all over the kitchen table.

It still looks OK because the beds are made (not perfect, just done), the dishwasher is running (a sign of progress), and the pillows on the couch are just that...STILL on the couch, not on the floor.

I like using this method to help keep my home in order in the event that I have unannounced guests (this happens only once a day!). Of course, this doesn't mean that I never clean clean the house. Ha! Wouldn't that be nice ;)

And when they do pop in, I have a pretty good idea that, if given the chance to SIT DOWN and TALK to this person, my home's order will suffer. But not for long. Another one of my mantras will go into action: if you make the mess, you clean it up.

That's another post for another day...how to get kids to pick up after themselves...oh, boy...

;)