With my due date fast approaching (tomorrow!), I’ve been thinking about how we want to raise our child. In terms of our continued quest for sustainability, I realize that there are some areas of our lives that we’ll have to let slide, while in other areas, we’ll be able to continue on in our sustainable ways.
The first thing to go will be Freezing Our Buns. We’ve been told on numerous occasions that our house is simply too cold for a baby. Don’t worry grandmas-to-be, we promise to turn the heat up when we bring the little guy home. For now, our nighttime temperature of 60 suits me just fine. Our desire to reduce our carbon footprint and our dependence on foreign oil isn’t more important than keeping our little guy warm. But not to worry, spring seems to be coming on full force, and we look forward to being able to turn the heat off for the year and throwing the windows open.
I also realize that I’m going to have to scale back some of my from-scratch lifestyle, as the new baby will put bigger demands on my time. Though I’ve been meaning to get a clothes line and start line drying, I know this summer probably won’t be the time for it. Since I hate doing laundry now, and I’ve been told our once-a-week laundry regime will change quite a bit when baby comes, I’m planning to continue using the dryer. I’ll also probably be more likely to use a kitchen appliance than do something by hand, like using a breadmaker instead of kneading. Even so, I think I’ll be buying bread, and I probably won’t make homemade cheese for a while either. If these compromises result in more time with my family, then that’s fine with me.
One thing that I’m not willing to change is my reduction in household chemicals. My “green” cleaners won’t be replaced by the cheaper, more traditional cleaners. Let’s be honest, I don’t clean all that often (my family and friends will confirm that), so I’m not going through an inordinate amount of household cleaners. Having a baby is not the time to get relaxed about chemicals in the house. The same goes for personal care products: I’m going to keep on getting products that are as pure and safe as possible.
I think a new, interesting facet will be working on sustainable consumerism. Until now, I’ve been what you might call an anti-consumer, really thinking about my purchases before making them. After building our dream house, it was easy… we were out of money! However, having a baby brings with it a whole new need to buy things. Fortunately, I had an amazing baby shower, and we’ve got most of what we’ll need. But as our baby grows, we’ll need the typical clothes, shoes and toys, and I’ve done my best during my pregnancy to start scouting second-hand stores and learning about toy safety.
Our food choices also won’t change. Sustainable, locally and humanely raised food is important to both of us, and teaching our son where his food comes from is going to be a big part of his upbringing. This is one area that I’m determined not to let fall through the cracks as learning to raise a baby takes over our lives. We’re planning to continue our vegetable garden this year, while scaling back a little to make it more realistic for us. I’ve decided not to start seeds indoors this spring, but will be getting some tomatoes that my dad started from seed, and starting other veggies right in the garden. We’re going to grow only veggies that we know we’ll eat on a regular basis so we’ll be able to keep up, and along with our berry patch we should have plenty of produce from our backyard. Our little boy, before he’s even eating solid food, will benefit from our backyard garden because I plan to breastfeed. But that’s not all… with a mom’s family farm raising strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, raspberries, peaches, apples and pumpkins, and a dad’s family raising pigs, turkeys, clams, oysters and–for the first time this year–chickens… Well let’s just say this little guy will be exposed to lots of agriculture and healthy local food when the time comes for him to eat it.
But it’s not just about the food: it’s about the experience. I look forward to taking my little boy on walks around the farm in his stroller or in a carrier, enjoying the outdoors and the animals. We can also visit the local farmer’s markets and enjoy music and community. When he’s older, my husband looks forward to taking the little guy out on the boat, helping to gather clams or stealing some time to fish. The excitement of catching a fish, growing a giant pumpkin, or collecting eggs from our future backyard flock will always be a part of our family’s life.
Overall, I think staying on the path to sustainability has to be about choices. Major changes in our lives mean we have to reassess what’s most important to us, what to keep and what to let go. What do you think?