21 December 2009

cleaning up my act

What was your New Year's resolution for 2009?

I resolved to live a more natural, green, holistic, call it whatever you want-life.  Sure, I had made some changes over the years in this direction, but I never really committed myself to it. When I was pregnant I moved towards organic, local foods. I started to research holisitic remedies to keep in my mommy-arsenal. I bought my Tom's of Maine toothpaste and deodorant. That was really it.

By 2009, I felt I finally had it together enough to simplify my life. But where to begin? It can be really overwhelming trying to make lifestyle changes. So, I started with baby steps. I didn't want this resolution to go the way of years past. My resolution became detoxifying our lives: household cleaners, personal care products, food containers, and food.

I'm proud to say that it's gone pretty well. Here's my list of accomplishments:
  • renewed CSA membership - for spring and winter shares
  • shopped less at grocery stores, bought more food locally & more organic products, bought in bulk when feasible 
  • switched to glass containers for food storage
  • planted a fire escape garden - grew basil and a tomato plant (though I only got three tomatoes)
  • consistently bought shampoo, soap, toothpaste, deodorant that was organic and/or natural for myself (still trying to find a baby wash that works for my son - so right now it's conventional, but fragrance-free)
  • switched my makeup to fragrance-free (baby steps here...)
and here's what I am most proud of...
  • i've made our household cleaners for an entire year now - kitchen & bathroom cleaners, laundry detergent, and (less successfully) dishwashing detergent
For once, I am really happy with my resolution. I won't spend New Year's Eve thinking about    why my resolution didn't work out, what I could have done differently. The key was doing it little by little. And I'll expand upon my "green" theme for this coming year as well. I'm going to focus on creating less waste and getting rid of my nemesis - the ziplock bag.

13 December 2009

unconditional parenting

I always think that everyone parents their kids the same way I do. That is, until I am confronted with a "time out."  Now even my son gives his toys "time outs." What's a mom to do?

A while back I sent an email to our "neighborhood moms" yahoo group asking if anyone else was AP'ing their kids, and if yes, would they want to get together to support each other.  I got one response.  The mom even told me I was brave for asking the group such a question.

That was two years ago, and I have definitely seen a shift in our neighborhood away from the Ferber-Brazelton-Super Nanny schools of parenting. There are women doing EC with their four-month old babes, baby-wearers here and there, and lots of extended breastfeeding. All things to be really happy about. But reading an article in the NYT a few weeks ago, I was reminded that everyone is not as progressive as I'd like to believe.

The article was on unconditional parenting, written by alfie kohn, titled to draw readers in: When a Parent’s ‘I Love You’ Means ‘Do as I Say’, with a follow up on the Times' parenting blog: Punishing Children With Love. These articles are mostly excerpted from his book Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason. I've read Kohn's book twice now, and am working to incorporate his principals into my parenting relationship with Diego. For those of you who haven't read his book, it's out there. Way out there. But, as a Buddhist (or some semblance of one...), I find his approach compassionate, reasoned, and respectful. It is also confronting. It is hard to challenge your long-held assumptions, accept that you might not be right, and then try things differently.

The premise of the book is that parenting based on punishments and/or rewards tells kids that we love them when they conform to our notion of how they should be. It makes perfect sense. It resonates with my own childhood. I certainly felt that my own parents' love was conditional - even though they told me it wasn't. But the old adage is right - actions do speak louder than words.  The book suggests that children should have a say in their lives, that decisions can be shared, and that there doesn't always have to be a winner.