Becoming a parent is life-altering. Anyone that’s undergone the transformation-or even viewed it from a close friend or relative- can attest to that. It changes us all differently, and for me, it went beyond caring more about her well being than mine. It went further than operating on little sleep and wearing dirty clothes. It made me take a clearer look at my surroundings, and what I considered to be the “norm” at that time. Really, I can thank Pistache for the life I have today, because everything I’ve changed about my lifestyle is because of her. I’m not an established hippie or someone that has naturally had an interest in living greener and cleaner. It’s all pretty new, and there is still a lot to learn. Parenthood made me open my eyes to a lot of different aspects of my life that were suddenly less than ideal.
1. Breastfeeding There is a lot of debate about breast vs. bottle, but for me, the decision was simple.
Breast milk really is the best, simplest, and most natural food a new baby can have. It is specifically designed for your child’s needs, and no other mother’s breast milk will be as perfect for your baby as yours. It is also free, easy to transport, easy to clean up, always with you, and always the perfect temperature. Formula feeding mammas always claim that bottle feeding is just easier. I can tell you from experience (I lost my supply and couldn’t regain it due to stress and poor diet at 6 months) that breastfeeding is easier. Who wants to go downstairs and heat a bottle in the middle of the night?! It’s so much easier to cuddle in the bed and doze while baby sleeps. Or just feed baby as soon as they are hungry instead of having to fix a bottle with a screaming infant in the background. No thanks.
2. Green Cleaning Had Pistache not had horrible eczema, it’s possible I would have never taken a closer look at my cleaning products. I mean, bleach makes things clean, right?! Well…technically yes it does, but it’s not always the best choice for the average household. Bleach and other commercial cleaning products are harsh chemicals that are no good for you, your children (who at some point will crawl on the floor then chew on their fingers), your pets, or any company you invite into your home. I won’t go into the scientific specifics of this since it’s long and boring, but let’s just say there is a reason the bottles say to use in a “well ventilated area.” While bleach is a great disinfectant if someone in your house has been really sick, there are many more natural products that are not as harsh and disinfect just as well, such as white distilled vinegar, borax, many essential oils, and baking soda.
3. Homemade Baby Food/Baby Led Weaning From the moment I decided to breast feed I pretty much swore off of commercial baby nutrition products. Other than the few boxes of cereal and purees we got from WIC, everything we put in front of Pistache was made in my own home. We started with a few simple purees of fruit and veggies, with instructions from Wholesome Baby Food, and then went to more of a Baby Led Weaning approach by serving soft bananas, super ripe pears, peaches, mangos, and avocados, graham crackers, soft pasta, soft-steamed veggies like carrots, toast fingers, and other soft foods that are easy to mash. Once you learn the difference between choking and gagging, take a CPR class to ease your nerves, and realize that the mess doesn’t matter, it’s really a great way to “let go” of all of the stress related to feeding your baby. And you know what? Everyone is still impressed with the variety of foods Pistache eats on a daily basis! Win-Win.
4. Clean Eating Baby led weaning made me take a closer look at what I was putting on the table. After all, you want to give your baby the best start in life by offering wholesome foods full of nutrition. As you progress with baby led weaning and your child becomes more accustomed to different foods, you start offering a softer, more baby friendly alternative to what the rest of the family is eating. This made me realize how much processed “non foods” we were actually eating, like Hamburger Helper and other boxed meals, Fast food, white breads and pastas, and condiments loaded with extra sugar and sodium. After taking a good, long look at the ingredients lists and nutritional information on different foods, I slowly started cutting out the processed crap and putting more real food on the table.
5. No Poo & Natural Body Care Don’t worry. “No poo” has absolutely nothing to do with being constipated. It actually means “no shampoo.” I know, I hate the abbreviated term for this as much as you do. Yes, I thought this change sounded crazy at first, too, until I started losing my hair. And this was way past the postpartum period where hair loss is a common side-effect. In fact, Pistache was three! After lots of research and talking to friends who had made the switch, I decided to try it. I couldn’t get DH on board at first, but he agreed to try it out if we used a natural shampoo bar made locally rather than just the pure baking soda cleaners that most “no poo” fans use. Shampoo, and other commercial cleaners, are loaded with chemicals that I just didn’t want to put on my body any longer. I’ve also switched to more natural face washes, exfoliants, and shave bars made locally, and I just keep making small changes as I try new recipes. I’d be happy to share a few if anyone is interested, too.
These are just some of the biggest changes I’ve made directly related to parenthood. Has parenthood changed you? How so?