I've heard people say, “Before I had kids, I was the BEST parent on the planet.” It's funny how that works, isn't it? We all have the greatest intentions, and then life gets in the way. When I was pregnant with my first, I bought small-batch homemade lotion from a local boutique and stocked up on cloth diapers. Then kids came along, and we basically just tried to survive. Things got…cluttered. And confusing. I felt like I was drowning under the weight of it all and I just wanted to go back to a life that was simple.
How Minimalism Gets Derailed
The product decisions that I placed so much emphasis on initially got really tangled up for my husband and I. Our shopping responsibilities were split down the middle after we had kids, but differing priorities led to a strange mish-mash of brands and items crowding our home. Both of us remained minimalist, but with clashing approaches.
I continued to invest my energy into sourcing products that had a select few ingredients and that fulfilled my desire to give back to the world (since I no longer had time to devote to making a direct impact in my community). Nate developed an almost isolationist focus on our family and our budget. He picked what was cheapest, easiest, and met our own needs in a way that was very effective, albeit not as thoughtful as I would have liked.
To be fair, Nate always thought my “crunchy” inclinations were a little…touchy-feely. He never signed up for any of that, and I knew going in that it would be my priority, not his. So we started veering into the drive-through more often than I'd like and shopping at the big box stores because I was tired and hello, have you ever tried to take kids into one of those fancy-schmancy shops? I have. It's not fun.
Discuss Priorities so Everybody is Considered
There was always this little voice in the back of my head, though, every time I reached for a product on a crowded shelf. I'd remember the latest article I read about dyes or parabens (the horror!) and I'd hem and haw and anxiously chew on the corner of one of my nails. Inevitably, one of my kids would start crying in the shopping cart and I'd shrug and get on with it because I was SO OVERWHELMED.
Then our third son came along and he had some skin sensitivities, so I was forced to look at labels all over again. I special-ordered some of that “touchy-feely” stuff that Nate hated. Stuff that, admittedly, didn't work as well as the main brands in the big box stores. My whole family was frustrated and I was confused.
Stay on Top of New Developments
Progress is being made, though! I see changes being made to ingredient lists every time I go to the store. Softsoap just introduced their new Earth Blends line exclusively at Walmart to help meet the needs of families like our own! It's a paraben-free and dye-free line made from biodegradable cleaning ingredients.
Here's a solution that meets both Nate and I's minimalist sensibilities: in a big box store. I've seen this dynamic play out time and time again as I spin my wheels on a home dynamic that simply isn't working for us. If we keep demanding better solutions from brands, they will listen.
Right now it seems that we have to manage a strange mish-mash of deliveries from Costco, Target, Walmart and Amazon to find minimalist solutions that meet our family's needs – but it's a heck of a lot better than when we had to visit those boutique shops.
All this time and all these kids have taught me one primary lesson, which is that I have to choose what to put my attention towards. Am I the most hippie-ish mom to walk the planet? No. But that's not where I'm trying to earn expert status. Right now, I'm earning all the gold stars in blending everything into something that makes sense for us. I'm multitasking, list-making and prioritizing so that I can put my kids first and be a kick-butt mom. I'm trying to express the occasional “thanks” and shout out products that make my life better.
And once in awhile, when I get really lucky, I get to squeeze in a little me time. I draw a bath and light a candle.
Sometimes, I even manage to get one from that local boutique.
How do you stay conscientious about products you use in your busy life?