I can’t begin to explain how often that advice is given. It fits with just about any issue… in a perfect world. But what about when there is no compromise? Because those situations are the real issues. The small things, yeah, we can find middle ground, one of us will back down because, we’re just too tired. Too tired of fighting. I am too tired.
Last year I committed to a year of “no-poo”. Well that’s what I called it, but in reality shampoo was only one of the many changes I made. I stopped using shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant, antibacterial hand soaps, body wash, lotion, face wash, acne treatments and sunscreen. I know, now I sound like a dirty hippy. Don’t worry, I’m clean, and not smelly. I started out by making my own hygiene products, and slowly weaned off of many things altogether. Here is what I learned in the last year:
The biggest thing that stands out, to be honest is that I drove my husband bonkers! Seriously. Like I think there was a point where he was ready for one of us to move out. No, not because I smelled bad, but because I didn’t give him the option NOT to jump on my bandwagon. Within a matter of weeks I had thrown out all of the shampoos and soaps in the house. I went DIY crazy and made toothpaste, hand soap, and shaving cream. He hated it. Not all of it, but most of it. He missed the suds in shampoo, and the wateriness of the body wash. The coconut oil toothpaste was salty, I fixed that, but then it was clogging our sinks. Our showers and sinks were nearly impossible to clean because coconut oil hardens and traps dirt. Still, I stood strong. I felt I was doing my job, I was saving my family from diseases. I still 100% believe in my “cause”… I just may have done it a little differently. I know that I changed everything because I love my family, but I didn’t realize the impact it would have… the negative impact. I had high hopes for the positive! I didn’t expect my husband to be frustrated daily. Missing the simplicity. I didn’t realize it took so much energy for him to try to understand my reasons, and how overwhelming it must be for him. I mean, our first year together I took away all the processed foods, and he started reading food labels. Which annoyed him then, also… now he has to read labels on the hand soap…
I realized that I was insensitive and didn’t truly know my husband. And he didn’t know me. I did not respect him. I didn’t bother to ask him, in my mind I had to save the world. That’s me… I am an activist. I see a problem and have an innate need to fix it. My heart is too big, I inherited this martyr-esque personality from my dad, and seriously I will be uncomfortable and miserable and choose the path of GREAT resistance for the greater good. That’s not my husband. They say opposites attract. Well in this case, it couldn’t be more true. I’ve learned this year that my husband is both a blessing and a lesson. I’ve learned that I am a control freak… and so is he. I’ve learned that compromise is a bitch.
The year mark couldn’t have come soon enough. Not that I wanted to buy regular hand soap, but I was ready to stop fighting. Every day became a fight on some level. Maybe we didn’t actually argue, but he would get frustrated by any number of inconveniences caused by the changes I made. And I took it personally that he hated it. It was those little things that wore on him, and turned into reasons to bicker. He became so frustrated. I felt like he didn’t care about his health, or our kids. It’s not that he doesn’t care, it’s that it was too much. This isn’t what he signed up for. It was all too much. And let’s be honest… Ignorance is bliss. I stripped away his bliss, I dissected it, and magnified the ugly truths, broadcasting them, forcing them to be acknowledged. This was the third time I turned his life upside-down and inside out. The first time it was the food, switching to organic and banning fast food. Next it was parenting, I brought my crunchy attachment parenting ideals into his home, and changed the rules. I took parenting out of his hands, again without compromise (in his eyes). And now I’ve taken away shampoo. In his mind, I’ve been taking. Taking away his comforts, his jobs, his rules, his ideals, his deodorant… In my mind I was enriching, nourishing, helping and teaching. It’s mind blowing how opposite we see the same situation.
It never occurred to me that I might make him feel stupid. I have such strong feelings, often based on extensive research, and because I trust my intuition. It was never my intention to make him feel less than he is. All I ever wanted was to be better for each other, our kids and the planet. I never thought that maybe he was perfectly happy with the way things were. Who do I think I am, that I can just make these decisions without talking with him? I am not his children’s mother, I do that job, he asked me to… And I wanted to. I assumed it meant I could parent the way I saw fit. I didn’t stop to think that because this is a partnership, he should have a say, more than a say… they are his kids. But I thought it was my job, this parenting thing. I have a daughter of my own, and I do my best. I thought his job was to provide, and back me up, while I did all the nitty gritty mom jobs. I didn’t think he wanted to “parent”. He never expressed interest in it, that is until I was doing it full time.
I learned that compromise doesn’t mean admitting defeat. It means I value my marriage. So last week I bought shampoo. I bought antibacterial hand soap, lysol, and toothpaste, too. (I’ll write a whole blog on what kind and why!) I am picking my battles, and finding ways to keep my household healthy… and also realizing that all of our emotional health is more important than physical. I would rather be married.
I plan to write all the amazing things (and all the not so great things) I learned in the last year! What worked, and what didn’t… I know this post makes it should like it it was a disaster, it wasn’t. My hair is happy and my skin is smoother than ever! I had to get the therapeutic part out of the way first 😉
I quit using shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, lotion and body wash! And I don’t even smell gross! My hair isn’t disgusting, greasy or flakey. My skin is clear, and I am still soft as ever! Next on the list… home made deodorant and sun screen!
As I spit out a spoonful of coconut oil one morning it struck me, I have got to blog about this. People ask me all of the time for tips, ideas and advice to be healthier. While none of what I’m suggesting is original, I figure it’s the best way to put it all in one place, and then refer the next person to my blog. There are lots of blogs out there that cover these things, just so you know. I have been waiting until I had all of my ingredients together and had actually started my new-ish rituals. I have noticed that I am not someone who can say, “From now on…” Because within a few days, I have fallen off the wagon, or realized I don’t like this idea after all, and then I look like such a flake. So… I waited to write about these things until I had officially made the switch. All of this has been a long time coming. I did not wake up one morning and decide to throw out all my old hair care products, moisturizers, shampoos, toothpaste, whitening strips, and skin care… that would be crazy, right?
It all began years ago when I started making small changes in my diet, over the years, those changes began to trickle into the rest of my life, we stopped buying water bottles, switched from zip lock baggies to tupperware… Pinterest became a life saver, I made my own laundry detergent last year (and we are STILL using that same batch!) Maybe things really began about 5 years ago when I decided to breast feed, cloth diaper and recycle. Even though they were very isolated and the next changes didn’t happen for another year or two, I believe this is a great example of the “baby steps” I preach. Regardless, here I am letting my hair dry without brushing it, styling it or putting product in it… also, I didn’t shampoo or condition (gasp!).
I wanted to give you all a page that has the ingredients and recipes for Do It Yourself, natural health and beauty products that actually work, I know, because I am putting them to the test, a few of which I have been using for over a year. I also wanted to give you a little back round on why the hell you would make your own tooth paste. There are other blogs out there that have even more info than I am sharing, google is your friend, as I am not a doctor, just a health obsessed mom who happens to blog. (They’ll just give anyone a blog won’t they?)
So this is a great time for a disclaimer: I am not a scientist, doctor or expert, I am writing opinions and facts that I have researched. I am well aware that the mainstream products I am talking about have been tested and are considered safe in small doses. My problem is the continued exposure every day all day. I also do not expect everyone to just flip your lives upside down and quit using shampoo, I am hoping to spread the word, and give you an idea about how easy it is to make small changes… not to mention the money you could be saving! Making your own health and beauty products means less poison going down our drains, less plastics being thrown out, will be better for your hair, skin and hopefully your over all health.
Cloth Diapers: I have to give CD a shout out because I think it really opened my eyes to the way we treat our planet, that awareness totally snowballed. I have not used a diaper in YEARS, my over achiever was almost completely potty trained before she was 15 months old. I have a sneaking suspicion that CD had something to do with it. (For help with potty training, check out Potty Training In Three Days or Less ) Diapers take more than 150 years to decompose… in fact we don’t know how long it takes, THAT’S how long it takes! Our landfills are piled high, and we continually add to it, how many diapers a day do you throw out? Disposable diapers are full of chemicals and we just don’t know how that effects our children, or our planet. Maybe you’ll consider it based on the cost? With disposable diapers, you’re looking at about $60+ a month, not including wipes (over $700 a year… are you ready to potty train yet?), if you cloth diaper you spend between $100-$300 one time depending on your preferences. I loved the website CottonBabies when I was CD.
Shampoo: Would you eat something that says “If ingested call poison control”? (Well maybe, so many people eat Yoga Mat Sandwiches without blinking an eye.) Not that I’m die hard on this, but my growing concern is why would I rub something into my scalp (skin in general) that is toxic? Wait- you may be thinking- shampoo is toxic??? YES! I’ll give you a brief break down of the type of things you’ll find in shampoo, and for all the technical names and a deeper look click here. You will find several cancer causing chemicals such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate, and Glycol. You’ll find chemicals that are known to cause skin irritation and imbalances your pH levels, silicone which clogs your pores and soy. Unless you are using an organic shampoo, you are putting yourself at risk, and you are not giving your hair the support it needs to be long, luxurious and strong. The funny thing… is that in order to have amazing hair, you actually need to do LESS, not more. It is a process, but not the kind of process where you do 12 steps in one day. As another blog I follow pointed out: “Also it’s better for the environment to use fewer plastic bottles and wash less poison down the drain. And there’s I guess a tiny chance it will also save you from some combination of cancer and let’s go with…epilepsy.” This is the blog I have used as reference on my No Poo journey.
Baby Shampoo: When you think about your perfect newborn, I assume you don’t plan to douse her in formaldehyde and carcinogens? (What are carcinogens? Glad you asked, it is directly linked to causing cancer, it is radiaioactive, in some cases. You’ll also find it in cigarette smoke. Because it is not immediately toxic, it’s effects can be terrible, because you continuously come into contact with seemingly no side effects.) Instead maybe adopt the Noo Poo idea for your new born? Or in the least, find an organic baby wash, I know Melaleuca (also see natural cleaning products) has a baby line, and I’m sure there are smaller companies, particularly online that offer chemical free baby shampoo/lotion (but I think it’s easier to make your own.)
No Poo: This is what you call it when you quit using shampoo (and conditioner) and allow your body to create it’s own oils to nourish your hair. I know, it sounds gross. No more shampoo? Surprisingly, people have a lot of success using this method, and the best part health-wise is that you’re not soaking your head in cancer causing chemicals, the best part beauty-wise is you finally get to enjoy the hair you always dreamed about! Before you skip this part because you have curly hair and “need to use product” this program works for you, too!!! If you have hair, you can No Poo! You only need two ingredients, I happen to have them all in my pantry.
Super easy to make a wash and a rinse.
Wash: Baking Soda and water, slowly add the water to the baking soda in a bottle making it kind of “goopy”. (I have read that less BS is better this article answered a lot of my questions) You will pour it into your scalp, and scrub. Rinse it out, then use your “conditioner”. You will most definitely miss the bubbles, I used to have this idea that bubbles meant “It’s working” If you’re considering even trying these things, you’ll have to come to terms with the idea that there are no bubbles. Buuuttt, It’s working! Better than your shampoo!
Rinse (Conditioner): I used 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and water. (It doesn’t smell nice, but the scent goes away really fast. Don’t worry you won’t smell like vinegar.) Pour the rinse on the rest of your hair, and leave it for a few minutes, then rinse with water. Vwala! Finished. You won’t have that super silky feeling as you rinse your hair out, it won’t feel feel slimy and unnaturally soft, like you’re used to, but bear with me.
It’s not suggested that you brush your hair while it’s wet, but you can use a wide tooth comb, just start from the bottom. (I like to comb my hair while the ACV is in my hair.) I noticed that my hair dries soooo much faster, it used to take HOURS for my hair to dry, I mean if I took a shower at 6 or 7 pm my hair was still damp when I woke up the next morning. I have very thick hair, and I assumed that’s why, but it turns out that’s not the reason. It seems my hair was coated with silicon and other unnatural products that give it that smooth somewhat goey feeling. My hair feels so much lighter when I get out of the shower, I have a suspicion that had I quit shampoo earlier I would have dealt with my dandruff issue earlier, but I actually solved that problem a few months before quitting shampoo by oil pulling! I’ll get to that in a minute.
So the baking soda and vinegar wash, you’ll do for about 2 weeks, you might notice a few issues, I have not had any. I “washed” it twice a week, and I didn’t get oily or flakey or itchy.
Your next phase will last a few weeks, I think about 6 weeks is typical, you’ll notice changes in your hair… you won’t like some of them… but in the end it will all be worth it! This phase is unnervingly simple. You pretty much do nothing besides brush your hair. I recommend a lot of brushing with a very clean hair brush. Your hair is going to spend the next few weeks over compensating in the oils department. Years of chemical abuse has taken it’s toll and your hair needs to relearn how to take care of itself. What you will need to do is brush the oils from your scalp through the rest of your hair. You should still be rinsing your hair with water only as often as you like, scrub your scalp as you would if you were scrubbing the baking soda in. Just don’t use anything besides water.
After 6 weeks or so, once your hair has adjusted and is amazing, you can wash with baking soda and AVC as needed, this may be if you get something in your hair or go to the beach, basically if your hair is actually dirty. Some people continue to wash once a week, do what works for you. The idea here, though, is to use nothing (besides water and a hair brush).
One thing I did, I don’t know if it’s “allowed” but I put a few tablespoons of sea salt and a little coconut oil in warm water (to melt the oil) in a spray bottle, and while my hair was damp or dry I spritz my hair and let it have that “beachy waves” look. I did not spray my roots, though, and I only did this if I was going out and didn’t want to look like I don’t take care of myself. Otherwise, I practiced cute ponytails. Pinterest is full of options! The hardest part of this is probably not knowing what to do with your hair. Get creative, you don’t have to look like a bum.
There are Facebook support groups for NoPoo, too! So if you’re serious about it, join a group. It’s much more fun and encouraging to have a support group.
Leave In Conditioner or Detangler: Just like the shampoo and conditioner issues, you’ll find many of the same toxins in detangler, so I made this one for my daughter Jenna who has lots of hair and has not quit shampoo (my youngest doesn’t use shampoo anymore either!) and needs a leave in treatment to tame her thick long hair. I used a little coconut oil, vitamin E, and water in a spray bottle. It works like a charm, but don’t use too much, or your hair will look greasy.
Deodorant: I noticed with the last deodorant I bought that it won’t come off. It’s the same one, or so I thought, that I had been buying for years because I’m allergic to everything, so I don’t have any options. Turns out, the company turned this one into a 24 hour deodorant, which translates to: FOREVER! I had to scrub the heck out of my arm pits to get this stuff off, and I couldn’t shave till it was completely removed because all the junk gets stuck in my razor making it useless. (I can’t help but think of “Spray on shoes” from Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs.) This is when I started researching deodorant and found out how unhealthy they are. As you can see from the photo above aluminum is linked to breast cancer, since we run the stuff onto our lymph nodes I see this being a huge problem! Parabens are linked to hormonal imbalance, and cancers. Companies that don’t use parabens are loud and proud! Propylene glycol (you’ll recognize this one from shampoo) can cause damage to the central nervous system, liver and heart. Phthalates is linked to birth defects, and Triclosan is a pesticide, and may even be a carcinogen. That was enough for me to start searching out a natural alternative. I tried Toms, and It didn’t work. The Trader Joe’s brand is working fine, but I would like something that smells nice, the TJs one doesn’t have a scent at all. It also has sodium hydroxide, which is toxic and can effect the nervous system, and triethanolamine which is linked to causing cancer. Sooooo looks like I’m making my own. This is the recipe that was recommended to me. I have an order in with Young Living (my cousin is a rep! Check out her blog) for essential oils, so once they arrive I will make this!
1/3 cup coconut oil (solid state)
1/4 cup baking soda (aluminum-free)
1/4 cup arrowroot powder or corn starch (organic!!!)
essential oils (optional)
***Of course the day AFTER I published this blog, my oils arrived and I was able to make my own deodorant! I am really impressed! The scent of my oils is very light, and amazingly it lasts! I only apply once a day. The biggest thing to get used to is that it is not an antiperspirant. You still sweat, but you’re not stinky. Also, I had been taking a step back from other deodorants for a few months, so, there is a possibility that I had already been adjusting to not using the chemicals, I was told that if you just stop using deodorant eventually your body figures out its job and you don’t need it at all. I had been only using my Dove if I was out in public all day, which is rare for a stay at home mom, otherwise I was using the Trader Joe’s brand… and more and more I opted for nothing at all. That being said, as with many of these home concoctions, there may be an adjustment period.
Face Scrub: (3 ingredients) I have struggled with acne for years, I have tried so many things, it was an exhausting ride. Last year I found this recipe for an acne scrub on Pinterest that I modified to work for me and it works! Now I only get a little acne if I eat dairy (my guilty pleasure). Otherwise my skin is clear and happy and I was able to ditch all my other facial products, no more toner pads that stung, yucky smelling astringent that smelled so strongly I gagged,drying moisturizers (yeah, figure THAT one out), cleansers, masques or spot treatments! All you need is sugar, organic honey and a (squeezed) lemon. Just mix it together, add lots of sugar so its very scrubby, and I scrub it on it the shower and leave it for abut 5 minutes while I shave or whatever. I only use it a few times a week and it’s awesome. You can add olive oil or jojoba for some moisturizer also.
Facial Cleanser: (2-3 ingredients) If a scrub isn’t what you need for your skin, add baking soda and some jojoba to water in any kind of container you’d like (a bottle with a pump is easiest, I think, maybe your old facial cleanser bottle?). This cleanser does exfoliate, but very gently. You can always add essential oils if you want it to smell yummy!
Moisturizer (body/face): At this point do I have to explain why I’m avoiding lotions? think carcinogens, parabens and preservatives! I used to use Everyday Shea body lotion from Lassens, and I LOVED the scent, and it’s paraben free, gluten free, fair trade yadayada… but it has Phenoxyethanol which can effect your hormones, so I have been using coconut oil as a cleanser/moisturizer in one step! I know how weird that sounds, but at this point are you surprised? Why? Well, coconut oil has like 100 uses (seriously, google it) and a few of them make it appropriate as a cleanser. Coconut oil is a great shaving cream, moisturizer, and it kills candida which is a yeast. (It also is a great sexual lubricant!) I also have been using it as a face and body moisturizer, but only a very light layer. I take a very small scoop into my hands and rub it till it liquifies, then apply to my face neck and body. Adding essential oils can make a big difference, coconut oil on its own has a ver light soothing scent, so you absolutely don’t need to add anything, but if you want a scent, go for it. Adding tea tree oil gives it an added cleansing boost, it’s very good for your skin, so is lavender.
There is an adjustment period, after you quit using lotion, the first week I didn’t feel as soft, and I felt like the oil wasn’t really absorbing, by week two I had noticed a very significant difference! Give your body the chance to adjust to the lack of chemicals
Tooth Paste: There is a lot of crap in toothpaste, chemicals, fluoride (can be used as an insecticide, is linked to thyroid problems and neurological problems), silica (harms teeth) carcinogens… I’m not saying it’s all terrible, but continuous exposure day after day, year after year, I believe THAT is worth considering.
I have been using home made toothpaste for a few weeks, this recipe lasts about a week if you’re brushing twice a day (As you should be! And flossing once a day!) It doesn’t taste good, especially if you don’t use the stevia. It’s salty. So I like to use a (home made) mouth wash after. My teeth feel very clean, even without the foaming I was so accustomed to. After a few days I was used to my new toothpaste.
1/4 cup baking soda
1/8 cup coconut oil, melted
1/8 cup hydrogen peroxide (4%) <— optional
1/4 tsp stevia (liquid or powder)<— I did not use stevia
2 tsp peppermint extract
Mouth Wash: I wanted a mouthwash because I 1/2 C. aloe vera juice1/4 C. water 1tsp. witch hazel 1tsp. baking soda (aloe juice is GREAT for oral health, you can simply gargle and swish with it.)
Body Wash: I have ditched body wash and started using coconut oil instead. A little on a loofa goes a long way and you are so silky! The best part is that you won’t need to use a moisturizer when you get out of the shower! Why did I ditch the soap? Well, coconut oil can do the job, and I don’t know what’s in the soap I was using, but I have a few ideas… In the shower I get a scoop of coconut oil (if you whip your coconut oil it won’t harden when it’s cole, and if you have ever used coconut oil, you know it’s no fun to fight with it while it’s in it’s solid state), I rub it into my hands so it’s liquified, and then into my loofa, (I like to use the loofa so that I don’t rub on a thick layer of Coconut oil, then feel oily) scrub as usual, no there are no suds and bubbles, but you can see and feel where the oil is because you can see the water droplets. For my lady bits, and arm pits I use a very small amount, rubbing it into my hands the same way to liquify it, then apply. Then I shave, and rinse. No need to moisturizer after your shower, but if you still feel you need it, apply the coconut oil the same way but rubbing it into your hands first, then to the area you want to moisturize.
The first week or so, it didn’t really seem to absorb, but by week two my skin was drinking it up! People have always told me I am very soft, (random complement) and I am still just as soft, if not softer. I have been using coconut oil for shaving as well, and it is such a close shave!
Oil Pulling: Oil pulling is probably the routine that tipped me from having healthy habits to borderline obsessed. A few months ago one of my besties mentioned that she was oil pulling, I had looked into it before, but I thought it was SUPER weird. The fact that my friend was doing it, prompted me to reconsider. But the thought of doing it in the mornings deterred me. Finally after a few other friends mentioned giving it a shot, curiosity got the best of me, and I tried. It’s been 3 months and I have been oil pulling 5-7 days a week. I had no idea what to expect, my teeth are nice and clean, and I feel good, that could have to do with the fact that I brush my teeth… but the one thing I did not expect is that my dandruff would vanish. I have been struggling with dandruff since last summer, I never had issues before, and I don’t know where the issues came from, but I had switched to Wen (the conditioning cleanser you see on informercials), it did make my hair REALLY soft, but my scalp seemed to be worse. I tried vinegar, and head and shoulders and the only thing that “worked” (and by worked I mean “managed” it) was washing my hair all of the time. Within 2 weeks of oil pulling, I stopped getting dandruff! So, I’m hooked!
What is oil pulling? You wake up in the morning and before eating, drinking or brushing your teeth, you put 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil (there are other oil options but coconut seems less weird to me) into your mouth and you swish. Well, you’ll probably chew a little until it turns to liquid, then you swish for 20 minutes. Yup, TWENTY MINUTES. If I can do it with my embarrassingly sensitive gag reflex, then anyone can. After 20 minutes you spit it into your trash can. You don’t want to spit it down a drain because it’s full of toxins and coconut oil hardens when it’s cold, so you don’t want to ruin your pipes. Then rinse your mouth with salt water to make sure all the toxins are out, then you can brush as usual (with your home made tooth paste).
Why would you swish with coconut oil for twenty minutes? Well, apparently it’s an ancient practice, and the coconut oil pulls toxins from your mouth and naturally detoxifies your body. It whitens teeth, and clears up gingivitis, relieves headaches, it’s GREAT after a night when you’ve had too much to drink. Some people even say it energizes them and their metabolism has picked up.
As you can see, I use coconut oil daily and it really is my go-to product. There are 50 plus uses for coconut oil, it is unreal that one “food” can be used for so much!
Laundry Detergent: Last year I made this laundry detergent from a recipe a friend gave me (that she had found on Pinterest, of course) It smells so clean and works amazingly! I still have plenty, over a year later because you only use 1-2 tablespoons. I have given samples to so many friends and most of them have gone out and made their own batches. I hope you enjoy this as much as my family does!
1 (4lb) box of borax
1(3lb) box of arm and hammer washing soda
1(3lb) container of oxy clean
2 (14.1oz) bars zote soap
1(4lb) box of arm and hammer baking soda
1-2(55oz) bottles of Purex crystals fabric softener
Grate the soap (grater or food processor) use fine side of grate into large mixing bowl. Mix well in 5 gallon bucket. Use 1-2 tbs per load. You can put the powder in the old Purex bottle and use the lid to measure it out so you’re not digging into the big bucket all of the time. (I like to store mine in empty Unstoppables containers, because I am obsessed with the lavender scented ones!)
Eye Makeup Remover: 1 tbs Vitamin E, 2oz olive oil, 2 oz witch hazel Fits perfectly in a clean and empty spice jar from Trader Joes! I have not started making my own makeup, but I am at least cleaning it off with out chemicals!
Home made cleaners: You can use hydrogen peroxide to clean just about everything. So stick a sprayer in the hydrogen peroxide bottle and get cleaning! Or use dish soap and vinegar (in water) for kitchen and bathroom cleaning. You can leave it on stains then come back and rinse it off. The vinegar smell does go away fast.
1 cup Water
1/4 cup White Vinegar
2 to 3 drops Dawn Dish Soap
Empty Spray Bottle
If you’re not into DIY cleaners, I suggest Melaleuca products. I love them and have used them on and off for years. I have peace of mind that if my kiddos get a hold of my cleaners, they won’t go blind, or die.
So, that’s all I’ve got so far, I will update this in a few months and let you know how it’s all going. As of now, I am really enjoying my projects and my husband thinks I’m nuts. Really, he’s like, “Where did the soap go? Coconut oil? That’s not soap, that’s food… Are we out of shampoo? No I’m not putting baking soda in my hair, that’s for baking. I need REAL deodorant, I’m a man. I think you’re becoming a hippy. Are you gonna stop shaving?” I’m just slowly switching things out hoping he’ll accept it, just kidding. But really, the coconut oil is growing on him, men have to put up a fight, it’s in the DNA. To be fair, I had read about No Poo long before actually doing it, same with a lot of these things. I think we come around when we are ready, so it’s OK if you are on my hubby’s team thinking I’ve gone nuts, and I don’t judge anyone who uses Crest toothpaste, or Dove deodorant, just like I don’t judge anyone who eats a hamburger or GMOs. I’m just sharing.
I want to say a thank you to Candace who convinced me to oil pull, Alexis who started the No Poo journey with me, if she hadn’t started, I don’t know if I would have done it! My cousin Hannah for being way crunchier than us and having answers to all of my no poo related questions. (Having crunchy friends makes doing these crazy things THAT much more fun!) And the biggest THANK YOU to my amazing patient husband, James who is putting up with all of this.
Blending families… Have I mentioned it’s really difficult? My husband and I have ONE huge disagreement. We rarely argue, but when we do it’s always about this one thing. Attachment Parenting vs. Traditional Parenting.
When Joliene was born, my life changed. Even though I had no idea WHAT attachment parenting was, and had no interest in breastfeeding, co sleeping, or cloth diapering, However, I naturally became a “crunchy” or “granola” mom, and did all of the above! I did not read any books, initially, I followed my instincts. I do not know if it has to do with my personality, my own upbringing, or maybe it was just love? We all show love differently. (There are 5 Love Languages, after all!) I show love by nurturing. If I love you, I want to take care of you, I want to make your life easy, and beautiful and I will bend over backwards doing so, if I feel it’s what you need. I remember Jo being maybe a week or 2 old, and her dad telling me that I could put her down, she was asleep, and I said, “No, I want to hold her.” That’s all I wanted to do.
A lot of people, family included, judged my parenting style, saying “It’s harder. It takes too much time. You’re spoiling her. It’s not necessary. She will never be independent.” I shrugged it off, I didn’t care what anyone thought. I was doing what I felt was right for Jo and for me.
Flash forward to the last year or 2. I moved in with my husband (well, now he is my husband, anyways) and his 2 kids and it was quite the culture shock. His family had all banded together to raise his kids, and it was kind of a clusterfuck. It was amazing that everyone had stepped in to do their part, while James had been working full time. As dysfunctional as the family is, their hearts really are in the right place. However, I felt like I was coming into a… I don’t know, it was like walking into a house that is so thrashed, and you honestly have no clue where to begin. I had 2 new kids who had never had a bond with their mama, and were emotionally band-aid-ed together. 2 amazing little people who had known unimaginable loss, and virtually no consistency. A 4 year old who was playing Black Ops, and running into the street without a thought, and only ate mac n cheese. An 8 year old who spent more time gone at her grandma’s house than home, who was so shy, and at the same time so eager to to be a big girl. The kids already knew what was expected of them, they took a bath, used the restroom, got dressed and brushed their teeth on their own. They really were independent. But, to me this was so concerning, because I saw these little ones doing everything by themselves, not needing any help, any bonding, or support. It was unnerving to me. You may be thinking “How great! they were so self sufficient! It must have made life easier for you!” No… It didn’t, it made me feel useless, and sad. I didn’t know where to begin with them, how to develop a relationship, a parental relationship, at that. Here I am with my 3 year old who only recently stopped co-sleeping, who sat on my lap for every meal… come to think of it, we didn’t even have a schedule, as I had always been a SAHM, we just went with the flow of life, day to day. My baby wanted to be wherever I was, and I wasn’t comfortable with her running across the street to their auntie’s house because I had no idea how she would react without me… I had so many concerns and I had to find a way to fit. I loved that my baby wanted her mama, I loved that she was so connected to me, that we had our own life that virtually revolved around one another. Did I need time and space sometimes? Absolutely. Was it hard sometimes? Fuck yes. But I was comfortable. And I looked at my “new” kids, and I felt sad. It’s funny that I felt so sad ( and in all honesty STILL feel a huge loss, because I wish I could have been with them when they were smaller, I wish I had had the opportunity to bond with them like a mother, to hold them, and feel connected.) they were perfectly happy. They didn’t know that they were missing, and thank goodness for that.
Here we are now, and there are like 3 different parenting styles going on in my home! There’s my husband’s: “Tough love, take it or leave it style” ( for the most part, he still has his moments with “his boy” Lj has been blessed by being not only the baby, but THE BOY, in a family that A) is made up of mostly boys, and B) has an obsession with sports. They pride their boys on their physical abilities and skills and they tend to bully the younger, weaker, more sensitive children. ) My parenting, which is based on each child in that moment and can look insanely unfair, if you are out side of the box. And the CRAZY parenting that happens when we cannot agree, so we kind of take over “our own kid(s)” and don’t let the other have anything to do with them. Jenna kinda swaps back and forth between me and James depending on the situation.
Crazy parenting happens after an argument, usually involving one injustice or another that was done to one of the kids by the “other” parent. It can be the simplest thing that one of us blows out of proportion, like, Jo likes purple, but James gave her a blue cup (tough shit), and I was annoyed that he even gave her the blue cup KNOWING she would want the purple one, but I have been REALLY working on supporting my hubby, so I said, “Now your cup matches Jenna’s!” (In my mind helping her to see bright side, no she wasn’t going to get her cup, and no crying about a cup would not work, but, check it out, blue is nice, too!) Enter James, who knows I’m annoyed that he gave her the wrong color, so he gives her a new cup (completely diminishing BOTH of our attempts at parenting, because now, Jo got her way from crying, and James is now upset because he feels like his parenting is undermined, and I am frustrated because I feel like I backed him up and then he dropped the ball.) So then he gets annoyed by anything I do to “help” Jo, in this case, she didn’t like the sauce on her salmon, so I wiped it off (easy fix). Now we are both frustrated and we are both triggered by the other one so our “never-really-ending parenting debate” continues from the LAST time we had a disagreement, and we both have a billion examples of how the other one is not consistent, which sounds an awful lot like an attack on the other parent’s parenting.
So here I am for almost 24 hours now trying to find a balance. Attachment parenting is based on the theory that we are shaped by our first attachments… “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.” I have spent my entire life looking for someone worthy of a true attachment, I have felt alone and abandoned and my first true bond was my little girl. Jo put me together, and gave me my first true attachment besides my sister. I literally cannot help loving her, and wanting to show her in the most selfless ways. I see how that can be weird to a traditional parent, a traditional parent’s habits for teaching their babies to be more self sufficient may be more natural to them. However, having attachment parented for almost 4 years now, I have seen Jo grow up in her own time. Maybe I didn’t force her to use the big toilet when she was potty training, but one day, she made the decision to take off the booster seat and “balance” on the toilet like a big girl. I feel that growing up naturally happens, and it’s not a big deal if she chooses to use a booster seat, because one day, she will decide she’s over it. One day she won’t want to be in my lap all day… Oh wait, that was today. I don’t know why, but today she has been perfectly content to play on her own, and do her own thing. Some days all she wants is to be in my lap or under my feet. It’s organic, and it’s silly to me, to force her to feel something she doesn’t feel, or put her in a situation that make her feel uncomfortable. James feels totally different, like he should be able to tell his kids what to do, or say or how to act, and in that moment they should obey. I give Jo time to process, I don’t spring things on her, I warn her, that we are going to the dentist next week, and I repeat it daily, so by the time we are going to the dentist, she knows, and she may not be thrilled, but she is a big girl about it. However, if I were to tell her the morning of, the world would end, and the dentist, likely would not get anywhere near her mouth. I believe that in time, she won’t require so much warning, and it’s not even an inconvenience for me to let her know ahead of time. I would be pretty frustrated if suddenly I had to be at the dentist in 10 minutes, wouldn’t you? I almost feel like the way I parent is respectful to the child. Yes, I lay down the law when it’s necessary, and I try to be as consistent as possible, but I feel like its fair and better for the child’s sense of self to have some control over their little lives. Whether its a purple cup, warning about a trip to the dentist, or a choice of strawberries or an apple.
I don’t feel that this means Jo rules my life, I know that when you love someone you make changes and sacrifices to make their life easier, yes, but also, to better them, to encourage growth, learning and decision making.
You may pride yourself in your ability to say jump and have your child leap into the air, and I do have that experience with my (step) kids (depending on the situation…. ) and yes, it makes life easier, but I don’t know how “easy” parenting is supposed to be? Isn’t parenting about growing ourselves as we nurture a new life? Being a mother has taught me so much about myself, and I have had to make so many changes, and take serious responsibility. Knowing this, I feel our kids deserve some slack. Why must we be dictators? When we really are meant to be teachers. And I don’t know about you, but my favorite teachers were the ones who personally invested in me, pushed me to be better, and gave me some slack when I needed it.