I admit, I once was a “crunchy” mom, proud of my efforts to save money and the world, one cloth diaper at a time. Maybe I was a little gung-ho about it at times; even my own husband would roll his eyes as I spouted off about my love for a fluffy cloth bum baby to an unsure friend or raving how I ate my own placenta to balance hormones after birth (I love freaking people out with that!).
But, a few things have changed over time.
My first baby, I did everything pretty traditionally based on family suggestions and “What to Expect” books. I bought disposable diapers and the well-known baby food brands. She was born in the hospital, and I used an epidural to escape the pain I was sure I couldn't handle. I used typical chemical-filled shampoos and beauty products. As she grew, though, and I learned more about the world we live in, thanks to some pretty enlightening college classes, and the crunchy in me emerged.
A crunchy mom is a term moms have coined for themselves — albeit strange to picture a mom being “crunchy” in texture (who is eating these moms?). The term somehow identifies their believes in parenting, often going against mainstream ideas. They could almost be seen as modern-day hippies with ideals including homeschooling, home birthing, extended breastfeeding, baby wearing, cloth diapers, using alternatives to medications like homeopathic, or making homemade foods and beauty products.
What made me change? More Kids. More demands in life.
Maybe call it laziness. Perhaps call it saving my sanity. But all the toxic-free, homemade, DIY stuff was only adding to my plate of to-dos. My very, very full plate with enough to do simply with trying to keep up with five kids who are constantly hungry for snacks or making more dirty dishes to wash with my essential oil soap. Something had to give to un-tip the balance of the plate within my hands. I couldn't stand in the kitchen all day making homemade breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. I was (and still am) struggling to keep up with my mountains of laundry without adding another few loads a week of cloth diapers or cloth napkins.
I traded saving money for convenience. I traded all-natural everything for my sanity.
In many ways I still identify with being crunchy. I still am a huge advocate for breastfeeding, love natural birthing, using fertility awareness instead of birth control, using natural products where we can, or buy organic as much as my budget allows.
But, I've had to let go of some things to keep from drowning in the pressure of doing things all myself to save money. In the money we used to save, I lost it in time. I had to decide which was more important. So now, I'm happy to demote myself to “Scrunchy” even if it's just for now. I'll be sorta crunchy — a mix of both mom worlds, using the aspects that I can still obtain easily within my ideals and letting the too-stressful things go.
In place of the super cute star-patterned cloth diaper, I now have two disposable diapered babies. Instead of washing every dish in the dishwasher or by hand, I now have a stock of fancy paper plates to reduce my load. Instead of making my own baby wipes, I buy a giant box without guilt. Where I once made homemade pancakes, I now use a mix.
In this super busy season of life filled with little people, those shortcuts are needed. I can do what I can, for sure, and still hold tight to the aspects that I find to be priority and helpful to healthier lives. However, I won't fell guilt for not being all in the crunchy zone any more — even if the guilt is only coming from within myself and wishing I could do more.
Sometimes surviving parenting isn't just about doing what is absolute best for our babies, but for us too as parents who are to care for them. Sometimes that means compromises for our own mental health and to even out the scale of all there is to do and take some shortcuts — even if just for a season.