ack, this thought keeps coming up in my head at least 20 times a day at the moment, I’m really struggling with the huge disparity between the way I *want* to live, and the way I am living, whether that’s through laziness, money etc etc.
We’re in the red again this month, just cant seem to make the money work in practice as the budget we’ve worked out says it should.
My biggest concern is being able to stay at home and home school DS, everything else is a second priority to that.
I’d love to buy organic, local food, but at the moment we can only just afford supermarket stuff, and some of that is the cheaper ‘value’ stuff (tins of kidney beans which I have a bit of a phobia of cooking myself, erm tinned sweetcorn, that sort of thing, ketchup…granted the things which we dont eat a lot of).
I’d love to buy organic clothes but that’s just waaay out of reach for us
I’ve given up on eco balls now as so many of DS’ clothes have been ruined, when, had I washed in normal powders they wouldn’t have been…have just bought a box of Ariel, at least I can wash at 30’ instead of the 40 or 60’ with the eco balls, and I’m not wasting clothes now.
But it all gets me down. Somewhere in the back of my mind I must have been harbouring visions of being supermum, and quite evidently I’m not. Being ‘green’ just seems such a struggle at the moment.
This is another of my ‘I don’t know why I’m writing’ because I’m not expecting anyone to wave a magic wand, perhaps just a little wise advice from the mama’s/papa’s I look up to on here (and that’s you all), if you could spare some?
I think the whole green thing can end up as materialistic as other lifestyle choices. Given unlimited finances, I’m sure lots of us would make different choices, but it is not realistic, and as long as we make the best choices we can given our circumstances then we are doing a great job. And you know, I’m sure there is alotof building an image of how other people live, and how they are doing a better job than me, only to find it is not quite right. I know I am guilty of that, and try to catch myself when I get in that mindset.
Also if you looked deeply into every decision you made you would never do anything, as somewhere along the line something is “wrong”. It is definitely a case of choosing your battles!
I know the feeling! In the bigger picture, we’re so lucky to be where we are and to have the children so happy and healthy. In the littler picture, I can’t afford a bloody thing right now!!!! And yes, when I’m feeling a bit tired, down, hormonal etc, that does grate on me a lot. I walked around town today desperately trying to work out how to afford our next food shop, then realised dd1 needs money for her school trip next week and we need to replace our broken hoover. I just don’t know where the money is going to come from and it’s so frustrating that we can’t afford veg boxes at the moment, all the lovely organic food we tried to grow has been ruined by the weather, I can only afford absolute budget essential clothing for dd1’s trip away (asda, which makes my skin crawl) and no-one else can have anything new ever.
Argh, sorry, I meant to commiserate, not depress you further! I think it’s hard when the negatives feel overwhelming - and in this financial climate, it’s hard for them not to. I guess I just keep reminding myself how lucky we are and that we’ll get through. There’s a big difference between been aware of the impact of our purchases and not caring though - and I’m sure that those of us who understand the impact of what we’re currently forced to do are committed to making green choices in the long term that will override these short-term lapses.
Fairycakes is right. Even though the choices you are making now aren’t the ones you know to be best, they are the best that you can afford.
I got myself all screwed about this a few weeks ago. I’m tall, 6’1” and can hardly ever find clothes in charity shops. So I buy new. I try to buy from the places with the better ethical codes but some of the quality has been crap. So I have relaxed about it. I have several fair-trade skirts (purpleflipflops.co.uk is great) but couldn’t find anything to go with them. So I went to Sainsburys and got some of their cheap tops. One was fair-trade cotton but the other 2 weren’t. And the kids stuff, I’m going to buy what I can second hand or from fair-trade/organic, but I’m not going to sweat it if sometimes something from a supermarket range goes in my basket.
I’m trying to be honest with myself over my choices. If I’m choosing the best I can for now, if I’m making small changes and adapting my behaviour then thats good. Sometimes I’ll make great leaps and sometimes I’ll go to MacDonald’s for a drive through!
Do what you can. Have you ever made a list of the changes you’ve made over the last 5 years? I bet you’d be surprised.
Life is too short for these kind of worries. Ultimately what is important is providing a loving, safe and happy home for our children. We can teach them how to love the earth and love Her too ourselves in our daily actions and we can show compassion for humanity which I think is the most important thing to give a child. We can do our best but ultimately we need to be happy. If stretching the budget so far to cover the cost of a veg box then stop. Its not making you happy and you won’t be preparing and eating that organic veg happily. So its wasted. We are always tight on money. Always. And I don’t beat myself up over the lovely organic and ethical things we can’t afford because we can’t afford them! I’m not prepared to work more and be away from my family less in order to buy those things as to me that is the same thing as working for materialistic gain. We are all healthy and have a good life. There is always food in the cupboard (so what if I cook a chilli that comes to a grand total of about 2quid after buying basic beans and veg) its not ideal, I’d like to be able to have it all organic. However in cooking everything from scratch (even using the cheap stuff) you are feeding your family wholesome nourishing food. Better tjhan a mums go to iceland meal and surely cheaper still! We can’t afford to buy myriad toys monthly for our daughter, norwould I want too. Nature provides most of her exploration- for free! I’d like to have lots of pairs of boots- but I’ve got one pair that are still my favourites and completely wearable- so why squander more money lustfully? I’d like to say I use ecover washing up liquid all the time- but I don’t and yet my dishes are always clean. I’m rambeling on now but I guess the point I’m trying to make is that this is not a battle you need to be having. If you count your blessings you can soon let go off all the other expectations you put upon yourself. You are such a lovely, soulful mama with passion and inspiration- I think those qualities are more important than sweating over whether you can justify buying organic kidney beans or everyday value 18p kidney beans. A beans a bean in the grand scheme of it all!!! Xxx
You already do an amazing job, honey. As someone said, think about all the green steps you’ve already made, and the wonderful fact that ds will see these things as normal as he grows up, so is likely to keep them up. It’s so easy to think that everyone else is more “green” and ethical than we are, but everyone is just trying to do what they can within their budget, or other constrictions. And just to prove that, when we met up the other month I came home totally inspired by you to try and be more “green” in a much simpler way rather than being sucked into green consumerism, and also in admiration of you gentle approach to parenting ds, so stop beating yourself up about not doing enough, you should be proud of what you have already achieved xx
Oh ladies…as always you have brought tears to my eyes. Thank you all so much for taking the time to reply….this has all been bouncing around in the back of my head for a few days now and I am slowly coming to the realisation that I’m doing my best, and that’s all I can ever give.
Lovely fairycakes…you haven’t depressed me further! Whilst I wish you weren’t feeling like this too it made me feel less alone. I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal and using my affirmations recently, the past two weeks, and it does make a difference to your mindset, I know what you mean about the bigger picture - there is so much to be grateful for, its those little things that shouldn’t have such an impact in the grand scheme but just do, I know I’m going through a huge mental clear out at the moment and whenever this happens I always get ‘troubles’ arise for me to deal with and clear away, if that makes sense, so in a way I know this is a healing process too. Not easy to remember when you’re in the thick of it though. It must be so frustrating all your lovely veg being ruined with the weather….I know from next year, when I get myself organised with planning it, we are going to have to grow some fruit and veg just to supplement our intake. We’re so fortunate that DS is a veg and fruit a holic, it’s really hard not to begrudge him though when he asks for yet *more* fruit/veg….something I would never do but it does go through my mind as the fridge is quickly emptying! On a practical note, and I hope it doesn’t distress you further if you have tried it, but freecycle for a hoover?
You’ve made me see differently too about the awareness issue, I felt awful that I was *aware* of the impact of some of my choices, that somehow this made it worse because I was aware and yet still not doing something to change it. Yet I see now I could choose to see it differently (glass half full approach I guess!) that at least I do care and have made some effort to think about my choices, rather than not care at all.
Hugs lovely mama.
Gem you’ve raised so many great points too, but first and foremost you’ve answered a question that has been going around in my head which I couldn’t find the answer for, which was really staring me in the face, and that is when people say that being ‘green’ isn’t about whether you can afford the greenest clothes/organic food etc but is a mindset….it’s very hard when those choices aren’t open to you in the first place to see how to be ‘green.’ And (obviously to me now) its our relationships that matter, with each other, with spirit and with Mother Earth, our attitudes and like you say those daily actions we take. The very things that are free and open to all. I’m going to keep that in the back of my mind from now on….
sorry post was too large - here’s the rest of what I wanted to say!:
DS is a whizz in the kitchen at only three, and he loves to help me, and whilst its not always been like this (when I was very ill with depression I could barely cook some days), the fact that the outcome is a little boy who enjoys wholesome home cooked foods, enjoyed around the table with family, that he has helped to prepare himself is a testament that we’re doing ok and not to beat myself up. The food is cooked with love and as corny as it sounds, we’re filling our food with loving energy as we prepare it, organic or not. The times we’ve bought food, again organic or not, knowing it’ll take us into the red with the bank and felt to awful eating it…well it just makes me feel a bit stronger so thank you for helping me realise this.
Akaekb, I will make a list of the changes we have made, and I’m sure it’ll make me laugh as well at some of the things I used to do/beliefs I used to have. Sometimes I feel like its 1 step forward 2 steps back but this might help me see differently - like we used to have a telly, then we lived without it for a year, now we have one again and we have made mistakes with some of the things we have let DS watch but have learnt to vet things now before he watches them and we are doing quite well on reducing telly time. Feeling more positive about that one already! The general feeling I’m getting is to be gentler with myself and give myself a break!
Heggle, I’d never thought of the ‘normality’ of it all, another thing I have come to see from all of the replies is that any changes we make aren’t just going to be achieved overnight, and therefore to stop beating myself up (again!). The changes I make aren’t just for now, but for the future too, and obviously teaching James about the reasons behind our decisions. You know, I too came away from our get together totally inspired by you and your lovely girls and could write exactly those words too. I guess, because I am still releasing the guilt I feel about the first 2 years of James’ life, when both DH and I were really ill (at different times) and therefore didn’t parent in the way our instincts told us to, and had to make choices based on matters such as finance rather than from our hearts and conscience, I’m trying to make up for lost time, which I know I need to let go of now. And because of all of this I didn’t really have much of an opportunity to meet other mums, especially those with values/beliefs similar to mine, it was heartwarming to see you with your girls.
I think gratitude goes a long way in all of this doesn’t it…you’ve all made me realise it *is* about happiness at the end of the day, constantly striving for something that is out of reach isn’t going to help me stay happy, but being grateful for the big things, that often go overlooked, our lovely little family, the love we share, our health, and our connections with loved ones, spirit and even those we don’t know, is all that matters. I think I’ve lost myself in trying to play catch up and yes, it has become about materialism you’re right Aisling, rather than beliefs and spirit. Baby steps all the way for me now Dunelm
Thank you all for your kind and lovely words, I’ve rambled on so much I know its going to take a few days for me to process all of this.
One weary mama is going to bed now (well, okay after catching up on here) with the first Harry Potter book which I found at my mum’s house today, totally forgotten about and not read since I was about 16! With my little boy tucked up beside me. There’s lovely! x x x
This has been an ‘issue’ for a long time for me. In a way. I totally hear you. And the worst thing is that no matter how much ‘more’ my dh works and gets paid for doing so we are *never ever* any better off financially (um, read still in debt) because I see the extra income as a way to be ‘greener’. And buy as such.
It’s a head spin. And not good for your sanity at all. I sometimes laugh when I read some ideas on being green ‘cheaply’ because honestly pouring a bottle of vinegar down my loo and then about three tubs of bicarb and then scrubbing for about an hour? Well my toilet still looked gross and I felt like I wasted those food items. Or buying in bulk from Suma etc (well its ok if you have a big wad of cash to afford 6 bottles of organic shamoo to start with, but what if you don’t?) It’s just plain difficult to be ethical, green, organic and fairtrade. I buy Green Baby goodies for my tiny’s when they come into the sale period, because then they really are cheaper than even supermarket clothes. But other wsie I find it hard. I think there is guilt involved in buying cheap rubbish when you supposedly ‘know better’ but cannot afford to do anything about it! It’s kind of funny that we are the richest people on earth and still feel poor. The idea of ‘green’ holidays I find/found interesting and all but plain depressing when a family cannot afford to really go away for even a weekend. I’d like ideas more on what to do in the long summers filled with children, right at home (where money spent is truly minimal). I sort of start hate advertising (and we don’t even have TV) just the green organic advertising too.
It’s true, it can be just as materialistic as any other way of ‘wanting’ *things*. It’s good to recognise that, I am glad for this thread for the reminder.
Just super fast…
are you aware that you can buy split cases of goods from Suma, eg 1 deoderant stick or even one tin of beans
revolutionised our suma shopping when we realised that!
But isn’t there still the issue of minimum order amount? Did I read that the least you can order is £250? Due to the way our money comes in, my wages once a month so covers bills, DH self employed so money comes in at different times depending on the job, could be a days work, could be a week, could be a month, so he covers shopping and day today expenses. There is no way we can afford to order £250 in shopping at one time, hence why I haver looked too deeply into Suma, despite knowing that in the long term it would probably work out cheaper than buying the same stuff from the local health food shop on a week by week basis.
mamauk I am here and listening. Hadn’t realised quite how much I had written last night (!) and I totally agree with everything you say. Read your post earlier whilst couldn’t write a response but it got me thinking that we should start a ‘summer ideas’ thread of things to do, come rain or shine, that are free or extremely cheap to do, with the children…ideally that don’t need ‘things’ so we can all get away from the materialism for a little while. Off to start the thread now. Huge hugs lovely
Oh greeneve - that’s great to hear but is it true you still need to order £250 worth of stuff? The problem for me, as with others I’m guessing and this is what mamauk was referring to I think, is that in any one month, we don’t spend that much on food, and because we get paid monthly and all of our money is allocated, can’t say, buy two months worth of food in one go as the money simply isn’t there to do that. I know some people have ordered with other people they know, but again I don’t know of anyone near to me that’s interested to share an order. Tricky but thank you for the info as it may help others reading
Yes, suma do have a minimum order and where I live it’s £250. We are lucky in that we can afford to spend that in a one-er, but have found, over the years, when we mention it to folk (or when they see the cupboard FULL of food in dd’s room and ask us about it) that quite a few people want to get some stuff every so often too, so we often ‘only’ spend about £150 or so ourselves.
I do find this difficult - the whole green / attachment / gentle on ones’ self and those you love / clutter reducing / spiritual and seeking side - you can easily feel truly overwhelmed and guilty. It’s so easy to see what you are NOT doing that you’d like to, but it’s about priorities. At the moment, my income has stayed fixed for several years and dh’s has only gone up a small amount, so we are noticing that the costs of things are rising. For example, we used to get almost everything organic, but it is becoming more difficult as I have children who will not be satisfied with in season organic Scottish vegetables and fruits (!) in the winter, whereas, when it was just dh and I, we generally tried to stick to this, plus bananas and apples as we could get those organic. I could go to loads of different shops, spending loads on petrol to get very expensive fruit and veg that they like that are organic - but I don’t, it’s not hugely environmentally friendly, would take loads of time and would be hugely expensive. So, I sigh, feel a bit guilty and buy what I can organic when it’s in ASDA (where dh has a 10% discount card) and the rest non organic. However, paying off our debts (the mortgage) as quickly as possible is a priority and we overpay on that when we can - this isn’t particularly green, but it helps me to feel as secure as possible, meaning I feel calmer and happier and safer - it also means that dh will be able to work fewer hours in a few years.
It’s working out what the priorities are for you. I think that maybe there are too many things that you want to do. I know I ‘should’ do x, y, and z - but I turn it ‘round and think, ‘yep, I could, do x,y,z, but I choose not to at the moment as it will put too much pressure on myself’. After having depression from trying too hard to do everything, I really make an effort not to be superwoman, ‘cause the scary thing is that I CAN be - for a few months before burning out and having to hide under the duvet. I now do fun things, but try really hard to only do what is really important to me - right now that’s being on here with you guys and then reading a book. Part of me would like to clean the house and complete an application to get onto Live Literature funding and to organise my taxes and to work on my storytelling marketing and to knit a jumper - but tonight (as for so many nights) I choose not to. I have small children and a need for peace and I spend so much of my time with them that I can’t / won’t jump through too many hoops doing what I feel I ‘should’ do.
Relax, accept yourself as you are, and I love your ideas for the summer thread.