6 February 2014
Green Living - with Twins!
This guest post is written by Katie Butterworth, mum to gorgeous twins Bert and Pixie and blogger at Yummy Green Mummy. Katie shares with us her aspirations for a sustainable lifestyle and the extra challenges of eco-parenting twins!
We were over the moon when I became pregnant… it was such an exciting time for us. We then found out we were having twins and, mostly because there are no twins in either of our families, we were gob smacked!
I’d always considered myself “green” but there were many areas of my lifestyle I had yet to tackle, like a vegie patch and eco clothing. Once the twins were born however, I very much went on a mission to create the best possible life for them.
New from Old
Our excitement of expecting twins was soon accompanied with the realisation of just how expensive getting our home ready to welcome the twins would be. One cot to start with but we’d need two fairly quickly, two car seats, two high chairs, a double pram, a car that could accommodate a double pram, nappies, wipes, bottles - the list seemed never-ending! To not only help with finances, but also to be sustainable, we sourced as much as we could from online second hand sites and saved a tonne of money in the process.
I always hoped I could breastfeed, but the idea of feeding twins was daunting! I managed pretty well – though with a little help. We gave them bottle feeds too as I was so drained trying to keep up with the demand. When night feeding, my husband would also get up to help out, as I just couldn’t do it on my own - one would need burping while the other was still feeding, then that one would cry and vomit over the other one… it was a very complicated affair and because of this I didn’t really enjoy it as much as I wanted to. I dreamt of that one-on-one connection some women breastfeeding having with their babies but mine was mostly just exhausting! We used glass bottles initially as these are more eco-friendly than plastic, however switched to BPA-free plastic bottles once the twins started holding them themselves as the glass was too heavy.
Now this is a tricky subject for me… Before the kids were born, I bought a complete set of reusable cloth nappies, intending to use them from the start. Despite the twins being normal sized babies, it was clear the nappies were too big even on the smallest size. So I had to wait until they were a little bigger. Once they fitted into the nappies I then realised that the brand I bought just didn’t fit the twins well enough and frequently leaked. I reluctantly sold the nappies and went back to biodegradable disposable nappies. I have however found a brand of cloth nappies that works for them, and I use these when the kids are at home. This is still not my ideal and I wish I could say I use cloth nappies 100% of the time – but I can’t and that does sit uncomfortably on my shoulders.
I don’t know if we would have been different with just one baby, but we used mostly second hand clothes. Initially this was to save money but we soon realised the many other benefits.
You can get so many sweet items from car boot sales, the Salvos (charity shop), hand-me-downs, online selling sites. Of course we buy new as well but I try to buy from a market with local designers or from sites like Etsy with lots of handmade recycled kids clothing. The twins are now 22 months and are mucky and covered in food most of the day. I just don’t see any point in buying tonnes of nice clothes for them, as they get ruined quickly and you end up being too precious about them getting dirty, and where is the fun in that?
We live in a rented property so we’re unable to dig a vegie patch (which we desperately want to), however we have recently started growing our own herbs and fruit in tubs. It’s been such an amazing experience to have with the kids. They’ve helped us plant everything and had so much fun, they get covered in soil and compost, and love watering and weeding and smelling their hands after playing with the mint. Oh and they’re pretty good at pulling up newly-planted herbs, and bringing soil into the house, but that’s all part of what makes it fun, no?
Bath time is a very special time of day, as daddy is normally home - the bathroom is filled with squeals and laughter like it’s Christmas (and that’s just from my husband!). We have always used a natural hair and body wash, moisturizer and toothpaste on the kids, but recently we’ve stopped washing their hair - only rinsing it with water – and their hair is fine, neither greasy or smelly. Sure, it doesn’t smell of shampoo but it’s clean and without the help of chemicals. We might have to rethink this once their hair gets longer and knotted up more, but I’ll tackle that if and when it happens. I’ve also stopped shampooing my hair, and instead using bicarb soda to wash and apple cider vinegar to condition – this is working so well and my hair looks and feels great.
This is an important area for me; all kids need toys to grow and learn, play and imagine. It’s a beautiful moment when watching your child playing an imaginary game with their toys. We have tried to keep to a rule of second hand and eco friendly toys. I think if you start the kids off when they’re young having second hand toys, it won’t be a big deal when they are older and getting them for Christmas and birthdays. A lot of what the kids received for Christmas just passed was second hand, and they loved it all. This also meant we saved money and were able to buy them a fantastic wooden eco dolls house, equipped with solar panels, wind turbine, veggie patch, compost, recycling bins, water tank and a Bio-fuel car - it’s amazing!
Living a green way of life has required a bit of forethought, and probably more so since having kids regardless of whether we had twins or not. We do come up against challenges and are sometimes tempted to take the easy, less ethical route. When we look around our home at the old and eco, wooden and handmade toys and furniture, we feel quite proud to have made the effort.
Being a new mum is so tiring, we all have so much guilt on our shoulders about the smallest things, so adding to that with trying to live eco is difficult. I would say to any mum wanting to take this path, don't put pressure on your self - it can be a big step for people. Even if you change one small thing at a time that is more than you had before, and you should feel great about that! Lifestyle changes don't happen overnight, most of us don't have the time or money to just flip our lives around, but if you’re passionate about it, take your time and you'll get there.
Starting Yummy Green Mummy was a way for me to share my experiences with other mums, teach myself about products and develop ideas on green living. I’m excited at how fast our passion as a family for a green life is growing – watch this space!
Thank you so much Katie for sharing your eco-parenting journey and giving us a snapshot of life with twins. It sounds like you’re doing an ecoceptional job!
Does Katie’s story resonate with you? We’d love you to share your experiences of eco-parenting twins or young children close in age below.