Keeping Balance with a Natural Life

by Rita Brhel on December 18, 2009

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For many AP families, green living, natural parenting, and life learning are more than a fad – they represent a lifestyle that endures even when mainstream society doesn’t find “going green” to be so popular. Like Attachment Parenting, the benefit of natural living is best achieved when practiced consistently.

Where does this fit into Attachment Parenting International’s Eight Principles of Parenting? For those families who choose to live naturally – certainly not a requirement, mind you – they find it helps them particularly keep with the Eighth Principle, that of striving for personal and family balance. You feel better about yourself when you know your impact on the earth and the people around you is a positive one.

Natural Life magazine is a great resource for AP families looking at a lifestyle that is supportive of their childrearing choices. Some of the articles you can read are about going solar, organic food, gardening, relocating with a green attitude, and learning for the sake of knowledge. In the March/April 2009 issue of Natural Life, I read an interesting article about raising eco-conscious kids. Author Alison Bayne gave these tips for parents:

  • Start early in teaching their children that toys can come without packaging and clothes can come without tags (second-hand items)
  • Opt to shop for clothes and toys at charity shops rather than department stores
  • Purchase new gifts through your favorite nonprofit, such as the API Store
  • Shop online or small, independent stores
  • Trade clothes with their friends
  • Box up some of your toys at home, store them, and rotate the boxes every few months so the kids don’t get tired of playing with the same toys
  • Boxes plus imagination and some crayons create a whole new play area
  • Decorate the kids’ bedrooms with a collage of birthday cards and photographs, colorful wrapping paper, or their own artwork
  • Involve your child in green chores, such as recycling and reusing items
  • Minimize car use by going bicycling with a child seat or a trailer, going for a walk, or using a stroller for longer treks or with heavy loads
  • Go on a nature safari in your backyard
  • Start a garden and give your children their own plots
  • Visit a farm
  • Buy your food from local growers, and eliminate processed foods
  • Limit television commercials; opt for videos or public television instead
  • Avoid buying plastic items
  • Avoid buying name-brand goods
  • Black out logos on items, or give them an original look
  • Live the way you want your child to live – if you want your child to make eco-conscious decisions, then first do it yourself.

Most of these ideas are easy to put into practice, and many of us will readily admit we already do much of this…and probably have some to add to the list. And others will say that they rather like the convenience that plastic items afford, or that they’re rather partial to mac’n cheese from a box. Being attached doesn’t mean you have to live naturally, but we certainly encourage it if you find it helps your family maintain or enhance that attachment bond between you and your children. AP makes natural parenting and green living rather easy, as Attachment Parenting already puts us into a unique mindset where we’re thinking independently of mainstream society – making decisions based on what we feel is best for ourselves and our families without the influence of biased corporate marketing campaigns. And if you’re looking for some good reading material, you might want to check out Natural Life magazine.

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Rita Brhel (95 Posts)

Rita Brhel is the editor of Attached Family magazine and is Attachment Parenting International's Publications Coordinator. She is also a local API Resource Leader. She lives in Nebraska (USA) with her husband and three children.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ashly December 18, 2009 at 3:21 pm

Great post! I’ve debated many times on AP forums on whether “being green” is an AP characteristic. You summed up my thoughts perfectly! It doesn’t have to be it’s own principle, its how you interpret and grow the principles in a way that fits your family and lifestyle that matters! From now on when this comes up, I’m going to reference your post!

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justine December 18, 2009 at 10:02 pm

In my circle of friends, we have a seasonal/quarterly “Naked Ladies Night” where we trade clothes, purses, shoes, that we are no longer using. Another group has a Swap every once in awhile for household items, toys, and books. It is a great excuse to get together with friends, let little ones play, and find insanely cool stuff for free! Totally in line with our AP Principles, and we adore showing our kids the real value of “stuff”!

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Tatiana December 19, 2009 at 6:32 am

That’s pretty much how I grew up (in former Soviet Union): clothes and toys came without packaging and tags, new things as well as 2nd hand: production was planned and there was no need for marketing; our parents passed down kids clothes and toys to other parents with younger kids; our family of 4 (+ German Sheppard dog) live in 1 bedroom unit and we were co-sleeping (what other option did we have?); we had a large garden (called “dacha”) and were growing there lots of fruits and vegies and were working in it all week-ends and some afternoons (parents were working full time and had professional carrees in engineering and finance and that was a challenge for them to look after garden as well). I was selling some of the fruit and veggies on the local market to earn my pocket money. We didn’t have a car and had to walk/cycle/ use bus. We were recycling and re-using everything as shops were pretty much empty. (we even washed plastic bags). Few things were made from plastic, mostly from wood or metal (there were no plastic bottles/ containers and you had to pay money for plastic bags). Name-branded goods did not exist, and there were no commercials on TV. We collected recyclable metal and paper as a part of school activity.
Our family was not any special – so lived most families I know. That was communism.
May be that’s why we, Russians, are so attached to our families ;-)

P.S.: I (with my daughter and husband) now live in Sydney, Australia. Although lifestyle is fantastic here, it is sad to see so much wastage and consumerism, no wonder so many people have depressions even leaving in paradise.

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Dionna December 19, 2009 at 10:43 am

Excellent ideas! We do so many of these in our family already. I look forward to sharing *why* we do it as Kieran gets older. I hope that being “eco-conscious” will be second nature to him.

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