Natural Living Family

The natural parenting place...

Monday, 18 June 2007

Gone off the rails...

Recently I was browsing through a local newspaper and came across some articles; one was about child friendly MP3 players and featured a picture of a small baby ‘listening’ to music with headphones. The other article was about – an online imaginary world.

This all left me wondering if all this modern technology is what is really wrong with the world today. Call me odd, but I firmly believe that society started going off the rails with the introduction of television and has gone downhill at an alarming rate since. It used to be that several generations of families would stay together and look after each other. Grandparents looking after little ones so parents could work the land tend the animals. Parents would take care of grandparents when they got too old to fend for themselves. Most things would be done as a family, and everyone had a part to play. Nowadays it’s everyone for themselves, our kids are shipped off to daycare and school before they are old enough to object, they are no longer a valuable part of the family unit where they have a part to play and chores to do, they are superfluous. The older generation is even less important, they are put in old age homes and all but forgotten.

Has life really gotten better, or are we just living in a virtual fool’s paradise while the planet is destroyed?

Used to be people would sit around the dinner table and discuss the day’s events while they had dinner, now they all sit around the TV. With both parents most likely working, just when do these families find the time to spend quality time together, or do they? Has the alarmingly high divorce rate or, the fact that young adults leave the family home just as soon as they can with barely a backward glance have something to do with this lack of family time. Have we traded our families for convenience? While most people will argue that they work so that their families can have a better life, would those families in fact not have a better life with less luxuries and more family time?

Things just aren’t what they used to be; now I am not saying that everything was better in the days before TV. There was a lot of injustice – towards women, towards people of colour, and often children, but why can’t society take the good from progress and reconsider the bad?

Most people believe that they have to go ‘out and work’, in the vast majority of families both parents work outside the home, while children are left in daycare. It should not necessarily be mother’s job to stay home and raise the kids, but should not one parent be around at least part of the time? Should we not be bringing up our kids instead of working our fingers to the bone making others rich, because if you think about it; that is what most of those ‘out there working’ are doing. They are not the ones reaping the benefits of their labour, instead some large corporation or business owner is, they bring home a paycheck which is not really enough and live from month to moth.

All this in the name of progress. I would rather my kids survive without that new MP3 player they are far better off feeding chickens and tending the veggie garden. As for me, I can really do without an imaginary online world; I actually have a life I love – with my kids and husband.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Voluntary Frugality – Green Cleaning

by Annie Austin

Recently I was asked what we do to save money. In this day and age where it is pretty much expected that both parents go out and work, it is really difficult to make ends meet when one parents wants to be at home with the kids.

I have put together a few tips of what we have done to help make ends meet. I do still work from home, but it is difficult to earn anywhere near as much as I would if I was ‘out there’, but watching my kids grow and being there for them makes any sacrifices well worth it.

We grow our own veggies - a must here where we live since there is very little available. It does save quite a bit of money. I freeze a lot of the excess and have on occasion sold some. If you are doing this organically you need very little apart from some good compost. If you have the space you can make your own by recycling household waste – watch out for future article on compost making.

I have a menu I put together for the month, this way everyone knows what to expect and there is less waste from stuff going off in the fridge. I try to minimise the shopping trips and when we do go only buy what is on the list, makes a big difference to the monthly budget. We stick to budget foods during the week and have a treat on Sundays. Meat is something we have cut back on drastically, not only is it full of chemicals and I feel just awful for the way the animals are treated, but with the cost nowdays it is beyond most peoples means. We eat a lot of lentils, rice, beans and potatoes. Eggs are a staple, we did have our own chickens and had more than enough eggs. We only have a few chickens now and I want to build this up again. Chickens can eat a lot of kitchen scraps and weeds so are not too expensive to maintain if you have the space. The kids just love feeding the chickens and geese.


  • I try to keep this as non toxic as possible and have managed to save a lot of money by simply not using all those commercial cleaning products.
  • I use vinegar for most things from cleaning floors to bathrooms to kitchen counters and windows. Dilute one tablespoon of vinegar and one teaspoon salt to about 4L hot water, this is great for cleaning most things. I buy a 5L container of vinegar, it is cheap and best of all non toxic.
  • For windows put some undiluted vinegar in a spray blottle instead on ‘windowlene’.
  • If you need a scourer use bicarbonate of soda.
  • Vinegar and borax make a great mildew remover – but be careful borax is poisonous if ingested, keep away from little ones and pets.

  • I use really hot water for most and only use dish liquid for the really greasy stuff.
  • Lemon and bicarbonate of soda work pretty well too as a grease cutter and are brilliant for burnt on pots (something I have often) just sprinkle some bicarbonate add a teaspoon of lemon and cover with 5mm water. Soak over night.
  • Salt is anti bacterial as is tea tree oil, either added to hot water will kill any bacteria – specially useful if you have been preparing meat.

  • Bicarbonate of soda sprinkled on and sprayed with vinegar, leave for 20 minutes and wipe off. Any stubborn patches can be scrubbed with extra bicarbonate.

  • Use half a cup of vinegar instead of fabric softener.
  • I find that the Enchantrix laundry gel when bought in 5L containers actually works out cheaper than the commercial stuff.

    Air Freshners
  • Spin-Fresh Bathroom Deodorizer - Add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil to the inside of the cardboard toilet tissue roll. With each turn, fragrance is released into the room.
  • Make a Lemon and baking soda spray - Dissolve baking soda in 2 cups hot water, add lemon juice, pour into spray bottle, spray into air as air freshener.
  • Bicarbonate of soda placed into an open container will freshen any area, works great in the fridge.
  • If you carpets are smelly, bicarbonate sprinkled over and left for 20 minutes before vacuuming is fantastic.

    Drain Cleaner ~ For slow drains, use this drain cleaner once a week to keep drains fresh and clog-free.
    1/2 to 1 cup baking soda
    1 cup white vinegar
    3 liters boiling water
    Pour baking soda down drain, followed by vinegar. Allow the mixture to foam for several minutes before flushing the drain with boiling water.

Most of these are fairly simple tips that can make some difference to the montly budget, but also a huge difference to the environment. We have also started putting together a monthly budget and deciding before hand how much we can afford to spend on various things so that we know where we stand at any given point.

Tuesday, 05 June 2007

Keeping Baby Close

frog small Written by Annie Austin

Baby wearing is just another one of those facets of attachment parenting that I am passionate about. It just feels so right, your baby nestled in close to your heart! After 9 months in your body what can be more natural than to nurture your baby right against it. Baby is happy and secure and mom’s hands are free to do what she needs to, it just makes everything easier, including nursing. Now don’t get me wrong baby wearing is not for moms only, my husband still carries our little one often.

Baby wearing is something that comes naturally to many cultures – just look at our African ladies wearing their babies on their backs – these babies cry less and just look so content. Westerners are finally starting to see baby wearing for the wonderful attachment tool it is. While there is loads of info overseas about baby wearing there is still sadly little knowledge about this in SA.

I have been wearing my youngest who is now a year old since birth, we have gone through different carriers in the different stages my son went through. When he was a newborn a sling worked well, but he soon started to dislike being so enclosed. I tried several of the commercially available carriers, but they just did not work for me and left my son’s legs dangling which is not healthy for hip development. I then discovered the Khanyisa African Baby carrier which till this day we can use comfortably for prolonged periods. We alternate this with a sling which, now that he can sit up in it he just loves.

While it may not always be easy to find the right carrier and some trial and error may be necessary, once you find the right carrier you will never look back. I only wish I knew about slings when my older son was small, he like most babies did not much like being in a pram and I spent a lot of time simply carrying him.

Some further reading:

There are now several slings and carriers available in South Africa that are made locally. Among these is the African Baby Carrier and aSling.

Earthbabies have some lovely info on baby wearing and some great carriers and slings.

Sunday, 03 June 2007

Writer's Block...

by Annie Austin

I have been seemingly suffering from writers block...
But then at three o’clock this morning it dawned on me, I am not in fact suffering from writers block! But instead from sheer utter exhaustion! The mind numbing kind of exhaustion that renders one incapable of walking up-right let alone stringing a cohesive sentence together, why do you ask am I walking around in this dazed state? What was I doing up at 3am? Could it have something to do with a certain adorable little boy who recently turned one and is sprouting yet another molar? The very same little angel who now lies sleeping in my arms, my breast firmly in his mouth, while I one handedly type this? I look down at his precious angelic face and my heart just melts all over again.

Looking around our toy strewn study, I once again think about what a wonderful roller-coaster ride the last year has been. Hurricane Ryan landed here abouts on the 4th May 2006 and has steadily been gaining momentum with every new skill acquired.

The reason I say ‘our’ study is that my sons and I share a study – we homeschool and it is easier to have everything in one room – I am sure our house-keeper who probably lives in a home smaller than our kitchen finds our living arrangements most amusing. You see we also co-sleep and with the birth of Ryan our eldest has decided that he does not like being ‘left out’ and started sleeping in our room too. So while we live in a huge old farm house most of the rooms are unused while we all sleep in one room and spend the vast majority of our day either outside or in the study.

Yes, I have a house-keeper (shock horror gasp – not very crunchy indeed!!), but I am a work at home mom (WAHM) who needs to work several hours a day, educate and love two growing boys and look after my family, find time to write; and edit this blog. Somehow house work just does not fit into the equation. As much as I am capable of multi-tasking I have not yet found the secret to being in more than one place at a time, and until I do I have a house-keeper.

So here I sit on an unseasonably wet and cold autumn Saturday wondering just what the future holds for my nearest and dearest, will their kids too have the luxury of growing up on a farm – or will life as we now know it no longer exist? Will they get to run outside in the sun, or will the atmosphere have been destroyed so much that being out in the sun will be impossible? While many people choose not to think about global warming and what the human race is doing to this planet, one look at my children is all I need to know that unless we all do something drastic here and now, they face a future far bleaker than we can even begin to imagine.