Life With Nine Kids

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day, Big Family Overpopulation Myth, and Simplifying

Happy Earth Day!

For those of us who enjoy sharing our lives and good homes with lots of kids, we sure wish people would quit saying we are overpopulating the Earth! Many people call big families selfish. I have directly been told I was overpopulating the Earth before. (Yes, the Earth's problems are all my fault!) I also witness lots of parents who contribute on blogs admitting that they feel guilty for having or wanting three or four children! The overpopulation myth holds on strong.

More info:
Debunking the Myth of Overpopulation

About That Overpopulation Problem : Research suggests we may actually face a declining world population in the coming years.

In defense, not that I need one...
Never-mind the fact that big families are huge re-users from clothes to cars to beds to dishes and more, but many of the big families I know also enjoy various sustainable ventures like: hobby farming, canning, gardening, raising chickens (for meat or eggs), sewing, etc. Many of us also breastfeed and cloth diaper. I had some cloth diapers for over a decade before turning them into household rags. I have several dresses Beatrice now wears at 22 months old that once belonged to Charlotte! (Charlotte's 18!) We often utilize: the outdoors, local museums, rivers, community pools, state parks, conservation centers, rec centers, and other types of thrifty low-cost low-waste entertainment. We definitely eat out less which is a huge source of consumer waste. When food is disposed into landfills it rots and becomes a significant source of methane. Food waste is a major source of methane, accounting for more than 20 percent of all methane emissions. Large families buy in bulk. For us personally, much of our meat is raised nearby and we buy the whole animal. Large families also tend to consume less than the average person's meat consumption. Meals that feed a crowd stretch meat: casseroles of all kinds, stews, soups, pot pies, and various other meals made with beans and/or rice to add some bulk.
 Now, I am not saying I'm the poster child for Earth friendliness! Case in point: I have a heater and a fan going at the same time right now. ;) However, a lot can still be said for large families and how they cut costs and waste when it comes to raising a large group of future wage earners for less than three or four separate households. It's interesting to me how some may scorn others for having 'too many kids' but never realize the reality that is smaller family modern life: bigger houses filled with less people and more stuff, new cars, vacations, new phones and computers every couple years, and the consumption of "stuff" including indulgent amounts of entertainment, restaurants, and prepackaged food products. Personally, I judge neither. I fully support people to live the happiest lifestyle possible in the most responsible and kindest way that fits them.

One Child
I think having a big family is great, but I fully support and see value in all families. As big families are dealing with judgement of one kind, there are people with no children or one child being judged and asked questions about their situation. I don't understand why people care or are so nosy! It's rude. I would never say that you "just have one" as this woman describes:

“Yep. Only one.” I smiled without offering further explanation.
Our decision to have an only child invites speculation from family, friends, and strangers. There is an accompanying look to their question. Shoulders slumped, sad eyes, and disappointment manifests on their faces even before the inquiry has a chance to land. The regret boomerangs to the person who poses the question. My husband and I do not harbor sorrow because we parent an only child; we celebrate our complete family.
“Only” is a word that carries an array of assumptions. Some may conclude that my daughter is lonely and plays in her room without little interaction from the outside world. Words like “spoiled,” “weird,” and “difficult” are hurled in her direction. To exist as one appears to invite a stigma that I fail to understand, but my backstory is not maligned with regret.

I just read that today and really wanted share it. I have lots of friends and family with one or two kids and they always celebrate my happiness for having a big family. I feel the same happiness for them about their family too. Even when I post something in the benefit of a large family I don't have to hear a rebuttal, because there are pros and cons about ALL aspects of life (including family size) and they know that. I have a friend with one child by intention and they "liked" an article I shared on Facebook last year that related to positive attributes of having many siblings. How is that for support!? Yup, my friends are rad.

As a recap:
1. Happy Earth Day! Thanks Earth!
2. Large families are not overpopulating the Earth. It's a huge myth.
3. Big families rock! And so do little families! And so do child-free families! (As long as they are kind families.)

This Years Simplifying Mission is Underway~ (Good for the Earth and Me)
This year I felt weighed down by things and so I began downsizing. I felt like my house was dirty and I couldn't keep up with it. I also got so sick of the effort it took. That meant even things I really, really, really liked, even some of my vintage collectible things, needed to go. This year I have started a mission to live more mindfully and simply. Bonus: when you make an effort to own less you buy less! It saves money, cleaning, resources, and time. I am in no hurry to buy clutter again now that my eyes are open to it. I have been sharing this lesson around our home lately as I sort through a lifetime worth of crap. Some of that "crap" is good stuff, but I am sick of cleaning it up, hauling it around, and stuffing it into boxes or onto shelves. Almost everything that is sitting unused is going away. I stripped almost everything off of our living room walls. It looked so bare for about a week. Soon I saw a new room unfold. I saw less clutter and dusting that needed to be done. I saw less things we would have to move if/when we move. I have a long way to go but it's a start. I keep cutting our unused homeschool stuff in half too. We just don't need it. I am donating some loved but still new birth and homeschool books to the library. Slowly I am freeing up my space and mind. It was incredibility overwhelming at first but then it got easier. I am even parting with my Mothering Magazines.

I browsed the internet for inspiration about living simply and more minimally. Sentimental stuff is the hardest! I read this lovely piece a man wrote when going through his late mother's worldly possessions and his struggle to keep everything. It made me cry! Reading it helped me a lot and he had some great tips and a neat realization for himself.
An excerpt: "And yet Mom had held on to these things because she was trying to hold on to pieces of me, pieces of the past, much like I was attempting to hold on to pieces of her and her past."

Months ago, when I was content with my storage and life's collections, this is what I wrote to a friend about how sentimental my Mothering Magazine collection is to me:

I have to keep mine for now... they are stored away in a plastic tub in the basement. I always thought I'd pass them to Charlotte, but now with the internet at everyone's fingertips will she really scour through 60 magazines to find out about co sleeping or how to make garlic ear oil? lol. Nope. Not to mention she already knows about natural parenting and baby care, home birth, co sleeping, etc because she grew up with it. :) It really makes me think back to a time when that WAS how I got my info. It's amazing. I had no one back then. There was not one soul in my life that was an "AP" parent until I joined homeschool groups in 2004. That's a long lonely time.

I first found Mothering at Wild Oats in 1997 when Charlotte was a little baby. I was still healing from the hospital birth induction that I was misled and lied towards, and on top of it all I was coping with failing at breastfeeding with zero support or knowledge. I ventured out to learn what I could and make things different in my life and raise my baby as healthy as possible. I picked up Mothering Magazine and How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor in the same store visit. I can't fully describe the relief and excitement. I was already doing everything "weird" compared to everyone else: cloth diapers, co sleeping, nurturing/gentle parenting, and other lifestyle/health choices (incl. no "well baby" visits for an already well baby!) that no one else was doing. It was all so underground to me, a brand new world opened up from those pages. I wasn't alone. I also learned what I started calling instinctual or primal parenting had a trending word already: attachment parenting. Those magazines just hold too much sentimental value to me.

Well, the magazines are still in the basement by the way. So, baby-steps.
Like the man who wrote about his mother in his blog, I am holding onto a memory and a feeling when I could write about it or take a picture. Maybe the first step is having wrote about it.:)

Simplifying has taken on other forms as well 
We decided not to get rabbits or bees this year. We downsized our chickens. We re-homed our guinea pigs. We loved them dearly and re-homed them because Layla was very allergic to them. We had been keeping them upstairs away from her but it was a difficult situation. We didn't get to see them as much. It made life difficult. If something is making our life difficult I want us to look at it and consider doing something different.

Not in line with being Earth friendly, but one way we are simplifying our life/time is that we have decided that we will not have the time or effort to refinish our wood floors in the living room and main floor bedrooms so we are putting carpet down. I crave the ease of vacuuming again and so much need to simplify the household tasks. This was one way we could help me save time and stress. The main wood floors in our home are in horrendous shape now and are even splintering in some places, so regardless we needed to do something. I'm surprised I want to go back to some carpeted surfaces but I have to admit defeat. I can't keep these floors clean. I can vacuum easier than sweeping and mopping when kids underfoot or hanging off my hip.

I am picking up other interesting ideas along the way and will continue to as I transform my way of thinking!

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