When she was pregnant with her first child, Paige Wolf fretted about making healthy choices—from BPA in bottles to lead in baby toys. So she wrote a book about it and reassured herself in the process.
“Spit That Out: The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids in the Age of Environmental Guilt” (now in its second edition) helps eliminate info overload with expert advice, tips, and anecdotes while encouraging parents that “living more green” can be practical, manageable, and affordable.
Notice that “easy” isn’t on the list. Because it’s not always easy—especially as those cute, compliant babies grow up and start to notice the world around them. Like who got more M&Ms or what the siren call of the ice cream truck sounds like.
Paige (who also owns a PR firm for clients with sustainable and mission-driven companies) offers a reality check from her own adventures parenting a 7-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter—so that other moms can strive for healthier living, while dispelling the guilt if they come up a bit short.
“Trying to live a green lifestyle is a lot easier with a baby. What you bring into your home and what you give them is up to you. Then, when they see more of the outside world at school, it’s a lot more challenging. It’s more about trying to incorporate healthy values, but not making them live in a bubble.”
SURRENDERING THE FOOD BATTLES
“My kids understand making good choices. That said, they’ve become really picky eaters. I can try as hard as I want to make wonderful organic meals, and they will never eat them. I watched a really funny video where a guy prepared a lovely meal and threw it in the trash. It made me feel better because that’s my life. I’ve tried it all—it doesn’t work, for whatever reason. I never thought I’d be one of those parents making four different meals, but you know what? I am. If they’re going to be eating mac-n-cheese three or four nights a week, it will be Annie’s organic. I try to do better where I can.”
CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN
“You can’t ask a child to go from a Dum-Dum lollipop to an apple. It’s just not reality. Maybe when I had a toddler I thought I could! I want my kids to make their own decisions too, not rebel so that when I have a 12-year-old, he sneaks to McDonald’s every day. You have to control what you can. If we go out to dinner at a friend’s house and they serve Kraft mac-n-cheese, fine—I’m not going to be an asshole about it.”
WORDS TO LIVE BY
“Perfect is unattainable, but better is always possible. I use a Keurig. I get shit for it. It’s my one thing I can’t give up. I really love it. To make it better, I found the greenest K-cup on the market. It has less plastic, it’s organic, it’s biodegradable. We all have our eco-vices and sins and things we can’t give up. But is there a way we can make that one thing better?”
“It’s hard enough just to raise a child. ‘Are they learning to read and write?’ ‘Are they getting enough sleep?’ ‘Do they need glasses?’ And we’ve got huge layers of stuff on top of it because we don’t know what’s in their food and toys. We want to protect them, but we also don’t want to keep them in a bubble. There’s a spectrum between willful, abject ignorance and utter paranoia. Most people fall somewhere in between.”
“I love when people ask how they can make swaps. I’ve been selling a brand of natural cosmetics that I believe in, to help people make those kinds of swaps. Whether it’s a hand soap or granola bar, better is achievable.”
SOMETHING FOR NOTHING
“I try to write about my experiences so that people know what is possible. For instance, I planned my daughter’s fourth birthday party at my house, spending almost no money and putting everything together pretty DIY. I like doing it, and I like blogging about it. [One great resource] is the Buy Nothing Facebook group. They’re all over the world, in all different communities. I try to check that a lot before I buy anything.”
“One of my friends tests everything for lead. She tested a bunch of fidget spinners. Some were fine, some had crazy high levels. Then it got picked up by those click-bait websites that were like, ‘Throw away your fidget spinners! They’re all going to kill your children!’ But no, that’s not what the testers said. If you have one that lights up or is painted, maybe get rid of it. Take a step back, take a deep breath. Let’s think about this. You can get carried away.”