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The Natural Happy Middle

There are times our family will eat cereal for dinner. We’ll eat it together but nonetheless there will be a box of cereal and gallon of milk sitting on the table for our meal. We ate cereal last night in fact. I didn’t feel like cooking and we were out of leftovers so cereal it was. I cannot always guarantee either that it will be gluten free, sugar free or some other free ingredient version. While I’m an advocate for living as naturally as possible I also know that can mean doing what we need to for a comfortable and happy life. I also know that there are times you can’t do it all.

I think more than anything that is the point I hope comes through my blog posts time and again. Where we can, where its possible today and how it impacts yourself and your family is what it means to live as naturally as you can. If you don’t eat organic granola one day and instead have Fruit Loops with your child and enjoy a time connecting with them over that cereal while you hear about their day it doesn’t mean you’ve lost the battle. It means you’re a normal mom who is doing her best and putting the value of the relationship and quality of your life above a lot of other stress. Sometimes granola is stressful especially when it is expensive and doesn’t taste good. I believe in doing what’s best for our families within our budget. There is no point in spending $7 for a box of granola no one likes. You have to find what works for your family and what you can afford. Sometimes that’s a box of Fruit Loops.

My own goal for my family is to live more naturally as much as we can. I know we feel better, are healthier and happier when we are experiencing living natural. I know overall it saves us money and long term is the right direction for us to go in our lives. I also know we enjoy snacks, chocolate, chips, ice cream and cereal. We’re going to have those things every now and then and that doesn’t make us less natural. I will not be known as the mom who didn’t allow her son to have cotton candy at the fair because it’s whipped flavored and colored sugar. We will never live in a world where everything is healthy which is why we need to teach our children to make choices that are healthy in the long run and how to balance the rest.

When I first started exploring natural living and what it means I saw a couple schools of thought as the most prominent. First, there are hard core people who live strictly away from anything that is manufactured, pre-made and contains unnatural anything. They grow their own food and practice a high level of sustainable living. It’s amazing how they are able to navigate our world to achieve that. While it’s noble and I learn as much as I can from them I knew right away it wasn’t going to ever fit my family. We are very far from achieving that level of full natural living. I can grow a tomato in the backyard but I’ll never be in the league of these individuals. I do however appreciate so much about what they are learning to advance and make accessible more ways to practice sustainable living and natural products that the rest of us can use.

Then there are those who believe natural living is where your detergent or food product says “simply” or “free”. I was here at first. Marketing people are really smart in catching on that more and more people don’t want unnecessary things in their food and every day products yet we want creature comforts. Making the bottle white with a blue label though doesn’t change what’s inside. Positioning these products in the easy to get to spots with real natural products higher out of reach is also pretty clever. The truth is this is not living natural or reducing your toxic exposure to harmful things or reducing our impact to the environment. It all starts with reading the labels and if you cannot pronounce the ingredients or know what it is then it’s almost certainly not a natural product.

I like to consider my family in the middle of these two types. We are making more and more choices that are entirely natural and we still use some other things that are not quite there. We find what works best for us, is affordable and effective with a responsibility to what it means after we’re done using it. The hard core will say that is not enough and the free and clear group will say it’s extreme. I prefer to say it’s what’s right for us where we are now and what we are still learning and exploring and needing to live a happy life.