While you may value an eco-friendly, all-natural lifestyle, the reality is there are a lot of people out there who do not share those values. Often times, those people who either do not share your values, or who are just plain complacent might be your friends, family or even babysitters. While, I’m not going to force my lifestyle on others, I do want to make sure they maintain my values while caring for my children.
I think it’s probably easier for people to follow your wishes when they’re in your home. Of course there are certain things they may resist. For example, some people may not feel comfortable with cloth diapering your child and may prefer disposables. If you can, it’s helpful to show people your cloth diapering method (including where to find your bag or pail for soiled diapers). Sometimes simply showing them how easy it is, will be all it takes to get them on board. However, you may choose to have some earth-friendly and baby bottom friendly disposables on hand. Some brands that will be gentle on baby and the earth include: Seventh Generation, Huggies Pure and Natural, and Attitude Diapers. Of course, I would recommend encouraging anyone taking care of my children to at least give cloth diapering a chance. Many new grandparents today were using cloth diapers on their own children thirty years ago. You may want to offer that information as a gentle reminder (since older generations love to remind us that they did things differently).
Feeding your children is another important concern. Many times, people will not understand your choice to feed your children organic food. I even knew a woman who would brag that she deliberately fed her granddaughter non-organic food because she didn’t think it mattered. Her daughter-in-law would bring organic snacks for the little girl, and the grandmother still did not feed them to the child. This is a tough spot to be in. I think all grandparents will feed their grandchildren junk at some point or another, but to be outwardly defiant can be very upsetting for a mother. I think as parents, when faced with a situation like this, it’s important to communicate to the “resistors” WHY we are feeding our children organic versus non-organic foods. I find it helpful to print out some information regarding the benefits of organic foods, especially for children and pregnant women. Helpguide.org has a very useful article that you could simply print out the most pertinent sections and put it on your fridge.
It’s certainly easiest to make sure someone feeds your children organic (or follows any other dietary requirements you may have) if they are babysitting in your home. If you don’t keep processed, artificial and just plain junk food in your home, then they won’t be able to feed your children those types of things. I also recommend leaving a note with foods that you would like your children to have for snack. I like to keep fresh fruits in the fridge, since those are some of my kids’ favorites anyway. I feel that if you keep a favorite healthy snack in the house when others are watching your kids, then your kids will naturally pick their favorite snack.
When someone is watching your kids in a home that’s not yours, then it gets a little trickier. You need to find a way to tactfully bring mom-approved snacks without insulting the person watching your children. I like to take the approach that I’m trying to make things easier for whoever is watching my kids. I say something like, “I have to pick up this stuff anyway, so I’ll just pick up extra to bring to your house.” Another way I handle it is to say, “You’re already doing me a favor watching the kids, let me do you the favor of picking up snacks and such for the kids. You wouldn’t need these snacks if my kids weren’t going to be at your house.” You’ll be surprised what a relief this can be for someone watching your kids. You know better than anyone else what your kids like to eat, so who better to buy the food.
At the end of the day, you have to hope that whoever is taking care of your children will respect you enough to follow your wishes. I consider myself fortunate that I have both a mother and mother-in-law who, whether they agree with me or not, will follow what I ask of them when it comes to my children. I think they both were blessed with mothers and mother-in-laws who did the same for them. Not everyone is so lucky. I always find that explaining why you do the things you do (even if you don’t feel you should have to) is a very effective way to gain compliance. Remember, you might be asking people to follow a lifestyle, albeit for a short amount of time, which they may not be accustomed to, or even understand. Your patience and understanding with others should help encourage them to follow your values, at least when caring for your children.