Like a lot of moms these days, I try to pay attention to what I bring in my home, including the toxic ingredients in cleaning products. I have read plenty about environmental pollutants and children being poisoned in their own homes.
According to the CDC:
“Every day, over 300 children in the United States ages 0 to 19 are treated in an emergency department, and two children die, as a result of being poisoned.”
(Visit the CDC Safechild poison prevention page here.)
I try to use products that have natural disinfectants like citric acid and I use white vinegar on anything that’ll stand still! You can get lists of other non-toxic, homemade substitutions for cleaning on websites like this one. As a rule, I feel pretty good about that decision based on the information I have.
Then my mom came to visit for the holidays and yelled from the bathroom, “Where’s your bleach?! How’s anything supposed to be clean if you’re not using bleach?!”
For a generation raised on Ajax (she literally had me scrubbing my hands with the powdered Ajax to get self-tanner off when I was a teenager) it can be difficult for our parents to understand our sudden obsession with replacing their good ‘ol toxic household cleaners. This is one of about 38,764 things for us to question about our own parenting.
It is right up there with handing your baby the last (dirty) binky from the diaper bag. The one you know fell on the ground but is your only way to avoid a screaming fit.
Do you lick it? Wipe it on your shirt? Decide if there are no visible foreign bodies on it, it’s ok?
You can practically see the germs on it and it makes you feel a little gross, but you give it anyway. Then the baby is happy, and she doesn’t get sick, and life goes on.
These are the decisions that give me anxiety as a first-time mom. Little decisions about my daughter’s health which don’t end up being detrimental but feel like life-or-death in the moment.
I Didn’t Want Anything in My Home That Was Toxic
This was partially because I have an EXTREMELY sensitive nose and partially because I think your home should be a safe place that has as few hazards as possible. The hazard isn’t just in a child ingesting the products either. There is new evidence that breathing bleach fumes as little as once a week may cause children health problems. You can read about the study here.
In response to this information, we did away with bleach, ammonia, mops, and sponges (due to bacteria growth). We replaced all of them with plant-based cleansers and used rags that could be laundered in hot water.
Well, as I mentioned, my mother (whom I also consider my best friend) stayed with us for the holidays and she just didn’t get it. She asked that her Christmas gifts be Clorox and Windex so she could clean my house. She stared at a bottle of bathroom cleaner that listed eucalyptus and peppermint oil as the active ingredients for what felt like an hour.
Then she said, “So it’s crap.”
This was not a question. This was a statement, pure and clear.
There are not very many things we disagree on so this was new territory for me. After reviewing the ingredients and how they are, in fact, disinfectants I told her, “You have to let it sit for a minute to do its job, but it cleans just as well as the toxic cleansers and doesn’t have fumes.”
Her face: BLANK.
Then something about how she was in bathrooms covered in bleach for so many years and she’s just fine. (You know, uphill both ways, in the snow..)
So I caved and got her her Windex and Clorox Cleanup because I’m not going to protest too much to someone else cleaning my house!
I even got a sort-of sponge thing that says it doesn’t harbor bacteria and I haven’t noticed a smell from it yet. The cleansers will not be used again until her next visit I’m sure, but the sponge thing actually worked out better than our rags. I suppose having a good bleach cleaning every couple months is good for a bathroom and compromise is always a positive thing.
The Bottom Line is: We All Want our Children to be Healthy & Happy
This is the core thread that unites all parents even when we disagree on how to get to that goal. Some believe exposure to dirt and germs will build their immune system better than sterilizing everything. Others wash their hands 50 times.
There’s no “right” way… only your way. Sometimes when your way doesn’t coincide with ideas of people you admire as parents it can create conflict. I admire my mom and I know she also wants what’s best for my daughter, and that allowed us to meet in the middle on this issue.
I’ve found that these are the best ways to settle internal conflicts when it comes to parenting:
- Do your research (read from reliable sources.. not everything online is true!)
- Talk to your partner in parenting and come to a solid co-decision
- Compromise when it feels like the right thing to do (this includes cutting yourself some slack if your original decision doesn’t work out)
Above all else – trust your own instincts! When you became a mama you got this special power of just knowing what’s right and what’s not for your child. USE THAT and you can never go wrong.
Cierra Abrahamson is the mother of a spunky little girl named Georgia, wife to a caring Highway Patrolman, and a student majoring in interior design. She loves hot yoga and drawing with charcoal. Her core belief since becoming a mother is that we should all trust our instincts and not judge each other. Even more, she believes with her whole heart that she NEEDS a nap!
Featured Image: Edited from Ben Gillbanks- Unsplash
In Post Image: Edited from Ben Gillbanks- Unsplash
Bio Picture Provided by Author, Used With Permission