At Least It’s Clean


August 31, 2012 by lytlejoc

When discussing my current way of life, people keep asking, “How do you do it?? What do you do with a nine month old in a camper?” And usually they add, “Isn’t it hard?? You must be nuts.”
Well I’ll tell you, the name of the game is Creative Parenting. Or Ghetto Parenting… I can’t decide which. And the secret to living this way is to just be ok with Creative/Ghetto Parenting. For example, when the baby’s Cheerios spill on the floor, you just let him eat them anyway since it will keep him quiet for five more minutes. Or when you discover that your baby is trying to reach a mushroom that’s growing under your bed, you just scrape it up and scrub the spot out with a bit of bleach to kill the spore and shrug it off. True story.

Well, he really likes them.

We’ve had to be real creative with how we manage Toby these days, since he is fully crawling and pulling himself up to stand, teetering, on the bed, in the tub, next to windows, etc. There are very few spots that I can put him down where I don’t have to worry about him and so the thing I miss the very most about life in a house is Toby’s crib. When we first arrived, we had Toby sleeping in a peapod tent perched on the lower bunk of the camper which I thought was a brilliant solution to the lack of space needed to accommodate a crib or play pen. The peapodwas perfect; it literally takes less than a minute to set up and to take down, and it kept him from rolling off the edge of the bunk or wandering around in there at night. Recently, however, Toby figured out that being enclosed (trapped) in the peapod meant that he could not do these very undesirable things. The night that he discovered this was a rough one full of hourly waking and culminated in me driving him around at 5 AM so Scott could steal a few more hours of sleep before another long, hot day of demolition. Later that day, Scott went out and bought a baby gate which we rigged up on the lower bunk so Toby could have a bigger sleeping space. While that has definitely made our nights extremely more restful (Toby slept through the whole night last night!), I feel like I am practicing some seriously questionable parenting habits every time I lock him into his cage, as we call it. I’ve duct taped towels to the window casing so that he won’t fall on the latches and split his head open whenever he feels like doing a bit of spelunking in his new bed, and there are cushions from the camper couch wedged into the ends of the bunk to try and soften it up a bit. Nowadays, the child safety experts say no plush toys or blankets in your baby’s crib. I wonder what they would say if they saw Toby’s current sleep environment? I’ve thought on more than one occasion as I was jimmying the baby gate shut that they would snatch him away from me in horror if they did. But ya know… whatever works.

We sure built him a nice cage.

Camper life is otherwise not bad at all. I’ve made up a little routine, and being a camper wife and keeping camper for all my boys is suiting me just fine. I do miss some things, like my washer and dryer, a proper bathroom and most of all, my dishwasher. And I’ve had a lot of moments where I come to the realization that I am doing something that I think is perfectly normal but would not have thought that three months ago, like sitting on my bed while cleaning Toby’s highchair. But otherwise, I don’t miss a lot of the home comforts that I was previously accustomed to. I rather like eking out a living like this, even though it means limited power, water and internet. For me, figuring out whether it’s more important to conserve the water or the power as I’m doing the dishes so that I finish them all with a little bit of both left over is kind of like a puzzle. And I like puzzles. Also, we’ve been blessed with a particularly beautiful summer, and there are four beaches, all within 15 minutes at the most, so I’ve been able to even walk to the beach and paddle around while Toby sleeps in the stroller or just let him discover that eating sand is not all that it appears to be.

An echoing shell of its former self.

Demolition is still underway and while the boys have all the walls and cabinets and the ceiling torn out, it is hot, messy and arduous work that never seems to end. Next will be the task of hauling out all the ductwork and other sundry clear-outs, including the room full of coal in the basement that needs to be shovelled. (Angela’s Ashes, anyone??) Original deadlines have gone out the window, and while we’re not yet at the point of finding an alternative living space for when the snow starts to fly, it’s definitely in the back of our minds.
So… what have I made in the last little while that I can share with you? Not a whole lot, it is to be confessed. I haven’t had a lot of time to experiment while chasing young Toby around tent city. But I have still been making my own spray cleaner that I dearly love, so while I don’t think it’s the most captivating thing to share with you, it’s something.

Non-Toxic Homemade Spray Cleaner

I found the recipe for this one while randomly surfing the web a few months ago and of course I made my own adjustments to suit me. The result is a spray cleaner that will cut through just about anything, including the sticky grunge that accumulated after about a year — ok, three or four years — on the top of my open shelving in the kitchen in Vancouver. During this particular cleaning bout, I tested my recipe against Lysol spray… and mine won. It leaves no residue behind like some commercial cleaners and it doesn’t reek of vinegar like some homemade cleaners. In short, I heart it very much.

You’ll need:
1 L hot water – the “hot” is important. But you can just use it hot from the tap. No need to bust out the kettle.

1 tsp Borax – our old friend and the reason for using hot water. Borax won’t dissolve in cold. Borax lends the disinfecting power to this spray.

A few drops castille soap – or just a little squirt of dish soap, although if you aren’t using castille, there will be a small amount of toxicity in the spray. How much, you ask? That I don’t know. It depends on the soap you use.

1 Tbsp white vinegar – this part helps cut grease. “But why doesn’t the cleaner then stink of vinegar?” you wonder. This is where I did my own tweaking. I put the peels from a lemon into a jar and filled it with vinegar, then I let it infuse in a dark cupboard for about a week, shaking the jar every day. The result is a supercharged vinegar that smells more like lemon than fish and chips. The other reason the vinegar smell is lessened is the addition of…

10 to 20 drops of essential oil – which ones you use are your choice. My favorite combos are tea tree and lavender, and lemon and sweet orange. The lemon and sweet orange hide the vinegar smell the best and the lavender and tea tree have the added bonus of being disinfectant.

Dissolve the borax in the hot water and pour it into your spray bottle. Add the remaining ingredients. Shake it up and you’re ready to go. Go clean your kitchen. Or your bathroom. Or your kid’s high chair, especially if it’s been sitting in the screen tent overnight and now has ants crawling all over the supper remnants you forgot to wipe off. No? Just me?

You see why I sometimes prefer the term Ghetto Parenting.

What is your favorite spray cleaner, either homemade or store bought? Also, reader poll: Creative Parent or Ghetto Parent?


2 thoughts on “At Least It’s Clean

  1. vanessa sadler says:

    must try that cleaner! i laughed out loud at the sitting on my bed cleaning toby’s high chair bit.


  2. Cheryl Francis says:

    At least Toby will have a good immune system….

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