Any of you who know me or have read much on Pure Simplicity know that homemade, natural food and household items are pretty high on my list of importance, and I “DIY” (Do It Yourself – I know, not exactly proper grammar there!) a lot of things from scratch. On the other hand, I definitely don’t like to be overwhelmed with things to do, forfeiting family time and peace because another thing needs to be made.
I think the balance is different for every person and family; the trick is defining your priorities and sticking with them. For some people, they really can make every meal, cleaner, and household product from scratch. That would be wonderful, if it paid the bills and I didn’t have a toddler getting into everything (haha)! As it is, I make from scratch the things that are most important to me or I believe need to be completely natural. For other things, I find the best affordable option and go with that. An example of this is almond milk. I have made nut milk before, but we drink a lot of it, and the time and mess just wasn’t worth it to me. Instead, we buy unsweetened almond milk from the store, and I am content with that.
Below, I go over a few steps to find your own balance between “DIY vs. Overwhelm”.
Make a list of your priorities
For you moms reading this, family is often at the top. Also, work is one priority that many people don’t think of, but let’s face it: it’s necessary, and therefore a priority. Here’s what the top of my priority list looks like: God (This includes Church and study time, Prayer, and other Christianity-related things), Family, Friends, Health and Pure Simplicity, Reading and Knowledge, Beauty (In nature, things I make, and my own beauty). For this summer, work at the farm is a top priority as well, but that’s only for another couple of months.
If you’re not sure what your priories are, think about what you spend time on. Do you have a hobby you love, a passion you’re invested it, or something you just love to explore or learn about?
Define your time budget and money budget
Typically, when you’re switching to a natural, DIY home, there can be a couple larger expenses to buy things in bulk (or something like a bottle of essential oil, which lasts a long time). After that it’s usually a lot cheaper. As far as time, making things usually does take longer than buying pre-made, but with the right balance it won’t put a strain on the rest of your life.
Do some research
Set aside some time to research which foods and products are the most important to make or buy natural/organic. The biggest area to research is food, but there are many household products and baby products (like wipes) that make a big difference as well. EWG.org is a great place to look up quality and ingredients, including for make-up and personal care products.
I find it easiest to find a few sources I like (just googling your questions works great), and block off a time to research each category you’re interested in (food, cleaning products, etc). Subscribing to email lists of websites you like for future updates can also be quite helpful. Your can use your own research to determine which things will be most helpful for your family.
Choose the things you’re going to make
Now that you’ve done some research and have an idea of what things are important to make, write down some of your top ones. Don’t overload yourself, especially at first. You don’t want to get burnt out on homemade things and not do it at all!
My own research has led me to decide that food is the biggest priority to make at home. Also, cleaning products are very easy to make (like this all-purpose spray), so I DIY those too. I haven’t made time to experiment with making my own make-up, and since I use so little of it, its not really a priority for me. Anything for my daughter I make, because her health is very high on my priority list.
Food is the biggest thing for me because its what goes inside our bodies on a regular basis, and determines our health from the inside out. It affects every area of our bodies and minds, and unhealthy food can be detrimental. I make pretty much everything we eat from scratch now. That means when I go to the store, I buy ingredients, not pre-made or pre-combined foods. As a side note, I also prefer to buy organic, but don’t always (here‘s a helpful guide for when to buy organic). How much you make and how much you buy pre-made is a personal and family choice. Just give yourself a goal, and try to stick with that.
Adjust as necessary
As you implement the things you want to DIY, you can adjust your plan as necessary. Likely, at first it will seem either like you’re trying to do too many things, or like you want to do more. Either way, adjusting is simple. If its too much, just remove from the list the less important things (by remove I mean buy rather than make). If its too little, gradually add more things you want to make until you’re happy with it.
Keep in mind that its not like you’re making these decisions forever. As life changes you can adjust your balance. For example, right now part of my day is spent working at the farm, and I only have one baby. When I have several kids (God-willing) and am home more, the things I make may change somewhat.
Whatever balance you decide on, I am confident that you can make the best choice for your family. Remember: Prioritize, define, research, choose, and adjust!