Anyone else changing their SAHM habits b/c of gas prices/environmental concerns? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 05-20-2008, 02:46 PM - Thread Starter
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When my first son (now 4) was a toddler, I thought nothing of popping him in the car to go to do a 40-mile round-trip jaunt to the zoo or children's museum. Now driving 4 miles to the YMCA feels like a splurge. My MO for him (at least in the morning) was to go, go, go.

Now I feel compelled to changes my ways and stay closer to home. And it's not just about the money. We are on a tight budget but my dad sent us a little $ specifically for gas so I could take the boys on some outings this summer. I will probably go places on some days, but make up for it by not using the car at all on others. I just can't go back to driving as much as I used to.

It feels good--my boys are learning to wander around the house making their own fun, and I have to be more creative dreaming up things for them to do. But it can also be hard, and I get lazy and spend too much time on MDC .

Anyone relate?
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#2 of 18 Old 05-20-2008, 02:56 PM
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I am def. more of a homebody the past year. Since gas prices have super inflated I try to keep ds happy with all things local,in home or walkable. I try to do power errands. I do not dry the car at least three days a week, and I multitask every visit or playdate so we do not waste gas. I plan to continue a lot of this even if prices go down or do not go up.

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#3 of 18 Old 05-20-2008, 03:16 PM
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Well even before DD was born in my final month of pregnancy I became a homebody, it was my final days of "me" time so to say. Then when Dd was born it was easy to say "No" because of the wee one. I really try to only go to town once a week, maybe twice, I'd rather be home with her anyway. One of my friends is always on the go with her son, and then complains because she drives a gas guzzling SUV and it eats up so much of their income, ugh. Anyway I love being at home, so this makes it even more of an easy way to stay home. Plus for me it just feels right.

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#4 of 18 Old 05-20-2008, 03:56 PM
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This issue is a big one for me. When I got pregnant, my DH switched cars with me because his is bigger (SUV) and supposedly safer. My car is an economy model and gets 30+ mpg. I balked, but relented because he was so cute about the concern.

Now that gas is $4/gallon, I feel trapped at home. It costs $15 to go to my old stomping ground that is also 30 degrees cooler than where we live now. I get very homesick for my old life by the water. My dog gets over heated so we can't walk far in this heat zone. I end up feeling very lonely and have started slacking off on housework because I am bored and feeling unsupported by his insisting on keeping my car.

So what I am doing now is not even going to the grocery. We walk a little around the neighborhood and stay home. I do all my visiting on the weekend
and take my car. He has to watch LO while I get groceries.

I've offered to drive him to the train station to save on parking and gas ($14/day total) but he won't budge. Because I can't afford to fill up HIS gas guzzling SUV, I end up going nowhere. I know it's supposed to be for the good of the family, but if I drove him and he took public transit, now that would be good for us all!

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#5 of 18 Old 05-20-2008, 03:58 PM
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We are absolutely hanging out at home more. Much, much more. And if we have to go out, we do everything we can think of that might have to be done in one trip, so it ends up being a lot of errands and that can drive my dd crazy. She has an ipod shuffle and I have some fairy tales for her to listen to on it, and that generally gets us through.
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#6 of 18 Old 05-20-2008, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by marzanmama View Post
When my first son (now 4) was a toddler, I thought nothing of popping him in the car to go to do a 40-mile round-trip jaunt to the zoo or children's museum. Now driving 4 miles to the YMCA feels like a splurge. My MO for him (at least in the morning) was to go, go, go.

Now I feel compelled to changes my ways and stay closer to home. And it's not just about the money. We are on a tight budget but my dad sent us a little $ specifically for gas so I could take the boys on some outings this summer. I will probably go places on some days, but make up for it by not using the car at all on others. I just can't go back to driving as much as I used to.

It feels good--my boys are learning to wander around the house making their own fun, and I have to be more creative dreaming up things for them to do. But it can also be hard, and I get lazy and spend too much time on MDC .

Anyone relate?
Well, for the most part we have had to stay close to home due to the fact we only had one car for the longest time or when we did have two, one was broken or money wasn't there for much else.

But yes, we are feeling it too. And while I may be wrong, I think its only going to get worse...our economy.
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#7 of 18 Old 05-20-2008, 04:08 PM
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Yes, we're staying closer to home and driving less. We used to drive and meet DH at work for lunch (either eat out or just have a picnic lunch) during the workday. We don't do that anymore. We don't do big field trips on a weekly basis anymore either.

This summer I am specifically planning activities that are closer to home, so we can avoid driving all over the place and spending too much money on gas.

New signature, same old me: Ann- mama of 2 boys and 2 girls, partnered to a fabulous man.
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#8 of 18 Old 05-20-2008, 04:08 PM
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Yes, both have caused me to re-evaluate and consolidate plans, to be honest.

For gas prices:

That's one of the two main reasons that we are doing day camp only this year, and all the kids go to the same place (they're separated out by age though). We are also sort of carpooling with a friend that has only one child, that lives nearby. So she's kicking in some gas money, I'm picking up and dropping off her kid (since he's on the way to camp, and I've got the van plus a convenient extra carseat).

DD will be limited in her choice of extracurricular activities next year. She's very very into her dance, so she can still go to her favorite teacher even though it's a splurge gas wise. However...her other activities must be at the school after school (there's a bunch to choose from) so I don't have to drive her somewhere else. Her brothers will be similarly limited.

We try to limit family fun trips to the zoo or aquarium or children's museum (we're members of all three) to once every few months. The memberships still pay for themselves, since we've got 5 people in our family.

For environmental stuff:

I no longer buy "snack package" foods. Or convenience items. Which kind of sucks sometimes, but it's cheaper and less packaging. We also have #2 water bottles (the supposedly non-leaching kind). I can't bring myself to spend $25 on a stainless steel bottle, that's $75 for the kids alone. BUT if they show they can take good care of their plastic ones over the summer and not lose them, then I will consider it for the fall. For camp/school lunches I pack bentos.

We eat a lot of twice or thrice prepared leftovers too, with food prices going up plus wanting to cut down on the amount of meat we buy for environmental reasons, I prepare meat about twice per week now, though I'd say we have meat in our meal about 4 or 5 times a week, just in way smaller amounts and stretched out. We eat a lot of fresh fruit and veggies, but tend to stay local. Once the local harvest seasons starts (early June) we ONLY eat local veggies that we get from our CSA farm (the share is large enough that I end up putting up some of it every week). So that's a cost cutter plus an environmental thing. Unfortunately I do have a to drive a short distance for the CSA farm. I will probably walk down to the U-pick farm that's a little closer this year to see if I can hack walking there once a week for supplemental berries and veggies. I've been getting in better and better shape, I think it's feasable...probably not with the kids though. I might have been able to if they were still stroller-age.

Now that my kids are older and not QUITE as messy all the time, I have them do (with my supervision for now) a spot check on their clothing at night. If it's not dirty (shirts and pants, underwear and socks always go in the hamper) then we turn it inside out and hang it up (the only time we hang up clothes in this house!! ) to air out overnight and the next day, and they can wear it the day after or use it as spare clothing. That's cut my laundry load by about a 1/3rd. (And it's cut my DD's laundry by half!).

Switching over to cleaners we make ourseives (except for I can't totally get rid of my bleach, I know, bad mama) and using reusable spray bottles saves a LOT of $$ and has helped me let go of my control issues and allow my kids to help me clean more.

If it helps, I don't dream up things for my kids to do. I rotate toys, might put out different art supplies once a week, ect...but like others have mentioned boredom isn't terminal, and it can be good for kids to work it out how to entertain themselves. I figure my main responsibility, with them being 6, 5 and 5 is for me to supply the tools, and then stay out of the way and let them figure out what they want to do with them (within common sense reasons of course).

Easy for me to say though. I've got three kids, they have complementary personalities to each other, and they're all homebodies too.
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#9 of 18 Old 05-20-2008, 04:40 PM
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We never had 2 cars until last year when my DH was working away an awful lot and I was using his (he has to drive 8 miles to work as there is no sensible connection by public transport) car. I found the change of scenery did me an awful lot of good so now we have 2 cars (a Skoda Roomster that gets almost 50 miles to gallon and a Smart 4 Two for DH that pretty much runs on fresh air - wanted to buy hybrid electric but too expensive :-(
I drive my DS to kindergarten 4 miles each way 3 times a week, and do my groceries and errands while he is in and we have one "bigger" outing a week 30-70 miles total. I would say I do drive more (price of fuel in Scotland is £1.24 per litre or roughly $11.25 per gallon) but our total fuel expenditure actually is no a lot more than it has always been. I always consolidate my trips. I never drive if the trip is less than 2.5-3 miles or I can use the public transport. I cannot remember last time I have driven on my own in the bigger car, it is always full of people, kids, cats or other stuff. We have bought a few memberships (Zoo, Historic Scotland etc) so most outings cost us very little over the cost of fuel. I did feel a bit guilty about having 2 cars so I make absolutely sure that I buy local food as much as possible and otherwise except for the coffee and occasionally bananas I do not buy any food from outside Europe. We do loads of other things which in small ways help the environment: we grow some of our veggies, use local shops and parks, hardly ever use clothes dryer, all our appliances are as energy and water efficient as possible, eco lightbulbs etc, etc, etc
So on the whole i find I plan our outings a lot more (take picnic, run some errands, take a friend along etc) but go out just as much. I think it is all about balance (chequebook, carbon, sanity and whatever else you would like to put in here).
Hope this rambling makes sense. The growing price of fuel and all its consequences on price of almost everything else really does worry me a lot but up till now we have managed to off-set it somehow, for how much longer - who knows?
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#10 of 18 Old 05-20-2008, 05:15 PM
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We've changed our habits, but more for environmental concerns than gas prices, as the changes have been happening gradually over the past 12-18 months.

After DS was born, the only place I could find to do aerobics that had child care was 17 miles from my house. The up side was that if I stayed in the child care room once a week, I could work out for free, which was almost $500 annual value. This covered the gas cost, but took time and there were other problems brewing at the childcare place, so we made a change last year, and now I go work out at night after DH comes home. This means that I don't eat dinner with the family 2-3 nights per week (still cook it), but otherwise has worked out well and it feels good to be more environmentally efficient. The new place I go is 3 miles or so from the house. I'm currently trying to figure out if I could ride my bike there without being run over on the road.

In addition/relation to this, over a year ago we traded in a gas guzzler for a hybrid. The family barely fits in our Prius. We have a second car that is driven maybe 1-2 times per month, a Nissan Sentra. DH rides his bike to work almost every day, otherwise runs/takes mass transit.

I have worked hard over the years we have lived here to find businesses to work with that are close to home, and most of our routine activies (library, classes, etc.) are within a few miles of our house. When I am looking for a new business, I pay attention to where the business is located in relation to our house. I don't really limit the longer drive activities, but they don't happen very often anyway. I do try to avoid having to add gas to the car more than once every 3 weeks or so.

It is possible for us to live our lives without any car at all if a) I stopped shopping at the organic grocery stores and went to the scary one down the street for all our stuff and b) if the kids could sit together in the bike trailer without bickering.

So yes, major changes, more for environmental reasons than fuel costs at the time, and boy are we glad we did them sooner rather than later!
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#11 of 18 Old 05-20-2008, 05:26 PM
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We live in an extremely rural area (the nearest grocery store is 22 miles) so we definitely make the most of our trips. I am lucky I work at home, so no gas needed; but my husband works 22 miles away and he is really feeling the pinch for gas, in turn we all do. And the cost of food and other items jumping up, here are some things we have implemented:

1. Turn the water heater down, washing all clothing except nicer colored clothing in cold water.

2. Using towels more than just once. (hang up to dry) this has cut down on a considerable amount of laundry. That goes for PJ's too my sons have a bad habit of just throwing them in the dirty clothes basket after 1 time wear.

3. Eating out less/making more meals at home and eating leftovers! Finding more creative recipes online to make this more enjoyable. I try to bake each week also instead of buying prepackaged treats. Buy your meat from a locker, around here its cheaper and healthier.

4. If we have to go to town, we always make the most of it, doing several errands at once.

5. Keeping thermostat turned down in cooler days and we will turn it up this summer. I have found making my kids dress warmer (its cool here in MO still) rather than turning the heat on for just a few degrees.

6. Finding things to do fun in our own back yard; we have a pool we need to set up, I bought a badmitton set, ect.

7. Stop renting movies; watch old ones if you need entertainment like that, or finding other things to do like play games.

8. Unplug it.... I saw this on HGTV how that you should always unplug things like your computer, tv, ect when you aren't using them because they are still using electricity even when you have them turned off.

9. Keep your oil changed and tire pressure up to date.
We bought a small mini van 2 years ago (Traded in our large gas guzzeling Dodge Durango) and although its not as fancy or nice as our Durango, we are sure glad we did now.

10. We have a clothes line, we already had this for years because I love hanging out clothes. You can dry clothes even on cooler days, you would be surprised. We have a lot of Amish in our area and they hang clothes out in the dead of freezing winter, and although I haven't resorted (yet) to doing that, you CAN get clothes dry even if its cloudy outside and you save on using your dryer, and on the energy it uses. I can hang 3-4 loads on my clothesline at one time, and no electricity needed! So if you haven't tried this, do, get a rope, have your hubby rig something up or buy one; it really saves on energy usage, and the wear and tear on your clothing, as dryers break down the fabrics and set the stains in. I can go back and retreat a stain and get it out, if it hasn't dried in the dryer.

11. Buy in bulk, it saves $, trips, and packaging.

12. We use concentrated natural personal care, cleaning products and laundry products so they save on packaging and purchasing as they are very concentrated and last, they also don't break down our fabrics so clothing lasts longer. My kids hardly ever get sick, in part, because there are no toxic products in our home taxing on their immune systems, so we save on medical/dr bills. I also give them vitamins and myself and hubby also. This is something we do not cut out. If you can stay healthy, you don't have to spend on the high cost of medications and doctor visits. I also disinfect high traffic areas keep healthy, it can save you a ton!

13. Pay your bills online, saves buying postage and saves trees!
( I have cut back considerably on postage by doing this..the price of stamps just went up so more reason to do so!)

14. When food staples like cereal or potatoes, or items we use often go on sale, I stock up.

I guess that is all I can think of that we are doing, a lot of these have already been doing for several years; so its been a matter of being more creative with our energy cost-saving ideas.

I am also putting more into our emergency fund, and we are replacing our windows in the fall for better heat efficiency (and its needs done). I think even the small things like keeping things unplugged, can make a big difference.

If we all do these small things perhaps we can drive the prices back down.
I am praying eventually they will. If not, we will all continue to learn to conserve, which is something we should be doing anyways, so I will continue to look for more ideas!
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#12 of 18 Old 05-20-2008, 07:10 PM
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I take the bus and walk so I don't have the gas money blues.
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#13 of 18 Old 05-20-2008, 07:15 PM
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We're walking much more and moving close to Dh's work so that he can walk. It's good for us, it helps the kids get some energy out and it's better for the environment. Win win.
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#14 of 18 Old 05-20-2008, 08:13 PM
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Like Mandymom3, we live fairly rural - we're 15 miles from the grocery store and DP is about 30 miles to work. All the houses are far apart and it's not at all safe or reasonable to walk to any of DS's friend's houses for playdates.
At one point, when I drove my Accord that got 30mpg and gas was $3/gal (way, way back then!), I did the easy calculation that it cost $.10/mile to drive. So, it was $3rt to the grocery store, $6rt to DP's work, etc. It really helped put all my driving in a little perspective. (How much do I really save if I go to the outlets 50 miles away?) When that car died, I got a Prius - so with gas in my area at $4 or more, my calculation is the same again!
There is absolutely no reasonable public transportation here. The public bus runs from about 3 miles away from my house to the high school 2x in the morning and 2x in the afternoon. too far to walk rt with a toddler. There's a public transit web site that allows you to map out a route - to get to DP's work, it would take at best 3 hours and $8 each way.
I really like to be out and about in the world - I don't like to stay home much. We will be local much more when DS starts preschool (1.5 miles away! yay!) in the fall 2 days/week. I do also try to keep us from going down the hill more than 1x/day. I know I should do more and I feel totally guilty about it every day!
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#15 of 18 Old 05-20-2008, 08:31 PM
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my habits aren't impacted very much. we deliberately chose a home in an area where I could walk to school, shops, recreation, etc.
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#16 of 18 Old 05-20-2008, 10:20 PM
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I've always tried to be environmentally conscious, but especially so since becoming a SAHM (well mother in general).

Something about thinking about all these little children who will inherit this planet compels me to want to do better.

So, yep, I'm right there with you! I try to think of the environmental concerns in pretty much every action I take.
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#17 of 18 Old 05-20-2008, 10:48 PM
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I found a local moms group and meet up with them at nearby parks and stuff to get out of the house but yes I have been staying home more than I used to but it is driving me NUTS! I hate sitting around the house because every little thing starts to bug me and obsess over it (like a leaf on the floor, smudge on the wall, dish in the sink) I am a little ODC.
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#18 of 18 Old 05-20-2008, 10:56 PM
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We have been staying home more. We try to go to places that are close. The weather has been great so we can just go outside. I'm not sure what we will do when it gets super hot.
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