Motherhood can be incredibly challenging, and no one gets this quite like other moms. They understand the unique paradox of being insanely busy all day long yet getting absolutely nothing done, your new life-or-death allegiance to coffee, and feeling simultaneously empowered and overwhelmed by how much your children need you.

This understanding, this sense of being on the same page and fighting the same battles, is what makes other mothers such a powerful ally if you are trying to create an Eco-friendly life for your child. The idea of the sharing economy is gaining traction in our modern world, but it’s an idea that’s as, well….old as time. Pooling resources, splitting responsibilities, helping out when and where you can – this is how communities used to function, and it’s so fabulous to see us making our way back.

These sharing economies are taking shape in many different forms – from car share companies to unique community resource pooling, but for our purposes today we’re going to talk about creating three simple sharing economies with other moms can save you time and money, ease your ecological footprint, and perhaps even restore a bit of your sanity, too.

clothing swap
Image courtesy of erin.

Toy/Clothing Swaps

In their first few years, children will outgrow clothing every three months and progress through developmentally appropriate toys at roughly the same pace. If you’re buying new, that’s a lot of time spent shopping and a lot of money spent purchasing items that will be used for just a few months (before being packed away).

Instead of getting caught up in this cycle of buy-use-discard, connect with other mothers who have children a few months older or younger than yours, and arrange a get-together every six weeks or so to exchange clothing, toys, and other baby care items. You’ll be connecting with other moms, freeing up space in your closets, and drastically lessening the environmental impact of your little bundle of joy.

Childcare Exchange

One of the biggest shocks for me after I had my daughter was the cost of quality childcare. Suddenly it seemed like everything from going back to work to a simple night out with friends came with a steep price tag. At the same time, as my daughter got older I had to put more and more effort into arranging play dates with other kids so she would have opportunities to interact with children her own age.

Creating a childcare exchange solves both of these problems. Find a few other moms that you trust, and create a flexible schedule where you trade kids back and forth for a few hours each week – one day you take them, the next she does. This informal shared childcare arrangement skirts the need to pay for sitters for appointments or errands, and allows kids to have a stable group of friends to play and develop relationships with.

Vegan lasagna
Vegan lasagna. Image courtesy of Bookis Smuin.

Meal Sharing

Many mothers have experienced the incredible way friends and family come together after the birth of a baby. Flowers arrive, relatives come to help, and your freezer is so stuffed you feel like you won’t have to cook for years. But then all of a sudden your baby is three months old, the flowers are dead in the vase, your mom is long gone and the empty freezer yawns wider than you do. What if you could keep those freezer meals coming on a regular basis?

Meal sharing means you can. Connect with other mothers with great cooking skills and agree to double everything that you make, and exchange it. When you’re making one lasagna, you might as well make two – it takes the same amount of mess and just a few more minutes of prep work to make a whole other meal! Pop the second one in the freezer instead of cooking it and get together once a week to trade meals. Your meal-planning and cooking time will be cut in half, and it’s a fantastic way to step out of your culinary comfort zone, too.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Let’s bring that village back!

Feature image courtesy of Alan Levine

By Madeleine Somerville

Madeleine Somerville is the author of All You Need Is Less: An Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity. She is a writer, wannabe hippie and lover of soft cheeses. She lives in Edmonton, Canada, with her daughter. You can also find Madeleine at her blog, Sweet Madeleine.