When it comes to identifying who is or is not a "crunchy mom," I tend to follow the rule of "self-identification." If you say you are, you are. I'm sure there are some self-appointed gatekeepers out there who would attempt to enact some sort of purity test, but who has the time for that? There are no hard and fast rules associated with the crunchy mom lifestyle, even if there are general tendencies. And while not all stereotypes bear fruit, some crunchy mom stereotypes are on point.
Speaking as a crunchy mom, I like to have a sense of humor about my people (and myself). But even with my laissez-faire attitudes about what people think — and my ability to recognize when a joke has a kernel of truth at the center — I often feel like crunchy moms get a bad rap for no real reason. We're painted as sanctimonious, inflexible, self-centered shrews... you know, like the many groups of women who dare to do things outside of the norm. That's not to say, of course, that women who do things "in bounds" have a smooth ride. There's no winning against the Patriarchy unless you don't play is what I'm saying.
So I would challenge a great number of negative stereotypes about crunchy moms as being based in snarky judgment, and the majority aren't worth repeating. But some are, well, in the words of internet memes, "I feel attacked by this relatable content."
We Love Oil
We love just about every oil known to humankind. Essential oils. Coconut oil. Calendula oil. You know when you're a little kid and really liked pretending to make witch's brew and magical potions? Well, this is like the grown up version of that. But unlike the random assortment of dirt and your mom's perfume that you'd use to make "potions" as a kid, oils actually can be quite useful! Some of these things are downright magical!
In my experience, crunchy moms usually have at least one "cure-all" oil on hand at any given time. Complain of any ailment to a crunchy mom and you'll probably hear, "Have you tried [this] oil?"
We Love Amber Teething Necklaces
Teething is tough for lots of babies and, in turn, their parents. Moms try any number of new fangled concoctions, as well as old school remedies, to help their babies through this painful time. Crunchy moms have turned to the amber teething necklace. Now, I am the first to admit that there's literally no science to back up the claim that they do anything (in fact, there's good evidence to suggest that it does nothing in and of itself, though it can be an effective placebo), but even if we don't believe in the magical properties of Baltic amber, they're adorable. So, you know, whatever.
In my experience the most useful thing it does is signal to other crunchy moms that you're one of them.
We Usually Have A Baby Strapped To Us
I used a variety of different carriers from the time my children were newborns, and while some of them are designed to carry up to 60 pounds, I found it cumbersome (and sometimes painful) to wear them for more than a little while after they hit around 35 pounds (I was in denial about that fact for a while, though).
My kids are about 45 and 50 pounds at this point, but I still have an Ergo in the trunk of my car "just in case."
I'm seriously not ready to give up the idea of babywearing, you guys. It's just so much easier than chasing them around or schlepping a stroller with you everywhere you go!
We Talk A Lot About Feelings
Crunchy moms have a reputation of being a bit touchy-feely and, well, we are. But, I fail to see how that's a bad thing.
We're often checking in on how our kids are feeling (or, by the same token, talking to our kids about how we're feeling) because being in touch with one's emotions makes communication and self-regulation easier in the long-run. Of course, in the short-term, watching a woman kneel down to get eye-level with a shrieking, obnoxious toddler and asking, in a hushed coo, "How do you feel right now?" can appear really, really insufferable because most instincts tell us to get the kid in line.
We are, though. We're just playing the long game.
We Believe Food Is *A Thing*
I'm sure there are a lot of other crunchy moms who would look at my pantry and shudder, but here's the thing: I still pay a lot of attention to what foods I prepare for me and my children. That, I believe, is a hallmark of a crunchy mom, regardless of what conclusions you reach. The fact that many of us reach lots of restrictive conclusions ("Organic only!" "No gluten!" "No animal products!" "No sugar!") is... yeah, a little true, too.
We Have A Lot Of Causes
Crunchy moms, in my experience, tend to be opinionated... and loud about those opinions. Half-measures are rarely our thing. So when we believe in something we're sort of gung-ho about it. That's not to say we all have the same politics. Lots of crunchy moms I know are diametrically opposed to some causes that my granola-ass is vehement about. But the passion is usually at the same level of intensity, which is to say "pretty intense."
We Approach Breastfeeding Differently Than Most People
While most moms in the United States breastfeed at some point, less than half breastfeed past six months. Only about 19 percent exclusively breastfeed at six months. Obviously this is totally fine (as is not being able to breastfeed — or choosing not to breastfeed — at all). The whole "crunchy moms judge you for not breastfeeding" trope happens, but that stereotype is not, in my experience, particularly true.
But crunchy moms often stick with breastfeeding for way longer than average. Like, for example, a year or more.
We're Always Looking For Alternatives
Whether or not we ultimately go for them, crunchy moms are always looking to do things "differently." From "alternative" vaccine schedules (personally: no thank you, but lots of crunchy moms at least look into it) to "alternative" first foods (why feed rice cereal when you can feed them avocado?!), from home remedies (do I have an oil for this?) to fairy tales (yes, hello, library? What do you have in terms of feminist children's books?) crunchy moms like to explore all options.
We Sleep On Three Inches Of Mattress
Cosleeping is no joke, people, so we learn to make due with very little.
We Can Sound Preachy & Smug
This is the pervasive stereotype about crunchy moms and, I'll admit, I get it. I don't think it's actually across-the-board true, even if it can be in individual circumstances, but even when someone isn't actually proselytizing about taking your baby to a chiropractor, their enthusiasm for their own choices can seem like they're being preachy and self-satisfied. Part of this is our own excitement about the things we like, and the other part is the fact that we live in a world that seeks to pit women in general and moms in particular against each other. But this world doesn't have to be our reality.
In the words of crunchy moms everywhere: "Go on your own journey. Namaste."
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.