How would you feel if you came into the kitchen and found your 2 year-old sucking on the spray nozzle of a bottle of surface cleaner? That happened to me the other day. I felt pretty relaxed, and then humoured by the face Oscar pulled when he copped a taste of what was in the bottle: White vinegar with orange peel floating in it.
Our kids are really free range. Like, they're certified organic free range, not RSPCA or Lilydale free range. They're even more free range when I'm in charge (Pearl at least usually keeps them clean and clothed, whereas I do not), possibly bordering on feral. But I love the joy! I love sneakily watching them when they're free to be the little animals that they are, because I know that sooner or later their animal-ness is going to be at least a little bit stamped out by the rigours and expectations of living with other people and going to school and playing sport etc etc. Not that this is entirely bad - I feel confident that their certified organic free-range childhood will mean that their little animal spirits get a strong toe-hold, and can hopefully serve them well in the imaginative and creative-thinking and resourcefulness and instinct stakes. But I think that in order for that toe-hold to be as solid as it can be, the free-range phase needs to be as long as it can be.
As a result of this free-ranging, we have to make sure that the place we're living is mostly safe, to avoid any chance of either of them (but especially our very oral little Oscar) putting something kind of deadly in their mouths.
Did you know that you can clean your whole house, including incredibly caked-on years-of-rental-house oven crust, with vinegar, bicarb and, if you're feeling fancy, a bit of lemon or eucalyptus oil. Ask your grandma - she probably grew up that way.
If your oven is feral, douse it in bicarb. Seriously, lay it on about 2cm thick, then wet it down so it's kind of like toothpaste. Leave it overnight, and then in the morning, scrape it all off with a spatula. If necessary (and I doubt it will be - I've cleaned some pretty feral ovens in my time, being as I only clean an oven when I'm moving out of a place), you can repeat the process. Skanky showers can be attacked with bicarb and half a lemon.
You can even use bicarb on your hair and teeth, too.
And yes I know all this is in the Shannon Lush book, but I for one was really put off by the cover and the fact that it's called Spotless. 'Spotless' is a bit too clean for my liking...
So next time you run out of surface cleaner, take that empty bottle (seriously, don't recycle it - it'll just get sent to China) and fill it with white vinegar. Then next time you eat a lemon or an orange, save the peel (no flesh!!) and chuck it in the bottle. Then let your little people explore to their hearts' content, safe in the knowledge that even if they (for some inexplicable reason) down a whole bottle of the stuff, they're probably going to be OK.