Five years ago, Britanie LeFait received an acceptance letter to a masters program in biology. The next week, she received a positive pregnancy test. Her plans shifted overnight.
Today, Britanie and her partner, Aaron, are parents to four-year-old Kain and his two-year-old sister, Luna. They’re in the thick of life with little kids, in all its sleep-deprived glory: Aaron works nights as an assistant manager at a grocery store. He sleeps during the day while Britanie, fuelled by coffee to get through Luna’s nighttime wakings, stays home with the kids. “We’re exhausted,” she admits.
Exhausted, yes, but also secure in the knowledge that this phase of life, in all its intensity, will pass and that the current division of labour is right for their family — for now. Though Britanie hasn’t ruled out returning to school one day, her workload as a student and lab researcher was simply incompatible with child-rearing and breastfeeding.
For now, she has found other ways to pursue her interests. As a biologist, Britanie studied how rising temperatures and carbon dioxide levels, coupled with dropping water levels may affect plants and agriculture. “That research piqued my interest in climate change,” says the 28-year-old. After Kain and Luna came along, Britanie applied her interest in climate issues to parenting, in order “to create a better world for my kids.”
She began sharing eco-tips on Instagram. In 2018, she started her blog, Raising Little Sparks. “I focus on small changes that can add up to a big impact.” Those small changes might include bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, using cloth diapers or bamboo toothbrushes, and composting. “A lot of people have a hard time imagining that they can make a difference. I like to encourage people, to show that sustainable change is about picking one thing, doing it well, and then building on it.”
Her blog and Instagram feed have given Britanie an outlet for her creativity: a virtual space for herself in the midst of child-rearing. She’s found an online community of like-minded eco-mamas across Canada: eight women, from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, have banded together to create @therealmamasofinsta, where they share stories and form a support network.
Offline, Britanie has recently joined Boot Camp classes at the local gym — which, crucially, provides childcare. The workouts have already given her more energy. “Putting myself first is something I have a really hard time doing,” she wrote in a recent Real Mamas blog post. Though she understands the importance of self-care, being absorbed in motherhood means her own needs are never the top priority. “I am trying to make changes and do more for me.”
Her focus is on progress, not perfection. “I do my best, but there’s no way I could achieve 100% zero-waste. I’m not perfect.” Luna, for example, has nut allergies, so sometimes Britanie has to buy packaged foods. There are days when fast food is simply a more viable option than cooking a meal from scratch — but Britanie has figured out which fast-food chain does the best job of reducing food packaging and waste. She isn’t interested in judging anyone’s efforts. “As long as you’re doing something, you’re helping.”