Back To Basics – Raising The Whole Child With Chaya Greenspan

Living in the modern world has many perks, like staying in touch with the people you love even if they live on the other side of the world, shopping from the comfort of your couch, entertainment readily available in infinite forms, efficient plumbing (arguably the most important!), and many, many more. But in the concrete jungles, many of us occupy, there is a significant disconnect that many of us have with what Chaya Greenspan calls simply the basics.

Back to a time before single-use plastics, sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours, or using chemical-based products, the use of simple materials fostered wholesome and healthy children through shared experiences, natural products, and creative repurposing.

This ‘back to basics’ approach is something that occupational therapist and Founder and CEO of Work n’ Play Inc, Chaya Greenspan, advocates for when raising children and building a set of family values.

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To go over some incredible practices, recipes, and habits you can implement into your parenting approach, she went over everything from making your own soap and shampoo to spending more time in the sun.

Chaya Greenspan is a holistic pediatric occupational therapist, who has been practicing in the field of pediatrics for over twenty years and as an occupational therapist for fifteen years after graduating from Columbia University. She has studied privately with advanced holistic practitioners and participated in progressive trainings on many critical pediatric interventions.

Chaya implements a variety of alternative and mainstream techniques to encourage children’s autonomy in their therapeutic process, incorporating musculoskeletal mobilization and perceptual-motor skills, rhythm and breathing, yoga and play, meditation and sensory integration, therapeutic listening and vision therapy, fitness and emotional wellness, and cognitive-behavioral techniques.

She emphasizes a whole-person approach that requires partnerships with families and schools focused on the creative process, not the means or the ends. She believes in fostering quality family time, awareness of healthy habits, active lifestyles, and creative opportunities. When we raise our children, we consider their health, happiness, education, and development.

This can be essential to skill development, social-emotional learning, resilience building, and especially physical health. On top of that, families are indeed the most expensive endeavor, and utilizing simple materials can be quite cost-efficient. But the real question is, how do we accomplish all that in our high tech and the highly accessible world?


Many hair and body care products are not only overpriced but are loaded with unnecessary chemicals. You will feel better knowing what is in the stuff that goes on both your skin and that of your children’s—and your skin will look and feel better, too.

Everyone needs shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste, so here are some quick tips on how to make them yourself and get your children involved in the process. Old-fashioned castile soap can also be dissolved in warm water to be used as shampoo, and once you are done shampooing, rinse your hair with lemon juice to make it shine.

Another alternative is to use a baking soda mixed with water to rinse your hair, and then 1 part apple cider vinegar mixed with eight parts water and ten drops of lemon-eucalyptus to condition. Lemon-eucalyptus is also a powerful bug repellent.

Witch hazel works as a great astringent that actually brings out the natural moisture of your skin while tightening it as well if chilled. Aloe juice is excellent for setting mineral-based makeup. There are great cosmetic experiments to find the best match for you.


Chaya Greenspan explains that one of the best deodorants you can make is with—you guessed it—baking soda! You can pat it right on your skin or mix it with cornstarch for extra staying power and moisture control. Take equal parts baking soda and cornstarch and mix it into a mason jar; it helps to add a few drops of coconut oil to make a paste for easy application.

Even today, baking soda remains the lead ingredient for oxidizing stains and removing plaque without removing tooth enamel, making it the ultimate do-it-yourself toiletries champion. A combination of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide lifts particles caught between teeth and kills bacteria.

To make your own minty toothpaste, mix together six teaspoons of baking soda, ⅓ teaspoon salt, four teaspoons glycerin, a capsule of activated charcoal, and 15 drops of peppermint or wintergreen extract. Depending on how much you use at a time, this recipe is good for 15 to 20 applications and should be stored in an appropriately sized container with a snug lid. Look online for many hygiene recipes.

Cleaning Products

Asthma and other breathing difficulties have become increasingly among children, and some claim is due to the remnants left in the air from the products we use. If you are regularly cleaning up your kids’ messes, but dislike the harsh, odorous, and abrasive chemicals in the products you are using, you might want to try and make your own.

There are a few key ingredients you can use to make a household cleaner, and they are baking soda, white vinegar, and essential oils. Chaya Greenspan explains that you will want to mix half a cup of white vinegar, ten drops of your essential oil (tea tree, lavender, or lemon essential oil for their disinfectant properties), and a little water into a spray bottle before adding the baking soda.

Once all ingredients have been added, you can now fill the bottle up to the top with water and then gently mix your ingredients. You can easily make this solution with your kids, and it is a great way to reconnect to old-world values.

Get Outside

In addition to making your own toiletries and cleaners, a great way to get back to basics is just by getting outside. There is no denying the endless hours of fun that your kids can have on their Xbox or watching Netflix but promoting mentally and physically healthy habits like going outside can be a great way to spend time together and promote a positive lifestyle.

Vitamin D is one of the many nutrients that our bodies need to stay healthy, and many of us do not get nearly enough. Vitamin D deficiency is a global health problem, with over a billion people worldwide having insufficient levels of Vitamin D.

Spending a minimum of 15 minutes out in the sun without sunscreen every day during the summer months will promote healthy bones and teeth, support the immune system, brain and nervous system, and regulate insulin levels and aid diabetes management. The physical exercise associated with taking a walk or going on a bike ride is also hugely beneficial to your child’s health and re-connecting with simpler times.

There is nothing that promotes the development of both vision and motor skills as the opportunities found in outdoor activities. Many studies have demonstrated that being amongst nature, appreciating its beauty and its awesomeness, triggers the formation of neural connections that support resilience and feelings of joy.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Reducing waste using reusable glass containers and purchasing predominantly whole foods is great for nutrition and is also a great way to foster the creative process into your children’s lives. Repurposing rejected materials for play, converting containers into toys, creating art treasures out of trash are outlets that develop a child’s higher order thinking, or executive functions skills.

Executive function skills are those skills used for learning, succeeding in competition, planning, and creating, all essential to a successful and fulfilling adult life. We are always trying to find better and better ways to stimulate, educate, and entertain our children. The best family fun involves spontaneous generation of ideas with both silly play and challenging games created by your family members.

Final Thoughts

In a world that is becoming increasingly digitally connected, where convenience and affordability reigns supreme, it is no wonder that we are forgetting the value of simplicity. Nutrition for both the inside and outside of our body and wearing polarized sunglasses while getting some sun nurtures the body and the mind. The ideas discussed in this article promote both a creative process as well as a wholesome product.

Sometimes the things you make and those with whom you make them are the treasures in life. Chaya Greenspan explains that by becoming more conscious of the habits and practices we introduce to our children, we can teach them to be more socially conscious and build healthier lifestyles that foster the growth of their physical and mental wellbeing.

If you are interested in even more lifestyle-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels then we have a lot to choose from.

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