Really, nothing about raising kids is easy.
I so know this to be true. I think I’m pretty honest about my own on-the-job struggles, and most people I talk to are pretty open about how difficult a gig this parenting thing is.
But I think that raising three earth-friendly kids has been relatively easy.
Granted, my kiddos may scream at the occasional spider or cry when snow fills their boots or when the temperature reaches 95 degrees. And, okay, so they’ve never been camping. They have yet to sleep under the stars. They really like umbrellas.
But I do believe they’re earth-friendly, outdoor-loving kiddos. And there wasn’t a whole lot to it.
Earth Day is right around the corner, so what better time to share 5 easy ways to raise earth-friendly kids?
Here’s the skinny. . .
- 5 Easy Ways to Raise Earth-Friendly Kids:
In no particular order, all equal in importance. . .
1. Teach Them to Look, Listen, Feel.
Teach Them to Look, Listen, Feel.
Teach them to really look at the world around them. Teach them to listen to the world around them, to feel the world around them. Encourage them to smell and taste the world around them–if they can and if it’s safe. Show them how to love the earth with all of their senses.
Teach them to invent smart, creative ways of reusing and recycling items that they might have otherwise tossed away without a thought.
2. Teach Them to be Still.
Teach Them to be Still.
Amazing things happen when you lift a rock and sit still, watching the life move underneath. It’s an incredible feeling–the tiny touch of a butterfly on a teeny finger, the warmth of a pooch sleeping on your lap, that first time you watch the clouds move through the sky.
We move so much–so quickly sometimes–during the day. Making a deliberate, conscious effort to be still with our kids, especially when we’re outdoors, is more important than we realize. For them and for us.
3. Teach Them to be Curious.
Teach Them to be Curious
When kids are little, parents need to do a lot of thinking out loud. Ask yourself questions you may even know the answers to, just so they hear you thinking about what you see, wondering about nature, asking questions about the world:
- Why does my finger turn yellow when I touch the middle of this flower?
- I wonder why the caterpillar is moving toward the sun instead of into the grass? What type of caterpillar is this, anyway?
- How long will it take for the ice cube to melt on the driveway?
- Can we eat the apples from this tree?
- How can the fish move so quickly?
- What will I discover in the dirt today?
- Which is bigger–my hand or this leaf? And what kind of leaf is it, anyway?
- How many colors can we find in our back yard?
- Where is the moon tonight?
And when they’re old enough to ask their own questions, even when you know the answer, encourage them to follow-up, research, and learn more. Then celebrate and share what they’ve learned.
4. Teach Them About the Big & the Small.
Teach Them About the Big
Teach kids about the big things–the really big things–that are sometimes hard to discuss. In the best, most age-appropriate way possible, talk about the earthquakes, the tornadoes, the tsunamis. Read the information together, look at the photos, and answer their questions. Talk about where you are in relation to the event, where they are on the map.
Knowing the earth’s power is just as important as knowing its beauty and grace. Even for the little guys. It’s sometimes scary, but it’s humbling.
Teach Them About the Small
Teach kids about the small things–the everyday things–that we sometimes forget to discuss. The weather, the seasons, the cycles. Rocks, leaves, grass.
Watch just one tree in your yard, and watch it all year long, every day. Give it a name, celebrate its changes. Give it to your kids, let it become a part of their every day.
5. Teach Them to be Thankful.
Teach Them to be Thankful
For the clear, cloud-free sky one day, for the rain that washes away the sneezy, sticky, yellow pollen the next. For mud, for sand, for moss.
For the grass that grows in your yard–perfect for a picnic, for the tulips that surprise you in the spring, the sunflowers in the summer, the mums in the fall.
For rainbows, for the changing leaves, for the butterfly bushes, for the bullfrog by your window. For the breeze, the fog, the heat, the hail.
For that one, perfect, flawless lily; for the bent and twisted tree root that always catches your foot.
For lightening bugs. Morning glories.
For four-leaf clovers.
When we’re thankful, we’re more likely to really appreciate something. And when we appreciate something, we’re more likely to work toward keeping it clean, safe, and happy.
Teaching kids to be a part of the world around them, to really notice it and participate in its well-being, to be aware of both the big and small, and to be thankful for its greatness may sound like a crazy-huge task, but it’s not.
It’s five things. Five little things that if we all start doing now, I’m betting we’ll all be better for it. Mother Earth included.
Happy, happy Earth Day!