Celebrate the Earth

…By Showing Care as a Family

The lives of our children and our teens can be relegated to indoor time exclusively as they go to school and participate in extracurriculars like sports in gyms and music or plays in theaters. And when at home, they go on their devices to connect with friends or scroll through social media. Because of our ever-growing fascination with and use of technology, we find ourselves with less and less time to go outside. This creates further disconnections between ourselves and nature. Our kids may not feel a sense of responsibility to the environment because of this disconnect. And truly in order to invest our time, money and precious resources in anything, we require a safe, caring relationship. So how are we helping our family cultivate a relationship with nature?

First, since a caring relationship is necessary, how can you engage your children in showing care? I asked some families how they get outside and here’s what I heard:

  • We go to a local park every day after school to play and get out that Spring energy.
  • I take my kids out to look for birds during their great migration. We head to a different park each time we are free and try and identify the type of birds we see through binoculars.
  • My son loves to go creeking. He puts on protective boots and we head to a creek with friends as soon as the weather permits.
  • We love to take bike rides. 
  • We pick out seeds and plant them in our yard together.

Earth Day has been celebrated since 1970 and this year, the entire month of April is considered Earth month in an effort to call attention to how we all need to care for our home planet. Perhaps just making a commitment to get outside with your family more might be one simple step you can take to create a more caring relationship between your family and nature? Watch this poem by Amanda Gordon titled “Earthrise” to feel inspired to do more to care for our planet!

Here are a few more ideas of steps you can take with your family to recognize the importance of our home planet this month:

  1. Connect

Simply spending time in nature whether it involves walking to your nearest patch of grass, heading to a local park or traveling to a state or national park. Make sure when you do you, you create the conditions to become fully present and aware. Put devices away. Notice the details of the environment. Use all senses to guide your noticing. What can you see? Smell? Taste? Hear? Touch?

Bring nature journals or drawing pads with you to fine-tune your attention on the details together.

2. Care

Learning together to care for your environment helps children learn about their role and responsibility with the nature around them. Create a small garden if you have a yard or find a sunny window for plants. When you buy seeds or starters, be sure and read about the needs of the plant. How much sun do they need? Plant food? Soil condition? Amount of watering? Then, plant and work on caring for those plants together.

Visit a grocery store with your child that carries local produce and/or meats and seafood. Note which foods you buy are locally sourced. Take note of where non-local foods are from and consider the kinds of transportation necessary to get it to you. Before eating dinner together, share gratitude for all those people and the natural resources involved in bringing you your meal.

3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Discuss water use in your household. How can you fill the dishwasher thoroughly or the washing machine before you run a load? Children can learn to turn off the water while they are brushing their teeth. Create a rain barrel to reuse rain water when watering your lawn or garden. These steps may seem small and even insignificant but they do offer ways in which to teach your children to pay attention to how they use natural resources like water.

Take a family trip to the local dump. As you drive, discuss what you tend to throw away. Assign someone as a scribe to write down what items could be rinsed and recycled. Make sure you have recycle bins in the house and your children know how to look for the triangle to determine whether the item can be recycled.

Check out these terrific children’s books to support your conversation:

What a Waste; Trash, Recycling, and Protecting Our Planet by Jess French

My First Book of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle by Asa Gilland

Ten Things I Can Do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh

For Parents:

The Climate Book by Greta Thunberg

4. Learn

If you do spend more time in nature camping or hiking in a state or national park, take the time to learn before your next trip how to leave no trace. Check out the site: Seven Principles of Leave No Trace.

Or in your own home or when you travel, discover what native lands you are on and learn about those tribes. Download the Native Lands app on your phone and use wherever you roam. Learn about how indigenous peoples related to the land and preserve natural resources and find out what practices you might try out in your own life.

As I talk to parents about what they want to teach their children and the legacy they want to leave behind, I often hear that individuals want to leave the world a better place than they found it. One important way we can do that is to examine how we support, care for and help grow the natural resources that surround us and support us each day so that they are around for generations to come.

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