Mother Earth could use a break

 Surprise! She’s just like the rest of us parents

Hug a tree.

Just like you, Mother Earth could use a break right now. Family and friends acknowledge your need to have down time — why not the ground you walk on? The fact is, the planet is a living, breathing organism: something children may not be aware of. Even the word “environment” presupposes “something out there,” “inert,” “unfeeling,” “mechanical,” and “a given without too much thought.”  It certainly doesn’t give you the warm and fuzzies like a puppy (though you and the puppy need the planet to survive). 

So how do you and your kids give Mother Earth a break without affecting your daily lives unduly? Let’s face it, you’ve had enough to deal with lately.

Just like you, the planet is living and breathing

Making kids aware that the ground they walk on is just like them can go a long way to sensitizing them to look after it. Having someone throw a candy wrapper at you or pull on your arm until it hurts is unpleasant. Likewise, tossing wrappers on the ground, or tearing off tree leaves and branches for the fun of it, has the same effect. Why hurt your friend?

When you’re aware, you can act  

Once your children understand what the environment truly is, they’ll be more likely to take steps to care of it. Having a litter bag in the car, picking up garbage on a family walk, hugging a tree because they want to (and know it’s not weird to do) are little things that go a long way to shaping a healthy attitude toward nature.

Bugs are not the enemies        

Your own fears of bugs, snakes, the water, heights, etc. do imprint themselves on those around you — especially your kids. I’m not a fan of earwigs either, but if you can gently discourage the stomping of every bug on the sidewalk, it’ll introduce the idea of the value of life, no matter how small.

It’s still sacred between a rock and a hard place

Just because an object doesn’t move, does not mean it’s not important to its surroundings. What’s a rock good for anyway besides skipping and building with? Showing your son what’s under the rock can help him appreciate the protection the rock provides for an unseen world. These kinds of interactions could spur his interest in geology, botany or entomology — oh, oh, those bugs again…

Ultimately, you, the parent, are the key to all of this

You are the key to your daughter learning about, understanding and appreciating the planet she lives on. Activities including turning off the lights when they’re not needed; bringing a composter into your household; walking/cycling instead of taking the car; preserving the local habitat at home and away and planting a family garden will be what your children grow up with and take into adulthood, giving Mother Earth the breaks she needs and deserves moving forward.