Parenthood is a surprising time. From falling more deeply in love than you ever thought possible, to enduring sleeplessness you never thought possible, the seemingly simple tasks of getting everyone in the home dressed, bathed, fed, and out of harm’s way can fill an entire day.
As we constantly work to ensure all the basic needs of our family are being met, many parents are also confronted with a whole new set of worries around living “green.” From one angle, green living decisions are overwhelming with their details and choices and emotionally charged topics. From a different angle, however, they are really quite simple.
Perhaps your family came to know the necessity of some green living aspect through an experience only parenthood could bring, like that of “Real Food” evangelist Robyn O’Brien. Maybe your children are carrying on traditions passed along for generations in your family, or maybe your family falls somewhere in between. It doesn’t really matter; we are all continually striving for what feels right in our own particular situation.
Experience has shown me that given the ages of our children, where we live, our careers, and even the weather, those particular situations change. Luckily, there are some things we can all do to help bring balance to our lives, no matter what outside forces send our way.
Whether you’re new to all of these “green” choices or a daily practitioner, I urge you to (re)consider the five actions below. Sometimes taking a different angle on a familiar situation is all that you need to create consequential change.
CONNECT TO COMMUNITY
Our communities are made of people and businesses, the local landscape and ecology, art and music, and local government. Discover how you can connect to each aspect of your community in a meaningful way. Allow your walks to be explorations of new areas in your neighborhood, or for simple observation of how the seasons change where you live.
There may be an annual music festival nearby or a farmer’s market part of the year. Maybe there’s a special place for local artwork; on the side of buildings or inside buildings, it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is fostering a sense of local connection for your family. Understanding where we live and how we fit in there gives us the foundation to fight for the vibrancy of that place, and encourages us to seek that out when we move to new places.
GROW SOMETHING TOGETHER
Whether this will be your first potted plant or you already have a full scale garden, take the time to nurture something as a family. Growing food together can be particularly rewarding, as the experience moves beyond the depth of the soil and on to your plate.
If you have the space and ability, allow your child to pick the item to be grown. Study it together, at whatever level feels right, and allow the experience to be easy. Those who have an affinity towards healthy plants generally have an affinity towards a healthy world.
At present, society is forever pushing this “learning game” or that “learning app,” with nary a second for quiet and processing. I urge you to unplug both you and your children. Set time aside each day to be present without a phone vibrating, the email alert dinging, or the constant scroll of Facebook in the background.
Quell the desire to post every lovely moment. Allow for quiet crafting of any variety (please don’t think Pinterest here- playdough and crayons are as creative as felting a nest of birds), reading, quiet play, time in the kitchen . . simply just be as your family does best.
Go outside with your family every day and allow for an unstructured experience. If your child gets plenty of unstructured outside time, then perhaps it’s making sure that you, the parents and caregivers, get time in the out of doors each day.
Take a walk, or sit quietly in the sun or shade, even for 5 minutes if that is all that time allows. Be mindful of unplugging, and, if at all possible, don’t bring your phone along for the ride.
CONSIDER BUYING LESS
Somewhere along the way, the path of green living will present a fork: buy this gadget to help you consume less, or merely live with fewer things. There’s really no magic formula here, but kids tend to be happier when things are simpler and boundaries are clear.
Instill everyday practices of gratitude, such as hand written thank you cards and giving gifts from the heart.Birthdays and gift giving holidays don’t have to be about receiving lots of things. Recognizing that human connection is at the heart gift giving makes way for new experiences, and is also a key to living a vibrant, full life.
Photos by Hilary Mizia
Hillary Mizia is a mom, wife, sustainability consultant (www.PriZmSustainability.com), and community connector. She has appeared on multimedia about a whole host of sustainable living topics, ranging from cloth diapers to sustainability management systems. She and her family live, work, play, and are renovating a farm, in Fort Collins, Colorado.