Environmentalism: investing time into fun, nature memories
Want to raise a kid into an adult that makes pro-environment personal choices?
Perhaps there is a lot that goes into that: a parent that modeled pro-environment choices, knowledge about environmental issues, actual pro-environment alternate options, etc
But I think a key piece of the puzzle that sometimes gets overlooked is nostalgia. I think it is more difficult to do something harmful to nature if your head is filled with fun memories of being outside as a kid. So as parents I think it makes sense to intentionally invest time creating those positive nature memories in the baby, toddler, and young kid years.
You probably already do. And that’s awesome! Maybe you go for hikes, go camping regularly, spend a lot of your summer in lakes and rivers.
Or maybe life is hectic and all too often the whole day goes by and you realize you haven’t spent any time outside, except for going from home to car, car to work, car to errand. Maybe you need some easy ideas that don’t take up your whole day.
I am very fortunate to live in an area surrounded by forest, lakes, rivers, only an hour to the ocean, only a couple hours to mountains. But I have a disability that makes a lot of outdoor activity difficult, sometimes impossible. Here are some ways I try to help connect my baby and toddler to nature, and create fun memories….
1. Take the shoes off. We spend a lot of time just being in dirt, digging, and just hanging out together and I think it creates an entirely different experience if we take our shoes off and welcome getting dirty. We have spent hours in the same corner of a flower bed this way.
2. Eat outside. Just yesterday I took our spaghetti dinner outside and we casually ate on the ground, on a grass mat. Sure it was messy, but eating with a one-year-old is always messy and it was a whole lot more fun than sitting around a dinner table for my two-year-old.
3. Have story times outside. Why not? I am going to do this today, in fact. We’ll pick some books, grab a snack, and go lay on the grass mat outside. It’s exciting for A, my two year old, and B can rotate between cuddling in with us and wondering a little to explore, whatever her one-year-old heart and attention span desires.
4. Stargaze. When B is old enough that she can just lay down with us, I am going to switch out some of our bedtime storytimes for stargazing. As a kid, I spent a lot of my time outside by myself justing laying back and looking up and I remember it as being so relaxing and peaceful.
5. Plant one vegetable. I know, a garden sounds amazing but it requires a time and work commitment. If that isn’t doable for your schedule, maybe just one plant is. Just a couple days ago I put some planting dirt in a egg carton and A helped me plant a couple tomato and jalapeño seeds. She got to use her finger to poke holes, put the seeds in, and bury them. Kids get excited about watching the first sprout come up and develop into a small plant, watching the small plant grow and grow, and then seeing the first vegetable or fruit grow. It is also a practice in patience. Using the veggies from that plant in meals gives you bonus parenting points, it can be the beginning of a kid realizing that they are of nature themselves and understanding that what happens to the environment, happens to our bodies.