Welcome to the Earth Day Blog Carnival
This post is part of the 2012 Earth Day Blog Carnival hosted by Child of the Nature Isle and Monkey Butt Junction. Each participant has shared their practices and insights of earth friendly, environmentally conscious, eco-living. This carnival is our way to share positive information and inspiration that can create healing for our planet. Please read to the end of this post to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. Happy Earth Day!
One of the most amazing aspects of my journey into Unschooling with my 4 children has been how I’ve learned how to tune into my own needs and beliefs. Watching my children grow and learn as truly authentic beings, unfettered by external expectations and uninterrupted by artificial schedules and deadlines, has awakened in me a desire to find my own true authentic self and to feed my own needs, desires and experiences.
A primary way that this has happened for me has been in my experience of nature and the Earth. I’ve developed a deeply spiritual relationship with the Earth, the sun and the sky and I have learned a lot about myself through opening my mind and my soul to the teachings of the Universe.
Like your children probably, my children (ages 8, 6, 4 and 1) experience a natural kinship to the Earth. They soak in the sun, revel in the dirt and shout with the voices of the wind. This, I believe, is a natural part of their existence as Children of the Earth. But I also believe that my role as an Unschooling Parent is to protect what is naturally their birthright: a genuine and joy and appreciation for all that the Earth offers us.
Here is my list of ways to foster a natural connection to all that is natural:
- Embrace messiness. If you allow children to experience the glories of the Earth on their own terms, things are going to get messy. Learn to love it, and don’t send them out to play in the same clothes they might wear to a birthday party! I often ask my children if mud has been calling their names.
- Let go of your expectations. You gathered up a huge pile of pine cones and you thought that your children might build a castle out of them. Instead they are using sticks to hit them over the neighbour’s garage. It behoves us as the parents to just step back and let the children play, laugh and grow according to their own styles.
- Be aware of your privilege. When my children are running water into their little pool or when we’ve replaced their broken sandals for the third time in one summer, I am enormously aware of the privilege I possess. We live where the water is not only clean and plentiful, but also FREE. We have enough money to fund their outdoor pursuits. We feel completely safe to be outdoors in any season at any time of day. Our Earthly life is one of abundance and fortuitous privilege and we try never to forget that.
- Speak of the Earth as a living thing with whom we share an important relationship. I tell my children every night “You are a Child of the Earth.” Sometimes I ask them to repeat it with me. I try to show them and teach them that we are in a relationship with Earth. I tell them that WE belong to IT, not that IT belongs to US.
- Strike the words “Be careful!” from your vocabulary. Nothing will thwart your child’s love of the Earth more than constant warnings that it is a dangerous place! Everything is NOT dangerous. We are so conditioned as parents to be constantly protecting our children and warning them about possible danger that it wrecks their enjoyment of being outdoors.
Imagine that you sit down at the end of the day with a glass of wine and your Partner says “Be careful. You know, alcohol is just a lot of extra calories” or “Be careful. You could become an alcoholic.” Wouldn’t you be annoyed? And wouldn’t it wreck your enjoyment of your little treat?Yet we give warnings to our children all the time, even when the potential risk of injury is very small. It is so much better to let our children learn to trust themselves and teach them how to assess the risk in a situation. Children are usually pretty good at determining for themselves whether or not they can handle a particular activity and the potential pain of an injury. Let’s try to lean into TRUST just a little more
- Make time. Don’t go to the playground if you have to rush home in 20 minutes. Let dinner be later or bring muffins and apples and a bottle of water. Time spent in Nature is like time spent with a new lover–it must be savoured and every minute is special and meant to be remembered. Get out there OFTEN and make it last until the kids ask to go home.
- Dress appropriately. Stock up on mittens, rain boots, rain coats, umbrellas (good for rain OR sun) and swimsuits. I’ve discovered that even on a tight budget, these items are often available for just a few dollars at Thrift Stores or Warehouse Sales. Don’t wait for the weather to change–get the appropriate clothing in advance.
And don’t forget to prepare yourself, too! Have you heard the expression “There’s no such thing as BAD weather, only BAD clothing.” It’s true you know. It’s not fair to your children when they are enjoying their time outdoors but they have to leave because YOU are too cold or too hot or too thirsty or too wet.
- Bring necessary provisions. Water. Snacks. A chair for you if necessary. Dry shoes possibly. Extra underpants. Whatever is going to make the time go smoothly and seamlessly.
- Sing and celebrate. There are so many wonderful songs to sing about Nature and the Earth. One of my favourites was sung to me by my father: I see the Moon and the Moon sees me, Down through the leaves of the maple tree. Oh, may the Moon that shines on me shine on the ones I love. Make up your own songs or re-write popular songs to suit your beliefs and values. Our favourite re-written song is to the tune of ‘Morning Has Broken’, as popularized by the singer Cat Stevens.
You are the Sunlight. You are a dewdrop.
You are the fragrance of every flower.
You are the breeze on a hot summer evening.
You are a bird song. You are my child.
You are the full moon. You are the first frost.
You are a golden leaf in the Fall.
You are a pebble worn smooth by the ocean.
You are a rainbow. You are my child.
You are the sunrise. You are the sunset.
You are a spider’s web in the dark.
You are a wisp of cloud in a blue sky.
You are forever. You are my child.
- Be immensely grateful. Oh, you can do this! As I sit with my children before they fall asleep, I often list the many things I am grateful for. I list things about my children, things about my Partner-Guy, things about the Earth, things about me. I list unexpected things, like how I am grateful for the raccoons who dump out our garbage bins on a regular basis because they give me a reason to go outside while the dew is still on the ground when I clean up the mess. It is EASY to be grateful if we just open our minds to how wonderful our home on Earth is.
You know, Unschooling is not just for kids. Being part of this journey with my children has opened my mind and my heart to connection and awareness that I never before even knew was possible.
Is the Earth inspiring your Self-Awareness and Spirituality? I’d love to learn from you!
Thank you for stopping by the 2012 Earth Day Blog Carnival! Please check out some of these great posts:
- You are a Child of the Earth – Using the Earth as their classroom, Patti from Canadian Unschooler teaches her 4 children their spiritual connection to the Earth and she accepts that loving the Earth can get really, really messy.
- Cutting Out Paper – Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how she went from curiosity and concern to actually cutting out the use of paper towels in her household. She is proud to be “greener” as each Earth Day passes.
- The World is Brown – Debra Ann Elliot of Words are Timeless believes in keeping the Earth green, but because so many people inhabit the Earth it is turning brown because people aren’t doing their part by reducing, reusing, and recycling.
- 7 Child And Eco Friendly Activities To Honor The Earth (Plus Some Environmental Books For Kids) – Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her favorite books that help children become more aware of the importance of respecting and caring for Mother Earth. In addition, she hosts a guest post outlining seven child and eco friendly activities to honor the earth.
- 5 Ways We Teach Our Children To Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle – Valarie at Momma In Progress shares a few tips for encouraging young children to care for the earth.
- Little Changes – Big Results – Meegs at A New Day talks about how sometimes it’s the little decisions and changes that can lead us to find big results, and how she’s baby-stepping her way to a more environmentally conscious lifestyle.
- Inspiring the Next Generation – aNonyMous at Radical Ramblings hopes to inspire her daughter to live a green and sustainable lifestyle, in the same way she was inspired by her high-school science teacher, and talks about the changes her family are making towards this vision.
- Eco-Friendly Cleansers: Safe For the Environment, Healthy For Every Body – Rebekah at Liberated Family writes about safe and natural alternatives to toxic, household cleaning products..
- Lightening My Footprint with Cloth Nappies (Diapers) – Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares the biggest eco-choice she has made so far, and why she is so passionate about it.
- Clutter Free for a Cause – At Living Peacefully with Children Mandy’s penchant for decluttering and simple living cuts down on consumerism, taking less of a tole on the Earth.
- Eco-Parenting: Homemade Bug Spray – Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares a homemade bug spray recipe that helps her family to enjoy the natural world while taking precautions against bug bites.
- Let the Scales Fall From My Eyes…Just Not Too Quickly – Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about the discomfort of no longer being able to live in denial over how her choices affect the world around her.
- Post Title – Justine at The Lone Home Ranger instills a love of nature in her daughters by embarking on their first backyard vegetable garden together.
- Being in Nature – Carrie at Love Notes Mama knows that just being in nature is more than enough.
- 5 Ways to Pass Down Environmental Values to Your Children – Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares how easy it can be to instill environmental values in your children.
- Viva Portlandia – Amy at Anktangle writes about the place she lives and loves in: Portland. She describes the ways this green city makes it easy for her family to take care of our earth, and also the steps she’s taking to further lessen her family’s environmental impact.
- Conspicuous Conservationism – Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction examines the phenomenon of eco-conscious behavior as a status symbol.
A big thank you to all of the 2012 Earth Day Blog Carnival participants!