OK, I nearly lost it today after reading yet another article about a school district's ban on walking and riding bikes to school. I was going to post about the idiocy of communities building car-accessible-only schools AFTER it's become apparent the oil age is not going to last forever, but I would bore you guys to tears and I don't want to do that on a Thursday. So...instead, I'm going to take a cue from my friend Lisa, who's been a fountain of positivity these past few days, and write about the very easy things you can do to promote physical well-being and earth-loving in your young-uns.
(Caveat--I am not a perfect model of environmental know-how. I don't have solar panels on my house; I bought these cute flats from Nordstrom instead of using the money for that rain barrel I've been meaning to order; I sometimes forget my resusable grocery bags in my trunk, and my garden was all kinds of pathetic this year. So please don't think I'm lording my enviro-goddess status over you--I just picked up some great tips over time and want to share...)
1. Stop treating bicycles like toys and make them the go-to mode of transportation for short trips. If my son asks to go to the library (1 mile away), I say, "Go get your bike." The park? "Go get your bike." The local pizza joint? "Go get your bike." Your kids will start seeing their bicycles as viable forms of transportation, for both kids AND adults. Get a little sidecar if your kids are too young for riding--it's never too early to instill this. Works for walking, too.
2. Stop making separate meals for the kids--the family dinner should be enjoyed by the whole family. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone says, "I can't believe your kids eat X (squash, broccoli, salmon, liver, etc.). Susie/Justin/Harriet will only eat chicken nuggets and cheese pizza." The hub and I made a decision long ago to always serve the kids what we're having. If they don't eat it, well, then they're going to be a little hungry. Believe me, a child who misses dinner will not waste away to nothing overnight. Allowances must be taken for something your child truly doesn't like, but honestly, kids who are expected to eat what they are served like pretty much everything. I have a wealth of anecdotal evidence for this!
3. Make "because it's good for your body" or "because it's good for the earth" a reasonable answer for the incessant "whys?" of toddlerhood. It's amazing how quickly kids accept this answer.
4. Grow something. Anything. Let your kids see the process of how food makes it to the dinner plate.
5. Make friends with nature/don't turn dirt into the enemy. True story: I was at a party held in someone's backyard. One woman would not put her baby down for a minute, because--get this--"grass is so dirty." And she had just fed said child little bits of cut up hot dog. I poured myself a big old glass of wine after that one...
6. Suck up to a farmer. We get a good amount of our produce from a farmer's collective. This is not as expensive as it sounds; if I get my butt in gear and plan what my family is going to eat for the week, it costs less than if I bought everything at the grocery store. And it's yet another opportunity to get the kids a little closer to the food chain.
So maybe I ranted a little. But climbing up on a soapbox every once in a while is one of the joys of blogging!