Part three of Recyclebank’s Green Your Back to School Challenge is all about keeping it green even after school is over for the day. It has lots of great info and more chances to earn points.
The first activity involves making a pledge to keep after school activities at school or nearby and to carpool with other parents. This isn’t much of an issue for me as I am not big on after school activities beyond playing.
After school snacks are discussed and they are just as important as what your child eats at lunch so the need is still there to make it healthy and sustainable to the best of our abilities.
There were some interesting stats on children who do homework at night versus those who do their homework while the sun is still out. We may need to make some changes in that regard. There is a quiz about how to keep it green while using a printer to print off assignments… another thing I need to look into, although for me and not for the kids! There were also some alarming stats on how much energy is consumed actually USING your computer compared to when it is just sitting idle.
This whole challenge has been fun and eye opening. Recyclebank has done a great job with it!
This post is part of a campaign sponsored by Recyclebank.
As parents one thing we all face, is keeping our energy levels up, as we keep up with our children. This month Whole Foods Market current podcast series suggests tips and action steps to support our energy levels naturally and safely. For a great list of energy supporting herbs, and to listen to these podcasts visit the Whole Story blog.
The other day I was watching my daughter play outside and she started to freak out about a bee. If it wasn’t a bee it would have been a bug. She HATES the creepy crawlies and I can’t blame her since I was the same way. It was well into my adult years that I started to accept them and not shriek and jump onto the nearest high surface. I wish I could say I had bad experiences that made me that way, and I did get bit by black widow spiders a couple times but overall I have to say that I was just born being afraid of bugs and crawly things. My parents used to joke that they could send me into any room and I would find a bug.. even if it was the size of a flea… I would find one and scream.
Nowadays I wouldn’t say I love them but I can tolerate them and for the sake of my daughter I try to make bugs seem like a fun part of nature. I want her to see a female who thinks bugs and spiders are cool, not something to be terrified of. Yesterday that meant going outside to check the mud and puddles in the yard for worms. This morning was another worm hunt. I even assisted my toddler in trying to sneak one to school but alas the bus driver caught us and gave me the evil eye. As soon as she heard him say the word “worm” she got ghostly white and almost physically pushed him away to arms length and demanded to know if he had a worm. That is the look I don’t want my kids to see.. the look that says that nature and bugs are gross, dirty, nasty, scary, etc. That takes me out of my comfort zone sometimes but the things we do for our children…
Half the battle is won by learning about how beneficial bugs and spiders are. If you take the time to learn, you develop respect and you see why they are important parts of the ecosystem. When you are outside and you see a particular bug or spider see if you can identify it on the Internet and learn about it. Demystifying and naming certain critters is half the battle. Kids are afraid of the unknown and once they “get to know” the local wildlife they will be more comfortable.
Take the Orb-Weavers for instance. They are spiders that weave large, beautiful webs that sometimes look as if they have writing down the middle (hence another name for these yellow-and-black striped beauties: writing spider). These spiders are quite large, and their elaborate webs are lethal to all kinds of flying pests, such as mosquitoes, moths, wasps, hornets, etc. Such webs can be annoying to humans, but there are few things more breath-taking than one of these orb webs covered in dew drops on a sunny morning. They kill the bugs I don’t particularly like.. mosquitoes and wasps, and they are gorgeous spiders, even if slightly terrifying looking. I leave them alone and they leave me alone. That is the major lesson I impart to my kids… they have a job to do and we need to leave them to it.
I don’t like spiders and bugs in the house so the kids and I talk about what kind of things WE do that makes spiders want to come in the house… aka leaving clutter on the floor for them to hide in, leaving food and crumbs on the floor, poking holes in screens, etc. I find it is an excellent incentive to my kids to clean up after themselves when they think about bugs crawling around in their rooms at night. It is incentive for me too. After finding two huge spiders in the laundry I was piling on the floor, I converted to a system that kept clothes OFF the floor, LOL. For more tips check out my article on how to get rid of spiders naturally. It mostly talks about spiders but also some insects.
Because we want to be left alone in our home we take preventive measures and we have to respect that the outdoors is their domain. To respect existing spiders in our yard we do not spray broad-spectrum insecticides (spiders are not insects, but they will succumb to insect sprays). If we spray anything, it is usually natural and geared towards one problem insect that is eating our crops. We never spray herbicides to kill weeds either. Another thing you can do is spread thick mulch that gives hunting spiders a place to hide and spend the winter. Encourage web-weavers with an outside light that attracts flying insects. Spiders will weave their webs near the light to take advantage of the bugs.
We don’t need to love bugs and spiders but certainly we don’t need to fear them and we can learn to respect them and co-exist with them.
Some good books to read with your kids about spiders and bugs:
The Looking Book – A very clever book a mom who gives her kids some “lookers” and sends them on an assignment in their backyard. My kids like this one a lot.
Are you a Spider? – Walk a mile in a spiders web.
Aaaarrgghh! Spider! – An adorable book about a spider who wants to be the family pet but she keeps getting swept outside.
Last year parents everywhere became concerned about BPA in their kid’s feeding gear… bowls, cups, plates, spoons. Parents are still concerned about it. My posts with compilations of BPA free cups and BPA free plates, bowls, and utensils are still get huge amounts of daily traffic. One option that was slow to catch on back then was that of wooden feeding items. Why is a mystery to me because even if it is BPA free plastic… this feeding set:
… is UGLY. This would be an eyesore at my table and in my cupboards.
But this set:
… is lovely! This Camden Rose bowl and spoon is a great non-plastic option. As is their wood plate. I am excited to see more options for people who like wooden feeding gear!
I have been reading TONS lately about free range kids. It is a book and a concept that seems to picking up momentum. When I look closer at the way I parent, I feel I have pretty much always allowed my kids to be free range kids. Of course my younger two have fewer freedoms than their older sibling but how wide you let your kids roam is an age appropriate consideration too. I wrote not long ago about how we royally pissed off a neighbor because he couldn’t stand the fact that my son roams. It was causing problems with his own children as they were not allowed to go past their own driveway or play at anyone elses home. Luckily that family moved a few weeks ago.
But they have been replaced by another family across the street. These kids have greater freedom but they cannot leave our street and often times can’t even play outside unless a parent is also outside. Jealousy prompted them to start teasing and taunting as my son rode past on his bike and now we have animosity again. Grrr…
So I would say I am more free range-y than most parents nowadays and that in itself paints a target on your back. BUT I have also witnessed something I consider slightly disturbing on several blogs of late… parents using the free range kids concept as an excuse for not supervising their kids when in fact they should be.
Maybe I am an anomaly but I am big on free range kids AND parental involvement and responsibility.. they don’t have to be mutually exclusive concepts. I have read on the Free Range Kids blog and on other sites, complaints from parents about rules in public and private establishments that require parents to supervise children. Specifically the two places I recall are museums and libraries.
Call me a crazy militant mom but museums and libraries are not exactly the best places to let your kids go unsupervised. There will of course always be exceptions depending on the maturity and temperament of individual children but in general these are places where parental supervision is a good thing. You don’t need to be a helicopter parent and hover over them but dropping them off for hours or otherwise letting them have the run of the place while you go elsewhere is not fair to other patrons or the employees of these places unless you are 100% positive they won’t be bothering other people. Librarians and museum staff aren’t babysitters.
A couple weeks back we went to Science Museum and there was a virtual game my son wanted to play with me. For two hours we scoped out the game at different times and finally gave up. Why? The same two kids played the game for over 2 hours. This is an exhibit that many other guests likely wanted to try but because these kids were not supervised they did not see the need to share the exhibit with other patrons. Would my kids do the same? Maybe! If it was a lot of fun I am sure they would want to keep playing. That is why it is important that I be there to make sure they are being respectful of other guests who likely paid around $50 (family of 5) for their short time there. It important for parents to be with kids to model these societal mannerisms. Perhaps that is why so many people have no respect for others nowadays… their parents weren’t “present” to teach them.
Libraries are another place were other people may not want to be disturbed by kids riding the elevator or playing hide and go seek in the reference section.. and rightly so. Free range parenting should include making sure your kids are being respectful of other people and honestly how can you know what is going on if you aren’t watching? Should we just hope for the best? A middle ground needs to be sought and getting upset because your local library won’t let your six year old hang out there without adult supervision is a bit much.
Today though I had my free range meter tested majorly. My son and two friends rode their bikes down to the elementary school playground and they ran into some teens that were hanging out there. The teens ordered the younger kids to leave the playground, which the other two boys did immediately but the these teens had an eye for my son’s dirt bike and they took it and proceeded to ride around on it, all the while insisting he leave. He wasn’t about to leave his bike which is exactly what they wanted. I guess maybe then they could consider it abandoned instead of owning up to theft…. which is what they were attempting. He ended up getting pelted hard with mulch chips which cut his face all up and they pushed him down and he hit his back on a slide as he went down, and then they kicked his bike chain and broke it. After all that they left, perhaps deciding that if they got caught now they assaulted someone and destroyed property. My son walked his bike home, his soul battered, in the hot sun.
Sadly, now my instinct is not to let him go back there. I am not worried about the remote chances of his being abducted or molested by a pedophile. I am worried about the very real possibility that he will encounter more bullies whose own parents probably have no idea where their kids are and probably don’t much care.
Sometimes the most dangerous things out there.. are the other kids.
So how do let kids roam without having to worry they will become victims? Are public places like libraries and museums the best places to let your children roam free? How do find balance?