Smart Parenting
Practical advice about raising children


Natural Mental Health Tips for Parents at Home With Their Kids

If you are a stay-at-home mom, either by preference or because of the pandemic, you probably feel ready to lose your mind on occasion. You love your little angels, but spending 24/7 with them can make a brief stint in a padded room sound like a beachside holiday. 

You need a way to tame the tension. How can you take care of our mental health naturally while staying at home with your kids? The following eight tips can help you find more zen. 

girl on computer, studying, with bookshelves behind her

1. Talk to Your Child’s Teacher

Do many of your family arguments arise when your child tells you they forgot a critical assignment at the last minute — again? Maybe you have fear about the quality of the educational experience your little one receives online. 

The best way to put your mind at ease and keep apprised of upcoming deadlines is to talk to your child’s teacher. If your school offers a virtual or in-person back-to-school night, make sure you attend. Otherwise, schedule a 30-minute conference during the first month of the semester. You can request a copy of the syllabus and ask any questions you have. 

2. Make a Weekly Family Schedule

If you always find yourself rushing around while waiting for little ones to catch up, you need to get your family on a schedule. While planning your week does take a few minutes, it saves you oodles of time overall. Plus, it keeps you from ripping out your hair in frustration.

Start with the first week of school. Map out the supplies you need for each day, as well as planning meals and outfits. When you don’t have to make these judgments each day, you reduce decision-fatigue and improve your concentration and mood. 

3. Implement After-Dinner Walks 

Did you know that taking a walk after meals may help lower your blood sugar and aid digestion? With juvenile and adult-onset Type 2 diabetes cases on the rise, making this activity a family affair can prevent childhood obesity and lower your family’s risk. 

Getting outdoors for a stroll also benefits your mental health by pulling you away from work responsibilities and dire TV news broadcasts. Make yours a mindful experience by focusing on the feeling of your feet striking pavement and listening to the various nature sounds you hear. 

4. Start Quiet Playtime Early

Quiet playtime is a lifesaver for stay-at-home parents. Everyone needs a break from the ceaseless choir of, “Mom? Dad!”

The trick involves making your child’s bedroom a welcome retreat, instead of a place reserved for punishment. When your children are toddlers, have them color, read or participate in other quiet activities independently. If you start when they are young, most children have no problem spending 30 minutes engrossed in a fantasy play world. 

5. Lean on Your Support Network 

Do your in-laws beg you for more time with your little ones? Unless something in their lifestyle gives you pause, why not let your kids weekend with them on occasion? 

Likewise, don’t overlook friends who have children of similar ages. Playdates are a fabulous way to get needed adult conversation while supervising the littles. If you have a gang, you can alternate having one watch the kiddos while the rest enjoy girls’ night. 

6. Hire (and Screen) a Quality Sitter

Everyone needs a break occasionally. However, you won’t relax much if you spend your alone time wondering whether your kids are okay. 

Learn how to screen your babysitter so that you feel comfortable leaving them in charge. First aid and CPR certification tell you that your childcare professional knows what to do in an emergency. Prior experience in similar situations builds common sense and confidence. 

7. Carve Out Adult Socialization Time 

Do you sincerely enjoy singing “Baby Shark” all day? As much as you love your children, time with adults is vital to your mental health. 

Talk to your partner and keep and honor date night. While kid-friendly backyard barbecues make for summer fun, don’t overlook the value of a poker evening complete with wine and stogies. 

8. Consider Support Groups or Professional Help

Finally, if you begin to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety, reach out for help. Your tiredness and loss of energy can stem from a temporary increase in responsibilities, but when paired with a loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities, they spell trouble. 

If you can’t afford therapy, you can now find virtual help for a more affordable cost. If that still proves out of reach, seek out online support groups for parents in similar situations. You can also find meetings for those suffering from anything from substance abuse to grief management. 

You love your little ones, but spending too much time with them can drive you slightly batty. Protect your mental health naturally while staying home with your kids by following the above tips. 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

8 Ways to Have a Healthy, Holistic Pregnancy

When you have a new baby on the way, you want to do everything possible to protect your unborn. Holistic healing offers the ideal way to complement your visits to your obstetrician. 

How can you have a healthy, holistic pregnancy? It all hinges on making the right lifestyle choices while avoiding potentially hazardous habits. Here are eight tips to help you preserve your well-being naturally while expecting.

pregnant woman in front of wooden door

1. Consider Natural Birth Options 

Recently, midwives have seen a surge in demand for their services — many women fear giving birth in hospitals due to COVID-19 risks. Plus, many facilities now limit who may accompany you in the delivery room. 

Investigate alternatives to hospital birth if you have concerns. Homebirth can be safe if you invite a competent professional to accompany you. Some moms choose to go it solo, but if you take this option, make sure you keep your phone charged and obstetrician on speed dial. 

2. Take a Prenatal Supplement

Your developing baby needs more nutrition than you probably take in daily, even if you try to eat a healthy diet. A prenatal supplement can provide your fetus with the additional vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients they need to avoid defects. 

Take lutein and zeaxanthin, for example. Your body can’t manufacture these substances, but they’re critical to your baby’s developing eyesight. Research shows that children born to moms who had higher levels of these two vital nutrients experienced a lower risk of reduced visual acuity at three years. 

3. Improve Your Diet 

You can’t rely on a supplement alone to get your developing baby all the nutrition they need. You do need to improve your diet — what should you eat and avoid?

In general, your diet should consist of lean proteins, vegetables and fruits, whole grains and dairy products. If you follow a vegan lifestyle, ask your obstetrician whether you should take a calcium supplement — you can get enough of this mineral from plants, but pregnancy ups the requirement. 

Try to stay away from red and processed meats and anything containing excessive white flour, salt or sugar. When manufacturers prepare refined foods, they strip them of vital nutrients like magnesium and make up for the lack of flavor with additives. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies lunch meats like ham as potential carcinogens, and you don’t want to truck with the Big C before you watch your baby graduate. 

4. Continue Moderate Exercise or Start a Mild Program 

If you engaged in routine fitness before you conceived, don’t stop. However, you may need to modify your routine. Most doctors recommend that expectant mothers stay away from contact activities such as kickboxing until post-delivery. 

During your first trimester, expect to feel more tired than usual. Try light workouts, such as taking three 10-minute walks throughout the day instead of trying to drag yourself to Zumba after work. Unless your doctor advises against it, you want to move your body, but you also need to exercise gentleness and common sense. 

5. Tend to Your Mental Health 

When you get pregnant, your hormones go on a roller coaster ride. You might find yourself bursting into tears at the prospect of running the vacuum cleaner. 

Many women know about the risk of postpartum depression, but the condition can also strike while expecting. Roughly 7% of pregnant moms experience this mood shift, although outside factors like the financial pressure a new baby brings may play a role. If you notice changes in your appetite or sleep patterns or lose joy in activities that once made you smile, talk to your doctor. 

6. Ask for Support 

Pregnancy isn’t for the fainthearted. Anyone who had to walk around with a watermelon strapped to their belly would suffer increased aches and pains. Plus, you have a ton of new responsibility weighing on your mind. 

Talk to your partner if you have one. Rally your support network — your friends and family would probably love to help, but they might not know what will assist you the most. If you would benefit from someone else managing your meal prep for the week, the answer is always “no” if you don’t ask. 

7. Sip Some Herbal Tea 

Did you know that raspberry leaf tea may strengthen your uterine walls and make delivery less painful? Once you give birth, this miracle tea can also decrease symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). 

You do need to exercise caution with some blends. Herbs like black cohosh can stimulate uterine contractions, potentially causing a miscarriage. 

8. Listen to Your Body and Rest

Finally, this may come as a surprise, but the best holistic doctor on the planet walks around in your body. While you don’t want to drive yourself paranoid, you probably can tell if something feels off. Practice doing mindfulness body scans regularly to check in with how you feel and identify potential problems. 

Permit yourself some rest when necessary. Your body is creating a unique and separate human being. It’s a labor-intensive process, and you need to preserve your physical resources to nurture your unborn infant. 

If you want to have a healthy, holistic pregnancy, the eight tips above can help. Always check with your obstetrician before making changes during this time, but once you get the green light, you cna enjoy enhanced well-being while expecting.

Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash

3 Tips to Model Good Mental Health for Your Kids

Mental health is a growing medical and social issue that's affecting millions of Americans. In fact, according to research collected by Mental Health America in 2017, 18 percent of adults have a mental health condition — equivalent to roughly 43 million Americans — and in the last five years, rates of youth depression have increased from 5.9 percent to 8.2 percent.

So what can you do to ensure your kids remain mentally stable and are well informed? As parents, kids are prone to looking to you for inspiration, so leading by example is often the quickest and most effective way to help your children. Whether it's how you act, what you say or just your everyday schedule, there are a few things you can do to give your kids the best setting in regards to mental health. Let's take a look at a few quick tips.

mother and daughter walking to school

1. Demonstrate a Positive Outlook and Key Life Skills

A key part of mental health is the bad habits that an individual can fall into from repetition. Start shaping your child's state of mind and attitude toward the world by having a positive attitude toward situations yourself. Instead of constantly complaining around them or repeatedly mentioning how tired or stressed you are, repeat the good things in life such as a home, food and family. This will help train your kid to look at the glass half full.

It's also a good idea to demonstrate some key life skills that could help them battle dark thoughts or feelings of instability. Highlight the importance of good social skills, conflict resolution and being able to solve problems by utilizing these skills in your own life, and ensuring your children are around to see how it's done.

2. Commit to Regular Physical Activity

Exercise and physical activity have a direct relationship with your mind — by releasing necessary endorphins, exercise can assist in battling negative thoughts and lethargic behavior that leads to different forms of mental illnesses. The best way to show the importance of regular exercise is to do it yourself and to show that it can be fun and fit easily into everyday life. If you approach exercise with a positive attitude and demonstrate that it's something to get excited about, most likely your kids will grow up with the same mentality, rather than viewing it as a chore. You could always just make it part of their everyday schedule by signing them up for a sports team or dance classes. Try to encourage group activity as this is great for self-esteem and social skills.

3. Encourage Education and Awareness

For many years, mental health has had a somewhat 'taboo' in which people are afraid to discuss their issues. This can often lead to conditions getting worse for mental health patients. To avoid your child hiding their own feelings or trying to avoid dealing with any issues they suffer from now or in the future, encourage open discussion and acceptance. Check in with your child on a regular basis and get them in the habit of being expressive about what's going in their life and how they feel about it. Making them aware of various mental illnesses can also be a great idea, so they are aware it's normal and able to fight it, should they ever notice symptoms.

Mental health can be a scary thing to think about when it comes to your children. However, if you start demonstrating a positive outlook and provide your child with the tools to fight it, the likelihood of them suffering from a mental illness decreases.


Naomi Bagga is a young Australian native living in Los Angeles. She has worked in television, media, marketing and sales, and is passionate about music, entertainment, writing, entrepreneurship and the changing media landscape. In her spare time, Naomi loves photography, fashion, travel and a good cup of coffee.

Spring Stay-in-Place Activities for the Family

In our part of the Midwest the wind from the north has been fiercely blowing since early morning, swaying the evergreens and rattling the windows in our old farmhouse. The calendar says April, but somehow, it feels more like winter.  When the afternoon came around, it finally sounded as if the wind had slowed, but a quick look outside and I knew I was wrong. That fickle north wind had stirred up a dust cloud in a newly plowed field, and as I watched, the cloud whirled, went higher, quickly turned, and then raced out of sight toward the woods.  

 Yes, it’s windy and there’s a lingering chill in the air, but after all, it is an April wind and somehow it hints of spring…of planting, of freshly-turned fields, of cheery daffodils, and the scent of just-mowed grass. Flowers are popping up, puddles are drying, grass is growing…it’s a gentle reminder of springtime.

 However; this spring is like no other…like all of you, we’ve altered our school and work routines and we’re learning how to better care for ourselves and minister to others. While distance learning for our kids fills most of the day, there should also be time for fun, for exploring, for curiosity, and not only for the kids, but for parents, too!

 Last week a friend asked me if I would share some of the things our family has been doing to pass the time. I jotted down a list of what we’re doing now, then added a few ideas of what our kids did when they were younger (they’re both teenagers now.)

And since Spring + Stay-in-Place = Activities for the Family, I hope some of my ideas will give your family something new to enjoy together…play in the dirt, make bubbles, plant a pizza garden!  It doesn’t matter how young or how old we are…there’s still joy in celebrating the simple things.

1. Spring means rains showers…perfect for making rain paintings.

Oh-so easy…paint a picture using watercolors or poster paint (any water-soluble paint will work) then set the picture outside…the raindrops will soon make all sorts of pretty patterns. Leave it outside as long as you’d like, but not so long that the picture washes away!

 

bubble

2. Whip up homemade bubbles…kids big & little love blowing bubbles, and this DIY recipe is ready in no time.

Combine 6 cups of water with 1 cup of liquid dish soap; stir slowly, trying not to let bubbles form. Add 1/4 cup corn syrup, stir gently. No wands?  No Problem! You can use cookie cutters or twist pipe cleaners into clever shapes.

3. Amazing oobleck slime – is it a solid or a liquid? You decide!

Our kids had a terrific 5th teacher (thanks Mrs. White!) who shared this “recipe” with her class…it’s great!

Add 1 cup of cornstarch to a bowl; slowly add 1/2 cup water. Mix with your fingers…you might want to wear gloves! And food coloring may stain some surfaces…so mixing it on a paper plate is perfect. Soon the slime should begin to feel like a liquid. If it feels too dry, add a little more water, if it’s too wet, add more cornstarch. When it’s just right, pick up the slime and roll it between your hands until it becomes a solid ball, but watch out…if you stop rolling, it begins to drip!

4. Grow a yummy pizza garden.

rsz_tomato

Whether you have a roomy back yard or an apartment patio that’s just right for container gardening, you can grow your favorite pizza toppings. Kids will love this! Start off with easy-to-grow onion, bell pepper, plum tomatoes, or jalapeno plants. Why not grow your own salad, too? Scatter seeds for lettuce, kale, tomato, cucumber, carrot, and spinach.

rsz_herb_sign

Finish off your pizza garden with some fragrant herbs…chives, basil, coriander, then pull out paints or paint pens and create a sign. We always seem to have scraps of wood from a leftover project, or for this one, I found some old pieces of slate a friend had given me.

5. Create a rainy-day cupboard.

It can truly be a cupboard, or a plastic tote, or a big basket…it doesn’t matter what it is; it’s what’s inside that matters.  There’s just something kids love about opening up a door or lid and seeing all the magic right at their fingertips.

Fill the cupboard with all the things that make imaginations run wild…colorful paper, sketch pads, wrapping paper, tape, glue, stickers, buttons, scissors, beads, pipe cleaners, Popsicle sticks, fabric scraps, yarn, colored pencils, crayons, watercolors, markers, and finger paints.  Kids big & little love looking through all the goodies and coming up with their own creations. Trust me…you’ll wonder how you ever got along without one!

I hope these ideas will spark some fun in your own family. I’ll be sharing more in the days to come!

Photos by (top to bottom): Unsplash; Mary, Windy Meadows Farm; Mary, Windy Meadows Farm.


Mary is a Midwest farm girl who will tell you, “I love simple, old-fashioned ways ... tying on an apron for Sunday dinner, barn sales & auctions, farmers' markets, county fairs, porch swings, and slow train ridhes. Add to these the laughter of children, and I couldn't be happier!” You can visit Windy Meadows Farm here, Windy Meadows Farm.

8 Ways Parents Can Promote a Healthy Lifestyle in Their Children

Today, nearly one in three American children are overweight or obese. This extra weight can put kids are at risk for diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and numerous other health problems. Parents, however, have the unique opportunity to change these statistics and promote healthy lifestyles in their kids once again. By encouraging — and modeling — a healthy diet, a regular exercise routine and plenty of sleep, you can help your children create a happy, healthy life for themselves. 

healthy family photo

1. Keep Healthy Snacks on Hand 

If your after school snack consists of pizza rolls and cookies, it's time for a change. Cut up some celery, apples and whatever other healthy vegetables and fruits your kids love most. And, when they get hungry midday, offer them up as a snack. Keep some peanut butter or hummus on hand for dipping. You might also keep these pre-made snacks in containers or bags in your refrigerator door for easy access throughout the week. Moreover, keep the cookie jar and any other sweet items tucked away out of sight. 

2. Make Them the Chef

Forego fast food and make dinner together instead! Invite your kids into the kitchen and let them help you prepare the evening meal. Make them the head potato peeler or carrot chopper and explain how to make the dish as you go. If you follow a recipe, let them measure out the ingredients and mix them all together. The process of making a meal will teach them about nutrition and the importance of cooking. As they grow older, they may even begin making meals all by themselves. 

3. Take Them Grocery Shopping 

Another way to promote healthy eating is to bring your kids along to the grocery store. Let them pick out fresh fruits and veggies and avoid the frozen foods aisle. Teach them how to read labels, pointing out the sugar, sodium and fat content on each. Looking over the ingredients in canned and packaged foods is also a good learning opportunity for your little ones. Discuss the importance of natural ingredients and ones you should avoid, like high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors and colors. 

4. Limit Screen Time 

On average, kids spend seven and a half hours each day staring at a screen. Whether it be a mobile phone, a tablet, or the TV, electronics are replacing playtime. This has promoted an extremely sedentary lifestyle in many children, resulting in obesity, delayed development, behavioral issues and a number of other problems. To minimize these effects, parents should limit their children's screen time to no more than one to two hours per day. And dedicate the rest of the day to unstructured play and other activities like reading, coloring and dancing. 

5. Exercise Together

You can also replace the kids' screen time with family exercise. Head to the gym — or make your own at home — and pump some iron together. Or, if your little one isn't too keen on simply standing around lifting heavy stuff, you could sign up for a yoga class or maybe even a Zumba class together. These activities will get you and your child moving around and breaking a sweat. And the best part is it won't even feel like work, just pure fun. 

6. Explore the Outdoors 

Unstructured, outdoor play is also an important component in promoting a healthy lifestyle. When you take them to a playground or park, you give them space to use their imagination and get some physical exercise. In fact, for every minute a child spends outside, they're 1% less likely to become obese. Make outdoor exercise a family affair and make the most of your time outside. Swing on the playground with your kiddos or choose a hiking trail to explore. You could even bring along bikes, rollerblades or skateboards for some fast-paced fun. 

7. Enforce Bedtimes

But a healthy lifestyle isn't just about activity and diet. Children — and adults — also need their rest. And getting enough of it is the key to optimal health. The American Academy of Sleep recommends children three to five years old get 10 to 13 hours of sleep on a regular basis and those ages six to 12 get nine to 12 hours. Meanwhile, teens 13 to 18 years old should get eight to 10. You can help your kids get the sleep they need by setting and enforcing a bedtime each night. 

8. Set the Example 

Of course, the most effective way to encourage a healthy lifestyle in your kids is to set an example. Whether you realize it or not, your children watch you quite closely. They want to be just like you! Make yourself someone worth emulating by choosing a healthy diet, plenty of exercise and a regular sleep schedule. Once your kids realize that you follow the same guidelines and rules, they'll be more willing to follow in your footsteps. Eventually, a healthy lifestyle will be less of a choice and more of, well, a lifestyle.

6 Tips for Raising a Vegetable-Loving Kid

Once your child transitions to solid food, you hope that they develop good habits. By good habits, we mean no processed foods and more veggies. But it’s notoriously difficult to get kids to eat the good stuff. How do you teach them not to dread or refuse healthy meals? Don’t worry. Below are tips to turn your kid into a vegetable lover.

happy young girl carrying tomatoes
Photo by OSPAN ALI via Unsplash

1. Use Spices

Many parents are under the impression that kids’ food should be bland. If you don’t enjoy eating flavorless veggies, then why would your kids? Instead of serving up some carrot or celery sticks as a snack, you could try making a flavorful stir fry.

Making an effort to make vegetables taste good makes a difference. You might be surprised that your kid could change their mind about a vegetable they dislike just by changing how it’s prepared. Introducing new flavors to your kid’s palate will also make them willing to try unfamiliar foods in the future.

2. Don’t Hide the Vegetables

Sneaking vegetables into your kid’s meals by grinding them up or slathering them with sauce sends the wrong message. You’re implying that vegetables are undesirable and are not to be eaten by themselves. By highlighting the healthy elements of a dish, you’re training your child to think that healthy food can also be yummy.

Remember to add in more tasty stuff, like good fats and proteins, to make the dish more appealing. Over time, your kid won’t shy away from healthier food options because they’re used to it. It’s important that children know exactly what they’re eating to make them more aware of their eating patterns as they grow older.

3. Liven Up Salads

Salads don’t have to be boring! Handing your child a bowl of shredded lettuce is not a good idea. You want to add in more textural elements to make the salad more interesting. Experiment with different kinds of dressings and make your own vinaigrettes. Toss in multiple ingredients like nuts, cheese, croutons, raisins, or apples. Introduce new flavors to your child by varying up salads. Get inspiration from different countries and take your kid on a culinary journey right in the comfort of your home.

4. Don’t Force It

There are some days when your kid would rather go for something meaty. It’s important that you don’t pressure your child to eat vegetables if they don’t feel like it. Forcing something on your child makes them think that it’s an unpleasant thing that they’re obligated to do.

It’s also helpful to give your kid the power of choice. If he/she asks for specific vegetables prepared in their favorite ways, don’t hesitate to grant the request. Try hard not to judge their choices even if you’d rather make something else.

You also shouldn’t be disappointed if your kid doesn’t like a vegetable the first time they try it. That doesn’t mean the vegetable has ended up on the no-eat list. Try to serve it again after some time has passed.

If you need more nutritional tips on what vegetables are good for your kid, Gym-Expert.com can help.

variety of fresh veggies in produce section of store
Photo by Alexandr Podvalny via Unsplash

5. Introduce Vegetables as Early as Possible

Start them young. If you have an infant who’s just starting with baby food, make a habit of preparing homemade vegetable purees. This will acclimate your child to the taste of vegetables. Processed baby food is often blander than their homemade counterparts. Once your child makes the switch to real solid food, the strong flavors of vegetables might overwhelm him/her. So as early as infancy, get your child to eat the real thing.

6. Explain the Benefits of Eating Vegetables

It’s good to have a healthy dialogue about food. Let your child know that eating vegetables comes with a lot of benefits like:

  • Strengthens bones
  • Keeps your hair, skin, and nails shiny
  • Makes you less susceptible to diseases
  • Regulates bowel movement

When your kid is aware of why vegetables are a necessary part of a balanced diet, they’ll treat it as a reward.

It’s stressful to have to deal with a picky eater. As a parent, you need to make sure that your child is getting all the nourishment that he/she needs. So train your child to think that vegetables aren’t a punishment and are meant to be enjoyed.

These Tips Will Help Teach Your Child to Be Green

Going green, or learning to live and work in a way that's friendlier to the ecosystem, isn't just a fad anymore. With irreversible climate change looming on the horizon — within 11 years, if we don't start making changes — going green has become a societal necessity. As parents, that means we have an obligation to teach our children how to take care of the planet before they're old enough to move out on their own. Here are some tips and tricks we've picked up along the way to help teach your children to grow into green-friendly adults.

child, green, field

1. Be An Example

With children — and you've probably experienced this yourself — the fastest way to get them to do something is telling them they're not allowed to do it. Raising children and teaching them anything means that you need to become a master in reverse psychology — or you need to set an example for them to follow. Kids tend to do as we do, rather than as we say. If you want your children to grow up to be green adults, start making changes in your own life. Be the example that you want your little ones to look up to. If you start walking instead of driving or composting your food waste, they'll want to do the same.

2. Leave The Car in the Driveway

Speaking of walking, start leaving your car in the driveway if you live close enough to walk for your errands. Now we're not saying to sell your car and hoof it everywhere — no one wants to try to haul home a full load of groceries on foot — but saving the gallon of gas that you'll burn driving to the grocery store can reduce your carbon footprint by 20 pounds of CO2. If you're just going for one or two things, or live close enough to school that you can walk with your kids instead of taking the bus, you'll be working to reduce your carbon footprint. This will also teach your children that they don't need a car for everything. Make sure you break out the stroller for young children, and bikes or scooters for older ones to make the trip a little easier.

3. Reinforce Water Conservation

We get it — getting your kids to brush their teeth twice a day is a challenge in itself, but it's also a good time to teach them about water conservation. While we're not facing a water shortage — yet — more than 780 million people around the globe don't have access to clean water. People living in sub-Saharan Africa collectively spend 40 billion hours a year just collecting water.

Teach them to wet their toothbrush and then shut off the water while they're brushing their teeth. This little tiny action can save up to 200 gallons of water a month. Reinforce this as often as possible and it will become a habit that they'll carry with them into adulthood.

4. Teach Them The Three R's

You know the three R's we're talking about — reduce, reuse, and recycle. We've been hearing this mantra since grade school, and it's become more pertinent than ever. Include your children in separating out your plastics and other recyclables. If your city has a curbside recycling program, all you need to do is move your bins out to the curb. If not, take a family trip to the recycling center every week to drop off your plastics, glass, and other recyclable items.

Look for things that are made with recycled plastic or other materials. They're easier to find than you might think. Some companies have even started making playground equipment out of 100% recycled plastic and steel to reduce the environmental impact of your neighborhood playground.

5. Ditch the Paper Towels

Paper towels are convenient, but you're throwing away non-recyclable paper every time you clean up a mess. American's use 13 billion pounds of paper towels every year soaking up spills. While you can compost these towels, you're still wasting paper and your kids will learn those same habits. Ditch paper towels, plates, bowls and napkins in favor of reusable options. Sure it means you have to wash the dishes and throw your cloth towels in the washing machine now and then, but you'll stop contributing to the death of 110 million trees a year.

Lead By Example

The best thing you can do to help your children grow up into green adults is to lead by example. Make the changes in your own life that you'd like to see them learn. They'll mimic you and turn those behaviors into habits that they'll carry with them throughout their life.







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