Outside the Backdoor: 10 Easy Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

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I was exhausted. I had just had baby number 4 and my husband was in Alaska. I felt the days river past with me scarcely keeping afloat. Baby’s older brother was 21 months, pre-verbal (his older brother and sister did all the talking for him), and he took every opportunity to ‘hug’ baby really hard, or tip the seat he was on, or feed him raisins pulled from his pocket. I was a broken record of Stop! No! Come Here! Don’t touch! All day long.

I had a magical pediatrician who had raised 7 boys with his wife. When I went in for a baby wellness check he asked how things were going and I started to cry. Dr. Roberts listened to my story of defeat and fatigue, the constant vigilance and management of 4 small children under the age of 5. He pulled out his prescription pad, scribbled something on it, tore it off and handed it to me.

“This is a prescription to go outside for one hour every day where there are no NO’s. None. You all need it. Go to a beach, a park, a playground and turn them loose, rain or shine. Get rain gear for everyone, bring an umbrella. It is the best medicine.”

And we did, and it was the magical cure that soothed the beast inside us all. We would return home relaxed and filled with fresh air, the kids ready to take naps. 29 years later I remember vividly all the yeses and jumps and screams the outdoors held. No wrong moves, no rules, no NO’s.

Earth Day is coming up April 22nd, a day set aside to honor this place we call home. It is important to teach our children to love the sky, the names of birds, the glory of warm mud between bare toes. Outside the backdoor is the landscape that helps to shape who we are. There are no wrong movements outdoors, few things to break and nothing but space to fling a body into. We celebrate Earth Day because seeds grow into the plants that feed us, and we need to protect the ground that feeds them. We celebrate Earth Day because the colors of flowers and sky and water are more deep and astounding than anything technology can offer. It is the outdoors where we are most alert, where most childhood memories are made. The earth is the place that holds our lives and everything in it, and it needs our watchful consideration as never before.

Teach your children well, beginning today. Here are 10 easy ways to celebrate Earth Day:

1. Have a swap shop of books and toys your kids no longer use with friends
2. Toddlers can paint fences and sidewalks with a bucket of water and a sponge paintbrush
3. Scatter wild flower seeds along the side of the road
4. Plant a tree6396
4-hot-rocks5. Collect stones, warm them in the oven (not too hot!) and paint them with crayons
6. Spread a pinecone with peanut butter, roll in birdseed and hang from a branch
7. Build a worm bin!  This is a cheap and easy project that will produce rich soil! Buy the worms at your local nursery
8. Fly a kite
9. Plant bean seeds in paper cups filled with potting soil, watch them grow then transplant outside
10. Lay on the grass and watch the clouds, make mudpies, climb a tree!

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