By: Deborah Salazar Shapiro, MSW, author of The Magical Mindful Day
“The earth laughs in flowers,” said the American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. I believe the earth not only laughs in flowers but also in trees, animals, fruits, and vegetables! Her generosity toward all of us is beyond compare. But can you remember the last time you connected with the joy, compassion, and abundance our planet gives us? Or the last time you invited your children to show appreciation as well? If the answer is no, you are not alone. Most of us are so consumed by our work, family life, and our never-ending to-do lists that there is very little room for anything else.
Luckily, once a year, on April 22nd, we have an opportunity to show our love and appreciation for our planet. A good way to start is by setting an intention with your children to take positive actions on that day that can contribute to the benefit of all living beings. An intention is a powerful guide to remind us what we want to achieve. Here are five ways to celebrate Earth Day with your children:
Spend the Day Outdoors! This sounds like a no-brainer, right? Okay, but what can you do differently on this special day? Consider taking a break from your electronics and social media for one day and invite the rest of your family to do the same. Discuss in advance that this will be a day to connect as a family and with the natural world and its beauty. Make a plan with your children to explore a place that you have never seen before. Perhaps a natural reserve, a lake, a different beach, a hiking trail, or a new park. Make it fun! If you’re excited, your children will be excited too.
Eat the Colors of the Rainbow: The food we consume can have a big impact on the health of our planet. For one day, if possible, avoid consuming processed foods and other items that have artificial flavors and colorings. Try a new vegetable or legume—ask your children to pick a food in every color of the rainbow. Or play a guessing game of how many colors of fruits and vegetables are available where you live. How many do you like and why? After eating “colorfully,” see if you and your children can notice how your body feels.
Express Your Gratitude to the Earth: This may feel awkward, because you’re probably not used to communicating with inanimate objects such as the food you eat or a beautiful flower or tree. That’s completely normal. Expressing our gratitude not only makes us feel joyful but also has the potential to help us develop respect and care toward animals or other living beings in nature. On Earth Day, you might encourage your children to take a brief pause and say “thank you” to the fruit or veggie they are going to eat, “thank you” to a tree, or even bow to show respect and appreciation for simply existing. How about hugging that tree? Some might think it’s too earthy-crunchy, but it feels so good!”