From a young age I've been teaching the children to be respectful towards the nature we encounter on our outdoor adventures - not to step on/destroy flowers, to always bring our rubbish home with us or put it in the bin and not to disturb the wildlife in areas we visit. However, as a parent, I feel as though it's my responsibility to do ever more than this to teach them to be eco-friendly, not just for our sake, but for the sake of future generations too.
I'll admit, energy saving isn’t the most exciting topic in the world, but luckily, kids are always keen to learn new things and relish any opportunity to feel like a grown up - I know Tyler is especially excited to learn anything that makes him 'like mummy and daddy', so thankfully he's always happy to listen and learn how to be eco-friendly here and home too.
Teaching children how to be eco-friendly can be quite easy and there are some great benefits to teaching children these things too - I know our energy bills have benefited a lot from us all putting eco-friendly practices into our everyday life.
I'm sharing some ways in which you can help your little ones to go green, be kind to the environment and reduce your household costs - because as parents it's important to get your kids to save energy and not be wasteful with it.
Lead by example
When it come to energy saving, there is no point operating a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ policy. If children witness their parents being wasteful and leaving the TV on standby, not turning lights off, etc., they’ll be less inclined to adopt new eco-friendly practices themselves. Be sure to help them by seeing you lead by example and they’ll naturally follow suit - children learn by mimicking their parents.
Give friendly reminders
Sometimes kids need to be reminded to do the right thing and a gentle push in the right direction has never hurt anyone. So giving your children reminders to put their rubbish in the right bin, to turn the tap off when they're brushing their teeth, etc., are really beneficial to both them and the environment.
You could pop little signs around the house or out in the garden that show them what to do - these could be especially handy around bins to let kids know what bin is for waste, compost or recycling. You could have a go at making these signs yourself, or you could even get custom made signs made up too.
Also, teaching children little eco-friendly themed songs and rhymes are really great for teaching environmentally friendly practices too. One I learnt as a child and which I still think of to this day whilst brushing my teeth is - "Don't leave the tap gushing whilst you are brushing!" - never underestimate the power of song and rhyme for learning!
We're almost always out on an outdoor adventure and I wouldn't have it any other way! Whether you and the kids like to spend your days camping, hiking up hills or spending time at the beach collecting seashells and searching in rock pools, being outside will help your kids develop a great love for the outdoors and learn about the world around them.
Not only is one day, or a few hours, purposefully away from screens and technology great for energy saving, it’s also perfect for working on mindfulness and mental health. Encourage your kids to abandon the games consoles, tablets and TVs for a few hours a day and instead spend a few hours reading, doing puzzles, playing outside, playing sports, etc.
Make it a game
If your children need a bit of bribery to help them go green, then a reward system is worth implementing. Make energy saving tasks into a game - whoever has the quickest shower wins a point, if someone washes up instead of using the dishwasher they can have three points, and so on. At the end of the week, the child with the most points gets a prize - I find that the prospect of a prize always encourages children to want to do their best and learn new things.
Show them how things work around the house
This can be as simple as showing them how to turn off the light switches, how to separate waste and how to restock the bird feeders, but all of these little things can have a big impact and help kids on their way to leading eco-friendly lifestyles as adults.
Right now Tyler is really into learning about appliances - I've spoken about his washing machine obsession before - so at the moment I'm teaching him that we don't put on the washing machine unless we have a full load and that now that the dry spring and summer days are here that we don't have to put on the tumble dryer and can now let things dry on the line.
He's also begun asking why we don't have a dishwasher, so I've explained that we can just wash the dishes ourselves and he's always keen to help out. He's even begun washing his toy cars out in the garden - adorable!
Get in the garden
I always encourage my boys to get out in the garden as much as they possibly can as I hate the thought of them being inside all day - especially when it's sunny. Teaching kids how to spot for birds, how to garden and grow their own flowers and herbs, are always great ways of getting children to enjoy being outside. I've shared before about how I teach my son to garden and watering the plants is now one of his favourite things.
Throughout the summer months, make the most of your garden BBQ and rather than use electricity and gas indoors, enjoy dinner al fresco - something which my eldest boy thinks is the biggest treat! Even letting kids do simple things such as water painting or drawing pictures on the pavements with chalks can bring them lots of fun and encourage them to get outside too.
During the winter months, teach your children how to care for the birds and wildlife in your garden by making homemade feeders, or by simply filling up a bird feeder with nuts and putting some birdhouses on trees. This will instill a love of wildlife in them and I don't think there's anything lovelier than that.
*This is a collaborative post.