Recently we all read about conserving our planet, courtesy media, news feeds and friends we know who are trying to do something about it. In our own way, probably we all are attempting to CONSERVE, PRESERVE the Environment, sometimes we succeed and most times we give up.
However there are a few individuals, inspiring mums who are relentlessly trying to BE THE CHANGE rather than waiting to SEE THE CHANGE.
Meet Charumathi Supraja who is a mother, writer, poet, journalist, communications consultant who has recently been calling herself a ‘treeveller. According to Charu, The word ‘treeveller’ means a person who travels to meet trees and revel in them. She completely made it up after being overtly in love with trees in her life. Like for instance there’s a certain Neem that has been asking to be planted. There’s a Mango from her childhood home though both tree and childhood home exist only in her memories now. There’s the Peepal outside her fifth floor balcony that played tricks so she could live and learn by it.
Charu is sharing with us a few tips that she feels can be imbibed easily by moms to make their lives better and more importantly to make the lives of future generation better.
Charu begins by sharing her view on how most questions begin for kids with parents, particularly for their moms. , “Amma knows best.” “Let’s ask Mom.” “What would Ma have done?” “Will Amma approve?” These thoughts don’t hold true at all times in a child’s life and that’s just as well. My children are almost both young adults now. They’re not located very close to the ‘Amma-knows-best’ point in the continuum of our relationship. They have much to say in support of their own choices with respect to food, clothes, gadgets, lifestyle etc. and we happily (and sometimes, unhappily J) disagree about some of those choices.
Despite the challenges, I personally think there’s much to celebrate when children think for themselves, ask questions about your choices, reflect on their own thoughts, disagree with you respectfully and choose a course of action that works for them at that point. After all, parenting is not about obedience but growth – of the parents and children.
When your little one is still relatively little, however, you can be sure that those adoring eyes are watching you closely for behavioural instructions and how!! You are certainly the most influential woman in your child’s life. So, when you’re not freaking out about that, why not add some permanent green strokes to your parenting style and choices?
Here are some tips towards facilitating the growth of a child who stays “grounded” in the happiest way possible, from childhood through adulthood:
Say bye-bye to ‘buy-buy’
Children are the biggest targets of advertising through the omnipresent media. Hasn’t your 4 yr old told you yet about the world’s best kitchen-cleaner and the safest place to bank? The deadly disease of consumerism could prey upon your young, way before they can say the word. So, say bye-bye to buy-buy from early on.
Make it a habit to make, instead. Make gifts. Make food. Make paper. Make mats. Make memories. Make art. Make toys.
Children love to make (yes, I hear you thinking “mess” but look at the mess we’ve made of the earth by not making safer choices) and you will love it soon enough, if you aren’t already inclined. There are tons of DIY resources available online. Hand-making could be the perfect stress-buster and happy time for you and your child. Co-opt your partner in the game of “let’s make a…” this weekend.
If you’re unable to make, at least support communities that live by hand-making/ support small home businesses by buying gifts from them. You can complete the aesthetics of your handmade gift with a newspaper wrapping or bag, made by or decorated by your child. Teach your child to keep it simple, from the heart – loving intentions over a show of shine.
- Shun that pretty plastic straw
Straws are choking the oceans. They can be used just once. They’re not pretty when their plastic bodies are strangling lives in the ocean or emitting foul gases in the landfill. Carry your own reusable straw and encourage your child to carry one too.
Take it further by carrying a tumbler/glass and plate to parties/weddings where you are expecting to be plied with disposables. Children love being given responsibility and make it their task to remember to pack the plates, straws and tumblers.
Add colourful cloth napkins and that favourite water bottle so tissues and disposable bottles can be avoided. Start them early on washing their plates and glasses.
Talk about why you’re doing this. This could lead to stories about garbage. Together you can make up some solid, stinky stories about what could happen to the earth if garbage takes it over completely.
- Talk to trees
Cultivate deep friendships with trees in your neighbourhood and encourage your child to follow suit. In fact, make it a point to hug that tree near the auto stand or at least pat it and exchange a friendly nod, when your child is watching. Don’t be shy.
Didn’t you have a special tree in your life, growing up? Was it a mango tree in your childhood home? Did you ever plant a jackfruit tree in a rented house and come back to the neighbourhood years later and find a gloriously jackfruit-laden tree you’ve known from before it was born?
Share your tree stories with your child and enable tree-stories in your child’s life. Let the chosen trees be part of your extended family. Give them names. Include them in celebrations and share sadness, when it comes up, with them. Draw different leaves with your child. Try to play at identifying trees by knowing their leaves, flowers and fruits, instead of cheering when your child knows cars and mobiles by their brand names.
- Let your child experience the magic of mud
Playing in the mud enhances immunity and boosts creativity. It’s true. Go look it up. Mud brings a host of delights to your child’s development. And this will keep them so absorbed, you can do your own meditation while they play. This is a habit worth cultivating because brown is the mother of all things green.
- Discourage wastage of all sorts
Check wastage of water, food, time, toys, effort, energy, paper, cloth, sugar, salt, etc. This habit could lead to exciting journeys in recycling, up-cycling, reducing consumption and saving precious resources. Teach your child to examine excess. Support the use of all pages in old notebooks before they can be discarded. Make bookmarks with craft paper scraps. Teach your child to listen to her/his body’s needs for food and water. Watch your own tendency to overstuff the child because you think she/he needs more (I know that’s a tough one!).
Let your child be part of your unformed, raw attempts to go green if, like me, you’re an experimenter and not an expert. From growing a tulsi plant in the balcony to making rich, black compost of vegetable and food waste, your child and you can benefit hugely from trying to grow green.
Weren’t those lovely suggestions?
Follow her page Treevellers’ Katte on Facebook on https://www.facebook.com/Treevellers-Katte-142557439939785/?modal=admin_todo_tour&hc_location=ufi to know more about her treevelling exploits.
Happy World Environment Day, every single day.