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Essential Guides To Natural Family Values

In today’s world, parents are beginning to see the importance of teaching their children to respect our world and the environment. After all, children are the ones who will inherit the planet and will be responsible for it in the next generation. 

Teaching Kids to Respect Our World and the Environment 

It makes sense to teach them how to respect it, especially in this day and age of pollution and other environmental concerns.

How can you teach your kids this important concept? Here are some ideas.

Grow a Garden

Learning a bit about where food comes from is an important piece of education that too many children miss. Gardening teaches children about the cycles and seasons of nature, the work that goes into food production, and how the environment affects your gardening efforts. How weather affects your garden may instill a healthy respect for Mother Nature.  

Responsible Camping

Taking your kids camping is a wonderful way to get them out into the natural world. As you do, teach them about the responsibilities involved in camping, such as the proper technique for extinguishing a campfire and how to carry trash back with you out of the wilderness area. 

If you see trash lying about in the area, point it out to your kids and note how it spoils the landscape. 

Bird Watching

If all you do is put up a bird feeder and identify the avian visitors, it’s a step in the right direction. Your children may get into bird identification and want to read more about various species. 

Look online and see if you can identify bird calls, and get an excellent field guide to help your kids find out which birds are visiting. They may want to read about various birds’ migration patterns and habitats, too.

Natural Foods

Consider implementing a natural diet in your family. This is just another way to foster an appreciation for nature and its gifts, and it may inspire your kids to preserve those small farms and sustainable agriculture that brings them such foods. 

Explore Environmental Careers

See if you can arrange a tour of a local factory or plant, and ask them to show you all the environmental protection measures they have in place (such as filters on smokestacks or proper disposal techniques for chemical waste).

This may inspire your child to go into such a career or may help them appreciate what goes into caring for the environment. 

Turn Away from Consumerism

There is a movement afoot, and it’s away from consumerism. Consumerism is the basic idea that increased consumption of goods is economically helpful, even necessary. Today, though, new zeal for frugality is coming to the fore. 

When you think of moving away from consumerism, it sounds a lot like self-denial, which doesn’t hold much appeal. But advocates of frugality say that moving away from consumerism results in a more pleasurable lifestyle because you’re not dependent on “stuff” for happiness. 

Here are some ways you can get in on the frugality movement and enjoy it!

Make Things by Hand

One of the most pleasurable aspects of frugality is hand-making items. You can hand-make foods, gifts, clothes, decorations, and so forth. You can even make your paper! You’ll see potential in objects you might normally throw away, from plastic bottles to dinner leftovers. 

Learning to sew can open up new frugal worlds. Clothing that doesn’t fit or is damaged can be transformed into something else. You can make baby gifts, throw pillows, stuffed animals, and the list goes on. 

You can make household cleaners by hand, too, from countertop scrubbers to window cleaners. 

You Don’t Have to Buy That! (Think Before Consuming)

Before you shell out the dollars or break out the plastic, ask yourself if you have to buy a new such-and-such. Can you make it? Do you know someone else who could make it? Or better yet, can it be repaired, refurbished, or otherwise redone? 

Take your countertops, for instance. Maybe they’re stained, pitted, and in an overall terrible shape. Should you throw out the old countertops and get new ones? 

If you’re into the frugality movement, think of a way to repair and fix them. Maybe you could do mosaic over the old countertops or even paint them. You could tile them, too. Sometimes, it just requires a little thought to get away from consumerism.

Find Simple Pleasures

Did you know you can experience pleasures without spending money? For many people, the honest answer is no! But you can, and finding those pleasures inherent in life is a key to moving away from consumerism. 

Learn to appreciate nature, art, and the beauty all around you; take up a hobby and produce beautiful treasures; plant a garden; take a walk. The thing to remember is that pleasure does not have to cost money. 


Have you ever heard the saying, “the best things in life are free”? Make it true in your life. Spending time with people you love, exploring a creek or stream, walking your dog, building a snowman…these are all things that cost nothing but can offer great life rewards.  

Educational Toys

Many parents are on the lookout for educational toys. The reasons for this are varied; some parents find they want their “money’s worth” in the toys they buy and find that educational toys last longer and hold children’s attention longer (even for years). 

Others choose educational toys to jump-start learning and give their kids the best start in life. Some educational toys can help children with disabilities as well. 

What makes up an “educational toy”? Educational toys have been learned as their primary purpose. While a child can learn through free play with random objects, educational toys often have a particular agenda, such as learning colors, the alphabet, or how electricity works.  

Examples of Educational Toys

Some examples of educational toys include: 

  • Wooden building blocks – Did you know these are educational toys? Many of us grew up with these sturdy toys that teach young children important concepts such as spatial relationships, three-dimensional shapes, and building principles. Alphabet blocks help learn letters; children will recognize the names and shapes of letters when it comes time for school.
  • Models – Learning to build model airplanes, boats, cars, and so forth is quite educational. Children learn how things go together and fit, not unlike a three-dimensional puzzle.
  • Puzzles – Speaking of puzzles, these are considered educational toys as well. They are said to improve hand-eye coordination, enhance problem-solving skills, and sharpen fine motor skills. 
  • Musical instruments – Children tend to gravitate toward musical instruments, and learning to play an instrument can help children learn discipline and foster a sense of achievement.
  • Electronic and science toys – From learning about how electricity and circuits work to build a motor, this category of toys teaches children the science principles and may help them learn across the spectrum. 

What are the Best Educational Toys for Babies and Toddlers?

  • Activity tables – These engaging toys are rated as top toys for toddlers.
  • Refrigerator magnets – Believe it or not, there are singing magnetic alphabet letters for kids to use on the refrigerator! Children can form words with magnets and learn the names and sounds of letters. 
  • Wooden toys – Generally speaking, wooden toys have advantages over plastic ones. For one thing, wooden toys do not contain any BPAs or other dubious or harmful chemicals used to make plastics. For another, wooden toys tend to last a long time – even a lifetime – and can be passed on to another generation. 
  • Art supplies – Clay, watercolor, pencils, markers, and so forth enchant many a toddler and help them learn as well. 

Enjoy Simplicity and Simple Pleasures

Entire books have been written on slowing down, enjoying simple pleasures, and leading a simple lifestyle. These books exist because people often long for simplicity but don’t know how to get out of the rat race long enough to learn it. 

The good news is, you can start small by implementing some simple tips and suggestions. Here are some ideas.

Ten Minutes

Ten minutes is a doable time increment for even the busiest person, so it’s a good place to start. Pick when your ten minutes are right before bed, maybe, or at noon. 

The point is to be quiet and focused during those ten minutes and enjoying a simple pleasure for that time. Draw a picture, read a book, meditate, write a few lines in a journal. Make it a quiet ten minutes – no phone, no television, no computer. 

If you do this every day, you will carve out an hour and ten minutes each week. Think of it as a small investment in your simpler future. 

What’s Necessary?

Many of us feel driven by what we think we must do; we live in a world of “have to’s” and “need to’s.” But do we? Sit down and evaluate things for a moment, and consider what you need versus what you want. 

Are you running around with no time to breathe because you have too many commitments? Ask yourself tough questions do these things/events/people need you there? 

If you said no, could they still carry on? Chances are, yes, they could. The same goes for your kids’ activities. Where can you say no? When does an opportunity to become a burden? No one can do everything. Sometimes, pick. 


This is an area where people often feel conflict. Many admire people who can do without television and movies and computer games and who get their pleasures from simple things like a walk in the forest. 

But although we may admire them, we don’t feel like we can do the same. However, the Chances are that those simple-pleasure people you admire were once in the rat race, too – talk to them about it (more on that below). 

In the meantime, think about your entertainment choices. Entertainment is a pleasure, and if you’re moving toward enjoying simple pleasures, maybe you need to think about where you get that pleasure. 

One idea is to start with one simple replacement. Instead of watching a television program, take a walk. Notice the landscape, the colors, the shapes, and the lines. Little by little, replace electronic, complicated pleasures with simple ones. 

Talk to Each Other

Prioritizing relationships is key to living. As you connect with others who live, you can ask them how they came to that place. Putting people ahead of tasks and “to do’s” is a way to connect with your community and enjoy the simple pleasure of companionship. 

Free Play in Children Is Important...

Unfortunately, this essential component of childhood is often denied in today’s hectic world of school, extracurricular activities, after-school childcare, and after-school clubs. 

Children’s time is largely scheduled, leaving little to no time for children to engage in unscheduled, free playtime. 

How Important Is Free Play?

According to research, very! The childhood obesity epidemic is telling us something, but also, children’s cognitive, social, psychological, and emotional development are all said to be affected by free play (or the lack of it). 

Play is also an opportunity for parents to engage with their children without interruption. (This can be fun for adults!)

The American Academy of Pediatrics put out a recent report about the importance of play in children’s development. Here are some ways children benefit from the free play:

  • Creativity is employed as children imagine scenarios and act out as characters. This prepares them for adult scenarios, much like baby animals’ play is preparation for adulthood. 
  • Children learn about their strengths and abilities during free play, which may boost confidence. They discover areas of interest and things they care about. 
  • Playing is an effective way for children to learn how to work together in groups, give and take, and resolve conflicts. Free play also encourages decision-making, an essential life skill.

How Can Parents Implement More Free Play in Their Kids’ Lives?

Parents can help their kids be free from the hurried, hyper-scheduled lifestyle that is so prevalent today. Here are some ideas on how to do that.

  • Give your kids “real” toys, like wooden blocks and dolls that are not patterned after a preconceived character. Dollhouses, cars, trucks, stuffed animals, and other toys that encourage imagination help toward encouraging free play. 
  • Parents may want to rethink their ideas of “success” for their children. Academic preparedness and performance and excelling in multiple areas are not the only measures of success; the AAP reminds us. Creativity, philosophical intelligence, imagination, negotiation, and artistic integrity are also measures of success and character. 
  • Let your kids play outside without an agenda. Sometimes, it takes an agenda to get them out there say, collect leaves or something – but once outside, try to pry yourself loose from an agenda and enjoy playing. 
  • Invite other kids to play, too. Although “play dates” are scheduled, it’s a non-scheduled time you’re scheduling in! Arrange to meet at a park, at one another’s house, or another area where free play can occur. 

Freeganism and Freegan: Is It for You?

Have you heard the terms “freegan” and “freeganism”? For many of us, these are new terms. But the concepts they embrace are not that new. Freeganism is a term for people who wish to live “free” from consumerism. Freeganism embraces frugality and a simple lifestyle. 

What Do Freegans Believe?

Freegans and freeganism embrace certain tenants and beliefs, such as the following.

  • Less waste – Freegans are reacting against what they perceive as waste generated by excessive consumerism. They believe in minimizing waste in their own lives, not throwing away usable items, and learning to repair and refurbish broken things. Many freegans make a living off of the wastes generated by capitalism, leftover restaurant food, for instance, and wearable clothes that have been thrown away. Many freegans “dumpster-dive.” 
  • What you need – Freegans believe in using only what you need and purchasing as little as possible. They shun what they see as frivolous things like plastic toys, gadgets, and larger-than-needed vehicles. Freeganism is about minimizing.
  • Low impact – Having an as little impact on the planet and the environment is a mark of freeganism. If they drive vehicles, freegans use as little fuel as possible and own as small a car as they can. They might use biodiesel. In general, freegans try to generate as little pollution as possible.
  • Community – Gardening, foraging, and sharing are aspects of freeganism, so a sense of small community is a part of it. Many freegans learn to grow and preserve food and forage for wild foods in season. 
  • Animal welfare – Many freegans are concerned about the welfare of animals raised for meat, milk, and eggs. They might raise their own or shun animal food products altogether. 
  • Squatters – Instead of paying rent and buying a home, freegans often “squat” on property that’s abandoned or otherwise unclaimed. 

Is It for You?

Freeganism is not a religion, but those who consider themselves freegans do subscribe to a particular ideology. 

  • Does the idea of being a minimalist appeal to you?
  • Are you concerned about the health of the environment and the planet?
  • Do you love animals, and are you concerned about their welfare?
  • Does consumerism rub you the wrong way?

Consider some of these questions to determine if freeganism is right for you. 

  • Freegans like to think they are breaking out of the cycle of working, earning, spending, and throwing away. Ideally, freegans live “off the grid” and engage in the ancient practices of gleaning, foraging, and scavenging. 

Gentle Discipline Instead of Harsh Discipline and Spanking

The benefits of physical discipline and spanking have come into question, and the whole question of spanking has come to the fore of national consciousness.

Some of this is because there have been injuries and even deaths of children recently, children whose parents claimed to hold to a prescribed spanking manner. Besides, sometimes parents want to know of an alternative to hitting their kids. 

So many of us were raised in spanking households we aren’t sure what non-spanking discipline looks like. If you don’t spank, what do you do? Does not spanking mean being permissive?

Non-spankers are not permissive (and some spankers are!). Instead, they implement a different discipline approach. Here are some tips on alternatives to spanking and how to implement gentle discipline. 

Remove Spanking from Your Toolbox

First, take spanking out of your disciplinary toolbox. If you always hold it in the back of your mind that you might just pull out the spanking weapon if things get bad enough, then you are more likely to spank out of emotion or at the wrong time. So take hitting to discipline out of your toolbox.

Fill Your Toolbox with Alternatives

Now it’s time to be proactive! Fill your parenting toolbox with creative discipline ideas you can draw on in those difficult moments. This is key to preventing emotional reactions and decisions made in the heat of the moment. Read on for some alternatives.


Laughter is a wonderful way to diffuse a frustrating situation, and it can go a long way in garnering a child’s cooperation. Make funny voices, mock the situation (don’t mock the child), and laugh at it together. 

For example, if your child constantly leaves his toys in the middle of the living room floor, you could give the toys funny voices and have them “beg” your child to put them away before they get stepped on and “hurt.”


Engaging your child is a way to build a close relationship that makes discipline much easier. Engaging her means looking at her, explaining step-by-step what you want her to do, and being clear about consequences. 

For parents who have been raised in non-confrontational households themselves, this can be challenging – but it may be very helpful if you can work on directly engaging your child and let her know what you expect very clearly. 

Consequences, not Punishment

Consequences are more true to life than Punishment when you think about it. If you are caught embezzling money from the company you work for, for instance, you will not get hit on the bottom and told to go on about your business. No, you’ll suffer consequences – the loss of your job, legal prosecution, and possibly prison. 

So if you can arrange for consequences, it can help shape your child’s behavior. For instance, instead of threatening your child with a spanking if he doesn’t clean his room, just calmly lay out the consequences: if he doesn’t clean up his room, you will “clean” it – by throwing everything in a garbage bag!

  • These are just a few ideas. The important thing is planning and being ready, so you aren’t trying to discipline off the cuff. And you may end up with a much happier child who is better prepared for the real world. 

Nature-Deficit Disorder

Richard Louv coined the term “Nature Deficit Disorder” (NDD) in his book “Last Child in the Woods.” Because of this, it’s become a rather accepted and well-known term, although it’s not a recognized medical disorder. Some, however, believe that it should be.

What Is NDD?

NDD refers to the lack of exposure to the natural world experienced by so many modern children in developed nations. The results are said to range from the development of ADHD to behavior problems. 

Nature as Therapy

It’s been said that the use of drugs and pharmaceuticals in kids could be reduced if nature were used as therapy instead. Reports abound of children who had behavior and learning problems that improved after the child connected with nature. 

Also, children who are obese may find that they lose a great deal of weight when they get outside and get active. 

Using nature as therapy is not necessarily scientific in approach. Just getting kids out into the natural world to play is where it starts. However, some kids aren’t sure how to engage in free play or may not have access to a natural setting. 

There are some ideas from those who are advocates of using nature as therapy for kids.

  • Build a treehouse, like you or your neighbors might have done as kids. If you don’t want to build a treehouse, consider a playhouse on the ground. Your kids can help you build it and enjoy all kinds of time there. 
  • Interact with wildlife as a sightseer or, as Louv suggests, help turtles cross busy roads safely when they are undergoing their annual migration. Put up a bird feeder and look up and identify the various birds that visit.  
  • Explore space with binoculars and a telescope from your front porch. 
  • Find a vacant lot and discover bits of nature in the soil, among the plants, and the plants themselves. Nature is amazingly resilient, setting up shop the moment an area is abandoned. 
  • Start a rooftop or balcony garden, growing fruits and vegetables and potted trees. You can create a mini-forest this way, even including a fountain or water feature.  
  • Maybe NDD results from our technology getting ahead of our biological make-up. Maybe NDD comes from deviating from our “wiring” as nature-dwellers. Regardless of the reasons, getting our kids back to nature is a growing movement.

How to Raise a Natural Child

Raising a natural child is something that many parents are interested in these days. Some parents hear about “natural living” or have a vague notion that they should be “more natural” in their homes but aren’t sure how to do it. 

Raising a natural child can begin with some small steps and move forward into an overall natural lifestyle. Here are some tips.

Foster an Interest in Nature

Most children naturally love to be out in nature. Others may have been raised in an environment with little exposure to nature and might not have an immediate interest in it. Either way, getting your kids out into nature can help raise a natural child. To do this, try some of the following.

  • Encourage a collection of natural objects, such as pine cones, feathers, rocks, or nuts. Whirly maple “keys” make fun seasonal collections that you can release from a porch or deck and watch them twirl on their way down. 
  • Direct your kids outside when they are bored or getting underfoot in the house. This will help teach them where to turn – nature – when they need something to do. 
  • Take walks and hikes together as a family instead of going to a movie, watching TV, or playing computer games. 
  • Nature crafts can open your kids’ eyes to the artistic world around them. They can gather twigs to weave into picture frames and wreaths or collect acorns to decorate various objects. They can weave flowers into chains or build cabins out of sticks. Check your local library and the internet to find more nature craft ideas.

Attachment Parenting

Many people consider attachment parenting to be the most natural form of parenting. This makes sense; carrying your baby on your body and nursing as needed is very much what animals do and what our ancestors were likely to have done. 

Attachment parenting largely shuns the use of artificial accouterments like pacifiers, bottles, bouncy seats, and even cribs. Attachment parenting is usually considered a component of raising a natural child.

Attachment and natural parenting can begin before birth with natural pregnancy and follow with natural birth. 


Use cloth diapers for a more natural parenting approach. Some natural parents like to practice “elimination communication,” which means you hold the baby over the toilet when he eliminates. This is one less diaper to wash and hopefully a step toward toilet training. 


Natural food is certainly a way to connect your child to the natural world. Homemade baby food, toddler snacks, and meals can go a long way in fostering an appreciation for food and nature. 

Consider growing a garden for at least some of your food, and let your child help with the gardening and harvesting. You might consider raising a few chickens, too. Your kids will know more than most kids about where food comes from!

Slow Movement: What It All Means

Sometimes it seems like the world is growing ever-faster, with information coming at us with astonishing rapidity. There are so many things to do and see that trying to pack because possible in every moment has become normal. 

Perhaps the exhausting nature of this type of lifestyle has helped give rise to a sort of counter-movement that takes things slowly. 

What is this “slow movement”? It involves various aspects of life, from food travel. Here explains what slow movement is all about.


Have you ever gotten back from a vacation and felt like you needed another vacation? Slow travel is the opposite it’s an actual holiday intended to help you slow down. Slow travel usually involves staying in one place for the whole or greater part of the trip.

While you’re in your chosen area, you get to know it thoroughly and connect with the local community. 

On a quiet holiday, you live as if you have moved into the area, going to local shops and restaurants and cooking at “home” in your villa or cabin. 


Slow food is a form of mindful eating. It is a protest against the fast-paced, fast-food culture that raises and slaughters animals at breakneck speed and disconnects people from their food. 

Slow food advocates believe in the pleasurable aspect of food and its deliberate consumption, celebrating local cuisine and artisan fare. The slow food approach looks to preserve traditions and heritage and emphasizes the enjoyment involved in eating well. 


The slow school approach seeks to connect children with the world, taking pains over the process as much if not more than the outcome. 

Standardized, compulsory education is focused on test scores and meeting government standards, but slow schools (or slow education) are concerned with the larger concepts of how children are learning, methods of teaching, and real-life experience. 


Originating in Italy, slow cities comprise 50,000 people or fewer and comprise multiple towns, cities, and communities that agree to meet slow criteria and adhere to particular principles. Slow cities have a traditional feel and have less traffic and general noise.  


“Slow books” is almost redundant! But in this day and age of quick info-bytes and e-books, sitting down with a proper book is getting more unusual. Reading books does not imply slowing down in today’s world. 

Slow books can be e-books, too; the point is to sit down and read for a period that allows for inspiration and motivation to manifest and reduce stress. 


Another way the slow movement seeks to connect us to our communities is by using money. Slow money means investing in local businesses and small enterprises such as farms. Slow money seeks to sustain the local economy. 

Essential Guides To Natural Family Values

Essential Guides To Natural Family Values

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