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5 ways parents can help fight climate change—now

Greta Thunberg gave an impassioned speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit this week, and her words hit many parents right in the heart.

5 ways parents can help fight climate change—now

When teen climate activist Greta Thunberg gave an impassioned speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit this week her words hit many parents right in the heart. We are supposed to be protecting our kids, but Thunberg proves many of our kids don't feel like we're doing that.

"I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean, yet you all come to us young people for hope," Thunberg said.

She continued: "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words."

Thunberg and so many children like her are counting on our generation to do something, and the good news is you don't have to be a world leader to take action.

Here are five ways you can help fight climate change today, mama:

1. Ditch the disposables

It seems like a small thing, but being more intentional about what we consume is an important way to fight climate change. As National Geographic reports, about 40% of the plastic goods made every year are made to be thrown away, but they are not biodegradable and are ending up in our oceans.

Back in 1955 Life magazine published a photo of a family throwing disposable plates, cups and utensils up into the air. The headline was "Throwaway Living," and the article explained it would take hours to clean all those objects but "that no housewife need bother" because they were disposable.

"Throwaway Living" promised women freedom but it didn't deliver. We're still doing the lion's share of the housework (even if most of us aren't "housewives" anymore) but we're also tossing tons of plastics each week. By ditching paper towels and plastic wrap for more eco-friendly alternatives we can start making a difference in our own homes.

[Editor's note: Mothers should not feel guilty about using disposable diapers. While using cloth diapers is a great alternative for some it is not always feasible for every parent. We support mothers in choosing whatever works best for their family.]

2. Consider reusable containers 

So much of that 40% of the world's plastic is actually not only meant to be disposable but meant to be disposed of within five minutes of landing in the hands of the end consumer. We can make small changes to our shopping habits and eliminate everything from produce bags to toothpaste tubes by bringing our own containers to the grocery store or simply making more conscious decisions about what we buy.

We can involve our kids by asking them to help us find household containers to repurpose or get their help making our own produce bags.

3. Eat more plants

For a lot of people, going vegan today is not an option, but we can all eat more plants and reduce our dependance on meat. A report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (compiled by 100 scientists from more than 50 nations) suggests that if we just eat more plant-based meals we could mitigate some problems associated with climate change.

Cattle produce a lot of emissions. There are things cattle producers can do to reduce this, but simply by demanding fewer cattle we can reduce it. We can encourage food manufacturers to consider plant-based alternatives by buying more of them.

It's time for a #meatlessmonday, even if you can't go fully vegan right this second.

4. Travel with intention

Using public transportation or being more active can be fun for kids and a way to be intentional about fighting climate change. When possible, take the bus or train or take your kids for a bike ride. Some of your travel needs may have to happen by car, but just try to be conscious of how you can reduce the discretionary trips.

Greta Thunberg gave up flying to flight climate change. Some sustainability experts have not gone as far for practical reasons and instead do things like cut the number of their trips and/or the distance.

You may not be able to give up your car or flying right now, but we can all be more intentional about our travel and explain to our children why we are doing so.

5. Demand politicians take action 

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Call your reps and let then know you are listening to the next generation, and ask if they are, too. Ask them what they are doing to ensure the children in your community will still be able to live there decades from now.

If you don't know what number to call, you can either call the US Capitol switchboard or punch your info into callmycongress.com and get the direct phone numbers. An election is looming and now is the time to ask those holding seats and those hoping to win them not only where they stand on climate change but what, exactly, they plan to do about it.

Our kids can't vote yet, so they need us to keep lawmakers accountable.

In her speech Thunberg had a message for our generation:

"You are failing us, but the young people are starting to understand your betrayal ... Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up, and change is coming whether you like it or not."

It's hard to make changes, but we need to. Our children deserve to dream about the future. They shouldn't have to be fighting for one.

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They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

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Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

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Balance board

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Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

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Detective set

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This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

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Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

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Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

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Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

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Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

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Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

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Wooden bulldozer toy

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Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

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Baby forest fox ride-on

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Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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Whether you're planning a quick trip to the lake or flying the fam to a resort, the results are the same: A happier, more connected family.

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As a mom, I say the phrase 'let me just…' to my kids more times a day than I can count.

Yes, I can help you log into your class, let me just send this email.
Yes, I can play with you, let me just make one more call.
Yes, I can get you a snack, let me just empty the dishwasher.

I say it a lot at work, too.

Yes, I can write that article, let me just clear my inbox.
Yes, I can clear my inbox, let me just finish this meeting.
Yes, I can attend that meeting, let me just get this project out the door.

The problem is that every 'let me just' is followed by another 'let me just'... and by the time they're all done, the day is over, and I didn't do most of the things I intended—and I feel pretty bad about myself because of it.

I wasn't present with my kids today.
I didn't meet that deadline.
I couldn't muster the energy to cook dinner.
The house is a mess. I am a mess. The world is a mess.

It's okay, I tell myself. Let me just try again tomorrow.

But tomorrow comes and tomorrow goes and the list of things I didn't get to or didn't do well bears down on my shoulders and my heart, and all I can think is, "I am failing."

And I think that maybe I'm not alone.

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