When you work from home you have the unique opportunity to act as the sole influence for the first few years of your kids’ lives, unlike parents who must drop their kids off at daycare or hire a nanny during their children’s formative years. This allows you to instill the lessons that will stick with your kids for a lifetime; lessons that start out as sharing and later become kindness and compassion, or those that teach them to respect authority or to try new things and gain confidence in their abilities. In short, the lessons you impart to your kids before they head off to school have the best chance of shaping the people that they become, and working from home offers you that time and opportunity. So when it comes to molding your children into responsible stewards of Earth, you need to consider how you might best teach them to protect the environment. And it could start with simple stuff like recycling, growing organic produce, and of course, conserving energy. Here are just a few ways to get your kids on board with an eco-friendly lifestyle as early as possible.

As a work-at-home parent you act as the main role model in your children’s lives for several years. And while teachers, peers, and other outside figures may eventually come to influence your kids, you’ll always remain their first and most important example of how to behave. This is a heavy burden to bear, but it can also be a great source of challenge, fulfillment, and wonder for the lucky parent that gets to have the experience. In any case, the best way to exert your influence is to lead by example. So if you want kids to learn to recycle, you must do so (and diligently). If you want them to eat healthy, organic fare you must provide it for them. And if you want them to conserve energy, you too, must take the steps to cut back on electrical usage in your home.

There are a variety of ways to save energy in and around the house. At some point you’ll no doubt find yourself nagging kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room, but if you fail to do so they’ll follow suit. And while you might complain about all of the electronics in the house and the amount of drain they cause, you’re the one that buys them and plugs them in. The point is that you have to practice what you preach. So if you want kids to conserve energy, the best way to start is by finding techniques to cut your own energy usage. For example, you may want to limit yourself to a set number of electronic devices and no more, such as a computer, a smartphone, and a tablet. You could also make your house a one-TV dwelling instead of placing boob tubes in every room, and you could allow for one DVR and one game station, as well. If you want more you have to get rid of an old one.

But you could also conserve energy by getting the whole family involved in household projects. For example, you could get older kids (at least school age) to help you install solar lighting around the exterior of the home. Or you could plant trees that will eventually shade your house, helping you cut back on the need for air conditioning. You might even try building your own solar panels and putting an array on your roof. Finding common ground with older kids on environmental issues can be difficult if you haven’t made it a way of life since they were young, so starting early with environmental practices and energy conservation in the home is a must. When you do this, however, you’ll end up endowing them with eco-friendly habits that they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Photo credit: alliantenergykids.com

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