We are thrilled to have the Husband, Father, Attorney, Blogger, and Self-Professed Geek behind SuperRad Dad guest blogging here today. Please see his tips for eco-friendly fun this summer below:
I would never consider our family a “green” family – we run the air conditioning when we have to, we are proud members of CostCo, and we enjoy the occasional Happy Meal among other things that are characteristically un-green (I’m still not sure what to do with all of those paint cans in the garage, but I’m pretty sure dumping them down the storm drain would not be well-received). Before becoming the SuperRad Fam, Lady Rad and I were both working professionals and enjoying the benefits of a DINK (Double Income, No Kids) lifestyle.
But we also knew that it was our top priority to have a stay-at-home parent when we decided to have children. Being the traditional family we are, once our first was born, Lady Rad left her successful legal practice, traded in her suit for an apron, and supported me while I supported our family. It’s all very Donna Reed-esque; we call it “Living the 50’s lifestyle.”
See, we didn’t decide to “live green” when we made the decision to have a stay-at-home mom, but literally cutting your annual income in half requires making a lot of changes – the byproduct of which, results in more environmentally conscious and “eco-friendly” living. Having Lady Rad at home and with our son (“Mu,” age 2.5) and daughter (“Q,” age 9 months) and living on a tighter budget requires us to trim the fat where we can and live greener than we ever would have with both parents working. In turn, we hope it models for our kids how to be content with simpler living. For example:
1. The Family Car
I died a little bit the day I traded my beloved red sportscar in for a sensibly modest SUV, especially when the guy at the dealership glibly said “Goin’ for the family car, huh?” But consolidating Lady Rad’s and my autos into one all-purpose grocery-getter has resulted in less costs for fuel, insurance, additional car seats, upkeep, and repair. As a result, we leave the RadMobile at home for Lady Rad’s use and I hop on my bike to work each morning after I kiss the family goodbye. The bike commute to work allows me to enjoy the fresh air and relaxed ride without having to fight morning traffic – or add to it – plus it gives me the opportunity to mentally unwind from my day, making me a more refreshed and engaged dad when I get home. Not to mention, as I ride up to the house, the Mu will often want me to pop on his bike seat and take him for a quick spin before dinner time, which I happily oblige.
2. Gardening, Composting, Organic Cooking
Lady Rad sprouted a Green Thumb in the first year of staying at home. She single-handedly turned the overgrown weedbeds in our backyard into a productive, vegetable garden and has taught our kids how to cultivate, nurture, and grow their own food. Each morning, while Q is (fingers-crossed) taking a morning nap, she takes the Mu out to the back yard and they water the garden or harvest what they’ve grown.
Once harvested, Lady Rad brings the vegetables in and uses them in fresh salads or green smoothies, combined with other produce that she and the kids pick up from a weekly Farmer’s Market across from my office. The Farmer’s Market exposes the kids to the agricultural delights of our area plus It’s another little opportunity that I get to see them out and active during my work day, and occasionally steal away for a lunchtime picnic. Another wonderful family activity that we wouldn’t have if not for Lady Rad’s occupation as a stay-at-home mom.
The Mu’s time out in the garden also has him learning about composting and how decomposition contributes to a healthier garden. He helps us empty our grass clippings and old fruits and vegetables into our composting bin and harvest fresh soil using the composting screen that we made, where he delights in adding that soil to the garden with his toddler-sized gardening equipment…
It doesn’t hurt that our compost bin has attracted monster-sized worms that simultaneously gross him out and tickle him with delight!
Finally, living on a single-income has caused us to make the most out of where we live. Despite having big city aspirations, Sacramento still has a small town feel, and that’s evident in how much pride it has in its local parks, and we are fortunate for the opportunity to live here and take advantage of that.
Whether it’s the Sacramento Zoo, FairyTale Town (a children’s play park and outdoor museum), the Screens on the Green events (family-friendly movies in the park after sundown), or just the local playgrounds, we are always a short walk or a stone’s throw away from something that gets the kids out, active, and encourages their little imaginations to run wild.
It helps my imagination run wild too – after getting rid of our gym memberships to save more money in our monthly budget, I needed to find an economical and resourceful way to stay in shape. With a little help from our friend the Internet, I was able to incorporate our local playground into a full-body workout routine using monkey bars for chin-ups, parallel bars for dips, and the underside of platforms for inverted rows. There’s no reason not to get a couple of reps in while the kids run wild.
But Dads: avoid this when the playground is full of kids that aren’t yours – frugal and environmentally friendly or not, you just look sort of creepy.
So with regard to the SuperRad Fam’s “green” motivations: having a stay-at-home parent and a modest lifestyle is very similar to our love of Sprig Toys: we didn’t set out to save the planet by doing so, we just made choices that were best for our family; but in doing so we ended up helping the planet just a little more than planned…
I call that “Eco-Gravy.” Thanks for reading.