As a parent of three teenage boys, I’m constantly on the lookout for a parenting guide. Wouldn’t that be nice? We could all turn to page 14 for advice on how to deal with a teen attitude. Page 45 could help us when there’s a question about the school dance. But unfortunately, there’s no such guide so most days we’re forced to just wing it….until now! Paige Wolf, mom, and healthy living advocate, just released a new book, Spit that Out!: The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids in the Age of Environmental Guilt. Her humorous book provides much-needed tips, advice, and information on manageable ways we can keep our children safe and healthy without going crazy.
A few years ago I had the privilege of reviewing her first edition of this book. Paige has now released another new and improved parenting guide, which contains the latest eco-information, including celebrity and parent interviews. You’ll find my quote on page 88!
I have known Page for many years and am honored to call her a friend. We’ve been involved in a growing, national green community, comprised of passionate writers who promote environmentally-conscious topics. We’ve attended quite a few conferences together and run a few road races.
In this book, Paige helps us cut through the eco-jargon to make sustainable living practical and attainable for all. Finally! There’s a parenting guide on “eco-cool” parenting. The pages are filled with inspiration, humor, and words of empowerment.
I recently had an opportunity to catch up with Paige to ask about her newly released parenting guide, Spit That Out!
Why did you write this book?
Wolf: I wanted to write a book to speak to all the parents – and nonparents – who are overwhelmed by the insane amount of environmental and health concerns in our everyday lives. When I was pregnant with my first child I was overwhelmed by all the conflicting information and constant barrage of things to worry about! What was in the rice cereal, the cleaning wipes, the baby shampoo, the pacifiers?
What if we couldn’t pull off cloth diapers and breastfeeding? Talking with other new parents I realized I was not the only one up Googling these things every night. Many of us feel paralyzed by all of the “eco-anxiety” and “green guilt” and I wanted to find straight answers and real ways to make green and healthy living more manageable, practical, and affordable. The book is part commiseration and part solution!
Who should read this book?
Wolf: The great thing about the book is that you don’t have to be a new parent to appreciate it – or even a parent at all! We can all relate to the struggle of staring at the back of a bottle of shampoo or a box of cereal wondering if it is something that could potentially contribute to cancer down the road! Many of us feel a pang of guilt when we forget our reusable bags or buy that plastic cup of Starbucks. This book helps you know you are not alone and helps find some practical answers to these dilemmas.
What are the top 3 things environmentally conscious parents can do to raise healthy kids?
Wolf: Lead by example. You can’t tell your kid soda is terrible when you drink it all the time. (OK, I admit to having it maybe 3 times a year at a pizza place if they don’t have iced tea!) Which leads me to….number 2.
Don’t strive for perfection or force them to live in a bubble.
If you try to force the always and never rules they are bound to rebel as they get older. No, I won’t buy Oreos, but if he wants to eat them at a birthday party, fine. I actually had a hard no line on Gatorade but my husband thought we should let him try it assuming he wouldn’t like it. It was a risky gamble but it paid off – he hated it. That said, I hear there is a new organic Gatorade on the market. It’s still loads of sugar but may serve us in a pinch!
Teach good habits and an appreciation for their space and the community. My kids are troubled by litter and “cigaretting” and sometimes we go for “mitzvah walks” to pick up trash. We aren’t very religious but do instill Jewish principles of mitzvah (good deed) and tikkun olam, which literally means “repair the world.”
Can you explain the “age of environmental guilt” referenced in the title of your book?
Wolf: When I was a kid in the ‘80s I was taught that leaving candy wrappers on the floor of movie theaters was common protocol. Now not only would we never consider littering (and I’m sure my upbringing was a bit odd), we might hold on to the boxes until we found a recycling bin. We’d also give serious consideration to the candy itself, and possibly even the content of the movie! That conscious awakening is a good thing but it can put a serious damper on everyday things like shoe shopping and packing lunch. It requires a lot of bandwidth!
What’s your advice to parents on how to deal with “environmental guilt”?
Wolf: The guilt part is hard. Sometimes we have a “bad eco-habit” we just can’t kick. But there are always ways to make it better. For example, I can’t kick my Keurig coffee machine even though I know those pods may lead to the collapse of mankind. So I scoured the earth to find the most eco-friendly pods that still produced really good coffee and came up with biodegradable organic K-cups. For me it was a compromise I could feel pretty good about.
What’s your top tip for staying sane and healthy in an increasingly toxic world?
Perfect is unattainable – but better is always possible.