Gardening can be a therapy unlike most others we have available to us. We have an opportunity to dig our hands in and be totally at one with the Earth. It’s a chance to slip away from the craziness of the world around us and just see something so simple and so precious grow up. And let’s be honest, as parents, we hold so much stress about how our families are growing and developing. Isn’t it nice to not have that much stress about if we are doing the right thing for this little plant’s future?! We don’t have to worry about school admissions, developmental milestones, social media, or dental care with these little plants! We never have to check in if they have done their homework or practiced their musical instrument the right amount of time. Okay, maybe a little dramatic, but you get the point.
Gardening is calming and glorious. Why not share that glory with our children, too?
Here are five simple, start now tips on how we can include our children into our landscaping and into our gardens to help them see the beauty and reap all its benefits, too.
1. Plant Things THEY Want to Plant.
When my oldest was starting out eating solids, I could give him absolutely any kind of fruit, vegetable, seafood, rare meat, you name it, and that boy would eat it up. Now as a two-year old, if it isn’t in a dino nugget form, it’s not going to be touched. EXCEPT…if he grows it himself.
When I started to include my son into our garden and he had the chance to pick out the seeds himself, plant them, care for them, and eventually pick them, he suddenly took more of an interest in those glorious fruits and vegetables! When he got a say in what we grew, he took ownership of them. He would try biting into carrots. He would pop those cherry tomatoes in his mouth just like his mama. And don’t get me started on our blueberry bush!! Geesh…we couldn’t seem to get our basket of ripe ones into the house fast enough before our blueberry monster gobbled them up.
When a child can make their own choices in their food, even at a young age, they take more interest in actually eating it. Yes, you might end up trying something new yourself, too!
2. Start from Seeds.
When you start a plant for your garden from a small seed, your kids can help plant those seeds from the get-go. Have them reach in and get a handful of those seeds and push them into your dirt. Talk about how many go into each dirt cup, how far below the soil they go, and how much water it needs to help it to start growing. Have them follow directions from the packets and sprinkle, push, dig, and plant. Now here’s the beauty of seeds…if there are too many planted in the cup, get pushed down too deep, or spill all over the ground, there is so minimal that needs to be done to fix it! Just start over, take a layer of dirt off, or sweep them back up…or in my case last year, maybe all of the above. 🙂
I’ll do a post soon about how I do a super inexpensive grow light in my basement to start all my seeds.
Seeds give you the ability for error. I’m a real big fan!
3. Make a Space Just for Them.
This is a major gardening goal of mine this growing season. Take a space in the yard, a container or two, or even a window sill and create a magical space all your child’s own. There are the most precious ideas out there for kid’s gardens, fairy gardens and butterfly feeders.
This tulip fairy house from Beneath the Ferns is the most precious!
COME ON!! Swoon at that cuteness from Must Have Mom.
Instill creativity and let your child’s imagination wander in the outdoors.
4. Let Them Explore and Try New Things.
Get those kids in the garden and let them get their hands dirty, play around with how to organize their plants, and just let them play. Coming from the classroom, I have such a child-centered approach to teaching. Kids learn better when they try, make mistakes, adjust, and try again. No longer are the days of being told exactly what to do and when to do it. We don’t live in that world anymore. We live in a world of creativity and inspiration. Let kids play and learn right along with you.
Pull out your iPhone and research your plant, read up on cool tricks to fertilize, and see what ideas spark in their OWN minds.
5. Water Together.
Hands down, my kids favorite activity of summertime is watering the “garden.” 🙂 Most of the growing season takes place during those glorious spring and summer months when the sun shines brighter and the days are beautifully long. Each morning, before the sun gets too hot, or right at sunset and it’s time for bed, we take a peek at our rain gauge and check our dirt for dryness. When we see that our plants need a little water TLC, we pull out the hoses, sprinklers, and watering can to give them the loving they need. Now of course this teaches about responsibility and follow-through, as well as how to nurture, but you can always bet it will turn into a fun summer waterfest that will have your kids begging to check up on the plants the next day!
Grab some gloves and get outside with your little babes! You’ll BOTH reap the sweet benefits!