Monday, July 14, 2014

Gardening With My Children

With two young children (and hopefully more someday!), it's been fun to find ways to incorporate them into my current gardening style.  As much as I desire a tidy, charming cottage garden packed full of perennials, or an acre or 2 of land in the country full of edibles, I'm learning to make do with what I have.  I really appreciate what my husband and I are able to provide for our boys, in terms of an outdoor environment where they can grow and explore.  Today, I want to share a few ways I incorporate my children into my gardening.

  • Before we had children, we knew a fence would be essential.  It has been one of the best additions to our home.  I can't express enough the ease I feel knowing they are safely contained within the fence.

  • I've resisted the urge to rip out all the grass and make every open space a planter bed.  Although we don't do any upkeep on our grass (aside from mowing) and it's horribly unattractive, it's great to have room for my boys to run, play tag, chase butterflies, and play baseball.

  • I've also resisted the urge to plant every available planter bed with perennials or vegetables.  I leave a designated planter bed that is used exclusively for digging, making mud pies and getting dirty.
  • I make a special effort to grow foods they love to eat.  Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower are their favorites.  I find immense joy watching them dig up a fresh carrot to snack on during the day.

  • I include them (only if they are interested) in the planting of seeds and harvesting of crops.  They love watching their seeds grow, and it offers such valuable learning opportunities.
  • After giving a safety lesson on firm footing, they have freedom to climb as high as they are comfortable in our big trees.
  • Aesthetically, I cringe at the sight of plastic toys.  We stick to outdoor toys made of metal and wood.

  • They know which plants and trees are expensive, fragile and ones they should be careful around.  They usually respect this and leave them alone.
  • They're allowed to pick any flowers that are in bloom.  They know to leave the stems long enough so they can be displayed in a vase.
  • My boys LOVE picking flowers for me to wear in my hair.  Even if it's a weed, I try to always let them see me wearing what they have picked for me.  I want them to know I appreciate the little things they do for me.
  • Fire is of course fascinating to them.  We have fires often and are sure to talk about fire safety.

  • They love practicing their hammering skills with blocks, hammers and nails.  I can't tell you how many hours they have spent hammering!

  • Two hammocks hang from our maple tree where they can swing, relax and daydream.

And finally, we let them be busy, rambunctious boys.  When branches get broken or expensive perennials get dug up or trampled on, we try to just let it be and not make a fuss over it.

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