Gardening is one of the most valuable life skills we can learn. It not only gives us the ability to grow food, plants and trees, it creates a more beautiful world for us to enjoy. The benefits of gardening are endless. One way it can benefit your whole family is by getting the kids involved in the job.
Some kids might see gardening as just another chore that requires a lot work. They see mom and dad outside pulling weeds, mowing, watering and taking care of all the plants and it looks like a lot of work. And it is. But once they understand the value of the garden, they might be able to see gardening as less of a chore and as more of a hobby.
Start by letting them help plan the garden. Take them with you to your local nursery and let them help pick out plants. Have them help choose which fruits and vegetable you plant. Each child could have a devoted section of the garden that “belongs” to them. They’ll be the primary caregivers of that section, with mom and dad’s help of course, so they can choose what they plant. You could choose the fruits and vegetables based on your kids’ favorite meals. Does your daughter go bonkers for strawberry ice cream? Have her help plant and maintain a grove of strawberries that you can use to make ice cream with once they’re ready. Maybe your son loves hamburgers. Help him grow his favorite burger toppings and then use those vegetables for a barbecue one night. If you give them an entryway, it shouldn’t be as hard to get your kids excited about gardening.
If your garden beds are already planted then let your kids choose which section they like best and that can be theirs.
Once the family is outside, all knee-deep in dirt, your kids will see that the purpose of the family garden is about much more than the plants. Most kids crave family time, even if they don’t show it and using the garden is a great way to spend time together. While their minds are stimulated by deadheading their flowers or pulling weeds, they might open up more than they usually do. Start when your kids are young if possible, and if not, that’s okay. The skills learned through gardening reach far beyond the ability to grow plants. Gardens teach us about the life cycle, about birth and death. They teach us the value of controlling what we eat and how that directly affects our health. They prove to us the necessity of sunshine and plant life for human life.
You can even make the grunt work of gardening more pleasant for your kids by giving them all the tools they need. Have the best lawn mower out there, a convenient watering system and you might just find your kids like mowing, or tilling the garden, or watering.
Don’t get discouraged if your kids don’t immediately jump at the chance to help in the garden. As soon as they see a flower bloom out of what was once a tiny seed, they’ll get excited. Eventually your kids will understand the stress relief they can get from yanking weeds out of their gardens or see their health improve through eating the vegetables they grew or that they get uninterrupted family time in the sun.