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Growing up with four siblings, we once roamed from house to house on top of our mountain in New Jersey. Traffic was minimal, and playing was everything. We had woods and streams, secret hide-outs, and shoddily-built tree forts. We had gardens and sheds, lawns and pools. We had quite the group of neighborhood friends, of all ages, and we had that exact childhood that you now see remembered in memes and photos. It was being called in for dinner when the streetlights went up. It was entire days spent on bikes, on hikes, in parks, and without limits. It was secret codes and secret hideaways.
Today, things are different. People talk about how kids are glued to screens and are less active than from years past. Since we have four acres in New England, we see outdoors life as the norm. In the winter, we’re out there sledding and snowballing and caroling. When spring comes, all bets are off. We have earned our green lawn after 3-5 months of a snow & ice cover. The insects are buzzing, the birds are chirping, and the children are laughing & calling to each other from behind trees.
I know that some kids live in more populated areas on or more populated streets. Some kids are city kids and some kids are country kids. What I also know is that there are always opportunities to get your kids outside and learning the land, and you don’t need to have a big yard to do so. In fact, we only use a small part of our land. Most of it is woods, marshes or our long and winding driveway to the street. We inherited our garden from the house’s previous owners and we have big plans for our lawn and garden this spring. We will be using pallets for our now 150+ strawberry plants and we will be working more on Scarlet’s fairy garden. We will place more planters with flowers in the yard, work on more herbs, and plant baby apple trees.
Cassidy is amazing with gardening and yard work. I am often shut inside with a book or a computer or.. let’s be honest here.. a nice snack and some air-conditioning. Over time I’ve realized that it’s more fun and beneficial to him to have help. Scarlet will rake leaves, plant seeds, harvest fruits and vegetables, plant trees, and do some light landscape design. Des is learning the ropes. So am I, actually. So I made a list of how to make yard work and gardening a family activity, and not a solo one:
Yard work is a necessary and enjoyable activity for a family. Just think about raking leaves with your parents as a kid, and then jumping into a crisp pile of them! Do you remember the first time you shoveled snow or planted seeds? I do!
1. Start them young! We gardened a bit in our old house too. We didn’t have as much land, but we made a small garden. The only life Scarlet and Des know, is a life with a lot of fun outdoors chores once March comes along.
2. Assign chores. Scarlet is pretty adept at the “big kid” chores, like raking, planting and harvesting, but Des is actually quite good at digging holes in the dirt where she plants. It makes him feel important, and it’s fun.
3. Explain the meaning. We’re lucky to live in such a lush, green part of the world, however, lawn care and gardening are year-round jobs. It helps us when our kids know how and why grass and plants grow and what they need to do so.
4. Let them have a voice. What’s been Scarlet’s favorite part of learning to do yard work with us? Letting her choose at least some of the flowers, plants and foods we use gets her more interested in the whole process.
5. Get them their own gear. Depending on the age(s) of your children, you will be able to choose the right yard tools. Ones made for kids are safer than regular ones. They will still look and work like ours. The tools should have no choking hazards if your children are young. They should be light enough to be used with ease, but sturdy enough to last. The handles should have good grips for kids. You can also invest in kid-sized gardening gloves.
6. Keep it simple and fun. One way to get yard work done as a family, is to choose tasks that will keep children interested. What we like to do is assign all four of us a task, and then take a break after 15-30 minutes to run around and have fun. Then we return to the chore, even more energized than before. Fun breaks include running through the sprinkler, or the swings.
7. Reap the rewards! What’s better than enjoying fruit off of vines you grew yourself? Lawn care can offer the same satisfaction. Lawns hold our gardens, our trees, our pond and everything else that delights my children. We love to enjoy our lawn, so we take care of it with Scotts® Turf Builder® Weed & Feed. We get it at Walmart in the separate garden center:
It will cover up to 5,000 square feet and helps you rid your lawn of the weeds you see, and will thicken your grass to crowd out the ones you don’t. Looking for specific information for how Scotts® Turf Builder® Weed & Feed can help solve your lawn problems? Click here to sign up for the Scotts’ email reminder service to receive specific tips and information for your area!