Depending on how you feel about digging up dirt, gardening can be just “one of those chores” or THE reason to get outside on the weekends. If you’re the former, a great way to turn the chore into a fun family day is to get the kids involved!
Gardening with the whole family has so many benefits: it’s cheap, everyone gets some fresh air outside (away from the TV and computer!), it’s home-based so you don’t have to worry about getting everyone and their jackets, shoes, etc out the door, and you probably already have all the equipment you need! Bigger things like lawn mowers and leaf blowers are best left to mom or dad, but there’s no reason why the kids can’t be taught how to wield a trowel or even just do some weeding, if they’re really little.
Kids love getting outside and into the garden. When else do they get to get dirty AND be proud of helping out? Great tasks for the little ones to take on can include weeding, digging holes (be specific, though! Have you ever met a 4-year-old with a shovel?), and picking off garden pests. (Once my mom promised me a penny for every snail I found and put in a bucket, and I still remember I made 42 cents that day!)
Even better, though, is the opportunity to turn gardening into longer-term lessons in caring, patience, and nurturing. Giving each child a little plot of their own is a great way to foster independence and responsibility. Take them to the local nursery and help them pick out their own plants and/or seeds.
If you decide to opt for seeds, you can also make a project out of starting them in the house. Cardboard egg cartons are great for this! Once the seedlings take off you can easily cut the cups of the carton apart and plant them right in the ground, cardboard and all.
Tomatoes, peppers, and sunflowers are all great plants that are easy for kids to grow, but anything goes, really. Maybe they want to grow some pretty flowers or maybe some yummy vegetables for the dinner table!
Helping them with the process of planning and planting a plot is rewarding for you, too! So, get the kids in the garden, and everybody wins.