Gardening with munchkins is tough, but hey, raising kiddos is not an easy thing!
Sometimes watching those little chubby fingers pluck a baby tomato plant from it’s home, or turning around to see them all sitting nicely ON TOP OFF the baby lettuce peeking through the dirt is more then I can handle. But I have to remember that raising kids is more important then raising plants. And it is so worth it when you catch a glimpse of your little ones munching on fresh strawberries or telling the baby plants they love them and they will take care of them…. awwww so cute!
But until then, here are a few things that I have learned that make it just a little bit easier on you and your precious little plants.
1. Start your kids in the garden young. I mean really young guys. Like as soon as they can sit up plop them in the dirt and let them taste it, feel it, love it. Then as they get older, let them follow you around and talk! talk! talk! to them about the special plants. They learn really fast how important the plants are and then they will want to take care of them just as much as you do.
2. Focus on 1 or 2 rules instead of overwhelming them with “no!”. We focus on pathways. Pathways, pathways, pathways. I probably say it 50 times a day and I SHOW them where the pathways are every time I plant something. We walk back and forth on the pathways a million times and I remind them to always stay on the pathways. Pathways, pathways, pathways. …. Did I mention pathways??? Little Man (6) and Sweetie Pie (4) have mastered this and almost never step off the pathways unless they fall accidentally. Boss (2) is a work in progress but I anticipate he will have it down by the end of the year. If they can get the pathways thing down, then your freshly planted seeds and tiny baby plants will be safer from trampling, sitting on, and all other types of squishing or destroying.
3. Give your kids their own area to dig. Every kid I ever met loves a freshly dug patch of crumbly dirt, which would be why your freshly churned soil looks so scrumptious and irresistible to them. It looks scrumptious and irresistible to me too. So let them dig! Just not where your seeds are planted in neat little rows. Show them which area is theirs and help them loosen the soil every once in awhile. Nobody wants to play in hard crusty dry dirt!
4. Give them their OWN tools and gloves, and find something that they can help with. When you first start letting them help, you will sit down exhausted at the end of the day and wonder “What the heck did I accomplish today? …. The kids and I spent all day TRYING to plant the garden and we got about, um, 1/10 of it done …… is that ALL I did today??” But it gets better I promise! And it helps make a few things a lot easier down the road like: Your kids will remember what THEY did and they won’t want it ruined because of the work they put into it, they will respect the plants because they know it takes work to get them to grow, they will get faster and more efficient with the garden chores, and they will be helpful at a fairly young age. Plus! if you give them their own tools they will feel pretty cool and actually want to help out, AND they will quit stealing your tools and hiding them all over the yard when you need them most!
5. Plant Extra! Things happen people, toddlers will walk through the plants and snap them off right at the bottom so they can’t be saved, kids will pull up entire plants while trying to pick a juicy strawberry or a crisp pea, they will forget where they are supposed to dig, and they will definitely pull up plants while they are trying to help you weed. It’s going to happen, and it’s okay. Save yourself an entire year of stress by planting a ton of extra seeds so you can spare a few fatalities.
So there you have it! 5 of my best tips on making it just a little bit easier to garden with young kiddos. How bout you? You got any good ones?