Parenting: Kids and Gardening

David Murphy's kids grew up in a grdening household.

The Murphy household will be buzzing soon. April and its inherent showers and plant growth are just around the corner.
March 30, 2011 6:29:16 AM PDT
The Murphy household will be buzzing soon. April and its inherent showers and plant growth are just around the corner.

Already, the daffodils and tulip stalks are making their entrance in the beds along the front of the house and ants are beginning to turn up on the walkway. The butterflies, bees and---yeah, even the slugs---won't be far behind.

The garden in our house is mainly worked by two souls, my wife being the designer and installer of most small plants, and me being mainly the guy who slops the flower beds with mulch, digs the larger and deeper holes, and hauls out dead things while installing any new large trees or shrubs. It's a real brains and brawn operation, with brawn (me) also handling the hedge and tree trimming, and occasionally doing it well.

Almost as through a sort of familial osmosis, the kids have been exposed to this activity, too, at times helping with yard clean-up or plantings. This is a good thing. It teaches them about the plants, trees and grass they see every day and gets them closer to the how and why of life, not only with plants but with the other usually small creatures that live among them and, in some cases, help them (and us) grow.

Growing Ideas

Exposing your kids to gardening can have a direct effect on their future. Digging around in the garden helped along my daughter's burgeoning interest in bugs and small animals. She now has an Animal Science degree and is a professional zookeeper and bird trainer. It also helped sensitize all three of them to nature, teaching them respect for living things, from plants right on up to the higher mammals.

For those of you hesitant to dive into this process with your children, you might want to check out Garden Crafts for Kids: 50 Great Reasons to Get Your Hands Dirty, by author Diane Rhoades, which is stocked with illustrations and ideas for garden-related projects for you and your children. The book was available on Amazon when I checked recently for as little as $3.29 used.

A Healthy Habit

Another reason it's a good idea to get your kids interested in gardening is how it could benefit them later in life. Aside from being a great hobby, gardening, any doctor will tell you, is also great exercise. Since it's hard to tell now what kind of a life your young kids will eventually carve for themselves, introducing something like gardening could wind-up benefitting them years from now when they find themselves in an office job with long hours and little room for regular work-outs (or as they grow older and less interested in the health club scene). Trimming the hedges, seeding the lawn, getting down on your hands and knees and working the soil and the weeds, as well as watering plants all qualifies as physical activity that helps the heart and muscles. They may also appreciate the chance gardening provides to turn off other stresses and pressures, and clear the mind.

Plus, a nice garden can be a source of pride as I'm sure my wife can attest, and that's not a bad bonus.

---David Murphy

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