She would force us to help in the garden for a whole fifteen minutes! Let me rephrase to ensure understanding. My mother would require me and to help her in the garden – as in weed and dig in the dirt- for a full fifteen minutes at a time. This would sometimes happen a couple of times every week!
Yes, this seemed appalling to me as a 14 year old girl whose mother loved her perennials. I didn’t notice the difference between a nicely kept yard and an unkept one, to be honest.
But something happened to me as I got older. As a mother myself, I spend hours and hours and hours in our yard, transforming it from the overgrown and gnarly state it was in when we moved here into what we hope will soon be a beautiful, crisp, colourful personal oasis.
I find working in the yard and garden good for my overall wellbeing and I observe the same in my kids. That is, when I can get them to help. As they approach teenagehood, things may change. But for now, they are out there with us. My husband and I started them early – we spent time outside working together, and when kids are five years old, they want to be with their parents. So they “helped” alongside us and saw the fruits (sometimes quite literally) of their labour and got excited to do more. They found earthworms in the dirt as they helped plant and learned about their useful and essential contributions to the process. They watered the flowers and saw them come back to life. They watched as the raspberry buds turned into delicious fruit. They noticed the general overall good feeling of being surrounded by a calm, colourful, flourishing outdoors.
And that brings us to today, just a few years later when the youngest is five and the oldest has grown to preteen glory. And it’s in them now. Sure, they don’t always want to “work” but they pitch in here and there and are excited as the yard continues to become our own beautiful little piece of Mother Earth. There is something that just seems so right about making the earth more beautiful. More appealing and fruitful. The kids come in at the end of the day covered in dirt, covered in the earth itself. Depending on the time of the season, they are also covered with an outer layer of raspberry juice. They live in the fresh air and take joy and (a bit of) responsibility in caring for the land.
Now, before you say, oh that’s nice, but I live in an apartment, remember that there are multiple ways to get dirty. If you find yourself in this lot, check out your community gardens in the area. There are often plots that you can rent a little piece of to have your own garden. If there isn’t anything like this close-by, put it in a pot! It is remarkable the garden you can grow in pots in your window sill and on your front stoop. If you’re in this camp, then check out these useful tips for pot gardening. http://www.vegetable-gardening-online.com/indoor-container-gardening.html
You can trust me – gardening is good for the soul. If you want someone else to confirm it, check out this great article on Psychology Today. It lists and explains ten reasons that gardening is good for mental health. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/worry-and-panic/201505/petal-power-why-is-gardening-so-good-our-mental-health
Finally, check out these great books and song to read and sing (or just have playing) with your children to get in the mood. They are my favourites.
Book: We are the Gardeners. This is a beautifully illustrated book about and family learning to garden. It teaches a lot about gardening but not in a way that bores you – I mean the kids. It’s worth the buy.
Book: Miss Rumphius. This is my all time favourite children’s book. My mom read it to me when I was a kid and now I read it to my own children. It is about a small girl and spans her whole lifetime as she lives a life rich in experience. One of her 3 main life focuses is to make the world more beautiful. She does this by planting lupines all over her little town. Admittedly, she makes growing lupines look much easier than it is (believe me – I’ve been trying to grow lupines like hers for 3 years.) The message and visuals are beautiful and inspiring. All the lupines in our garden are because of Miss Rumphius.
Song: Garden Song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSNkeA2z8aA My youngest sings this song to our garden to help it grow.
There you have it. Getting dirty is worth it!