When Dan and I first started talking about gardening with Little Miss, we talked about all the things we were going to teach her. We were going to show her where her food comes from. We were gonna instill a love of nature and plants. Dan and I would teach her the value of hard work. What we didn’t count on was all the things she would teach us! In her short time in the garden she’s managed to teach us more than we thought. Today, I’m going to share 5 lessons I’ve learned while gardening with a toddler.
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5 Lessons Learned While Gardening With a Toddler
It’s Messy and That’s Okay
I’ve always known that gardening can get a little messy. Messy is an understatement now that Little Miss is in the picture! It’s not a stretch to go through multiple sets of clothes a day. Thank goodness for sandals that easily wash off. But at the end of the day we when come inside and she’s covered in mud, I know that she enjoyed herself outside! And isn’t that what it’s really supposed to be about?
Patience Oh Sweet Patience Wherefore Art Thee?!
(Alright so it’s not that dramatic!) Everyone knows though that you need to have a little patience while gardening. First, you wait for seeds to sprout. Then you waiting for the plants to grow and fruit. Waiting, waiting, waiting and you have to be very patient while doing all that waiting. But gardening with a toddler takes the need to have patience to a whole new level! Seriously. Try gardening with a toddler who insists on mulching the veggies one. toddler. sized. handful. at. a. time.
Sometimes You Just Gotta Take a Break
Sometimes we get tired. As adults though, we push through with “the can’t stop now” mindset. Toddlers on the other hand, get tired and flop down (or sit in a wagon full of manure). Us adults could take a lesson from them. Sometimes you NEED to take a break. Take a moment, sit down, breathe, re-evaluate a frustrating situation or think about your accomplishments thus far. I think taking the occasional break helps to avoid burnout and giving up and can re-inspire us to keep on. Which leads me to my next lesson learned.
Persist, Persist, and When in Doubt Persist Some More!
It wasn’t until I had a toddler, that I learned how darned persistent they can be. This is wonderful when they are learning a new skill- like how to plant a seed, mulch the herbs or help plant the strawberries. Not so great when they want to keep planting seeds after ALL the seeds have been planted! Or when they insist on helping to water the raspberries again and again and again. Still, I think watching a toddler persist, shows us that we won’t effectively learn new skills unless we persistently try, try and then try some more.
Toddlers are AH-mazing!
Again, we all know this right? But just wait until you’re sitting in the garden with a toddler on your lap and you’re trying to teach her that seed sprouts are delicate. When our seeds started sprouting, Little Miss and I went and checked them out. At first she was a little rough and just wanted to crawl in the bed and play with the sawdust mulch. I told her that we have to be gentle with this bed that we can’t crawl in it anymore because there’s babies. I pointed to the seeds to show her. After a few moments, she crawled on my lap and pointed to the sprouts and asked, “Babies?” Now whenever I point out a sprouted seed she says, “Babies” and makes sure to leave them be. It’s absolutely amazing to me, how quickly she learned that seeds are delicate and should be treated carefully!
Some of my best childhood memories are centered around spending time with my Mom in the garden. Gardening with my Mom gave me my love of homegrown food. I learned that life, in all forms is pretty awesome. I also learned many valuable life skills, like the value of hard work. Along the way I picked up a few unexpected skills too. Like learning about money each year when I would sell homegrown marigolds at the farmers market. I always knew I wanted to garden with my children, give them the experiences I had and maybe teach them a little along the way. It wasn’t until recently though, that I learned that there is a lot we can learn from them.
What have you learned from gardening with toddlers?