Hectic school, work and extracurricular activity schedules sometimes make it hard for families to spend quality time together. In periods of down time, it’s tempting to hang out on the couch in front of the TV, get online or get absorbed in texting or gaming.
Unfortunately, household chores also need attention and are often the last thing anyone feels like doing.
Tackling yard work as a family takes the pressure off of one person and can be a fun way to spend some tech-free, quality time together enjoying some fresh outdoor air.
Getting the Kids Involved
Teaching kids of all ages the ropes about maintaining the yard is a great way to instill responsibility and prepare them for doing their own yard later in life. Consider your children’s ages when figuring out what tasks to assign.
There are a lot of neat toys out there for toddlers that can help them simulate real work, like toy lawn mowers, rakes, shovels and watering cans to name a few. Have young children “mow” their own section of the yard, or use their rake to rake up a section of leaves.
As they grow, introduce kids to real yard tools and how to use them safely. Divide tasks among family members and rotate them weekly. (Someone mows, someone rakes up clippings, someone pulls weeds, etc.). Jumping in piles of newly raked leaves can become a fun Fall family tradition.
Be sure to schedule breaks for water and rest, and acknowledge a job well done with a smile, high five or thank you.
Growing a Garden
Planting and maintaining a garden can be fun and rewarding when kids see the fruit of their labor. It’s also a great opportunity to teach kids about nature, nutrition and the life cycle. Take the kids with you to your local nursery to buy flower and vegetable seed packets and plants and ask them to help pick out what you’re going to grow.
If your children are younger, explain the prep work and have them watch a parent or older sibling till and fertilize the soil. Work together to choose what to plant where, and guide them in sprinkling the right quantity of seeds where you need them. Show them how to cover the seeds and then water with the hose or watering can.
Make a schedule of regular watering and weeding times and work together to do these tasks. Along the way, talk about nature and how the sun, water and soil helps flowers and vegetables grow. Point out the buds that each plant forms before the flowers or vegetables appear. Some crops, like broccoli and pumpkins have big leaves, others grow on stems, like asparagus. Tomatoes grow on vines. Talk about the unique aspects of each flower or vegetable.
When the garden is ready to harvest, give kids gloves, if needed, and a basket or bag and start picking! Use this as an opportunity to talk about how carrots are good for their eyes; broccoli has Vitamin C, etc. You can also discuss the wonders of creation and the life cycle; how plants need sun and water to grow and thrive and how we, in turn, need fruits and vegetables to stay healthy.
A bonus: Junior gardeners may be more inclined to eat their veggies if they are involved in getting them from the garden to the table. Be sure to thank them for their hard work as you pass the serving bowl around!
But don’t forget to be doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. —Hebrews 13:16
There is no better way to spend quality family time than by serving others and doing good deeds. Helping elderly and disabled neighbors or church members with mowing, raking, shoveling snow and any other outdoor chores is a great way to spread kindness and good will. It also reinforces responsibility, respect and compassion toward our fellow man.
You could also invite a few families to join yours and spruce up common neighborhood landscape areas, church grounds or local community centers lawns. In any of these cases physical labor quickly gives way to a time of rewarding and memorable fellowship.