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Chances are, if you have kids, they run a mile when you mention chores to them!
For adults, doing chores is a part of life; we simply get on with it in the minimum time possible so we can get back to work or our hobbies. For kids, they don’t really see the overall purpose of completing chores and often view them as a for of punishment.
As a wise lady once said ‘For every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap! The job’s a game!’ This is true for all household work but also garden work too.
If you want your kids to help you in the garden, you will first need to think safety. Many garden tools are sharp, many weeds have the potential to stings and in the summer months, the sun can cause burns and dehydration.
Of course, you want any garden chores to also be age appropriate, so they do not cause over exertion or injury. Some ideas for age friendly garden chores include-
Pre-schoolers (3-5 years); putting plants in pots, sowing seeds (indoors and outdoors) and watering plants.
Infant School (5-10); helping with transplanting of bulbs, plants and small trees in autumn, harvesting garden fruits/vegetables and fertilizing plants weekly.
Pre-teens (10-13); raking and bagging leaves, laying straw or mulch and creating/managing a compost bin or pile.
Teenagers (13+); mowing the lawn, pruning trees and bushes, helping with constructing ponds, building sheds and erecting fences.
Making Garden Work Fun
So, now you have a basic idea for age appropriate garden tasks, how do you make it fun? With teenagers, obviously money will be a good incentive but with younger children, you want to keep them engaged and learning without it being too boring.
Make it a competition.
Even if it is only you and a young child completing the garden work, making it a competition will hopefully keep them engaged and focused on the task. If you have multiple young children, why not split them in to teams? That way, it adds to the competitive edge while also helping them to bond and learn about cooperation.
Another interesting edge on any task is to record how long it takes them to complete it. If you give your child or children a simple task to do and ask them how much they think they can do in 5 minutes, 10 minutes etc, this will help them to manage their time and make it more fun. Try to keep time limits shorter for younger children.
When most people are doing housework, they are either humming or singing under their breath. This lifts mood and keeps the task feeling light and fun. It is the same with children. Why not pick a playlist of their favourite songs and play them on your phone or a CD player in the garden to help them along? Why not dance around too? That way, the task becomes more fun and is a great way to tire them out too.
Younger kids love to pretend. When you are trying to encourage them to take part in garden chores, like planting seeds, tell them that the seed is a magic bean that will grow in to a bean stalk. Or, if they are digging a hole to help you plant a shrub, ask them if they think they can find a dinosaur in the dirt.
The number one fun chore is mowing the lawn on a ride-on mower, they do breathe life into the tedious work.
Of course, match the ideas to things they are interested in and keep it light and enjoyable.
Have fun in your garden!