Encouraging Kids to be on Mother Nature's Team As Part of The Whole Family Happiness Project

Grady is very into "teamwork" these days. Our family is a team. It's his job to be kind and loving to Poppy and follow our family rules. His kindergarten class is a team. It's his job to follow his teachers' instructions and be nice to his classmates. When we're facing a challenge with Grady, we approach it as teamwork. With the days getting longer as summer draws closer, we're making bedtime all about teamwork. It's my responsibility to brush Grady's sugar bugs and it's Grady's job to pick out a bedtime story. It's up to us as parents to make sure Grady gets enough sleep and it's Grady's job to go to bed when we tell him it's bedtime. It's amazing how excited and accepting he becomes when we frame it in a way he understands. Teamwork makes sense to him. He wants to contribute to his team.

So when we noticed that Grady was becoming less connected to the great outdoors, choosing instead to spend most of his time inside, we decided to "team up" with Mother Nature. He's always been interested in gardening but balks at doing yard work. Instead of asking him to weed the garden beds or water the lawn (booooring), we gave him his own pots and let him choose what to plant in them to build his own little garden. It's his job to water his flowers, it's his flowers' job to grow. He's not overwhelmed by a large garden or hours of yard work, but he does need to check in on his pots every day to make sure they're doing okay. It's a small part of his day but it's becoming a habit. Soon it will be second nature.

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As part of his garden, we helped him build a bee bath. Despite never being stung, Grady is terrified of bees. We've come across worms, slugs, beetles, ladybugs, and many more creepy crawlies in our gardening adventures and it doesn't faze him. Add a solitary bee to the equation? Grady is out. Gardening session over. The plants are on their own, hopefully it will rain so they get a drink of water, he's heading inside where there are no bees. Bees get a bad rap with the kindergarten crowd and we wanted to boost Grady's comfort level and view bees as a necessary part of our garden. It was shockingly easy to get him on Team Bee when we explained that without bees to pollinate our flowers, there would be no strawberries (his favourite local delicacy) and without strawberries, there can be no strawberry ice cream (the horror!). It takes ten seconds to say "don't be afraid of bees" but it only takes a few seconds more to explain why bees exist and how we can help them, and how helping them boosts our own happiness (because who can be unhappy with a bowl of strawberry ice cream in front of them? Monsters, that's who.). 

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I treasure our time together in the garden. We're not distracted by screens or piles of dirty dishes or "just let me throw a load of towels in the washer." We're hanging out, digging in the dirt, talking about bugs, filling watering cans, working together to make our space beautiful. We're not experienced gardeners by any stretch of the imagination (I probably have as much gardening knowledge as Grady does) but that doesn't matter. What matters is that I feel happier and less anxious when I'm connected to Mama Earth and I want to pass that on to my children. It's my job to introduce my kids to the pleasure of planting something, tending to it, caring for it, and watching it grow. It's their job to bloom. 

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This post is part of The Whole Family Happiness Project. Opinions expressed are my own. For more information, or to share your Whole Family Happiness story, visit Whole Family Happiness on Facebook.