I have been in a whirlwind as of late, and just now feel like I stepped back onto solid ground. So, in the spirit of getting back to my life and passions, I have another post for you all.
Even in a whirlwind, my happy place is my yard, especially if my husband and son (and chickens) are out there with me. During this time together I have learned how much it means to our little one to be included in “meaningful work”. Now, let me clarify, all work/play is meaningful for a kiddo, but what I am calling “meaningful” is productive and helpful work that benefits the whole family.
Our kiddo has craved to work alongside us since he could toddle. He loves shoveling snow, weeding, digging, sweeping, carrying heavy objects, harvesting from the garden, caring for our animals, carefully touching and admiring the “baby flow-was”. He wants to help. And in helping he learns so much about what it means to care for living things and cultivate a space! It is my greatest delight to see him engage so deeply in our outdoor tasks.
We have found ways to supply him with smaller or child-sized tools as often as possible so that he can engage fully in the task at hand. He likes to use our tools, too, but the interest fades when he finds that they are too cumbersome or heavy for him, and then he happily goes back to his “just right” tools.
Right now we are in the process of ripping up our lame-o front lawn and replacing it with pollinator friendly flowers and edibles. It has been quite the endeavor that has required familial help (Thanks Grandpa and Grandma!), but it has been bliss to see our little one dive into helping us dig up grass, hunt for insects to feed to the chickens, find safe places for uncovered worms to go “nigh-nigh”, lay down mulch, plant flowers and seeds, and water plants!
Now it is not all bliss and ease to work alongside a toddler. Inviting him to work beside us means plants get trampled and seeds get dug up 2 minutes after we plant them, but the joy and pride he gains from doing hard work with his mama and papa is truly priceless.
What tasks does your little one love helping with? In what ways do you take time to intentionally invite them to work alongside you?