Time is mysterious. . .
Too much time? We feel bored and restless.
Too little time? We feel rushed or nervous.
How we handle time depends on our circumstance and perspective. Time may pass by too quickly while taking a timed exam, but time cannot go by quickly enough on Christmas Eve.
Sometimes we use time as a catch-all phrase to explain difficult concepts. "Time heals," we say, or "Time will tell," or "It's only a matter of time." Learning the importance of allowing time to take its natural course is a helpful skill. Religion reminds us that patience is a virtue, and psychology teaches us that managing gratification leads to increased success in life.
As difficult as it is for adults to manage time wisely, think about the confusion children would have learning the concept of something they cannot touch or see. A clock may show numbers for the day, but what about long-term planning? How can children learn an awareness of time in a fun and educational way?
Plant a Family Garden
Gardening allows a family to plan together, to work together, to rejoice together as plants grow, and to harvest together. Not only is that a tremendous amount of time spent in each other's company, but it is valuable time for parents to teach their children patience, dedication, and fun! Below are some tips to help you begin a garden that involves the whole family.
Discuss what types of fruit and vegetables your family wants to grow.
As a family, consult gardening resources online or in a book about local agriculture. Discover what types of seeds grow best in your town. For example, there numerous varieties of carrot seeds. You'll want to plant varieties best suited to your local climate and soil. Here are some helpful online resources: garden planning, vegetable characteristics, and your county extension office.
Have an adventure at the store!
Pick your seed packets. Get some brightly colored gloves and trowels and shovels. Load up bags of compost and garden dirt for your soil. If you need help deciding whether or not to garden right into the ground or build a raised bed, consult here.
Prepare your soil, and sow those seeds according to the directions on the seed packet.
Some easy-to-grow and kid friendly seeds are carrots, lettuce, peas, corn, and beans. In my experience, those are not finicky seeds. My kids spread carrots all over in their designated spot, and then as the seeds grow we thin the seedlings out. Thinning means you pull some of the baby plants out over time in order to achieve the proper spacing for your carrots (or other seeds.)
Let each member of the family have a turn at watering and weeding the garden.
As they care for the garden, their sense of responsibility and attachment will grow. Anticipation also builds over the many weeks it takes to finally eat something grown from seed. Rejoice in your children's excitement as they see broccoli start to form, the green tomatoes start to ripen red, or the peas start to bud out from their climbing vines.
Talk about the process of time unfolding right before their eyes.
Your family members will learn patience, a natural course of time, and the importance of following healthy patterns daily. For example, one big watering will not help the garden grow nor will one weed being pulled. Consistent effort over time yields a productive garden, and those daily habits will help your family learn to value time.
Finally, relate the process of time and growth to each family member's life.
Talk about how time allows one small seed to produce 6 ears of corn, just like one decision to be kind to someone at school can yield new friendships. Show them how pulling a tomato too early results in a yucky fruit, just like quitting a hobby too early might result in regret. Help them form personal metaphors between life and the garden. Personal stories are fantastic ways to teach family values.
I hope your family finds time together out in the sunshine! Grow those family bonds - literally.
Your Turn- What is your favorite seed to grow? What other lessons have you learned as you've gardened together? If you just starting a garden, what are you really excited or nervous about?
Hi, I'm Nicci. I am a counselor, a wife, and a mom. Over the years, I have learned a thing or two about relationships, parenting, and emotional fulfillment. On my blog, Living a Joyful Family Life, I offer advice and techniques to help individuals and families find joy in everyday life. As you get to know me, you'll learn I have a huge sweet tooth, an itch for redecorating, a green thumb, and a loving family.