We can't lie: getting yard work done while caring for young children can be an incredibly hefty task. It does not matter if it's simply picking your weeds or fertilizing your garden, when you have a toddler around you need to ensure their safety along with their pre-occupied state.
'Tis the season of gardening. And, if you are in the midst of toddler-hood, your garden won't stop growing just because you're managing parenthood while tending to your responsibilities. Even if you do have hired help, there's always a thing or two, or eight, that could be done in the yard during peak seasons. So, we've compiled 10 easy ways to keep your toddler safe and busy while you do your work.
Preparing a treasure hunt is such an easy and distracting activity for your young. Simply give them a piece of paper with a list of items (like toys, nature items etc) that are easy to locate. Write the words or draw their picture, age depending have them search high and low until the list is complete. Depending on the amount of yard work you have to get done, you'll be able to add or take away to the list as much as you'd like. They will also be in eye's view which will be a safe and productive activity for your toddler.
As mundane as this activity may seem, children love picking weeds. Teach them young and they'll learn how to have fun with gardening chores in their futures. How convenient! Allow them to tag along in your duties and it's a total win-win. Yard work can be fun and quite addictive; especially if you show your toddler that it's fun they'll surely pick up on that energy.
If you begin to sort and match items and colours at a young age, your child/children may do it on their own when given the opportunity. The best way to encourage learning with play is by incorporating it in the outdoors. It's a natural and wonderful way to inspire their creativity and imagination.
Give your child a piece of paper with different colours listed on them. Tell them to grab different items that match the colours to place on top of the paper. This will keep them occupied for hours. We promise.
Water play is always great idea with a parent/care giver's supervision. We advice to ensure that water that is given is in small amounts, even in cups.
Place a tray with two small bowls or cups on top. Fill one with water. Give the child a spoon. Demonstrate by bringing the water to the empty cup, spoonful by spoonful. Not only will this practice with their fine motor skills, it will be a great test in patience, balance and persision. You'll be surprised how much your toddler enjoys this simple yet productive activity.
While doing your yard work, you can simply play I Spy with your child, giving them a specific area in the lawn to place their goodies. Have it be plants, leafs, toys or rocks, their little nature pile will be a beautiful collection of treasures that they've found. Afterwards, encourage them to make a craft out of their collection. Whether it's a house made of sticks, a card for a family member with leafs glued on top or a crown made of flowers, this craft will be an incredibly creative project that will be very rewarding for you both.
If you're in the middle of yard work and need some potting to be done, your child will love to assist. All they will need is a pot, some dirt and their own child-sized shovel. Demonstrate what they must do, and how far you'd like these pots to be filled. They will feel so helpful. By encouraging them that they're doing a great job, rest assured they'll want to assist in pot work for future times. Even if you don't need pots filled with dirt, it's a fun and inexpensive activity for your toddler to partake in while you're doing your yard work.
If you have never made Nature's Soup, we don't know what you were doing on your summer, childhood days! Of course, you may have had other renditions: Mud Pie, Worm Stew or even Flower Salad. But, if you allow your child to add whichever nature items to a large bowl of room temperature water, they will surely surprise you with their creativity. Again, we recommend always being around the toddler while they are playing with water.
But, you can be sure that they'll be busy for hours. Just make sure they don't consume their Nature's Soup unless it's for pretend.
Every child loves the process of planting seeds and watching their little seeds grow. But, if you have a lot of yard work to do with little planting to get done, allow them to take a bag or cup full of Hemp Seeds, Flax Seeds, or any seed you would normally consume that you know will now grow, and have them to pretend to plant them throughout your garden. Allow them to carry around a little watering can along with their shovel, and they will feel incredibly helpful. If you are comfortable with making up innocent stories, you can bring them out in the following weeks to show them new flowers that have bloomed and let them know it's all because of their hard work.
How do you keep your child happy? Usually, by feeding them yummy treats! A great and calming activity for your child to participate in while you're getting yard work done is having a picnic with their favourite toys and/or stuffed animals. Allow them to decorate their picnic site and bring out either real food or plastic food for them to snack on while you get some things done. Add music if you like, and enjoy the calm picnic while you get your work done.
Regardless of weather, there's always leaves, weeds and other items that must be removed from the lawn and/or garden itself. For your child to feel involved in your work, encourage them to make a pile of leaves as your do your own duties. Whether you give them their own rake, a bucket or a spoon, they will pick up random objects and items. These items may not be leaves but hey- it's a win-win activity for you to get some much needed yard work done.