Whether you have an acre of land or a few pots on a balcony, gardening as a family helps you all live healthier. Gardening is an easy activity to share and you’ll harvest many benefits along with your fresh vegetables, colorful flowers, and aromatic herbs. Even better, you don’t have to wait for your plants to bloom to see those benefits. Some of them, like stress relief, family bonding, and fun, are almost instantaneous.
Benefits of a Family Garden
When parents and kids work together to plant and care for a garden, they can all enjoy these perks.
Gardening and yard work are moderate-intensity exercises, which we all need every day. Kids ages three to five need to get three hours of physical activity each day, and older kids need a minimum of an hour daily.1 While tending your family garden doesn’t require the vigorous activity of, say, running or playing singles tennis, it’s still beneficial to your body.2
Gardening gets you outside and moving. Promote more activity for your child by asking them to bring you various tools, such as a bucket, shovel, or hose. The actual gardening work can also be quite demanding. Additionally, once in the yard or garden plot, your little one is likely to begin engaging in more active play when not actively gardening.
Lower Stress, Better Mood
Gardening is an excellent stress reliever for a combination of fascinating reasons: exposure to fresh air and sunlight, performing relaxing and repetitive tasks, and even contact with harmless bacteria in the soil that helps release serotonin in the brain.
Children are prone to spending a lot of time indoors, which can negatively affect their behavior and health. Research indicates that time spent in nature offers significant mental health benefits for children.
All of the above (physical activity, reduced stress, being outside) can contribute to more and better sleep for everyone. And better sleep, in turn, can improve kids’ behavior, health, performance at school, and general well-being.
Projects for Your Family Garden
Consult with an expert neighbor, a family member, a local nursery, or a cooperative extension service to find out what plants will grow best where you live. Internet searches will also help you pinpoint what will thrive in your available gardening space. You might invest in a rain barrel and start a compost pile to make your garden more Earth-friendly, too.
Start them from seed, or purchase seedlings to get a jump-start. If your kids have a favorite vegetable, it’s definitely worth letting them try to grow their own. You can find favorites like carrots, string beans, bell peppers, and potatoes in kid-appealing purple hues. Tomatoes, too, come in dozens of colors, shapes, and sizes.
Quick-growing plants, such as radishes, peas, cucumbers, and many herbs, are satisfying for kids to grow. If your children are very small, it’s easier for them to plant veggies with larger seeds, like peas, corn, and beans.
There are lots of options for involving kids in flower gardening. Let them pick out some seeds based on the pretty pictures on the packets. Or opt for drama with easy-to-grow sunflowers, which can reach as high as eight feet tall.
Simple daisies produce lots of blooms for kids to enjoy, display, and craft with. Other blooms that are easy to grow (and thus less likely to lead to disappointment) are marigolds, snapdragons, and geraniums.
A Word From Verywell
Gardening as a family offers a host of benefits, including promoting healthy eating and exercise habits as well as family bonding and stress relief. If you live in an urban area and/or don’t have a yard, consider an indoor garden or working in a community garden.
Even if you aren’t a seasoned gardener, you can still undertake a family garden. Simply aim to learn alongside your little ones. Whatever you choose to do, take the opportunity to educate your child as you go. You’ll be growing their brain right along with your family crops. parentingpod.com