I am the first to admit that I am not good at planning activities or projects for my children. The thought of paint all over their hands and then my entire kitchen gives me chest pains. Don’t even mention glue or glitter. For those who know me, this seems quite ironic because I’m constantly covered in paint, stain, sawdust, or some other hazard of my job. Every time my daughter utters the phrase “Mom, can we do a project?” I swear my skin crawls. Not only is the mess but the preparation – making sure I have all the supplies, that we follow correct instructions so that it turns out just like the pictures on Pinterest (God forbid it’s a *gasp* “Pinterest fail”). For some reason, there is just way too much pressure for me.
Recently, we were out running errands, and my three-year-old wanted to buy a flower for herself and plant it. I looked at the price tag knowing it will never survive in our yard with me as a gardener and quickly agreed. When we returned home we grabbed a few hand shovels that I’m sure were not the correct ones, and we just started digging. I answered her questions as we went. We talked about the different plants, why we plant them, what roots are, and what their function is.
As we dug and ripped up weeds along the way, I started to realize what we were doing. It was an unplanned “project.”
I mean, it had all the criteria! Messy? Check. Teachable moments? Check. Toddler AND mom actually enjoying themselves? Not sure if this is on the Pinterest list, but I am happy to say “check” to that one as well. It dawned on me that not everything has to be planned projects to be entertaining and educational for my children. Of course, many of those activities are extremely fun and beneficial for children as well. It was just a relief to me that I could enjoy an activity where my children were having fun and learning, minus the stress of planning it out.
As it turns out, gardening with my toddler taught me a few valuable lessons:
Don’t set expectations for any activity. Grab the teachable moments as they come. Get a little messy (even if it’s outside). And have fun!