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COVID-19 Means I’m Gardening With My Kids

Alethea Mshar
Special needs mom and Blogger
06/29/20  9:14 AM PST
gardening with my kids

COVID-19 Means I’m Gardening With My Kids, and I Love It…Rather than my respite, this year the garden is a family affair.

In the past, my garden has been my quiet retreat, a place of solitude and contemplation. You can imagine my frustration when in March, just as I had completed my garden plans and started dozens of seeds, school let out for the year. Not only did we have to juggle full-time caregiving, school, and all of our other tasks, but my garden time was in jeopardy. Normally my youngest gets extended school year services, meaning he goes to school 6 weeks out of the summer, so for him, that meant not only missing out on the end of the school year, he’s missing summer programming too.

This adjustment has been huge for our family, as it has been for many, and I dare say more so for families caring for kids with complex disabilities. As always I’m more than happy to do whatever it takes to meet the needs, but this time it hit me where it hurts, my garden.

As spring moved along and the snow melted away, the time came to open the gate to the garden and till the soil. This year, instead of just my husband and I doing the work it was a whole family affair, and that set the tone for the season. Often little Ben sits in the golf cart listening to music and singing, but even he gets into the action when he’s able.

gardening with my kids

I’ve always brought the kids into the garden here and there for the fun stuff. There’s nothing like digging up buried treasure, aka potatoes, and making the haul of ripe produce. But this year the kids are in the garden start to finish. Logically, the benefits I get from getting my hands into the dirt would be the same for the kids. But until I saw it for myself, I didn’t realize how wonderful it would be.

For sensory benefits, there’s nothing like digging with a shovel, doing focused work with seeds, pulling on weeds, and deciding which vegetables are ready. My kids, like myself, are never so regulated as after 20 minutes in the garden. As long as I know when to quit, if it’s buggy or too hot, they find joy and satisfaction in their work and pride in their accomplishments. A little bonus is that they’re a bit more willing to try a vegetable when they took part in growing it!

My perspective has to change when I bring the kids. Rather than my respite, this year the garden is a family affair. I go with the intention of teaching and therapy for all. Of course, I still sneak away when I can for my fix of quiet time, but my joy in sharing my love of bringing sustenance from the dirt is a suitable substitute for the peace of doing it myself.

inclusion on the playground

Alethea Mshar is a Special Needs Mom and Blogger.

Read her blog, Ben’s Writing, Running Mom

Follow her on Facebook

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