Despite the chaotic weather patterns of 80 degrees one day and 40 degrees the next, there is no doubt that Spring has arrived. There are lots of ways to enjoy this wonderful season with your family.
1. Plant a garden. Yes, it is too early to put out tomatoes, but it is just right for planting beans, peas, and lettuce. And what better way of teaching your child about where food really comes from than growing it yourself. Even if you don’t have garden space, most homes will have a porch or deck that gets at least 4 hours of direct sun. Let older children take responsibility for pulling weeds or watering. But don’t let it turn into a dreaded chore! Gardening is a family event. Some wonderful conversations can happen while your hands are engaged in tying up tomatoes or tidying garden paths.
2. No space for a garden? Plant a “salad bowl” in a sunny window. Buy a package of mesclun mix seeds and sow a few seeds every week. Within a month, you will begin to get lettuce that you can eat straight from the pot (provided you did not spray it with any chemicals). By planting weekly, you will ensure fresh leaves all summer. Have your children pick only the biggest leaves and be sure to rinse off the dirt before tossing in your salad. Or, plant your own herb garden in pots and have the children help you harvest and dry the leaves to use in next winter’s cooking.
3. Sign up for a CSA. Another way to teach your children about healthy food is to sign up for a CSA. In this way you get a fresh batch of home grown produce every week or two. Older children can research recipes or ideas to use unfamiliar veggies. Some CSAs also allow you to visit the farm and see all of the produce being grown. Knowing the farmer that grows your food is a big plus for children.
4. Find a new walking or biking path. Make the time to get outdoors with your kids. Find a time that is agreeable to all and take off on a weekly adventure. You may need to find an indoor alternative for those rainy days. Make a rule that no one can bring any electronics (even you!) and engage in meaningful conversation with your kids and partner. You get to meet your need for physical activity, AND connection!
5. Watch the plants and trees change. Notice how things change from day to day. Watch as trees begin to bud, then flower, then turn into shade trees. Note the differences in leaves in the trees. Older children can begin to identify trees and plants by looking at their leaves, flowers, or fruits. Even toddlers can enjoy the plants. Get some inexpensive bedding plants and let your toddler put them in the ground. Chances are, she will pull it up and replant it several times to enjoy the experience. (This is why you get inexpensive plants and don’t plan to enjoy robust flowers or herbs.)
Above all, get outside and away from computers, televisions, and electronic games. Enjoy the warm weather, get some sunlight on your skin, and have a great conversation with your family.