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Garden work and the magic of friends

Urbanmamas_yardpocalypse
"I'm too lazy!" is the answer when I asked my oldest, almost 10, to help with yard work. Occasionally he'll be overcome by a project and lift and dig and plot with me for a while -- maybe a half hour or an hour if I'm crazy-lucky. He's certainly not lazy; his idea of after-school relaxation is to run around and around the house playfighting with his brothers. He once rollerskated seven miles in an afternoon. He can bike anywhere I can.

But, when it comes to repetitive, back-breaking, dirty drudgery, he's just not my guy.

Until, that is, we went over to a friend's house yesterday for a garden remaking. We missed out on the hardest part; slaughtering blackberry vines (though I got to stuff some in the chipper for an hour or so, ridiculously satisfying work), but immediately when he arrived he joined a band of several kids about his age whose task it was to help shovel, carry and distribute wood chips and lay the cardboard beneath it to cover the grass and weeds.

Not only did he work the whole afternoon -- nearly six hours -- he rallied the team uncomplainingly, vigorously leading the effort with an older girl. Oh, he did complain; when we left to take him to a birthday party. "I want to WORK moooorrrrre..." he whined as we biked away.

I promised to take him back today. "Do you want some garden gloves of your own?" I asked. "YES!"

I was thrilled, and asked if he'd do this sort of thing at home. "I'd rather do it with friends," he said. It was great to see and also a reminder that work is easier and even fun as a troop. I really wish I had more opportunity to schedule work parties (though I'm shy of inviting other kids over with the intention of making them shovel and carry). I have done what I think is a fair job of getting my kids involved in cooking and cleaning their room and helping with laundry, but it's mostly the younger two; this was a great realization that the oldest had his amazingly hot hot button.

I'm not quite sure how to put it into practice, though. Have you found a great way to get your kids to do heavy, hard work? Do you want to send your kids over next weekend for a garden "party"? Kidding... maybe.

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At 6, my daughter is more of a hinderance than a help in the garden, but I have finally given in and just let her dig holes while I am working, since she tends to pull out vegetables instead of weeds. When her friends come over, I give them projects that are harmless (stuffing leaves, pinecones and pine needles in the yard debris bucket, or moving rocks from one place to another). But the hope is, as she gets older, I will start to replace the "keeping busy" tasks with tasks that are actually helpful to me, and by then, she and her friends will have thought they were being helpful all along. They glow after I thank them for helping me in the garden, and they are often dirty and sweaty. It's great!

As the parent of a 14-year old, what I've found is that work done at home is BORING, and work done at friends' houses is FUN. I think this means that we should invite her FRIENDS over to work, and she'll join in in the process.

What a great idea!! We could start a calender -- on meetup, or something. Have a picnic potluck. We could barter for the fruits of our labor, and for every timeslot reserved (if you reserve three dates, you "owe" three dates?). Anyway, what a great way to spend the summer.
Wish I'd thought of this before I spent the weekend pulling St. John's Wort out front, while yelling at my kids to stay out of the street!

And why does that picture remind me of Sesame Street? Looks kind of '70's..

Lea: I've been using those retro filters on my photos :) but those happy looks while doing work! I think that's it. the new Sesame Street never puts the kids to work (a theory: I really haven't watched the show forever).

OK, I think we could really turn this into something! A community chore calender. Until we figure out a great organization, though, I'm happy to make work play dates any time this summer, especially if you have a kid near 10 years old :)

Yikes! I am deficient there. But my toddler is a Virgo and can be put to task better than most 2 year olds:)

Spectacular artikel, har det nästan allt jag behövde hitta. Tack för att sätta arbete och tid att skriva den. Fortsätt inlägg. Nästa gång ännu mer spännande saker.

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