If you are fortunate enough to have a home with a garden, there’s no good excuse to leave it neglected. If you have a family, that just becomes even more the case.
Gardening is one of those things that human beings have been doing in one form or another since the dawn of time, and there are all sorts of powerful benefits for both adults and children alike, when it comes to spending time out in the fresh air pulling up weeds, planting things, and making sure that the garden is in good condition.
Here are just a few of the benefits, to your family, of keeping a well-maintained garden.
Every member of the family can easily enjoy time away from the constant information flow of the high-tech world
These days, we’re all so used to the Internet that we can easily lose track of the fact that this tool has come to dominate our lives in all sorts of different ways – and not just the Internet either, but the various digital tools and high-tech devices that we use alongside it, ranging from smart TVs, to laptops, tablets and smartphones.
While all of these high-tech tools are useful in various ways, they also create an environment of constant information-overload that can really cause problems for any one individual’s mental and emotional well-being, over time.
The author Adam Alter has written extensively, in his book “Irresistible,” about just how addictive the online world can be, while another writer, Nicholas Carr, has written at length in his book, “The Shallows,” about the way that this constant hopping from one bit of information to another can harm our ability to focus deeply, among other things.
There is a growing consensus that too much information feeds anxiety, depression, and various other negative states of mind. So it’s a good idea to find opportunities for every member of your family to take regular breaks from the high-tech world, in order to maintain balance in their lives.
A garden can be the perfect place for just such a break (as long as you aren’t taking your laptop or smartphone out into the garden with you.)
Whether you are smelling the flowers, waiting in anticipation for your food to be ready on the barbecue, or are sitting at the edge of a specially-designed mindfulness-promoting Koi pond, a garden can really help you to take a deep breath and calm your thoughts for a while.
A garden can provide your kids with an excellent opportunity to learn about the natural world
A hundred years ago, the average person in the United States – not to mention the various countries of Europe – lived in rural environments, and worked close to the land, in one way or another.
These days, the pattern has absolutely flipped, and most people don’t really have much substantial interaction with nature on a regular basis.
And yet, the natural world is the starting point of all life, and a connection with nature seems to be extremely important for ensuring that people enjoy the highest possible degree of well-being. Research done on the subject has consistently found that people who spend more time in nature enjoy better mental health (and physical health too, for that matter), and that even just casual contact with the natural world can have a serious “healing” effect.
No doubt for this reason, the Japanese have a cultural phenomenon known as “Forest Bathing,” where typically-city-bound individuals will make a point of immersing themselves in woodland areas on a regular basis, as a therapeutic exercise.
A garden can provide your kids with an excellent opportunity to learn more about the natural world at an early age, both in terms of developing an appreciation for the experience of being in nature, and also in terms of developing an understanding of things like the life cycles of plants.
Of course, you could also go the extra mile by setting up a birdfeeder, along with food from Little Peckers, to welcome wild creatures into your garden. This could go a long way to helping connect your kids to a sense of appreciation for a dimension of life that they might otherwise rarely think about.
Family barbecues are always a great pastime
Family barbecues are, by all accounts, a time-honoured tradition in virtually every corner of the world – and it’s not difficult to see why.
As the famous food writer Michael Pollan has observed — for example, in his hit documentary series “Cooked” — mankind has been using fire to prepare food since the earliest days of our existence, and even today there is something deeply powerful and ancient about the feeling of cooking food over a fire, in the open air, and sharing it with those closest to you.
A barbecue can be a great opportunity for the whole family to get together and bond, and to form some great memories together. Of course, it also helps that almost any food you could care to name just tastes a lot better when it’s been flame-grilled over charcoal or wood.
There’s something extremely fulfilling and informative about planting and maintaining a garden, and watching it grow
In many ways, gardening is a powerful metaphor for some of the fundamental aspects of life, as a whole.
When you work to maintain your garden, pull up weeds, plant new flowers (or even “crops,”) and watch as your labour is rewarded by new growth, you are essentially also looking at a metaphor for all creative work and achievement in life.
Anything you, or your kids, might want to achieve will take work, time, patience, and vigilance. Just like with gardening, you will have to deal with occasional setbacks and upsets, and you will be able to take pride in the end result, because you’ll know how much work was put into it.
There are certainly a lot of lessons wrapped up in gardening that are likely to be invaluable to children – but also to people of all ages. The importance of hard work, persistence, patience, and a general appreciation for the fact that “creating things” is a highly-involved and significant process.
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