“Worms poop dirt, so you’re touching poop, mom.” Oh the sweet little conversations that ensue when I have my little gardening buddy helping me. So much to be taught in a garden. From basic seed planting to mulching, watering, fertilizing, and bug control measures. Our kitchen cabinet has become our garden pest control arsenal. Cinnamon and red pepper flakes to keep bugs and bunnies away.
Biodegradable dish soap and water to deter beetles on plants. Even duct tape to pull insect eggs and hatchlings off squash plants. Actively demonstrating organic gardening techniques at home is not only providing our kids with healthy and nutritious food, it is equipping them with skills they can utilize their entire life. I have personally seen self confidence built up as they acquire new knowledge and abilities.
Speaking of organic gardening, the entire property is a spray-free zone. Which creates a lovely environment for pollinators and a safe place for our children and animals. We have no neighbors to upset, so we don’t have to worry about our organic mess blowing into anyone else's yard. There is much to be learned from a colorful yard blooming with dandelions, creeping Charlie, clover, and wild violets. The bees and butterflies love a flowering habitat and we have found that many of the things growing in our yard are actually edible. Yes, we snack on rose hips, wild violets and clover flowers. We make smoothies from dandelion greens and purslane that we foraged. Remember to wash before consuming!
Growing up, my summers consisted of sleeping in, going to a nearby creek to fish for chubs, hopping fences to explore pastures with my friend, lunches of TV dinners and chicken pot pies, and afternoons on the couch with Nickelodeon’s Stick Stickly. After being taxed with a long school year which included long school days, I felt I deserved it. As a homeschooling parent, my kids get routine afternoon breaks during the school year to rest and be creative. So, summertime is the perfect time to take our classroom outdoors. Exchanging textbooks and workbooks for summer reading programs and sunshine; we still do a fair amount of learning in the off season.
Nature’s little creatures provide an excellent addition to our outdoor classroom. From learning the life cycles of frogs and toads to watching butterflies go through metamorphosis in jars on the kitchen counter, we are constantly soaking in new information. A new batch of farm kittens provide an opportunity to educate on mammals drinking their mother’s milk and the purpose of an umbilical cord. Wild bird egg shells we find in the yard creates an opportunity to look up what type of bird it is from. Nature’s creatures present a lot of unforced learning opportunities.
Here at Integrative Family Medicine, we encourage all of our patients, young and old, to soak up some time outdoors. We can all learn something new everyday from the world around us. BUT, if you’re trying to beat the Summer heat, while fostering imagination, flexibility, and calming techniques- check out our Summer Storytime Pediatric Yoga Series. It’s fun, FREE and registration is open to everyone, even non-patients. Link to peds yoga sign up.
Sara Lynn, RN, BSN
“If you don’t invest in your health, no one else will.”