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Yard Work Chores Perfect for Little Kids

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yard work

Older kids and teens might drag their feet and moan about chores — but not your precious little ones. Toddlers and younger kids delight at the opportunity to “help” mom and dad, so you can get them to do almost anything with hardly any cajoling. Since it can be so hard to get kids outside these days, and since yard work is one of the worst household chores, you might wonder: What is safe for littles to do in the yard?

First: What’s NOT Safe

Little kids simply can’t be trusted around anything that can cause them harm. So, while you should encourage them to help you in the garden, you should be careful to forbid them from some yard care activities.

You should avoid allowing them to go near anything that could poison them, which especially includes brightly colored chemicals like fertilizer and pesticide. Little kids love putting things in their mouths, and if the stuff is colorful like candy, the likelihood that they’ll ingest it is even higher. You should keep these compounds on higher shelves or, better yet, behind lock and key with other toxic substances like bleach.

Additionally, you shouldn’t let your little ones go near sharp yard tools, like hedge clippers, or anything motorized, like your weed whacker or chainsaw. In fact, it might be wise to avoid keeping any of this stuff on your property at all. I outsource many of the larger yard care jobs to a local Baltimore lawn mowing service, and you can do the same in your neck of the woods.

Whatever you are protecting your kids from inside the house should also be kept away from them outside. Fortunately, that leaves plenty of totally safe activities to keep your kids occupied outdoors — such as:

Container Growing

Toddlers and young kids aren’t big enough to help tend large, established plants in your yard, but they can definitely care for smaller plants in containers. A container is anything that keeps a plant out of the ground; plant pots are containers, but so are mugs, shoes, birdcages and bathtubs. Your kid can be in charge of watering the container on a schedule dictated by you (so it doesn’t get over- or under-watered). You might also work together to transplant the plant to a larger container when the time is right.

Watering

In truth, young kids can water most of the plants in your yard, as long as you teach them how to do it properly. Most plants prefer long, slow, infrequent drinks, which means all your kid needs to do is pull the hose over, turn it on and set a timer. As with container gardening, kids can watch how proper watering affects the plants, helping them grow big and strong.

Harvesting Fruits and Veggies

Vegetable and fruit gardens are perhaps the most exciting things to grow, for adults and kids alike. Children love seeing how their food is made, and adults love knowing that their fruits and veggies are healthy and fresh. It doesn’t take much skill to pick ripe fruits and veggies and bring them indoors, so you can happily outsource that to your youngest kids. You might also task them with picking up the rotten or bird-eaten fruit, if you can trust them to do it safely.

Raking and Collecting Debris

raking

Many plants drop excessive amounts of leaves and other debris, especially in the autumn. Young kids can help you collect all that stuff, either by using kid-sized rakes and shovels or by grabbing handfuls of the stuff and tossing it into your piles or trashcans. It’s important to note that your toddlers won’t be super effective at this chore; they won’t have a system or any sense of expedience to ensure your yard gets cleaned up fast. However, they will learn the importance of picking up the leaf and stick litter, and they’ll be more likely to help as they grow up.

Cleaning up Toys

Finally, if nothing else, your little ones should be in charge of picking up the toys they leave strewn around your yard. You can begin to teach your children responsibility by tasking them with looking after their toys, which means keeping them organized and out of the way when they aren’t in use. As long as you have a place where outdoor toys can be safely stashed, your kids should be able to follow rules about keeping the yard neat and tidy.

Children want to learn, which means they want to do the things you do. By asking them to help you complete chores around the yard, you are building their sense of responsibility and teaching them about various adult tasks. Plus, yard work doesn’t have to be a slog; with kids around, everyone can make yard work fun.

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