Saturday, August 2, 2014

5 Parenting Tips from the Garden

Last fall I embarked on a new hobby.  My dad had taken up gardening recently so with his help we built a bed and I started my life as a gardener.  He carefully mixed good soil for me while I studied various table and charts and laid out what to plant and when.  Feeling pretty good about myself I sat back and waited for those little shoots to peek out of the ground.  The garden was a mixed success and I found that much the hard parts of gardening mirror some of the hard parts of parenting. 

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Thinning and Overcrowding
One of the hardest parts of gardening for me is the thinning process.  You have all these fabulous green shoots poking out of the ground and I am supposed to cut away more than I leave?  That sounded crazy to me. So I only half hardly thinned.  And the carrots ended up looking like a nice patch of grass coming up.  So as they grew there was no room for the actual carrots to grow.  They needed room to grow (duh).  Kids are the same way. They need room and space to grow.  It is so easy to keep our lives packed with good activities and nice people, but that can lead to a lack of commitment to our tasks and a lack of meaningful
relationships.  We end up surrounded by people but really having no friends.

Directing growth
My zucchini was my greatest fail.  There were somethings like brussels sprouts that never came up - I am okay with that. Confused, but okay because I planted them three times.  I am not okay with 6-10 zucchini plants growing and spreading and flowering and producing a total of two zucchini.  Yes. Total of TWO.   I tried an Australian tip of trying to get them to grow up - it didn't work. So I let the others go a little wild.  It got hot outside and I really didn't want to mess with it.  

And they went wild and spread until they were mostly outside the garden.  The soil was horrible outside the garden bed.  But the blossoms were beautiful, so I thought I had a chance.  Nope.   We plant carefully and intentionally, but we also need to prune and direct.  And sometimes we need to get help from people who know more about things than we do.  As parents, we often get off to a great start with parenting books and tips and then we slack off.  Things so a little wild. And we realize we really don't know what we are doing any more.  Get help.  Get back on track.  Put in the hard work and prune even though it is hot and messy.

Protect them from the pests
I had 3 apples on my new little apple tree.  They showed up out of season and surprised me because usually they need a year before bearing fruit.  I watched and watched waiting for them to turn color.  And the bugs got to them first.  Sometimes watching isn't enough.  We can keep our eyes on our kids while they play, but what happens when we see them exposed to stuff while we are watching.  We can't take that back.  Just watching the bugs get them was really lame because honestly it happened really fast.   Being proactive is the key.  We need to be vigilant!

Pick when ripe
I didn't have a huge problem with this because unfortunately we didn't have much to pick, but I did totally miss the chance to pick my grapes. I only had 3 bunches and I kept thinking that they would get bigger and better. So I left for vacation and came back to 3 dried bunches.  Maybe they are meant to be raisins?  Timing is huge in parenting. As a mom I need to know when to cut my kids free from the vines and take a chance.

Prudence in planting 
Similar to how we started, there was so much that I wanted to plant. I wanted a variety of things and had my planting schedule all figured out.  But it was too much.  I couldn't even see the strawberries hidden below the beans.  My garden is small and I am glad of that.  But if I am going to plant, then I need to be able to tend it as well.  I need to only commit myself and my kids to that which I am willing to joyfully follow through on. 

So this fall I am going to plant less, I am going to thin, I am going to direct the growth and prune as necessary, I am going to protect my plants and I am going to pick them when ripe.  As a mom, I am going to only commit to that which I can handle, I am going to simplify and not over book my kids, I am going to keep vigilant with the kids - prune away bad influences and direct them to good, and when they are ripe for more responsibility and freedoms I am going to be open to that too.

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