If you are newly divorced or have a new custody arrangement, you may be looking for ways to entertain the kids this summer that won’t break the bank. There’s some truth to the old saying that “two can live as cheaply as one.” For a previously married couple to suddenly have two households to pay for instead of one, things can get tight.
Kids have an innate way of looking at things as “games” and “fun” so it really isn’t hard to entertain them. Remember the holidays where they spent more time playing with the cardboard box than the expensive toy you waited in line to buy? At some point they start seeing “things” and they think, and sometimes we do too, that fun can only be had with the latest gadgets and games and fancy trips. That’s not the case and we do them a disservice if we don’t take the time to teach them how to take pleasure in simple things. It’s worth it to take the time to explore ways to have fun that don’t cost a lot of money. So, with that in mind, over the next few weeks I’ll post “10 FUN THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR KIDS”. All can be lots of fun for kids of all ages.
Plant a garden
A garden can be many things. Vegetables or flowers. One plant or 100. Rocks can even be made into a garden.
Even if you live in an apartment with only a small balcony, you can have a “Container Garden”. (That’s a fancy way of saying you put a tomato plant in a pot on your porch).
Before you go shopping for your plants, talk to your kids about the space you have and how much water and light is available for the prospective garden. Make a research project out of it so the kids can observe the path of the sun and the pattern for shade. That way you can decide which areas might be better for “shade” or “full sun” plants. Talk about the plan for watering the plants and look for “drought tolerant” varieties. Let the kids pick what they want to grow. Take them with you to buy the little plants. (Unless you’re a life long super-duper gardener with a fist full of green thumbs, I’d advise against starting seeds. It starts out cute and fun, but it’s really hard to get plants to grow from seed and they dwindle to little stringy things that are only good for the compost heap.)
You’ll probably need to prepare your soil. That could be as simple as filling in an area with a couple of bags of Garden Soil. Ask you local Home Depot gardening department about what needs to be done. Zinnias are fairly fool proof plants and come in lots of colors. Mint grows like a weed and that you can do from seed, just throw them in the dirt. Tomatoes and squash are good for novices. The trick with squash is pick them before they get too big. Otherwise you have a huge inedible woody squash you can’t even cut with a knife. Okra does well in Texas. It has a pretty white flower and then the little okras start growing. Again, don’t let them get too big or they are not very good to eat.
The garden plan is good on many levels. It’s a bonding experience. It provides a tremendous sense of accomplishment. It’s fun and feels good to nurture plants into something beautiful or productive. It teaches them about the environment. It teaches important social and economic lessons about where food comes from and what life might be like for people who make their living growing food for our tables. Who knows, if your kids actually grow some vegetables they might even eat them!
And if your garden is full and bountiful, think about donating your extra produce to a Food Bank! There are a few important lessons in just that part alone!
For additional helpful tips on gardening, see the Texas A & M Aggie Horticulture website or http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/kindergarden/nutrition/ideas/forkids.html