Like many parents during the pandemic, I am finding myself spending a LOT of quality time with my kid. Don’t get me wrong; I am grateful for this extra time together...but they say it takes a village to raise a child, and these past 18 months have been isolating. No summer camps, fewer playdates or visits with friends and family, and extended periods without childcare means that a lot of the time, it’s just me and my three-year-old.
My houseplant collection is a hobby that stems from my own interests, and over time I’ve realized that I’m lucky that it’s something that kids can enjoy too. In fact, I think it’s a great way to give little ones a bit of responsibility. Letting my son help with plant chores not only gives us something to do together, it teaches him so many of the important life lessons that align with my values: how to care for something (or someone), how to be gentle and kind, how to manage tasks, jobs and responsibilities. If my son can’t keep a spider plant happy, he sure won’t have a leg to stand on when he starts asking for a puppy in a few years.
Of course, if you want to share your love of plants with the kids in your life, you’ll want to make sure that your houseplants are child friendly; a simple internet search can help you with that. Some plants are a better choice than others! And rest assured that if you’re using Plant Vitamins, your plant care products are absolutely safe for kids. After some trial and error, here are my top three picks for sharing plant care with my little one:
This one can be a bit daunting. It’s messy, and can be stressful. This is why I always re-pot plants outdoors when my little guy is involved. At most, he mixes the potting soil, gets dirt under his fingernails, and helps with the cleanup. But along the way, we get to talk about giving our houseplants comfortable homes and making sure they’re as healthy as can be. He also gets the opportunity to see the roots of the plant, and to learn a bit about how it absorbs water and nutrients. In the end, it’s a bit of a plant chore and biology lesson in one (win-win!).
2. Pruning dead foliage
Just as we require occasional haircuts, so do our plants. My son likes giving our plants “haircuts” by pulling off dead leaves or flowers. I do my best to make sure he checks in with me before pulling anything off of our houseplants, but I will admit that we’ve lost a good leaf or two along the way. In the end though, this has proven to be a great way for him to contribute to day-to-day plant care. He works on using his “gentle hands” and we talk about how we can help our plants by clearing away dead leaves and debris.
3. Naming plants
This is the most fun of all: kids love being given the opportunity to name anything. Whether it’s a stuffed animal or a houseplant, the creativity and authority it gives them is unmatched. This, my friends, is how I ended up with a houseful of uniquely named houseplants. We have Baby, Henry and Spike. Then there’s Cheese and Lady. And we mustn’t forget Greeny (he was feeling less creative that day, I suppose). But here’s a quick tip: if you’re anything like me or my three-year-old, you will definitely forget the plant names. I suggest labelling the plants with their new monikers, unless you like to rename them every week (which could be fun, too).
At the end of the day, this hobby was born out of a deep desire to have something just for me; to bring something beautiful into my life during the pandemic and bring the outdoors into my home in some small way. But over time, I’m learning that of course, the best part about a hobby is getting to share it with others. Whether it’s chatting about a finicky plant with my neighbour, or having my son help me with plant chores, connecting with others over a love of plants is just one more way that this hobby has continued to reward me.
There are, of course, so many other ways that kids can contribute to plant care. Watering is an easy way to involve kids, but I continue to see the occasional fungus gnat (yes, they’re still around...more on that another day!), and am being really careful to water properly. Decorating plant pots is another way I hope to involve my kiddo in the future. What about you? Do the kids in your life help with plant chores? I’d love to know more ways to get my son involved, so don’t hesitate to leave a comment here on the blog, or over at our Instagram page!