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Kid-Sized Chores: Engaging Children in the Day-to-Day of Farming

June 26, 2024

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Kid-Sized Chores: Engaging Children in the Day-to-Day of Farming

Embracing the Chaos: My Journey into Farming with a Toddler in Tow

I remember the day I decided to trade in my cubicle for a pair of muddy boots and a plot of land. It was a wild, impulsive decision, one that my friends and family greeted with a mix of excitement and bewilderment. “You’re doing what? Quitting your job to become a farmer?” they’d ask, eyes wide, as if I’d just announced I was joining the circus.

But you see, I’d caught the farming bug, and there was no turning back. The lure of the open fields, the fresh air, and the promise of a simpler life had taken hold of me. And I knew that if I was going to make this crazy dream a reality, I couldn’t do it alone. No, I had to bring my most trusted sidekick along for the ride – my rambunctious, curious, and endlessly energetic toddler.

At first, the idea of juggling a thriving farm and a growing child seemed downright impossible. How on earth was I going to manage the demands of planting, harvesting, and marketing, all while keeping a tiny human alive and entertained? But as I dove headfirst into this new adventure, I quickly realized that my little one could be an invaluable asset, not just a source of chaos and distraction.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

One of the first lessons I learned was that involving my toddler in the day-to-day chores of farm life was not only possible but essential. You see, kids crave a sense of purpose and ownership, and by giving them small, age-appropriate tasks, I was able to tap into that innate desire to help and contribute.

Take weeding, for instance. Now, I know what you’re thinking – “A toddler, weeding? That sounds like a recipe for disaster!” And you’d be right, to an extent. My little one’s attention span is about as long as a freshly plucked carrot, and their idea of “weeding” often involved pulling out the wrong plants or creating more mess than they cleaned up.

But with a little creativity and a lot of patience, I found ways to make this chore not just tolerable, but actually fun. I’d turn it into a game, challenging my toddler to a “weed-picking race” or asking them to find the biggest, baddest weed they could. And you know what? They loved it! Suddenly, weeding the garden had become a shared adventure, and my little helper was beaming with pride at their accomplishments.

The Department of Labor has strict guidelines when it comes to the types of farm tasks that are appropriate for children, and I made sure to stay well within those boundaries. No operating heavy machinery or handling dangerous chemicals for my little one – just simple, age-appropriate chores that allowed them to feel included and empowered.

Cultivating Curiosity

But it’s not just the physical tasks that my toddler has helped me with on the farm. Their boundless curiosity has also been a valuable asset, pushing me to slow down and see the world through their eyes.

I’ll never forget the day we were collecting eggs from the chicken coop, and my little one stopped in their tracks, transfixed by the intricate patterns on a single shell. “Mama, look at this!” they exclaimed, their tiny fingers tracing the delicate ridges. In that moment, I was reminded of the wonder and magic that can be found in the most ordinary of things – a lesson I likely would have missed had I been rushing through the task alone.

Fostering a Love of Nature

As I’ve discovered, engaging a toddler in the day-to-day of farming isn’t just about getting the work done – it’s about cultivating a deep appreciation for the natural world. Whether we’re watching the bees pollinate the flowers or marveling at the way the sunlight dances across the fields, my little one’s endless curiosity has become a constant source of inspiration and wonder for me.

And the best part? This sense of wonder is contagious. I’ve found that when I take the time to slow down and really see the world through my toddler’s eyes, I’m the one who ends up feeling reenergized and reconnected to the land. It’s as if they’re reminding me to never lose that childlike sense of amazement, no matter how long I’ve been at this farming gig.

A Lesson in Resilience

Of course, farming with a toddler in tow has its fair share of challenges. There are days when the chaos feels overwhelming, when the constant need for supervision and the endless stream of “why” questions make me want to throw in the towel and retreat to the safety of my old desk job.

But it’s during those moments that I’m reminded of the invaluable lessons my little one is teaching me about resilience and adaptability. When a sudden rainstorm threatens to derail our plans, my toddler doesn’t waste time dwelling on the disappointment – they simply pivot, finding new ways to have fun and explore. And when a project doesn’t go as expected, they’re quick to dust themselves off and try again, undeterred by the occasional setback.

Embracing the Unexpected

In many ways, my toddler has become the ultimate farm hand – a tireless worker, a curious observer, and a constant source of joy and laughter. And as I’ve learned to embrace the chaos and the unexpected, I’ve come to realize that my little one’s presence on the farm isn’t a liability, but a true asset.

Sure, there are days when I long for the quiet solitude of the pre-toddler days, when I could focus on the tasks at hand without constant interruptions. But then I look at my child’s beaming face as they proudly present me with a freshly picked tomato, or hear their delighted giggles as they chase after the chickens, and I know that this journey wouldn’t be the same without them.

So, if you’re considering taking the leap into the world of farming, I say: bring your little one along for the ride! With a bit of creativity, a lot of patience, and a willingness to embrace the unexpected, you just might discover that your toddler is the perfect farming partner.

And who knows – maybe one day, they’ll be the ones running the show, carrying on the legacy of our Thornappple CSA and teaching the next generation the importance of getting their hands dirty and their hearts full.

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Thornapple CSA: A community-driven initiative championing sustainable agriculture. We connect members with fresh, organic produce, celebrating the bond between land and community.

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