Of all the unexpected side-effects of parenthood, a new-found appreciation for gardens has to be up there with some of the most surprising. The value of an outside space is something that can’t be underestimated, and not just for the reasons you might expect.
When your little ones are climbing the walls with surplus energy, and the carpets are invisible for toys, there’s a welcome pressure release from simply opening a back door on the build up of emotions and clutter.
There’s something about a garden that soothes the mind and softens the nerves. From a parent's perspective, all that high pitched play time noise is miraculously less ‘ARRGGHH’ and more ‘aaaahhhhh’ when diluted in a fresh air context.
Fresh air has to be the oldest (non-sugar-containing) toddler-taming trick in the box. In fact, there probably isn’t a dark mood cloud that a bit of sunshine can’t help dissipate. The very nature of gardens (excuse the pun) also makes them a go-to for all other manner of parenting ‘situations’. From potty training troubles to nap-fighting nippers, there’s nothing that flinging open the back doors can’t help to remove some of the stress of.
The first seeds of many a life skill - from riding a bike to caring for animals - are mostly sown in your own back garden. Fruit and vegetable plants, in particular, are an effective tool for teaching about nutrition and conveying a sense of responsibility and ownership. If a tomato plant survives and thrives under a toddler's care is anyone’s guess, but the real fruits of all those small enthusiastic efforts will be much greater than any ensuing tomato yields in any case.