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Jamie Durie is a horticulturist, landscape designer and host of PBS's The Victory Garden. Read more »
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When I was a kid, my parents found it impossible to make me sit still. Every waking hour, when I wasn't at school, was spent building cubbyhouses, digging, catching insects, playing hide-and-seek in the bush, or burning my name into a piece of wood with a magnifying glass. I had an extremely active imagination, an insatiable urge to create things, and a sense of curiosity that quite often got my fingers burnt.
Come to think of it, not much has changed! Only now, life has been filled with a whole new realm of responsibility. Responsibility builds self esteem, can create pride and forms character -- but looking back now, I've realized it's just as important to embrace the child within for as long as possible.
The more opportunities and experiences we present them with, the faster they'll learn and grow, and we'll help them become the happy, thriving, well-rounded kids they were born to be.
Our children and our children's children are the guardians of our planet. We have a responsibility to teach our children how to listen to Mother Nature breathing, because whether we like it or not, we're part of the ecosystem. As the seasons change, temperature and humidity goes up or down and the sun shines on our bodies for more or less of the day. All of these things affect us in different ways. If we can help our kids understand why the leaves are falling, why the creatures are hibernating, why the flowers are blooming, then they'll be more interested in their surroundings, and more conscious of the environment. And most importantly, we need to tread lightly, because every time Mother Nature breathes out, we breathe in. The more our children understand our connection to the earth and its natural rhythms, the better equipped they'll be for the future.
In my day there were no computer games, and it was a privilege to watch TV when my parents allowed it. So we were forced to improvise. Everything in the backyard became the most enthralling, natural fun that ever existed. And without even being asked to play outside, there was really no better choice. I would get lost for days just looking for the right shaped stick for my next project. And today I'm still searching for the right shapes, some in plant form, some in structure, and I've been lucky enough to build a career out of it. But I wonder, would I be on this path today if I'd spent my entire childhood staring at a computer game? And of course, now I have my own child. She's bright, beautiful, opinionated, funny, and she just loves pottering around in the garden with Dad. I've come to cherish this time we have together.
I felt so passionately about kids and nature that I wrote a book about it -- Outdoor Kids. It's not just for gardeners but also for parents, grandparents, teachers, friends, caregivers -- anyone who wants to spend quality time with kids outdoors. There's a strong theme of conservation and sustainability throughout mixed in with a whole lot of fun but mostly it's about spending precious quality time with your kids, which I think, in this day and age, is a priority and the most valuable gift of all.
Life is busy and it's easy to keep putting this time at the end of our never-ending "lists of things to do," but time outside in the fresh air with the people we cherish the most is actually most likely the very thing we'll remember when we look back on our lives. And at the same time we're instilling a sense of responsibility in our kids to take care of our planet. What kind of projects have you done with your kids? And how do you prioritize your time to make it happen?
Jamie Durie's Tips for Gardening with Kids