Great lessons are learned when kids help out.
Autumn is a season of change: children return to school, family vacations are over, and the weather finally cools off. It’s the ideal time to take stock of the condition of your home and ready your residence for winter. If you play your cards right and involve your kids in these preparations, you just might teach them some valuable lessons.
1. Outdoor Cleanup
As any gardener knows, preparing the landscape for a new season is an important culmination of a season’s work. Let kids rake leaves, spread mulch, and trim back any plants that need pruning. If you have a garden, they can harvest remaining vegetables and help you ready the plot for next year’s growth.
Lesson: Connecting to nature seems more and more challenging for this technologically savvy generation, many of whom spend hours each day online, watching television, and chatting on mobile devices. Yet there’s nothing more restorative than spending time in nature and taking note of seasonal changes. Learning about a particular plant’s needs, for example, and observing the cycles of life gives kids the ability to reconnect with nature in a new way.
2. Tool Time
Have a teenager who is mechanically inclined? What better way to spend the day than letting your teen help you clean and tune up your more complicated yard tools such as lawn mowers, weed eaters, and snow blowers?
Lesson: By letting older kids help with the upkeep of valuable tools, they’ll learn the value of working with their hands and gain an appreciation for the work that goes into creating a beautiful landscape for the family to enjoy. Who knows? Perhaps you have a future engineer or designer on your hands who will discover her future vocation right there in your own backyard.
3. Car Talk
There are few more important safety measures a family can take than to winterize the family vehicle. Why not let young drivers participate? Allow them to take the car to the shop for a tune up and give them a list of items that should be checked such as oil, tires, belts, hoses, and brakes. You might even ask the mechanic to show your budding driver what was done to the vehicle so they understand where to check the oil or how to identify some more common problems themselves.
Lesson: By learning the process of good car care and the expense of upkeep, you’ll ensure that your teen begins safety habits that will last a lifetime. It’s also an occasion to talk to them about driving in winter weather and what to do in case of an emergency while on the road.
4. Emergency Prep
Younger children can help parents go through the family emergency kit, updating food items, medications, batteries and other broken or expired items. Experts also suggest that your kids help put together a kit that includes a board game, snacks, scented candles, relaxing music CDs, and some comfy blankets and pillows. Be sure to consider your pet’s needs, too.
Lesson: Reviewing an emergency kit is also an opportune time to talk through the family disaster plan and to help kids deal with any fears they may have about an emergency. By practising certain skills when things are calm and controlled, children can build their confidence and cope more positively with feelings of anxiety.
5. Closet Change
After months of lazy living, it’s time to change out those closets, clean up clutter, and re-stock for the coming winter. Children of any age can help sort through summer items. Spend a Saturday afternoon on closet duty, assigning each child a closet or pairing up an older child with a younger tot. Make a game of it. Have them see who can sort through their stuff the fastest by putting all items into three boxes labeled: Store, Put Back, and Donate. Then have kids help with the next step: teach them to launder and store items in the basement, fold and re-stock shelves, and accompany you to the Goodwill or Salvation Army.
Lesson: By letting children take ownership of their own spaces, they’re more likely to appreciate and care for their things. And kids are never too young to learn about the importance of philanthropy.
As homeowners, there’s nothing more satisfying than knowing your home is ready for whatever the season may bring, and as parents, nothing beats watching your kids learn the value of responsibility–and maybe just a little about themselves, too.