Keeping our kiddos healthy is a priority for every parent. Eating nutritious, real food is one of the best ways that we can keep our kids healthy and set them on a path to keep themselves healthy as well. In my mind, as a new mother, a huge garden sounded completely ideal, and almost essential, to providing my children the food and example they needed. But not long after I started organizing for a giant garden did the reality set in. Having a garden provide the bulk of your needs as a family requires a lot of space, a lot of work outdoors in the hot sun (not ideal for babies), and a dedication to care for it on a daily basis. As much as I wanted this, I felt overwhelmed and almost gave up altogether. But here’s what we did instead:
For my birthday I asked for a garden box. Convenient because I can put it wherever I want (also known as out of the way of the tree swing or soccer game or dog-fetching). We started small the first year. I planted greens – lettuce, spinach, kale. Food I knew we’d use no matter how it turned out because we would definitely just throw it in our smoothies. And that’s it. We didn’t have much “extra”, but it probably saved us from getting greens at the store for about a month. I felt a little proud but mostly disappointed, and questioned the worth and convenience of it all. Until I sat back and took note of what it was doing for my kids.
Sometimes my thoughts make me feel like if I don’t do it 110% it’s not worth it. But small doesn’t mean worthless.
I let them just play in the box of dirt for a couple weeks. Then they helped me plant. They helped me water. And many times we would bring out our magnifying glasses and notebooks to see and draw what was happening to the plants…simply making them curious and involved. They helped me harvest, wash and even chop so they could see what and how this whole food thing works. It was a complete highlight when I asked my then 3 year old to run out to the garden and grab some greens for a smoothie and he came back, greens in hand, like it was no big deal, a natural thing.
This was when I knew that even though my garden was extremely small that it was giving something to my family that was irreplaceable. Sometimes my thoughts make me feel like if I don’t do it 110% it’s not worth it. But small doesn’t mean worthless. Small steps are what get us everywhere. Keeping it simple, but allowing it in their lives and conversations may make it that much more natural to them – to eat now, or in their future. So now, the majority of our food comes from the grocery store. Small amounts of our food comes from family farmers and gardeners, and smaller amounts come from our own garden. I am satisfied and proud, and I have room to grow. A wonderful place to be.
So turn off your negative thoughts. Turn off the ones that tell you what you’re doing isn’t good enough. As long as you are doing your best, you are living a meaningful life.
“Just do your best – in any circumstance in your life. It doesn’t matter if you are sick or tired, if you always do your best there is no way you can judge yourself. And if you don’t judge yourself there is no way you are going to suffer from guilt, blame, and self punishment. By always doing your best, you will break a big spell that you have been under.” (Don Miguel Ruis, The Four Agreements)