This past month we have begun landscaping again in earnest and i suddenly realised that instead of moaning about not being able to get anything done outside with twin toddlers in tow i have begun to employ some strategies, change my thinking and work with the girls to get done outside what we need to…rather than against them and the attention they demand.
If you have read my blog before you will know that i love to spend time outdoors with the toddler twosome and it is their favourite part of the day too…but this doesn't always mean we can get the landscaping jobs done that we started when we first moved here…only a short while before i got pregnant (and then nothing happened fast with 24 hr a day morning sickness!).
We used to spend whole weekends outside landscaping and gardening at our previous house. Miss Teen was already a teen by then and we enjoyed being able to get dirty and create outside. It was hard work but we saw our plans coming to fruition and it was a wonderful feeling. We were creating outdoor areas to suit adults and a teenager….having moved past the playspaces required when children are younger. Then we moved…..and had our beautiful twins.
Our plans for this wonderful space we now have are ever evolving….but the priority is to work with our natural surrounds to provide spaces the whole family can enjoy. I think when it comes to landscaping (and we are just DIY enthusiasts!) it's important to write down your vision and then be prepared to change or modify as you hit obstacles…and you will hit obstacles!
It's probably a good thing that the toddler twosome have made us slow down and not rush into ideas as we once did….productive work outside has been a lot slower with our ‘helper's' but i have finally learnt to embrace this and let go of my expectations a little rather than become frustrated and annoyed that things seem to be taking so long to come together!
I have learnt that when you are trying to landscape and garden with kids it often pays to just watch and see what areas they are drawn too, what they like to incorporate into their play and how they like to help when outdoors. By slowing this whole process down i have actually had my eyes opened to many more possibilities…..perhaps sharing them with you might help if you are also trying to garden or create some outdoor areas with the kid's wanting to ‘help' and needing attention!
We have a lot of red dirt everywhere at the moment as we focus on the backyard and begin to dig and level and terrace to create some areas for all members of the family…originally we had wanted to provide a space with softfall and lots of kiddy play equipment but i just felt we weren't embracing our natural environment enough with that plan….watching the girls play out there gave me so many more ideas.
They love the rocks, they love to dig, they love mud and they love water…..so those rocks on the right are the start of our boulder sandpit which will have lots of little areas for climbing and cooking and mixing with water. We hope to have a tap over there that they can utilise for waterplay…..
The drop off you can see in the pic below has been a huge worry for me ever since we moved in…it is steep and rocky and the reason why i didn't come into the backyard with the girls for quite awhile! His patient self started by building a boulder retaining wall using boulders from around the property and those that were already there.
I think the most important consideration if you want to landscape with kids in tow is to make the space as safe as possible first….then they can be outside helping you….depending on the age of your children that safety aspect will vary of course. Our work in progress still has dirt dug up and boulders everywhere but they are stable with no sharp objects lurking and the pallet fence protects from the drop off so i am now confident in letting the girls play while we ‘play'!
I really do think spending a little time to ensure a safe environment and then providing activities to make the girls feel as though they are contributing and ‘working hard' too has allowed us to really begin making some progress on both the vegetable garden and the backyard.
I won't lie…jobs take a lot longer than they should, there are no more whole weekends spent just focusing on the one job and i still get frustrated at times when i hear ‘Mummy look at me' for what seems like the 100th time as i try to dig even one hole…..but then i turn around and see a backyard environment that is slowly building into something special and two girls smiling at me smeared with dirt , clutching flowers and climbing over rocks.
We have time..and even if we never finish it….the process is proving just as rewarding…and i think just as much fun for the girls….and i guess that's all that matters really.