I hate gardening. Not quite true as there’s nothing to actually hate because I don’t do it.  Our garden is still the paddock it was when the house was built.  Great for a big area of grass to play on, but even my attempt to grow flowers in the wall was scuppered by the dogs who’ll just eat any plants that grow there.

Hopefully one day, we’ll have a border sorted out and some plants, but in an ideal world I’ll either win the lottery to be able to get someone to come and landscape it, or N’s Gran and Gramps will train him up and he’ll want to do it himself in a few years.

A friend had mentioned one of the children centres in town which has an outdoor toddler group.  Every other week they have a guy ‘Outdoor Phil’ come and do specific activities around the garden with the children, with the alternate weeks being standard craft or play activities but just outside.  It even ran in the snow.

As N loves being outside, I thought we’d make the most of the last couple of weeks before I’m back at work and go along.  Bad mummy forgot to take N’s wellies with us, and was in trainers herself not realising we’d properly be in the garden itself rather than just in an outdoor area, so I had wet feet, and N was lucky to be able to borrow some boots they keep there for lending out.

We’re really lucky in our area as the children centres are pretty good.  Our local one (for rural villages) is a lovely new purpose built centre in one of the larger villages, but even the ones in town aren’t bad.  Lots of activities and different drop in/support sessions, for the bargain price of a £1 donation.

This one is at the back of a massive housing estate, at the back of a primary school.  The outdoor area was brilliant – a covered area with the ‘playground’ bit, a big sandpit, grassy area with climbing steps/slide/obstacles, a nature area, and some created structures from branches.  N made straight for the childsize wheelbarrows.  He likes the one at the farm, but it’s miles too big, and seems to be permanently full of fire logs.

The activity was helping clear out the grass round the newly planted fruit trees and putting down the mulch, clearing it with the wheelbarrows and putting the cleared grass into the compost bin with the wiggly worms.

wheelbarrow practice

N loved being outdoors of course.  He wasn’t fussed about helped with the actual tree work, but was happy pushing the wheelbarrow down to the compost bins, and loved exploring the different obstacles – outdoor wooden steps…excitement to a toddler.  Once they’d had some warm milk (spat out by N, as he obviously prefers cold milk) and fruit, they had the opportunity to do some sticking and gluing to make a vegetable patch collage, but by that time N was cold and ready to go home.

willow den

If you’ve got days off during the week and want activities to do with your pre-schoolers on a budget, definitely check out your local children’s centre.

2 Comments

  1. coombemill

    My gardening is a bit like yours. I love the idea of being really into it, but never spend enough time making it all work! What a great chap Outdoor Phil sounds. A little organization on simple activities is perfect for kids outdoors. There is always natural things to distract them and learn from too. What boy wouldn’t enjoy pushing that wheelbarrow around, looks like a perfect way to enjoy a cheap morning with some fresh air and other kids too. Thanks for sharing on Country Kids.

    • Exactly, a ready made garden for relaxing would be great. My grandfather was a gardener and my dad loved it too, but obviously my mum’s dislike and boredom with it rubbed off on me!

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