I’ve been spending a lot of time at my computer lately, getting this site ready for you to enjoy. Yesterday was a major work day as we prepare to go live, and I worked diligently between meals and snacks and diaper changes, but the sun was calling to me. After this long, ridiculous winter, it just seems a shame to not get outside whenever we can, and so after lunch I suited up Noodle (our almost 18-month-old, and no, that’s not his real name) and went out for a breath of fresh air.
What a relief to feel like I didn’t need my parka. What a joy to hear so many birds, and a pheasant, and the neighbouring flock of sheep (and lambs!). We even heard our first spring peeper, and don’t they say once the frogs return the snow is gone until next season? I’m gonna believe that one, because I need to get into the garden now. Spring in the country is about a billion times more beautiful than the slushy dirty piles of garbage left behind after the city thaw. Our family has been home schooling since we moved to the Niagara Region in July. We wanted to get our bearings after a huge lifestyle change – we left behind twenty plus years of living in the huge urban sprawl of Toronto. Our older kids (girls, ages 10 and 8) were lucky enough to attend a Waldorf school in the city, so we wanted to give careful consideration to our new local options. Home school has been an incredible journey. We have a lot of flexibility with our schedule, so I really want us to enjoy the shift in weather. I’ve been trying to think of engaging ways to experience the change in seasons, and I wanted to share some ideas that I think you can apply to your after school or weekend time.
Here are five great ways to experience our transition into Spring:
1. Get Outside – Simplify your dinner plans and take the kids to their favourite playground for an after-school tear around. Set a time limit, but really take time to enjoy them at play. Don’t take out your phone, unless you’d like to snap photos. Really try to be there in the moment with them.
2. Enjoy Nature – When we moved to the Niagara Region, I was delighted to realize how many amazing hiking spots we have. As I kid, we frequently went on long walks in nature, followed by a hearty bowl of homemade soup or stew at home. My own kids love to be outside, experiencing nature, and spring is such an amazing time to watch the changes unfold. From budding branches to rushing streams, consider a spring nature scavenger hunt with a warm and delicious meal at the end to enjoy. Bring a picnic of fresh bread and warm soup or stew if you really want to enjoy the elements. Try hiking, rain or shine, so long as it’s not a downpour. Puddles are a kids best friend, and with a reusable shopping bag in the trunk for muddy outdoor wear and a change of shoes on hand, your car interior won’t have to suffer. You can find our Niagara hiking listings here.
3. Visit a Farm – We are unbelievably lucky to have some very charming livestock living right next door. Our neighbour’s land is home to sheep, a pair of horses, a bull, and a very fluffy dog who keeps them all in line. We like to visit from time to time, always careful to be respectful, and we never feed the animals of course. Right now, we get to enjoy the spring lambs, who are so ridiculously cute. Niagara has plenty of farms to enjoy. If you don’t have a friendly neighbouring farm, check out our listings here.
4. Plant Some Seeds – You die hard locals of the Greenbelt will laugh when I tell you that my first ever foray into gardening was last year. We built four raised beds on our property and tried our hand at a vegetable garden. I’d say we were successful, because we ate most of what we planted, but boy did we learn a lot through trial and (mostly) error. Armed with knowledge the girls and I are going to begin planting seeds this week, to transplant once the frost is gone for good. I think I’ll even give the girls their own bed to cultivate this year. Take your brood to your favourite local garden centre and choose some seeds to plant. If you don’t have garden space (or a green thumb), consider hearty kitchen herbs which do really well in a sunny space inside the house.
5. Spring Cleaning – Turn this annual ritual into a fun family tradition. With great tunes and good company, keeping house doesn’t have to be a drag. Hatch a plan of attack as a family and divide jobs based on skills and preferences. Hopefully your family will be like ours – we all like doing different chores, so nobody has to do the ones they hate. We picked up a kid-sized cleaning kit for our kids at our nearby dollar store and their brightly coloured gear and matching bandanas seem to really inspire them to get down to work. Get your older kids involved in purging their unused and unwanted toys and clothes and teach them about donating these still-useful items to charity. When they realize that they are helping other kids, you’ll be amazed at how much they are willing to part with. Cleaning with kids can take extra time, so keep this in mind when planning your day.
The bottom line is to make sure you can take some time to enjoy the shifting seasons as a family. After the winter we’ve endured, we deserve to take some time from our busy lives to really slow down and feel that timeless connection to the earth. Let the warming breezes lift you up and remember what it was like to be a kid and splash in a cold April puddle.