Getting my young children involved in the garden and yard was not very difficult when they loved to be turned loose and just run in the back. They were truly the kids that the saying “don’t you have enough sense to come in out of the rain” was coined for. Rain, wind and hot weather did not seem to impact them. Thunder and darkness sent them inside, thank goodness. It was harder to keep them interested in the garden and plants.
I know the attention span of a child is short, but my children seemed to change focus every three seconds. Preparing a pot or bed and then planting plants was not possible with them next to me. That is when I started thinking and working on their level. We would work in 3 to 5 minute plans. Each was geared to them working with me. We changed to a different item all the time and never finished any of them. At least that is the way it seemed to as we worked. But by the end of the three hours we spent in the garden we had accomplished so much that first day. I was so very pleased with them. I was also very pleased with myself as they both napped with no complaints at all.
Learn to break it down. Sounds strange but that it what it takes. Mixing the compost, potting soil and dirt for all of our planting could have been done in fifteen minutes. Why do it that way, when you can do the mixing five or six different times at three minutes each. They loved to get their hand dirty and then we had to wash our hands to go to the next item. We prepared the bed for each plant when it was ready to be put in, another many time item.
Here are other suggestions that will help make your garden time more peaceful with your kids.
Start small: Your young child will appreciate a garden no bigger than a couple of pots on a terrace or under a grow light in an apartment window. (The only families with young kids that I know who have large gardens have more than one gardening adult, or an only child who takes two-hour naps!) A small garden is more manageable for you too and therefore more enjoyable, which is, of course, the point!