Pretty soon, it will be time to start the task of mowing your lawn every week or two, depending on where you live, how much rain you get, how warm it is and other considerations. Spring is also the time to begin planting flowers and vegetables and tending the garden. You may be wondering when it’s appropriate for your kids to start pitching in with lawn care. Working out in the yard has some different safety considerations and other concerns than working in the house. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Small children shouldn’t ever be left outdoors unattended. Even if they’re occupied picking weeds or watering the garden, their curiosity can get the best of them within seconds. You never know when a little one will decide to taste an inedible plant or run off in pursuit of a butterfly that flew by and headed toward the road. If your child isn’t old enough to play outside on her own, don’t let her work outside on her own, either.
- Remember that gardening soil may have chemicals that you’d rather not have your kids playing with and touching. If you add synthetic fertilizers or any type of pest control products, make sure that they stay away until it’s safe to handle the soil again. Read the directions on the package or call the toll free number listed on the product if you have doubts.
- Kids under 12 shouldn’t use push- or walk-behind mowers, and kids under 16 shouldn’t use ride-on mowers. Teach them how to observe safety rules, like watching carefully for twigs and rocks that could get thrown up in the air, and never reaching under the mower to unclog it; they need to get an adult to handle that. (And that adult needs to make sure that the blades have completely stopped rotating before attempting to dislodge anything!) When using a push-mower on a hill, have your child go from side to side along to slope to eliminate the possibility that he’ll slip and the mower will move toward him with the blades spinning. If he’s on a ride-on mower, though, he should go up and down the hill to avoid tipping over.
- Make sure all kids are wearing appropriate apparel for lawn work. This includes closed-toe non-skid shoes, gardening gloves, eye protection if mowing the lawn and long pants and sleeves to protect against thorny bushes and ticks, if these are applicable to your area or the type of work that you’ll be doing. Also, have your kids wear sunscreen on exposed body areas and insect repellant if ticks and mosquitos are prevalent in your area.
Working on the lawn and garden together is a great way to bond, and also an important step in teaching kids to be self-sufficient. It’s important to observe a few safety rules to be sure that everyone is as safe as possible and forms good habits.