If you and your family live in one of the regions of the world with four seasons and deciduous trees, you probably enjoy the lovely colors of Autumn. If you’re lucky enough to have tree-covered mountains nearby, the sight of a multi-colored peak can be positively breathtaking.
But you might also be one of the ‘lucky’ ones who has deciduous trees, such as elm, oak and maple, in or near your yard. If this is the case, this privilege might be more of a curse once those lovely leaves land on your grass.
Raking leaves can be one of the more tedious and irritating outdoor tasks, even for avid gardeners.
Take heart, friends. If you have kids who can manage a rake, there is plenty you can do to motivate them to lend a hand. Heck, if you play your cards right, you can get your kids positively excited about raking leaves. All you need is a can-do attitude and enough rakes, some of them small for kids, for all to participate
FUN AND GAMES
One approach is to make the task a fun game that pushes your children to be creative and active. One proven approach to a game is to have Mom or Dad divide the leaf-strewn yard into sections with a large rake. Make sure there are enough sections for each child to have one to work in. Next, assign each child to a section.
Now the kids must use their rakes to write their name in the grass by clearing leaves. When the child is done, and has had their name checked, you can offer a reward or tell them they can now rake the leaves into a pile and jump like crazy.
What the kids might not realize is that they are saving you work as they make piles!
Another fun game is to set kids to raking, either anywhere they want or in an assigned section, but to have them look for a leaf whose color matches the color of the one that Mom or Dad is holding. This will slow the work, but it can be very fun for kids to be on this kind of treasure hunt.
COMPETITIONS and REWARDS
Kids tend to be competitive, even more so with siblings. To tap into this intrinsic motivation, simply give everyone a bag and a rake and inform the kids that the first person to get their bag full wins a prize. The prize should be something fun, like a Mommy or Daddy Date, or they get to choose the next film for Family Movie Night.
You might be surprised to see how fast the work gets done!
This competition works well with assigned sections as well. Simply assign sections and tell kids that the first to completely clear their section into bags, a pile or even to the compost wins.
You might also have a contest to see who can come up with the coolest or most efficient strategy for raking leaves. This is probably a more appropriate activity for older kids.
Instead of telling the kids it’s time to rake leaves, you might just inform them that it’s high time to make some Halloween or Thanksgiving decorations. Give every child a ghost bag or one of those silly pumpkin bags and have everyone fill one. You might encourage them to try making silly shapes out of their full bags, too.
Another fun ‘ulterior motive’ is the bonfire. Announce that you would like to roast marshmallows and the leaves and branches on the ground are perfect fuel. Then stand back and watch those kids go to work!
Above all, it can be most useful and valuable to include the kids in a leaf-raking party because it can strengthen family ties. To this end, make it a deliberately family activity. You can play games, make squiggly paths and lines in the leaves, and even sing family favorite songs while working. The most important thing is that everyone should participate.
Important ingredients in this family activity are laughter, fun, snacks, hot cocoa or cider, and a serious lack of nagging! If you make it a family activity with all of the kids participating, you will build your family bond and you will also have the job done more quickly than you might expect. Be sure to have some methods in mind for how you will make sure Mom or Dad doesn’t do all of the work. For cool ideas on motivation… see above!