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4 Fun Spring Activities for this Year!

After a long winter indoors the sunshine and longer days are a treat! We all feel bright and cheery when the sun is shining and that's because pleasant weather improves mood. Studies have shown that "being outside in pleasant weather really offers a way to reset your mindset." People who spent 30 minutes outside on a sunny day improved their mental health and mood! It's time to go back outside to enjoy the warm weather safely.

 

Here are 4 outdoor activities to try this spring!

 

1. Get to gardening

 

Growing plants in little black pots

 

This is the perfect time to get your garden summer ready! You can clean up the yard and start planting beautiful flowers like daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, or violas. If flowers aren't your thing, you can get an early start on your vegetable garden and plant tomatoes, carrots, onions, and much more. For older adults where mobility is a challenge bring gardening indoors with indoor planters and pots. Try repotting an easy-care plant such as a cactus or succulent. You can enjoy gardening safely inside!

 

2. Go on a walk

 

You can cure the winter blues by going on a daily walk in the spring! Walking outside has shown to increase creativity, reduce stress, and improve concentration. When you're walking outside, you're enjoying what mother nature has to offer - the sunshine, the birds singing, the green grass and the budding flowers. There are beautiful parks and trails in the Waterloo region! You can head to Waterloo Park, Victoria Park, or the Walter Bean trail to enjoy the fresh air. Local parks are a great option for older adults because they have paved paths for walking assistive devices.

 

3. Play an outdoor game

 

As we get older, we lose the art and joy of play - especially playing outside. In our hectic lives, we should take time to play because it offers relaxation, stimulation, fuels our imagination, improves problem-solving abilities and emotional well-being. Play could be sharing jokes, throwing a ball around, blowing bubbles, or a fun yard game, like ring toss. It's easy to play outside! Whatever game you like to play inside - take it outside! If your elderly loved one likes playing card games, play outside on a comfortable picnic bench.

 

4. Bird watching

 

Cardinal sitting on a branch

 

If you're looking for a new hobby, you should consider bird watching. You can learn more about birds and also practice the art of slowing down. When birding, you're task involves waiting patiently and still for the birds to appear. It contrasts our hectic daily lives of being on the go!

 

As the birds return for spring, you can head to bird-watching areas to be surrounded by nature. A great local birding spot is the Grand River. They have "hot spot" recommendations listed on their website. Bird watching can be also done in the comforts of your backyard or local park. At home, you and your elderly loved one can set up a bird feeder and watch the birds, or you can sit on a bench at the park to watch the birds.

 

From birding to gardening and everything in-between the goal is to be outside to enjoy the sunshine. This spring commit to 30 mins of outdoor activity on a sunny day! It can be as simple as sitting outside on the front porch or walking a nearby trail. It's time to go back outside to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather!

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Speeding Up Spring

Are you experiencing a case of cabin fever?

Don’t be discouraged and let the cabin fever get to you—instead, speed up spring!

 

One of the best ways to bring spring to you is to start your gardening early—indoors! Rather than waiting on mother nature to cooperate for a display of spring colours, get things started yourself by forcing bulbs.

 

Indoor gardening is a very accessible way to garden. There is no need to bend over or kneel on the hard ground. Bulbs require very little maintenance or effort. Indoor gardening is a great way to connect with an elderly loved one’s passion and hobby without being overwhelming or too physically demanding. It can also be a great intergenerational activity, drawing children and grandparents—or even great grandparents—together over a common task.

 

Forcing bulbs indoors mimic the outdoor environment that causes a bulb to grow and bloom. Unlike large, potted house plants, bulbs do not need big pots. A small, shallow dish is sufficient. Many bulbs are easily forced using only water and pebbles, rather than soil, resulting in much easier clean up when gardening indoors. It is also more fun to watch the roots develop and see the bulb change as it grows. New growth development is exciting to see—at any age!

 

new plants growing

 

Using your shallow container, fill it half full of pebbles or marbles, then place the bulbs on top of the pebble layer. Gently fill the rest of the container with pebbles or marbles to secure the bulbs in place, but do not completely bury the bulbs. Put enough water in the dish so that the water touches the bottom of the bulb, but do not submerge the bulb in water or it will begin to rot.

 

The step that is most often overlooked when forcing bulbs is the chilling step. Your freshly “planted” bulbs need to be chilled in a cellar or in the fridge to mimic the winter season. Some bulbs only need a few days of chilling, and others need a much more extended chilling period of several weeks. Be sure to check the specifications on the bulbs that you purchase.

 

NOTE: Please do NOT store bulbs in an elderly person’s fridge. If that person has dementia or mild cognitive impairment, the bulbs (or pebbles) could be mistaken for other produce. Likewise, if your loved one has impaired vision, the bulbs could appear similar to onions. Senses such as taste and smell become dulled for many people as they age; the smell or bitter taste that might alert you to food being harmful may not alert an elderly loved one.

 

When roots begin to show you will know that your bulbs are ready to begin their growth cycle and it is time to remove them from the chilling stage. With roots now showing, your bulbs are ready to be moved into warmth and sunlight. You need to introduce them to sunlight slowly, just the way that the spring sunlight is soft at first and then gradually gets warmer. Place your bulbs in a cooler area of your home, away from direct sunlight. When your plants begin to grow and the stems take on a healthy green colour, then it is time to move them to a sunny windowsill to watch the beauty unfold!

 

flowers on a plate with exposed bulbs

 

In theory, any bulb can be forced to grow indoors, but some varieties are easier to force than others. Paperwhite narcissus grows well indoors and does not require a very long chilling period. They grow well in water and pebbles and are quite fragrant. Amaryllis are very easy to force and the blooms are giant and colourful. They grow so quickly that you can see growth daily.

 

The warmer the environment, the faster the amaryllis will grow. Once it blooms, it is best to move the plant to a cooler, shaded area for the blooms to last longer, as they can remain for up to a month.

 

Hyacinth and crocus can also be forced and take eight to ten weeks to grow. Although tulips are a favourite spring bloom, they are probably best enjoyed out in the garden as they can be trickier to force and require a long chilling period of sixteen weeks.

 

Enjoy your head start on spring by forcing your favourite bulbs indoors, and use this easy, timeless, and ageless activity to connect various members of your family. You will have spring beauty unfolding in your own living room—no matter how much snow remains on the ground outside!

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Mother's Day is Not Cancelled

 

This year Mother's Day may look and feel different but that doesn't mean it is cancelled! You can still make Mother's Day special for your mom, mother-in-law, grandmother, or friend. This Sunday celebrate Mother's Day with some creativity.

 

Floral Bouquet

 

Here are 6 ways you can celebrate Mother's Day this year.

 

1. Buy your mom flowers

 

You can't go wrong with flowers! You can buy a lovely bouquet of spring flowers or even a potted plant for your mom. Make sure to write a heartfelt card to make it even more special! To be extra safe during these times, make sure to leave the flowers by the front door and give your mom a call to tell her that a special delivery is waiting for her.

 

2. Bake or cook your mom's favourite dish

 

Encourage your mom to take a break from cooking onMother's Day by cooking her favourite dish. You can leave a nice homecooked meal at her front door, or you can leave her favourite baked goods. If you aren't much of a cook that is okay! Why not support a local restaurant or business? You can put in the order for your mom and ask them to deliver the dish directly to your mom. It's the perfect day to spoil your mom!

 

3. Make a homemade gift

 

Remember that quilt or sewing project that you never quite finished? Or that scrapbook that needs some final stickers? This is the perfect time to finish it up for your mom! Get your kids or grandkids involved by having them make homemade drawings or cards.

 

4. Schedule a safe social-distancing visit

 

It's about social distancing, not social isolating. You can still visit your mom from a safe distance. Perhaps behind a window or screen door, in the garage, or outside in the yard. If she is hard of hearing, speak loud and clear or why not make a fun poster for her that says "Happy Mother's Day" in a large bolded font.

 

5. Plan a fun creative surprise

 

Get your whole family involved and plan a surprise from a safe distance for your mom. If you’re a musical family, surprise her with live music and song. If you’re poetic and theatrical, write her a heartfelt poem and/or perform a play just for her. If you're crafty, make some fun posters or banners to brighten up your mom's day. I am sure your mom will appreciate your effort and love!

 

6.Tea time on a video call

 

If your mom is tech-savvy, schedule a video call to have a special tea time chat. Take this time to reconnect with your mom by reminiscing on childhood memories and on happy lighthearted memories. Most importantly don't forget to tell her how much you love her and appreciate her! Words of kindness and appreciation can go a long way!

 

Mother and her two young children using an iPad

 

Your mom is probably feeling isolated during these times so don't cancel Mother's Day this year! Instead, make it extra special for her. Comment below and share with us how you're going to celebrate your mom. We hope you have a lovely Mother's Day!

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the special mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers out there!

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