My one year old son absolutely ADORES mud puddles. We count down the hours until the latest rain shower has passed so we can put on our rain boots and head to the yard. He stomps and runs and splashes until he is just drenched from head to toe in yucky, brown water. Most parents don't agree with this idea because it's messy or it's too cold or some other reason. Now let's stop and think about each of these objections.
- It's messy - So is cooking dinner, but what do you do when you finish cooking? You clean up and wash the dishes. Just because it's messy doesn't stop you from cooking now does it? Children are supposed to do messy things. It is how they learn. According to research, children who are allowed to get messy and play in the mud are more creative and have better large motor skills.
- It's too cold - I agree sometimes the water can be a tad bit cold. So to conquer this, I put three pairs of socks on my son as well as an extra pair of pants. Instead of putting him in blue jeans or sweat pants he wears Hatley Childrens' Splash Pants which can be found on Amazon for a mere $12!
- They will get sick - No playing in the dirt and exposing them to those germs will actually make them less likely to get sick than if you were to keep them inside and clean all the time. Author Tai Viinikka says that allowing your to be around these different kind of bacteria allows your child to develop and immunity to them.
So rather than insisting your child miss out on all the joys and fun times of puddle jumping, just bundle their little toes up and have a towel and hot bath ready. Let them experience nature hands on rather than just as an observer. I can see such a huge difference in my little guy's level of gross motor skills since I stopped trying to shelter him from germs and just let him loose in the mud.
There are tons of ways you can enhance their creativity while outside as well. One of our favorite activities is making mud bricks. To do this all you need is:
- a spoon or a hand
- ice trays
Give your child the ice trays and a spoon and have them fill it with mud. Now the mud needs to be wet but not the liquid water wet. Just goopy enough to form in the trays. After they fill them up, allow the mud to harden just enough so that it will hold it's shape when you dump it out...usually between 30 minutes to an hour.
Once it drys dump the bricks out and let your little one experiment with the different creations they can build!
There's just so many ways that children can use mud to learn and develop essential skills for their later years!
More information about mud play: