When it comes to spring, what’s the first thing that comes to mind…THE MUD!!! As parents, we dread this time of year with the muddy clothes, shoes, and the dirty hands and feet that will come into your freshly cleaned house. Children on the other hand think very differently when it comes to mud. They can’t wait to spend hours in the dirt, making dirt cakes and mud pies, and covering themselves in the earthy brown goodness. Children are drawn to dirt from the youngest of ages. As parents, we need to remember that playing in the dirt is all a part of childhood and learning! Believe it or not, dirt is good for the brain, body, and soul. According to the University of Bristol, there are different types of good bacteria found naturally in soil that activates the neurons that produce serotonin, which is a key chemical in many bodily functions as well as a natural anti-depressant. Just like a mud facial at the spa, outside dirt can also help you feel relaxed and happy.
In our technology savvy generation, kids aren’t getting enough play time outside. Instead, they are having too much screen time whether it’s educational or not. Many studies have suggested that this is due to the increase of obesity, depression, and attention disorders in children. Children who play outside are healthier physically, emotionally and socially. Children have the opportunity to be creative, become adventurous, and develop a better sense of understanding and assessing risks.
Whether you’re a child or adult, playing in the dirt can be a blast. Don’t worry about the mess after; nothing that water and soap can’t fix. Here are some great ideas on what to do with your children to help discover the great outdoors…
1. Give your child a bucket and a shovel and send them on their way to see what happens; they probably will be in heaven.
2. Garden with your children. You can even give them their own garden plot to discover and plant their own choice of vegetables or fruit. By growing their own, this can even help encourage children to eat healthier.
3. Create an outdoor scavenger hunt with your child.
4. Play in the rain! Put on a rain coat and mud boots and head for the biggest puddle you see.
5. Go for a hike.
As parents what do we want to see most out of our children? To so many, it’s seeing them have fun and learning. Consider all the benefits and get your kids outside and enjoy it with them!