I’ve been saying for years that nothing makes me happier than dirty toes.
(Did you feel that shudder? That was my mother cringing.) But it’s true – as far as I can tell really dirty children have been having a really good time. Happy children. Barefoot in the backyard climbing trees children.
According to a new report out by the National Wildlife Federation, there really is something to the dirty = happy equation. Studies have shown that simply having contact with dirt, whether it’s through gardening, digging holes, or making pies out of mud, can significantly improve a child’s mood and reduce their anxiety and stress.
What’s more, dirty children also means healthy children. Many kids who live in an ultraclean environment have a greater chance of suffering from allergies, asthma, and other autoimmune diseases that we would otherwise be protected from through the simple pleasure of playing with some nice common dirt.
No need to take my word for it – you can download the full study here.
So what are you waiting for? Go dig in the dirt! It’s good for you!
(And don’t worry, Mom. They’ve had a bath now.)
I really, really love nights like tonight . . .
Come to think of it, last night was pretty awesome too . . .
Even though we have lived here for more than 10 years now, there is a whole other life in Savannah that we have yet to really experience. A life on the water, bound by tides and an intimate knowledge of salt creeks, rivers and marshes. We got a taste of that life today when good friends took us boating to Wassaw Island, a coastal barrier island designated as a National Wildlife Refuge. Accessible only by boat, Wassaw is one of many barrier islands I have longed to visit and it did not disappoint. We saw dolphins by the dozens (including two that were jumping straight into the air, completely out of the water – the type of acrobatics I thought you could only experience at Sea World!), found star fish and crabs and jelly fish galore, watched a small shark splashing wildly on the edge of a tidal creek, and found tracks from a bird with feet bigger than Fletcher’s! It was a magical day, made all the more so for being able to share it with friends.
Just like Little Sal and her mother (and the bear cub and his mother) the kids and I picked blueberries yesterday. And just like Little Sal, Fletcher & Lola ate waaaaay more blueberries than actually made it into their pails! We still managed to come home with 4 quarts of delicious, sweet, plump berries, though most of those have already been eaten! I’m hoping to make another trip to the blueberry bushes soon so maybe we can freeze some berries for the winter.
One day Lola couldn’t swing without being pushed and then, suddenly, she could. My baby girl is growing up!
Posted in play
I won’t lie to you. I had a lot of concerns going into the Great American Backyard Campout. I knew R. would still be in Italy, and this would be my first experience camping without him in charge. Would I be able to put up the tent on my own? (I did. Eventually.) Would I be able to start a fire on my own? (I did.) Would it be too sweltering in the tent to get any sleep at all? (It wasn’t.) I was just too nervous to attempt “real” camping on my own – backyard camping seemed the best alternative.
But I have to tell you this: the thing I was not worried about (the house) turned out to be the biggest problem of all. Ok. Not the house exactly, but the stuff inside it. The TV. The video games. Even the legos! Not for the girls – the girls were happy as clams out in the playhouse. But the boys were much harder to keep outside unless there was fire of some sort involved. So, I gave them fire.
The two friends sleeping over with Fletcher initially turned up their noses at the idea of sparklers. When did 7 year olds become too cool and grown up for sparklers? Poor Fletcher seemed really crushed – it was painful to watch because he had been so excited about them just a moment earlier. But when the rest of us went out front to light the sparklers it didn’t take 2 seconds for those too cool boys to join in the fun – I mean, who doesn’t love a good sparkler, right?
In the end I think everyone had a great time, and we raised some money for the National Wildlife Federation to boot! Sleeping in the tent was perfect for a sleepover. The boys are old enough to sleep back there without an adult now, and I think that will be much more fun for everyone involved! Plus, the tent is still up days after the camp out and has served as staging ground for all sorts of games with the neighbors – castles and knights, dragons and princesses galore!
For my money, the next time I sleep under the stars I hope it is real camping under the stars and not quite so close to a streetlight . . . especially now that I know I can pull it off on my own if I need to.
Mark your calendars for
Saturday, June 25th!
We need to give back to our children what they don’t even know they’ve lost, a connection to the natural world.
In the last two decades, childhood has literally moved indoors with kids spending more than seven hours per day in front of electronic media. The average American child now spends just four to seven minutes outside in unstructured play each day. Simply put, the nature of childhood has changed, and there isn’t much nature in it.
But we can change that. A night under the stars will help kids understand why it’s called the GREAT outdoors. Studies show that outdoor time helps children grow lean and strong, enhances creativity and attention spans, decreases aggression, and boosts classroom performance. Bottom line; healthier,
happier kids. And that means happier Mamas, too.
While Raymond is in Italy again this summer, the kids and I will be participating in the Great American Backyard Campout! This fundraising effort by the National Wildlife Federation encourages parents and kids alike to trade screen time for green time by spending a night under the stars. We are registered as a team and will be inviting the kids’ friends to join us for what I can only imagine will be a wild outdoor slumber party. (Am I crazy??? Probably. I mean, I’ve never set up the tent on my own before, never built a fire, heck I’ve never even lit the grill by myself before!) But I have to tell you, I’m really excited about this! So come on, folks, and join the team!
If you aren’t close enough to join in our backyard fun, or aren’t available on June 25th, don’t worry! You can still join the team and sign up to participate on your own, on whatever date is most convenient. When you register your campout on National Wildlife Federation’s web site you get helpful information to make your camping experience a fun one including recipes, nocturnal wildlife guides, campfire songs and games, nature activities and more. Plus, those registration numbers ensure that NWF will be able to continue this great event year after year – so please register! Summer will be here before you know it!
Earth Day is right around the corner, and I’ve been trying to come up with some fun things to do with the kids to reinforce the importance of being good stewards of our planet . This article on the NWF blog has some great ides for connecting with nature, but I think my favorite is #1: Make solar S’Mores! I mean, what better way to learn about the power of the sun, renewable resources, and power conservation than through a yummy, chocolaty, marshmallowy treat!
Click the link below for the full article – and be sure to let me know what YOU plan to do to B Kind 2 Earth!
5 Ways to Unplug and Connect with Your Family for Earth Day : Wildlife Promise.
Are you ready for Earth Day? Help your family embrace nature on April 22 by doing more than just hugging a tree with these activities from Rebecca P. Cohen’s new book, Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids.
These simple ideas will help you conserve, learn, and have fun together. Then you can join the B Kind 2 Earth Day campaign! The idea is simple: promise to do at least one kind thing for the earth on Earth Day and get others to do the same. The kindness can be as basic as going on a hike with your kids, or as big as a park clean up – or anything in between.