We have all heard the saying, ‘Happier than a pig in mud.’ . . Well, there may be more truth to that saying than one may think.
A few weeks ago I was exploring a riverbank in Arkansas when a forgotten childhood sound filled the air. . . the belch of gooey goodness squishing between my toes. MUD!
Instantaneously, a smile crept across my lips and I couldn’t help but bend down- scooping up a handful of the marvelously dark ooze – and begin replaying childhood memories of mud pies and dirt fortresses.
Mud was such a big part of my childhood.
It was my babysitter. My introduction to nature. The fuel for my imagination. It was so important in creating the person I am today.
Sadly, within the past two decades, the amount of time children are spending outdoors has dropped to half of the amount that we had at their age. It is hard to deny that their childhood memories will be very different than ours.
Today we hard on time and enjoy our conveniences: hand sanitizer, handheld gadgets, fast food, HBO on demand, and fast internet connection.
Make no mistake, I am a huge fan of these too. They are incredible tools for health, information, entertainment and connectivity.
But can it replace the things we gain from spending our time outside?
Here are 5 reasons why EVERYONE should be playing in mud. . .
1. Mud makes you happy and fights depression. -That’s right. There is now scientific evidence that a ‘friendly’ bacteria found in dirt, called Mycobacterium vaccae, can create the same reaction as antidepressants!
2. Mud flexes the imagination muscle. Playing with nature’s playdo is considered ‘open ended play,’ which means it has no real structure or rules. It allows kids-and adults- to use their imagination and create anything they desire. In other words,‘the sky’s the limit.’
** I personally love watching the way water flows when I create small dams, rivers, and mud drip towers. **
3. Mud helps the immune system – There is now increasing evidence that is saying our convenient hand sanitizers and overly sterile ways of living are taking a toll on our health. Exposing children- and ourselves- to a healthy dosage of microbes and bacteria can build better immune systems, thus reducing sick days and allergies. We all can benefit from that.
4. Mud play creates opportunities and memories. – Build it and they will come. This magnificent mess is a great medium for children to dream and create. Fail and retry. It develops curiosity, self motivation and self-confidence. What more does a memory need?
5. Mud builds a connection with nature. It is almost inevitable when making castles and pies, one wants to decorate with sticks and leaves. . .maybe even a few bugs to give it some life. This is a great opportunity to talk about life cycles, food webs, and many other nature related topics. Mud is a great foundation to initiate other interests and discoveries.
Childhood memories of mud play and ‘natural’ discovery are looking to become things of the past. Let’s give our future generations memories of imagination, discovery, and pure joy. Let’s give them MUD!
Until next time, this is Ms. Mallory inviting you to . . .
What is your fondest outdoor activity as a child?
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