How happy are your kiddos when you say YES to playing in the mud? Mine are practically levitating when they see a great mud puddle and they get the nod from me.
I know, I know, it’s wet, A MESS! But you know what? It’s totally worth it. I’ll tell you why.
Why mud play is worth the mess:
Playing in mud is FUN. Good old fashioned fun. No phones, no iPads, just kids, nature and squeals of delight.
Playing in the mud is FREE. Do you know any other material that costs nothing, can be used wet, dry and somewhere in between? Oh wait, there’s sand at the beach… But unless you live at the beach, it’s back to good old mud.
Playing in the mud is HEALTHY. Studies show that when children play in the mud they are healthier. It’s totally true. Google it. I dare you.
Mud is readily available. Especially in the Spring when April showers bring… you guessed it! MUD.
Here are a few tips for keeping your sanity while allowing mud play:
Mud can certainly stain. So if it’s warm out, I would strip the kids down to their skivvies or an old bathing suit that you no longer care about. If it’s still cold, we love THESE awesome rain pants from our friends over at Biddle and Bop.
Set limits that you are comfortable with and encourage your children to communicate with you and with one another. Some children like splashing and covering each other and some are much more tentative. Model language for cooperative play before diving in and moderate a discussion among the children about what is and is not allowed. While mud play is certainly exciting and fun, it doesn’t have to be an out of control free-for-all.
Keep a clean towel on hand. Sometimes, a big splash can be uncomfortable or get in the eyes. Having a clean towel on hand makes it easy to recover and get back to playing.
Have a set of mud tools. Old thrifted pots and pans, shovels, and buckets. They are simple to source from thrift stores and enhance the play so much!
A large bin of soapy warm water for when you are all finished. The warm soapy water and rags are for your children to clean up most of the mud before coming inside to bathe. This saves you from having to clean your floors and tub. Trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way.
An empty laundry basket for stripping outside, BEFORE entering the house.
You can absolutely allow mud play WITHOUT A GIANT MESS. Communicate your limits and set them. Stick to it. Trust me, your children will do basically anything to be allowed to get muddy. Explain that you know how much fun it is, but also, that in order to do it over and over, it needs to be kept to a level that you are comfortable with. My favorite phrase when my kids are getting a bit out of control is this: “Make me want to say YES next time. If you listen now, I will want to say yes to mud again and again.” I use this kind of strategy in many situations. It is a skill that you actually can teach with repetition. Remind them afterwards, “Remember when I asked you to stop playing and get cleaned up? You listened, and that made me know we can definitely do this kind of play again!” Also, randomly pepper these anecdotes into your daily conversations. At random times, I’ll remind my children about how much fun we had and WHAT MADE IT WORK. Remind them of how they listened and helped. Remind them of how much fun they had. Children love to be set up for success. Use it to your advantage.