For Type A moms, we can often want our kids to be clean and tidy. To have everything lined up nicely and never make a mess. But I don’t subscribe to that (though I do love to keep a tidy house) and here’s why. Post contains affiliate links.
You might think that because I talk a lot about routine, the importance of sleep, making sure my kids mind me, and keeping a tidy home that I’m crazy about keeping the kids clean. But that isn’t the case.
I let the kids get as dirty as they want.
As often as they want.
And it doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
My family gives me The Side Eye because I don’t tell them to stay out of puddles, the mud, or to stop playing in dirt. I am not sure why, but from early on I decided I like when the kids get dirty and the only thing I do to monitor this is not let them dress in anything too precious during play time.
What's in this post...
Why we should let our kids get as dirty as they want
1. It’s fun
There is something very satisfying about doing something that seems somehow… wrong. It seems like things should always be clean, neat, and tidy. But why? The kids laugh, yell, and squeal with such pleasure while getting into a big mess that I know they must think they are – somehow – getting away with something.
And what child doesn’t like to get away with something?
2. Sensory satisfaction
Young children need a lot of sensory input. This is why playing with water, swimming, dirt, and mud can entertain children for hours. When I sit down to play with them, I get sucked in too! The kids have outside play together on most days, and they get so engrossed it usually only takes a trip to the potty or need for a snack to bring them back in.
Even my baby loves to sit and splash in the puddles, eat dirt (ahem), or chew on acorns. I will often sit with the kids and draw in the sand. It’s amazing how many minutes go by while in a sand daze. I guess it’s like adult coloring. And we all know that’s the rage right now.
3. It’s not permanent
I think one of the reasons people don’t let their children get filthy is because of the fear of ruining clothes. Luckily, this day in age with a good laundry system, an effective method for removing stains, and a washing machine, you can pretty much get most stains out.
If it’s not permanent, it doesn’t hurt anybody, and it’s fun, then why not? And even then, I have some clothes that are perfect for outside play because they were inexpensive and not precious. Stains, rips, or tears won’t really matter nor will I feel compelled to chase them asking them to stop wallering.
4. Kids love it
One way to draw the kids outside if they’d rather be inside is to tempt them with the garden or the sand pit. Every time they go out they put on their rain boots by the front door, and then take off running. Whether they are moving around the dirt in the garden bed, picking flowers, or just running, they end up dirty. Particularly in the summer. If your kids don’t like playing outside then look at these tips for outside play with small ones.
5. Why not?
This spring I’ve been trying to let the kids do things I might have said no to in the past. Like getting all filthy. Or in the summer, swimming with our clothes on just because we were hot. Or even letting the kids swim naked. Because… why not? Who cares! Whether they are playing sports, doing outside work, or just playing around, part of being outside and alive is getting dirty.
6. It’s better than screen time all the time
If your kids are super into screentime and you find it hard to set limits for them, shoving them outside and letting them run wild is key. All kids love a good cartoon or two, but no one remembers hours logged in front of the television. We remember playing games outside, chasing siblings, and the satisfied feeling of physical tiredness after physical play. Try putting outside play time before screen time to get your kids more into it.
What do your kids love to do outside?
I partnered with Maytag to do this post.