free-range kids

kids playing outside in the dirt

Coming up on my son’s first birthday and I have made a promise to myself. A “new year” resolution of sorts.

No more parenting books.

My god. If there is one thing I have learned since becoming a Mama – there is no shortage of people out there happy to tell you how to raise your child.

Most of them are full of it.

There must have been a time when parents weren’t bombarded with all this crap on a regular basis. Surely there was a time when parents successfully parented without all this hoo-ha.

We’ve had a couple of nice days around here lately (in between the days and days of raining cats and dogs).  My boy is crawling well now so we headed outside to soak up some Vitamin D and get some fresh air.

Watching him crawl around the front yard exploring the garden, happy as a clam and getting filthy dirty in the process, made me think about so-called green therapy. ADHD kids are being prescribed outside play for their symptoms.

Do we really need a doctor to tell us its good for kids to play outside?


Today he got a mouthful of dirt for the first time and again I think about recently published studies that organic soil affects the moods of children. Turns out playing in the dirt is actually good for you. Go figure.

Mom was right all along.

I think back to my own childhood; getting up early, making my little sister breakfast, pulling on coats and rubber boots over our jammies and heading outside to play until Mom and Dad got up.

We were allowed to roam the neighbourhood and I don’t remember ever not being allowed to get dirty outside. We had a sandpit and a big veggie garden. We caught tadpoles in the neighbour’s pond and roughhoused with the dog. We raked leaves and dug potatoes. Built forts and made mud-pies.

I remember loving the feel of my fingers under the tap at the end of a long day outside, that tingling burning sensation of freezing fingers meeting warm water. For me that still brings back memories of smoky, damp fall afternoons in the garden. Pure joy.

Call it free-ranging, call it whatever you want. That’s the childhood I want for my son.

A childhood of grass stains and skinned knees, pockets full of treasures, dirt under his fingernails, the smell of outside in his hair, his cheeks flush with cold.

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And if you are someone who enjoys parenting books and articles – here’s an interesting one on free-range kids.

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