You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

A parenting must on your “to do” list…outside every day, and a little dirt too!

outside everyday

Get outside and get a little dirty….it has more benefits for your child and you than you know! 

Raising children can bring all kinds of questions and anxiety.  So often parents just wonder if “I am doing it right.”  I often tell parents that parenting with their “gut” is often the best, there are not many hard and fast rules, but there are a few “musts”.  On my “must list” would be proper car seats, immunizations, safe sleep with good sleep habits, lots of loving touch, teaching family morals, and loving discipline; but there really aren’t many rigid parenting rules in my opinion.  However,  I may add another “must” to my parenting list…allow your children to experience the outdoors and get a little dirty…every day!

Sounds like an odd “parenting must” doesn’t it?  The next couple of days I will be with my Toddler Time Groups at one of my favorite places in the Indianapolis area, Holliday Park.  I will be watching Moms and children experience bugs, frogs, turtles, and the wonderful trail at Holliday Park.  Once again I will realize how important it is for our kids to simply be outside!

So often, outdoor play is put to the bottom of a “to do” list because of “more important” learning activities.  In our automated world, children are often plugged into computers or the newest and “most educational” electronic toy.  The TV is a favorite pastime and many of our children have their days filled with organized lessons or groups.  None of these are completely wrong, but often because of our lifestyle playing outdoors is put at the bottom of the list.  Playing outdoors and experiencing nature is so beneficial for children physically, socially, and emotionally.


Obesity is a growing problem, we read about it all the time.  I have questions daily about how much food and exercise is necessary for children.  Organized sports and exercise along with healthy eating will help the problem, but simple outdoor play is a great solution.  Children who are allowed to play freely outside burn more calories, build better muscles, strengthen bones, improve cardiovascular health and sleep better.  Hear that parents???  Sleep better!!  I am sure that the toddlers from our groups this week will take great afternoon naps!!


Sit and watch your child outdoors.  The outdoors encourages discovery, logical thinking and reasoning.  Watch your child discover the ants under the rocks, watch the birds building a nest or the squirrels gathering nuts, or the bees pollinating plants…what a great way to learn…through experience.

Outdoor play also encourages children to appreciate the world in which they live.  Environmental consciousness comes from loving the outdoors and seeing how dependent we are on nature and what we can do to keep our world beautiful.

Outdoor play will help your child build confidence too.  Reaching out to feed the ducks, splashing in the creek, picking up a worm, walking down a big hill alone, exploring just outside of your reach…are all experiences that help your child realize that “I can do it!”

Sunshine and feeling good go together!  Exposure to light makes all of us feel better.  Being outside, even on a cloudy day, exposes us to natural light which is a key to feeling good.  Get yourself and your child out for some of nature’s “feel good medicine”.  After this winter we all need a little more sunshine (with sunscreen of course!).

So, I think I am adding another “parenting must” to my short list.  It doesn’t really take much work, and there doesn’t have to be a lesson plan built-in.  The toddlers who will be at the Holliday Park Nature Center will not be expounding on the different birds they see or the plants on the trail,  but there is benefit in allowing them to discover and experience.  Nature and the outdoors is not a push  button type of play but one of wonder and the unexpected. That special rock that will be collected or stick that is thrown into the pond or even the hop of a frog in the Nature Center that will bring a squeal and a smile will make the trip outside worth it. My advice?  Get your kids outdoors and a little dirty every day…it is a “parenting must”.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.



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