With summer being quite a wet one this year, I've struggled frequently with people who tell my children "Oh, you can't play outside, it's raining!" I realise they think they are helping but I certainly do not subscribe to the 'children can't play in the wet' way of thinking. I believe the chance to experience play in all types of weather is an important part of learning and growing up.
Now that summer's on the way out, I wanted to share some of my top Rain Play tips to help you and your child get the most out of those autumn days where crunching in the beautiful fallen leaves isn't at option, yet playing in the rain is.
1. Say Yes
I know it can seem easier to say those words; "Oh, you can't play outside, it's raining!" and keep the kiddies inside, but if you simply start by saying yes, that's a great step. We often feel bound to doing what is perceived as the 'right' thing and that, more often than not, is denying rather than allowing. Say yes. It might surprise you how much you enjoy your children playing in the rain.
2. Be Prepared
Being prepared can make a whole lot of difference in your enjoyment of any activity your children partake in. I always get my girls a towel each to wrap them in once they're done, as well as put a towel down inside the back door for foot wiping. Having clothes at the ready and running the bath before they come inside can also be a great stress and time saver.
3. Rain Wear
Appropriate wet weather gear like raincoats, hats, gumboots and even an umbrella are the perfect attire for jumping in puddles, keeping clothes and children dry and gives an opportunity to talk about why these things might be required.
4. Bare Baby
While there are definitely times where rain wear is needed, there are also times when the warmer weather might be perfect for some bare feet or even bare bodies. It's the chance for children to feel and experience what the rain does to the world around them. It's the chance for them to get their feet wet, literally.
5. Encourage Exploration
My girls and I love exploring our yard and I adore the opportunity to discover how things change or work due to different weather. Finding worms, watching snails, counting collecting raindrops on leaves and noticing spiderwebs outlined by resting water are all wondrous things for children.
6. Let There Be Mud
If you have mud in your yard, don't be afraid to let your children play in it. My husband has paved over our mud and I often grieve it's loss. Mud play is a great, natural tactile experience for children. It is one of the messiest of Messy Play, obviously, but it is so rewarding. You don't have to let them in it every time it rains, just occasionally break out of your normal play routine and let them loose. Just be sure you've taken in point two and run the bath before they come in!
7. Relax and Enjoy
This is the most important step. Once you've said yes and got everything organised, don't spend the whole time they're out in the rain stressing about how dirty or wet they are getting or what they are doing. Letting children just be is sometimes hard to do and it's also something that we should all work harder at doing. Not restricting their exploration and play performs an imperative part in forming their self esteem, self belief and understanding of themselves, their world around them and their place in it.
Is it raining today? Why not go splash in the puddles with your kids (maybe sing a song and dance, too)?