Rediscovering The Simple Joy of Mud

It was about three weeks into the “stay at home” order at our house when we hit a wall. We were bored. Little did I know that our boredom would lead to mud. 

The first week or so of the pandemic, things had been scary but sort of exciting at the same time. We couldn’t get milk or toilet paper! Crazy! We had to rush to the library to stock up on books for the foreseeable future and walked out with three bags worth! We baked lots of cookies! Daddy was home all day! We took more walks as a family! Things were changing fast but the novelty of everything was keeping us going. We were pretty good. 

The next week started out a little lackluster. We were tiring of the toys in the house. Pinterest projects were either too complicated, we lacked the supplies to make them happen, or they didn’t keep our kids entertained for more than a few minutes. I kept taking pictures off the wall and putting them in new places. We were adjusting to many things: a new schedule, reports in the news that daily grew more alarming, and our own expectations for what the future would be like. Thankfully, the weather was beautiful so we got outside more and everyone benefited. We were still pretty good. 

The following week – we were pretty tired out of everything. I was sick of the constant demand of, “mama, SNAAAAAAACK!” I missed interactions with people outside of our family. We started looking grubby as I got lax at enforcing bath times, brushing hair, or changing out of pajamas. I was stuck inside for much of each day nursing our infant daughter, but my husband was great about taking the kids to play in the yard for a couple of hours every day. We don’t have playground equipment or anything fancy at our house – the local park is only a few blocks away so we usually head there to burn off some steam, but we couldn’t even go there as the playground was cordoned off. My kids were running out of ways to entertain themselves in the backyard when my husband hit paydirt – literally – in the form of mud.

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He dug a hole in our yard and let the kids play in the mud. 

Moms and dads definitely parent differently! If my kids were getting bored in the backyard, my first reaction would be to plan something – a scavenger hunt, a game, or some kind of art activity. Whatever it would be, it would have rules. My husband’s gut instinct was to find something that has no rules – mud! 

Without a doubt, playing in the mud has been my kid’s favorite part of this coronavirus pandemic, and I admit it – I, who hates getting dirty, have enjoyed this rediscovery of mud.

When you think about it, playing in the mud has a lot going for it. Sure, you might end up washing clothes more than you used to, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons! 

  • First of all, it’s free and pretty accessible – talk about low prep! Everyone has some area of their yard where they could dig a hole. {I’m not saying it’s pretty!}
  • If one mud patch gets boring, you can dig another one. It’s a renewable resource.
  • Also – there is no right or wrong way to play with mud; it is what you make of it.
  • You can jump in, out, and over a muddy hole to practice gross motor skills.
  • You can make mud pies or mud people or mud towns and work on your imaginative play and fine motor skills.
  • Choosing where and how to dig a pit engages your problem-solving skills.
  • It becomes an instant science project when it rains and water fills the bottom; you can throw sticks and rocks into it and ask “will it sink or float?” {This game kept my kids occupied for nearly two hours!}
  • It is a great place to be creative and orchestrate independent play
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It is weirdly fun to see my kids tromp into the house after a few hours outside, red-cheeked, coats and boots and pants and mittens and ears splattered with mud, with huge, carefree smiles on their faces. Both their clothes and their bodies have been getting a workout! There are many things that have been difficult during this pandemic, but seeing my kids’ happy faces after playing in the mud has been a beautiful byproduct.

Prior to this, we had always been too busy to play in this way. I am so grateful that we had a chance to slow down and get so bored that we rediscovered the simple joy of mud. Childhood is fleeting, and playing in the mud is a uniquely childlike activity, one that will likely lead to happy memories that they won’t forget. So, if your kids are bored this week – let them play in the mud! 

Do you have any good childhood memories of playing in the dirt? Would you let your kids play in the dirt? If so, snap a picture and tag us in with the hashtag #midmimomsgetmuddy!