Irish weather is not known for is predictability but we can all assume that we will get rain every month at the very least. Let’s shake things up and actually plan for playing outdoors in the rain. Rain doesn’t hurt, it won’t melt us and most importantly it doesn’t have to mean endless hours inside on the screens and driving each other nuts.
In fact, getting outdoors in the rain can:
- Improve balance and coordination
When surfaces are wet, there is a different level of balance and coordination needed to prevent slips and falls. Playing in the rain can encourage children to use different muscles and skills to stay upright.
- Support sensory development
The wind and rain on your face is a completely different sensation than being indoors or even in the shower. Experiencing different weather is a great way to support a child’s sensory development and can also contribute to improved balance.
- Support immune systems
Spending time outside in the rain can benefit our children (and us) in terms of our overall health. By exposing our children to different temperatures and types of weather, our children’s immune systems are working hard to adjust to these differences and will in time get stronger.
- Support problem solving skills
Playing in the rain means that there are going to be a multitude of challenges and obstacles that may not be present in drier conditions. Spending time in the rain allows our children the opportunity to solve problems in the face of adversity. “The grass is all slippy, what can I do to stop myself from falling every time?”.
- Promote independence and resilience
With the above mentioned problem solving skills comes independence. Playing in the rain is also a great way to promote a ‘can do’ attitude with it’s extra challenges and risks.
If those reasons don’t make you want to get outdoors with your kids, then maybe these simple and fun ideas will!
Puddle jumping – grab the wellies, find some epic puddles and get jumping! And that goes for you too, mama/dada! Please your inner child and just jump and splash in the rain! (Ideal for the end of a walk outdoors or at the end of the adventure when you know you’ll be able to get out of the muddy wellies and clothes soon.)
Welly walks – just a fun name for a walk in the rain. Calling it something fun like this can add to the sense of adventure. It can also help us, as adults, to accept that this is meant to be a messy walk, no need to worry about getting dirty, the whole point of a welly walk is to get dirty.
Worm Hunt – worms love coming out in the rain so it’s the perfect opportunity to search for some worms. Investigate their shape, colour size and how they move. Don’t forget to put them back and openly express your interest and curiosity in them in front of your child. Let them see that curiosity and exploration are all part of the fun in life.
Mud Painting – with rain comes an excess of mud. Use it! Grab some big paintbrushes and an old bed sheet or cardboard and get painting. This is such a fun activity and it can go on for quite a while. You can hang the sheet up or lay it flat on the ground. If you don’t have paintbrushes, just bundle some leaves together into a brush shape.
Taste the Rain – this is another case of a fun name making this activity into something a little extra special. We’ve all been outside and tasted the raindrops but by turning it into a game, you can create a level of magic and curiosity that may not have been there without the name.
Some of our favourite ways to end our rainy adventures include:
Getting into dry and cosy clothes as soon as you get home
Having a hot drink at the end of the adventure or when you’re cosy and dry
Drawing pictures of our favourite bits of the adventure.
IMPORTANT: There is no one size fits all when it comes to spending time outdoors. Do what is right for you and your family and remember to enjoy the simple moments along the way. Parenting is HARD work, you’re doing AMAZING and we’re all here to lift each other up and remind one another of the incredible things we’re doing, raising the next generation of leaders, creatives and thinkers.
About the Founder of Mud Bugs:
Jess is a solo mother to one and was born and bred in County Leitrim. She has a background in Early Childhood Care and Education and Forest School. Jess has a vision to (re)ignite a spark for children and nature as well as empowering parents to support their children’s nature play and outdoor learning.
Follow Jess on Instagram (www.instagram.com/mudbugs.ie) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/mudbugsireland) to catch all her latest nature inspired activity ideas, workshops and seasonal subscription boxes.