Often I also let them decide which way we're going - to an area playground, to a park or just around the neighborhood to go see all the different doors, mailboxes, and flowers.
Each time I let them splash in puddles, dig in the dirt, play with sticks and rocks and roll their small toys around.
People have one of three reactions to my 2-year-olds stomping in the mud:
1. They think I don't see it (even though I'm standing next to them or stomping in the puddle too!)
2. They think it's terrible to let my children be wild like this
3. They're thrilled and they stop to tell me how great it is to see an "earthy" mom.
I usually smile and explain that we start out clean and dry but we don't stay that way long but I'm fine with that. I want my boys to love the outdoors.
I want them to believe that every day should have joyful moments in it and to know that I'm encouraging their happiness even when it causes extra laundry. In other words, I want them to act like kids!!
Even though their shoes get muddy, their clean clothes are destroyed and have to be changed the minute we get home, its fine with me. Every day is a puddle day for us!
The only real problem is when it's hot for too many days and we can't find a puddle. Today we found some air conditioners dripping and making puddles, so that works too.
Obviously if we're going to a friend's house, church, an appointment, a restaurant or somewhere nice then we skip the mud bath.
However, most days we're just trucking along, enjoying the fire hydrants, bicyclists, trucks and cars as they go by and people watching. It's a free show outside our house, and we want to be part of it!
Experts say getting outside makes your children healthier, happier and smarter. Just 30 minutes a day of walking, skipping or exploring gives them fresh air, exercise and a feeling of freedom.
There are patterns and rhythms in nature, plus lots of colors, shapes and sizes that will spark a natural curiosity in your kids. They'll want to come home and learn more about the leaves, bugs and trees they've seen.
My boys remember the names of flowers now like the blue and purple hydrangeas we stop to say hello to every morning. They kiss the trees in our local park and they adore splashing in every fountain nearby.
Taking a nature walk is also free and fun for families! It might mean a little more work for the parent but I hope you'll consider adding more puddle, dirt and leaf days to your child's list.
It's priceless for them to feel that freedom and approval to seize the day!
For more ideas visit this website from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Commission.