We made a concious decision today to take the kids out for a picnic and a muddy walk. We kitted them out in their waterproofs (coats, over trousers, wellies), made sure to take spare clothes for after and a couple of towels and headed out to one of our favourite places, Brockholes Nature Reserve. It had been raining all night and being a wetlands reserve, there were puddles everywhere!
We didn’t want them to get too wet too early on so we went for a walk around the largest of lakes, Pitt number 1, and all the hides where they tried out their binoculars and looked for some birds. There weren’t many other visitors so we didn’t have to worry about them being too quiet and disturbing other twitchers, but did try to explain to them that they may scare the birds if they were too loud. It’s not an easy concept to get across to a very giggley 3 and 4 year old, but I think it’s important to introduce things like this early, even if it is only little by little.
We walked further along the lake with the rain stopping and starting as we went and the kids jumping in the odd puddle and stopped at a bench for luch. We all got very excited when we saw a heron fly over and land behind some reeds.
We then made our way along the back edge of the lake towards the woods and atthis point we let the little ones go wild with the puddles! I don’t think I have ever heard so much laughter come from them. They were running through the longer ones and jumping in the deeper shorter ones getting completely filthy as they went. Tom found a particulary deep one which gave him a bit of a shock! “Are your feet ok? Are they still fairly dry or are they soaking wet?” I asked them not wanting them to be sopping as there was still a fair way to walk yet. “They are still quite dry” he responded. They carried on jumping in every puddle we passed all the way through the woods. I knew they were having fun because they walked right passed the play area without giving it a second glance (which is normally unheard of).
For a while about a year ago, Charlotte didn’t like to have dirty hands, if she fell over she was more concerned with having her hands cleaned immediately than she was with checking to see if she had hurt herself, and here she was caked with muddy water. That’s the kind of confidence that this kind of play inspires in children and it’s the kind of thing that I don’t think can be taught by playing video games or watching tv (and I say that as an ex-Warcraft player).
Eventually we got back to the car and started stripping them off. The coats had done their jobs, all the tops were dry still. As for Toms socks?
We could have filled a half pint glass with the amount of water we poured out of his wellies and wrung out of his socks!
Parents are often reluctant to let their children get muddy and wet like this for fear of them getting dirty or possibly even ill but honestly, no harm ever came from kids splashing around and having fun like that for a few hours.
The clean up took ten minutes and everything was washable (even the kids!) but the memories are somehting we will all have for a long time.
Fun had (according to the kids): A MILLION/10
Tantrum level: 0/10
Worth it: Every last drip was worth it!
Worth knowing: Take spare clothes (soft tracksuits bottoms are best, jeans aren’t nice on cold dampish skin) and plenty of towels! Wellies, splashsuits or overtrousers and waterproof coats are a must (splash suits are about £15-£20, overtrousers £7-£10 from most camping shoups starting at ages 2-3) but I guarantee your little ones clothes will still get wet (it’s part of the fun). Make sure you have plenty of carrier bags to put the wet clothes in when you get back to the car (a mistake we have made before).
50 Things achievements: 6. Run around in the rain and 13. Make a mud pie
Cost: Parking at Brockholes during Winter is Up to 20 minutes – No charge, First hour – £2, Additional time – 50p per 20 minute. The prices do go up in Summer. This is the sort of activity that you can do anywhere though so it is the sort of weekend you can make completely free if needs be!
EXTRA: There is a great book you can buy called The Wild Weather Book. It’s filled with ideas for things to do with kids of all ages in all kinds of wet, cold and windy weather including things to make and do. I have a copy that I was bought as a present and use it all the time for inspiration on what to do.