Rain, Rain, Come Again Another Dayby WFP Admin added on 16 January 2018, Comments Off on Rain, Rain, Come Again Another Day , posted in Blog
By Karen Norris, 1 Day A Coordinator
“Mom, is it going to rain today?” This is a question I am asked most mornings these days, as my older child is packing her backpack for kindergarten and deciding what shoes and coat to wear. “Yep, it sure is,” I respond, and she runs back down to grab her rain boots and stuff her rain jacket into her backpack. She doesn’t mournfully toss her head back and utter an exasperated “uggggghhhhh;” she doesn’t mind the rain one bit if she has her jacket and her boots. In fact, she loves finding some puddles to wade through on the way to and from school and thinks it is such fun to jump up and swat at branches, causing them to dump extra rain on her head as she passes by. She can find joy and excitement in any type of weather and the outdoors is always her favorite place to be.
I will admit that, while many people welcome a new year unfolding, with resolutions to keep and a fresh start, January is a challenging time of year for me. With the excitement of the holidays now behind us, January provides me with plenty of time to reflect on how much I dislike this part of winter. The short days, the cold temperatures, the rain. It is raining as I write this, and I just peeked at my weather app on my phone just to see that there will be rain every single day as far as the forecast shows. I mournfully toss my head back and utter an exasperated “uggggghhhhhh.” No, my daughter and I are definitely not seeing eye to eye with our opinions about rain, at least not today. If it were up to me, I would stay in the house and hibernate until Spring arrives; thank goodness for children and how they draw out the child in all of us.
I am not allowed to give in to my winter woes with my two girls around, and I am beyond grateful to them for that. They don’t just ask to go outside (even when it is pouring down rain); they plead, beg, and demand to go out. They need it. We all do. As much of a hassle as it can be getting everyone dressed to stay warm and dry on these days, it is definitely worth the trouble. We all know how important physical activity and exercise is for young children; however, there are so many other benefits to spending time outside every day, even if just for a few minutes. When we are out of the house, there is a sort of freedom that all of us can feel. There are no distractions, no to do lists looming over any of us, no toys to argue about, and it is just us. Even if the children have just been screaming at each other over who had the Lego man first, as soon as we set foot outside they are holding hands and skipping together like the previous 20 minutes never happened. It is like there is a reset button that is pushed when we leave the house on an outdoor adventure. Conversation flows, natural curiosity flourishes, and, as Jennifer Ward writes in her book I Love Dirt!, “there is nothing more joyful and inspiring to watch than children discovering the world around them” (xvii).
If you’re anything like me, it is easy to think of things to do in the spring and summer, but what about winter? What about a day like today, when it is just above freezing and the rain is coming down? Is there hope for outdoor fun on a day like today? If thinking of something to do aside from a walk is a challenge for you (it is for me), I would recommend taking a look at 15 Minutes Outside, by Rebecca Cohen. She made a resolution to spend at least 15 minutes outside each and every day (aside from days where weather may pose a danger) with her children; in her book she discusses how this simple practice impacted her entire family; she also provides 365 ways to have fun outdoors in all different types of weather. For example, a rainy day like this one is a perfect day to go on a scavenger hunt, stargaze (since it is dark way before bedtime these days), make rain gauges from plastic bottles and track precipitation, and search for animal tracks (Cohen 14-18). Jennifer Ward suggests on rainy days to
- Spend time under an umbrella with your child, and listen to the rain pitter patter against it.
- Watch the rain as it rolls and drips from your umbrella to the ground.
- Listen to the sound. How does it make you feel?
- Catch the rain in your hand and let it pool there. Does it absorb into your skin or roll off?
- Let the rain fall on your face with your eyes closed. How does it feel? (Ward, 36)
Children learn so much through outdoor exploration; they learn about themselves, their senses, and natural science, among other things. Research has shown that “free-play in natural settings is good for a child’s mental and physical health. The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees, stating in 2007 that free and unstructured play is healthy and essential for children” (Ward, xi).
And the best part? It is FUN!!! I never would have thought that in my thirties the best part of my day could be stomping in a great puddle or turning tree stumps over in a quest to find worms and beetles. I set aside time to go outside for the sake of the children, but I think I may get even more out of it than they do, as I watch them exploring and imploring me to join in with them. The possibilities really are endless, especially when a child’s imagination has space to run free. So, don your rain boots and your rain jackets and get out of the house. There is a breathtaking, wet, world out there just waiting to be discovered. Trust me, the hassle is beyond worth it. I promise.
Cohen, Rebecca P. 15 Minutes Outside. 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect With Your Kids. Sourcebooks, 2011.
Ward, Jennifer. I Love Dirt! 52 Activities to Help You & Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature. Trumpeter, 2008.