Splashing in Puddles ~ Parenting Through Play


Welcome to the September Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Through Play

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how challenging discipline situations can be met with play. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.



I just spent the most amazing summer being a full-time mom to my son Joshua. He’s 18 months old now, and I’m finding this to be both the most fun and most exhausting age! When people ask how I spent my summer vacation, I smile broadly and proclaim “I played!”

And play, we did. Each morning before it got too hot, we went outside and played. Joshua loves rocks, sand, dirt and mud, and we spent hour upon hour loading his dump truck, water table, Thomas push toy and car trunk full of rocks. Digging in rocks, selecting the perfect big rock, and loading toys with rocks. Our gravel driveway, my parents’ sandbox, and the beach became Joshua’s favorite places to play. In addition to playing at home, we also played on the go. We took day trips to the beach, to an aquarium, to tractor pulls, to the town festival. Joshua had a blast observing Beluga whales, waving to children on the carousel, feeling the waves splash his toes, going for rides on tractors and getting dirty.

This was a big change for me. I have never been the type of girl who likes to get excessively dirty. I was much more likely to be found playing with Barbies than splashing in puddles, but this summer I got muddy and sandy right alongside my boy, and I couldn’t be happier! I know that at this age, Joshua learns so much through play. Play is his job, and I was happy to make play a priority. His giggles, his squeals of delight, his “vroom” noises, his dancing and his climbing all made me smile.

I know I’ll look back on our summer together fondly. Now that I’m back at work, our time to play together is even more precious to me. Autumn afternoons are perfect for outdoor play, and we’ll spend our weekends at the farm and at fairs. I also have plans for the cooler months, as I set up a big playroom above our garage, which will come in handy when we can’t spend the entire day outside. I’m even looking forward to playing in the snow this winter!

How do you parent through play?


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Filed under Adventures, Natural Learning, Nature, Outside, parenting

32 Responses to Splashing in Puddles ~ Parenting Through Play

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  10. Kieran has never been one to like getting dirty either, but the other day we went to a friend’s house and he spent almost 2 hrs playing with trucks in a big pile of dirt. Granted, he had another child to play with – but that just makes me think I haven’t been giving him enough opportunities to explore this type of play. I need to do that more! Good for you mama :)

  11. Isn’t fun to realize how much fun it is to actually play? I love having kids so I can be a kid again!

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  14. Nikalee

    Don’t our kids remind us and teach us the most wonderful, unexpected things? Like the joys of getting really dirty? I hope you’re able to have more playful summers, and enjoy that new play area in the mean time.

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  16. That’s really beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

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  18. Yes! We all get filthy as soon as we step foot outside. My children’s favorite outside activity is moving dirt from one place to the next. Very sweet post and I’m glad you had a good summer :)

  19. Isn’t it wonderful to be filthy at the end of the day?!
    Laura recently posted..Dance Party ParentingMy Profile

  20. That sounds like a summer of joy! Such fun.
    Terri recently posted..Practicing Playful ParentingMy Profile

  21. I grew up on a farm and it was the best playground. Getting down and dirty is the best way to play :)

  22. I totally love messy play. The outdoors is a great playground, and fortunately parents and kids are both totally washable.

    We went to our State Fair in August, and we got caught in a downpour that left the grounds full of mudpuddles. My 19 month old was thrilled, running from one to the next to splash. We were already a little muddy from the downpour, so why not? Our puddle jumping is my favorite memory from the Fair this year.
    Jenn @ Monkey Butt Junction recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: ColorMy Profile

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  24. Messy play is great for toddlers, even better if you enjoy it :)
    Isil recently posted..On being a more playful parentMy Profile

  25. First… I love that photo so much. It’s just perfect.
    And I am right there with you about discovering the fun of playing in the dirt and mud. I did it with my daughter and I can’t imagine having missed out on that experience. Or on depriving her of the joy of dirt.
    I’m so glad you got this special summer.
    teresa recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: Self PortraitsMy Profile

  26. Amy

    What a joyful post! Makes me look forward to when my little guy is older! I remember Abbey exploring when she was that age. She loved bubbles and water, and the occasional mud puddle!
    Amy recently posted..Getting Cooperation Through PlayMy Profile

  27. Beluga whales! What fun! You’re right that 18 months is a fun and tiring age. So great that you’ve been able to cherish those moments.

  28. That is so great! I am so grossed out by getting dirty, and I get worried I’ve passed that along to Mikko. I need to try more to seek out times and ways to get dirty without worrying about it so much. Yesterday he was wearing his new rain boots out in the drizzle, so I kept pointing out all the puddles he should splash in.
    Lauren @ Hobo Mama recently posted..I Love ME! Write for Anktangle’s carnival about positive self-imageMy Profile

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  30. So much fun! I will let loose and play “down and dirty” with my little guy once in a while, but your post has reminded me that we need to do this more often. You’re perfectly right that play is a child’s job – and my kid deserves a mom who plays right along with him. People and clothes can be washed, but you can’t ever get this precious time back for a do-over!

  31. Rhoda Combs

    Isn’t fun to realize how much fun it is to actually play? People and clothes can be washed, but you can’t ever get this precious time back for a do-over!

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