Why I Don't Care When My Kids Get Dirty

child playing in mud

You may not know me personally, but you know me -- I'm that mom at the playground whose kids look like Oliver Twist within five minutes of our arrival (10 on a good day). The mom who's in a uniform of black yoga pants and some dark-colored T-shirt or sweater because my kids have the uncanny talent of picking up dirt, and inevitably it will get transferred to me.


When my oldest son was a small toddler, I tried to keep him clean. Really, I did. But the boy always managed to turn mealtime into a thrice-daily fiesta, complete with food all over his little body. Hey, at least he was eating what I had so lovingly prepared for him, right? It's just that apparently he wanted to share the meatballs in tomato sauce with not just his mouth, but his hands, arms, tummy, legs, and hair, too.

My youngest son, well, he has always had a penchant for actual dirt. For his birthday we bought him one of those epic sand-and-water activity tables, but he preferred digging into flower beds instead. Again, always covered in dirt. When he finally did take to the sand-and-water table, he reveled in mixing the sand and the water, essentially making his own sticky dirt that we could never quite completely wash off of him.

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I've watched as other moms at the park quickly wipe their kids' hands as soon as they touch the sand, tell them not to play in the dirt because they'll get filthy, or not to roll around on the lawn because of grass stains. These are the moms who get to wear white pants and beautifully printed dry-clean-only tops. While I envy their ability to have a wider range of fashion choices, and I certainly understand their concern over all things gross, I have to admit, I really don't care if my kids get dirty.

To me, the sign of a fun, hard-played day for kids is when they come home dirty. Plus, I don't want them to be afraid to get mucky. Nothing in life is perfect, nor does it have to be, and I hope that I can set them up for learning this by showing them it's okay if things physically get dirty sometimes. Yes, our washing machine may constantly run, and I may need to clean the ring around our tub more often than I'd like, but they're kids and I want them to experience pure, silly, not-a-care-in-the-world fun.

And if I have to endure the occasional side eye or disapproving looks from people who can't believe I let my kids get that dirty, that's okay. It's not for everybody. Just remember, now that I've warned you, if you're coming over to my house ... don't wear white pants.


Photo via iStock.com/lostinbids

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