If you've been reading my work, you'll know that there are many places I feel kids belong in, such as outdoors and in trees. Kids also belong at the beach. It's where they can immerse themselves right in nature -- you know, beach mud, water, and the like.
From building sand castles with their mommy's used Mountain Dew bottles (yeah there's unfortunately enough to go around) to collecting shells on the shore or squishing sand in their toes from the ocean floor, my kids thoroughly enjoy beach time. Being in Denver, we haven't had any of that in a while and these are older pics. But I can't wait until our next visit to New York state -- and finally our move there in the future. They'll get some much needed beach time there, for sure. There's a man-made reservoir not far from us, where ironically these photos were taken. But it's not the same and has been getting dirtier and dirtier over time so we haven't been going there anymore, unfortunately.
Back to my point, beach time is both fun and necessary. Humans have a special bond with dirt. We like to get dirty. But that's really not the whole of it. Mud and sand is actually good for our skin -- and our soul. It has important nutrients that smooth our skin. But maybe more importantly, that feeling of squishing beach sand between the toes is irreplaceable, as is sifting the dry sand through our hands. Splashing in the water, feeling the ripples of the waves, and even feeling little fish swim between your legs is all a part of the experience as well. It's sad to think that some kids will never experience these things.
Watching boats, duck families, fish, and more from the pier is also a peaceful action that satisfies the soul. Kids these days are so stressed out and I firmly believe that it's because many of them are so immersed in television, video games, and other manufactured forms of entertainment that their brains never get a rest. Kids need nature, such as the beach in order to truly be at peace. I'm not saying they can't have a little fun with those other things -- mine do. But make sure your kids to a beach or other form of nature often. Let them get right in the thick of it, get dirty in it, meditate in it, explore in it, just have fun.
As I write this, I am at a park with my kiddos and their friends and they are relaxing out in a field of sand on some large rocks but were disappointed that the water in the small creek bed has dried up. It's a natural thing for kids to do to gravitate toward sand, water, and nature in general. Kids belong at the beach and elsewhere outdoors. When we can't get to the beach, we try to create that scene in other ways by getting out in nature the way we can. Before we had an apartment, we even built a mock beach in our backyard.
Have your kids been to the beach lately? If you are like us and don't have one near you, what other things do you do to replicate it?
*I originally published this elsewhere (no longer published there).
Ever bought your kid an expensive toy only to have the box be the best entertainment? Of course you have. There's a reason for that. Kids belong in boxes.
Boxes hold a treasure trove of possibilities for kids. They can use them for lemonade stands, dollhouses, playhouses, cars, circus tents, posters, and so much more. If you haven't let your kids play with boxes, they're missing out big time – and you are missing out on some long-lasting busy time for them that you can take advantage of.
About a month or so ago, a new neighbor moved into our building in the apartment complex. The kids were fascinated watching them come out with so many boxes to leave them on the patio. Since they appeared so interested, I suggested they go ask if the neighbors needed help.
Turns out they were going to take all the boxes to the dumpster. So the kids offered to do it for them. But I suggested they actually bring all of the boxes inside for some fun. Well of course they were thrilled by that and invited their friends over to build for hours on end. It was the weekend so the fun went on for a few days straight.
Even though a few rooms in our apartment were filled with cardboard box concoctions (including the living room), I let the fun go on until the boxes were pretty much unusable. Even the pets got a kick out of this and could be found lounging in a few of the playhouses.
Am I a "ghetto” mommy? Some might say so where things like this are concerned (I prefer “resourceful” or as my friends affectionately call me “Black Martha” – yes, they mean Martha Stewart). But am I a fun mommy? You bet. So give me all the labels you want. My kids (and all of the neighborhood kids) love it.