The Liberating Effect of Playing Outside in the Rain

by ParentCo. October 05, 2016

My natural inclination is to say, “No, let’s stay inside. It’s raining out. We can cuddle under a warm blanket and watch a movie.”

I do believe in lots of outdoor play and all the benefits it has to offer. Playing outside is a no brainer. Sun, snow, hot, cold; I try to find a way outside with my young children every day.

But rain. The adult in me thinks: Take cover! To be honest, until recently when my children asked to go outside in the rain it never really occurred to me to just say, “Yes! Of course you can go play in the rain.”

One rainy afternoon, though, I did. We had been trapped inside all day as rain sprinkled, poured, misted and drizzled. My son turned to me and asked if we could play outside and I surprised both of us when I said yes.

Smiles and squeals of delight escaped from the kids as they ran around in the rain. At first it was the novelty of being outside in the rain then it just turned into normal play, albeit wet. It could have been 75 degrees and sunny as they rode bikes and played on the swingset.

Of course they got wet, needed to completely change clothes and their shoes took two days to dry. But who cares? Playing outside far outweighed the annoyance of having to change clothes and soggy shoes.

Since that day I not only agree to the requests of playing out in the rain, I often suggest it. Normally I sit in the garage, safely covered, watching them soak in the fun. I sneak outside, under my big golf umbrella, only to catch a few pictures with my camera before dashing back into the garage.

Last week during a pretty heavy rain my oldest yelled out, “Mom, come play with us!”

Ugh. That was my first thought. Ugh. I don’t want to get wet. I’m enjoying sitting here, watching you play. Having a Mommy Moment from afar. I already showered today. I don’t want to change my clothes. As I opened my mouth to rattle off some Mommy Excuse I thought to myself, What a bore.

When was the last time I let myself freely walk in the rain? No dashing, no trying to take cover? With no care of soaking my hair; no worries about getting my clothes wet or ruining my makeup. When was the last time I closed the umbrella and welcomed the wet air to coat my skin? Had it been decades since I tipped my mouth to the sky, letting the droplets prick my tongue? When have my toes come to the edge of a puddle and instead of leaping over it I picked up both feet and bounded into the water?

I went in. Playing in the rain is fun as a kid – it’s freeing as an adult.

While it can be a struggle sometimes to engage in the same play as my children (I can only sit on the floor for so long; can only build so many train tracks) playing in the rain knows no age. There are no rules to follow, no pieces to find, no parts to work. I don’t have to pretend to enjoy playing along or fake interest. My two-year-old enjoys the rain just as much as my five-year-old, just as much as the 11-year-old next door, just as much as this 30-year-old. Everyone is on equal ground, when that ground is wet and they are dripping.

As I sat down to write about the fun my kids (and I) have outside in the rain I thought about making it a list. "6 Things to Do in the Rain." "12 Toys That Are Perfect for Puddles." "7 Rainy Day Activities You Play Outside." Then I realized that the beauty of playing in the rain is the lack of structure and the infinite list of possibilities.

Hand the children an umbrella and within five minutes it will be overturned on the ground as they explore the wet earth. No pre-planned buckets of soap and sponges; go and get ‘em if they ask. No need to organize a muddy truck track, the boys often create their own. Don’t bother surfing Pinterest on how to make a homemade slip-n-slide; the rain, a hill and slippery children practically Pin themselves. The beauty of playing outside in the rain is the experience itself.

Before anyone gets all 2016 child-services on me: if it is thundering or lightning we do not play outside. I’m not risking their lives by playing outside in the rain; I’m enhancing them.



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