It’s pouring here today. Driving rain, crashing thunder, flashing lightning, the whole bit. For most people it sounds like a day to stay inside, dry and warm, but I know as soon as the lightning and thunder stop, we’ll be back outside. My daughter, Kai, is eighteen months old and puddles are her favorite thing on the planet.
Even better, our local Hike it Baby branch loves puddles just as much as we do, and so pop up puddle stomps are a favorite hike around here. Imagine a small troop of toddlers, all decked out in their rain gear, given carte-blanche to hop, jump, and stomp in every puddle they see. I’ve never seen a happier group of kids in my entire life.
Preparing for Puddles.
It does take some preparation. Kai has a full body rainsuit and now owns a pair of rainboots (we weren’t exactly as prepared for our first puddle stomp as one would hope), and don’t forget rain boots for mom or dad, too! You are going to want to stomp a puddle. We also bring along an extra towel and have dry clothes waiting in the car. The real preparation for a successful puddle stomp, however, took a mental adjustment. Somewhere in adulthood most of us lose the wonder that a fresh puddle evokes for children. Rain is a drag; it’s wet, it’s cold, and it gets in the way of whatever important thing we were supposed to be doing. When I first saw a pop up puddle stomp announced, I thought these hiking people are crazy!
Enjoying the Rain Together.
I get cabin fever just thinking about spending time at home, though, and a rainy fall meant my choices were go stir crazy, or embrace puddles. So I found my raincoat, dug my rain boots out of a box at the back of my closet, and bundled my newly walking one-year-old in a rainsuit. We planned to walk the quarter mile circle at a local park. We never made it past the first set of puddles. First one little girl and then another jumped into a puddle. Kai hadn’t quite gotten jumping down at that point, so her entrance was more of a toddle than a jump, but it didn’t matter; she was in love, and I was surrounded by toddlers and adults alike having fun in what I once considered miserable weather.
Opportunities for Fun
Now every time it starts to rain, Kai runs to the door to sign “out”. Anytime I can, I bundle her into her rainsuit, and open that door for her. Sometimes we don’t even leave the yard. She jumps, she runs, and sometimes she just sits down right in the puddle to enjoy this miracle of nature. Sometimes, I join in, jumping, running, and stomping right along with her. Her joy is infectious and there is nothing like laughing with your toddler, both of you ankle deep in a puddle because you want to be there. Rain stopped being miserable and started being an opportunity for fun, not just for Kai but for me, too.
Go out and enjoy that rain!
Kate Craftsman is a mom passionate about raising her daughter Kai surrounded by our natural world. She enjoys hiking, kayaking, camping, volunteering on archaeological digs, and board games. When she’s not out in nature, Kate is either working on her Ph. D. focusing on Science, Technology, and Society or working to organize a local forest pre-school co-op.