Ever wonder why your kids just won't keep their effing shoes on their feet? It's because, bare with me here, they're MUCH smarter than us. Children don't feel the need we do to follow societal rules and expectations. They're guided by an internal compass called INSTINCT. Ya know, that little voice inside you that you started to ignore as you grew up because grown ups were always pressuring you to ignore it.
Why would their instincts tell them to take their shoes off? The reasons are three fold.
1) Because it feels AWESOME
Kids have an innate desire to remove the synthetic material from their bodies and feel the earth beneath them. The hippie community I'm a lifelong member of calls this "earthing". It fosters brain development by heightening the sensory experience of their play.
2) It's easier to walk
You, as the adult, probably just rolled your eyes. But, remember, you've gotten used to shoes, you're used to walking, you're used to the comfort of modern day footware for various experiences. you probably have hiking shoes, running shoes, water shoes, and fancy nancy heels you adore. You can adjust your gait, speed, and grip according to the shoe you're on. Kids, on the other hand, are born with feet that can (and will) adjust to the environment. Their feet are much tougher than we give them credit for. In fact, all over the world kids are barefoot climbing trees and mountains just fine.
3) The dirt is healthy
Yup! We play in creeks, drains, rivers, gullies, and mudholes in hopes of getting all sorts of nitty gritty funky bugs in our bodies. Because, I trust that their body is designed to survive the elements. I trust that with the right nutrition their immune systems are strong enough to ward off microscopic organisms tehy may be exposed to during their play and overtime, strengthen their ummine system to fight off diseases and illnesses.
This morning I took my lil love nuggets out to Mayfield Park, a nature conservatory here in Austin and originally Iplanned to have them in rain boots so they could splash in the fresh puddles; however, we arrived barefoot instead and I was reminded how much more powerful a hike through the forest is barefoot! My heart exploded watching them grip the bark of the trees as they climbed, flatten and slow over the algae covered rocks in the creek, and navigate between sticks and pebbles along the trail. Seeing their feet caked in mud and gravel as I placed them in their carseats after their hike felt like a pat on the back as a mother. It was as if I could actually see the firing and rewiring that had occured in their brain this morning on a nature hike.
During the hike I took care to point out mushrooms, birds, flowers, odd shaped sticks, and leaves of varying textures. We discussed the smells and the way the air felt along varying points of the trail. I allowed them to lead most of the way and show me where their interests lay. There was no agenda, no goal, no lesson to be learned, just free play and exploration using the environment as the teacher and the imagination as the guide.
"People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing eveyday" -Winnie-the-Pooh
Parenting expert, blogger, inventor, single mom to twins, barefoot nomad, adventure seeker, boho spirit, advocate of play