Dirty Is The New Healthy. Are We Keeping Our Kids Too Clean?
Sandpit cowboys. That’s what I call my twin boys. At age 6 and a half, they still love the sandbox at the playground more than ever. OK, school, soccer and field hockey (with or without inline skates) keep them busy most of the time. However, they will go back to the sandbox at every opportunity, which, after 3 years of digging, is almost half empty. Even in winter.
Puddle pirates. There’s nothing more fun for my kids than to splash in puddles. With or without rubber boots. Never mind that it’s cold and wet. Who cares if it’s dirty? Mom does. OK, so we brought up our kids to love the outdoors. But I didn’t reckon with the dirt that comes with it.
Cleanliness is Godliness?
When my kids come in from the outside world, they’d be sure to bring in dirt. Dirt in the clothes and shoes. Dirt in eyes, ears, hair, skin and under the nails. Horror of horrors. What sort of bacteria are the kids bringing home from the outside world?
Now, we all know that a little dirt never hurt. But dirty is even good, says scientists. In these days when people are so paranoid about the flu germs that are going around, when hygienic practices are preached from the treetops as the ultimate preventive measure, saying these words is tantamount to heresy. But researchers claim that dirt does have some benefits. Really.
The Benefits of Dirt
- Dirt contains bugs which can help slow down overactive immune systems responsible for causing inflammation.
- Exposure to these bugs early in life also helps prepare the body to fight allergies. Experts thus blame the oversanitized environment that our children is growing in to be responsible for the increasing rates of allergies ion the population.
A mother’s utmost wish is to keep her kids healthy. We always believed that hygiene and health go hand in hand. It seems that we have to rethink this belief. This doesn’t mean we have to wallow in filth. I think the key is to find the middle ground. Here are some of the things I told myself that kept me sane all through these years of motherhood.
- A little fun is worth a lot of dirt. Dirt can be washed away whereas happy moments stay long in our memory.
- Sterile is only good in the OR.
- Spick and span and little children do not go together (unless you are rich and famous).
- Twins bring in double amounts of dirt. A great excuse for having a dirty house!
Finally, I looked up some adages on dirt that can put things into perspective.
“To the illumined man or woman, a clod of dirt, a stone, and gold are the same.”, a quote from Bhagavad Gita
“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”, by Canadian writer Margaret Atwood
“There is no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse.”, by English writer Quentin Crisp.