Why dirt is good

A child being hit by a frisbee (he was okay and laughed about it!)

Disclosure: this is a paid collaboration with Persil.

One of Kate’s favourite responses when I reminisce about 1980s TV shows that she can’t remember is “I was probably up a tree.” This nicely articulates a concern I have about Dylan and Xander.

I think it must be harder being a kid now than it was when we were their age. After all, our generation didn’t have nearly as many distractions to get in the way of playing and exploring. They’re a lot more knowing than we were and also don’t get outside nearly as much as we did.

I’m not alone in thinking this either. Recent research carried out by Persil as part of its Dirt is Good campaign found that 74% of children spend less time outside than prison inmates.

It’s a worrying statistic and I have to admit that some of the other findings ring true with Dylan and Xander.

I fall in line with the 62% of parents who feel that their children have far fewer opportunities to play outside that they did. Elsewhere, 54% of children failed to identify an oak tree. This suggests that they’re out of touch with nature.

A close up of some personalised badges.

As part of its campaign, Persil is encouraging families to play outdoors together. They sent us a personalised outdoor play kit, as well as some detergent to clean away the inevitable dirt.

Our back garden is woefully small and rather popular with the neighbourhood cats – one kind of dirt we can definitely do without! So we took it to my parents’ massive garden instead. Here’s how we got on.

A child being hit by a frisbee (he was okay and laughed about it!)

We started off with a game of frisbee. To be honest, neither boy was particularly good at it as a result of their refusal to listen when we tried to teach them how to throw and catch it. As you can see, Dylan paid the price! He was fine though and the fact they didn’t ace it didn’t matter a jot.

They were both running around, yelling in excitement and it was great to see some colour in their cheeks.

A young boy playing hoopla.

Next up, Xander had a go at hoopla. As you can see, he managed to get one ring on target and on the corresponding colour too. Very impressive.

I was hoping that he’d fall in the flower bed for the dirt is good side of things but, for once, he managed not to!

A father and his two sons playing cricket.

Then we had a game of cricket. Xander managed to hit the stumps with greater frequency than the ball but, again, the important thing was that we were all running around on a slightly boggy lawn!

A young boy with binoculars in an overgrown garden.

A few days later, Xander and I decided to look for tigers in our front garden. Surprisingly, we didn’t find any. But he did manage to get suitably grubby and that was the main point. Dirt is good after all!

I’m really glad we agreed to take part in this campaign. We were definitely guilty of not spending enough time in the great outdoors and had fun playing in the garden and getting muddy knees. It’s an important part of being a kid – big kids included!

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