Mum’s The Word - September 23, 2014

William Mellor, playing in the garden
William Mellor, playing in the garden
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Watch out Alan Titchmarsh, you’ve got a budding gardener hot on your trail!

In a bid to cling on to the last bit of summer, William and I have been spending every spare second outside.

Exploring the garden, the park, and even strapped to me in a papoose for a walk along our local nature trail.

In the germaphobic society we live in today, it’d be easy to put the little chap in a playpen that’s been disinfected with one of those sprays which promises to ‘exterminate 99.9 per cent of bacteria within a mile radius’.

But I’m all for a bit of dirtiness.

And it seems William is proving himself to be a typical little boy – the dirtier the playtime is, the happier he is.

Take the other day in the garden.

I laid a blanket on the grass with a dozen toys in front of him, thinking he would be occupied for... all of 10 minutes.

But, instead, he immediately crawled over to watch me digging the weeds up from the flower beds.

And it wasn’t long before he sunk his fingers deep into the soil, picked up a handful for closer inspection, before flicking it up in the air and covering himself in the process.

But who cares about a little bit of dirt, soil is good for you, anyway.

Apparently, research has shown early exposure to the microbes in soil can help develop more disease-resistant children. And studies have even shown dirt is good for your brain – as bacteria naturally found in soil can activate the neurons that produce the brain chemical serotonin.

But enough of the science lecture.

The point is, sometimes it’s good to put the plastic toys to one side and just look at what’s around us.

Outdoor adventures are one of life’s simple pleasures, and they’re also wonderful for the little chap’s development.

Although he’s yet to differentiate between pulling up weeds and flowers – so maybe Alan Titchmarsh’s turf is safe for now.